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Thursday, August 22, 2013

'Party Animals:' 'Doctor Who's' Matt Smith Political Soap

Party Animals DVD
The complete series set of the 2007 British political soap opera "Party Animals" is further proof that the Brits excel regarding every genre. The only manner in which this program fails the "one more" test is a desire to ration out the episodes.

The series is also notable for launching the career of Matt Smith, who is currently wrapping up his run as the 11th Doctor on "Doctor Who."

The actors and writers always keep the drama in check, and the young professionals who entertain us with their pursuits of professional and personal success seem very like the bright and eager recent college grads who flock to political capitals all over North America and Western Europe.

"Animals" centers around the juvenile antics and professional lives of brothers and roommates Danny, played by Smith, and Scott Foster, played by "Broadchurch's" Andrew Buchen.

A wonderfully gleeful scene in which Danny and Scott consciously engage in uninhibited dancing and general frolicking illustrates their relationship very well. These lads additionally demonstrate time and time again that blood is thicker than political waters.

The brotherly rock-out, and another scene at an '80s themed dance, also demonstrates the only flaw with the DVD set of "Animals." Either personal knowledge of British '80s music is less extensive than believed, or the DVD producers could not obtain the rights to the original music that played during those scenes. The purely instrumental music is rather odd and generic sounding.

The fact that the boys' deceased father was a Labour Party (my people call them Democrats) Member of Parliament shapes much of their attitudes toward each other and life in general.

Danny is a low-level poorly compensated researcher for Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP) Jo Porter, played by Raquel Cassidy of numerous awesome British sitcoms that mean absolutely nothing to American audiences.

Scott is the more conservative of the two and earns big bucks as a lobbyist. His particularly ruthless betrayal of Danny in the pilot establishes his lack of morals, and Danny's terrific payback shows where the 11th Doctor gets his wonderfully quirky sense of humor.

Scott's business lunch turned date with Ashika Chandirimani, played by "Terra Nova's" and "Mistresses'" Shelley Conn, who is the aide/mistress of a Tory Party (my people call them Republicans) MP brings the ongoing activity in that MP's office into the series. A Warhol style portrait of Margaret Thatcher in that office is a terrific touch.

As an aside, Conn would make a great companion for a Doctor on "Doctor Who."

Ongoing storylines involve the brotherly interaction and aggressively heterosexual dating lives of les freres Foster. Scott is characteristically the swinging ladies' man, and the quieter more introspective Danny is seeking true love.

A very charming scene in which Danny tells a first date that he is not extraordinary is reminiscent of a hilarious scene from his first series (my people call them seasons) as The Doctor in which Smith tries very hard to prove  that he is "an ordinary bloke."

Ongoing storylines include a life-changing event in the pilot causing Scott to contemplate some of his personal and professional choices, the events around which episodes are centered prompting Danny to continue his crusade for truth, justice and the British way, and developments regarding Chandirimani being a possible replacement for a seat in Parliament that a recently deceased Labour Party member obtained after the death of Danny and Scott's father.

Weekly storylines are typically introduced via morning television broadcasts at the beginning of an episode and often revolve around "ripped from the headlines" political events. The topics include proper funding levels for government programs, outrage over the filming of a movie based on a book in which a Muslim man and non-Muslim woman have an affair, a death in a juvenile offender residential facility, and the killings of British soldiers in Afghanistan.

A particularly funny ongoing bit in the episode regarding the film involves Danny correcting people who say that the characters in the book have sex in a mosque; Danny replies that the characters have sex on the GROUNDS of a mosque.

The final episode wraps up most of the storylines well, and the resolutions overall are realistic and just.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Animals" is welcome to email me. You can also follow me on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.