One look at Kelsey Grammer's glowering, defiant mug on the cover of the Boss: Season One
boxed set (with eight episodes spread out over three discs) is all you need to recognize that this is a far cry indeed from his happy days on Frasier
. Grammer's Thomas Kane, the mayor of Chicago, is a ruthless, old school pol in the tradition of that city's Richard J. Daley; "Kane is
the city," as one of his cronies puts it, and by the end of the season, anyone who tries to cross him will have been brought to his knees--sometimes literally--or worse. But Kane is not a man without problems. He's got a wife (Connie Nielsen) he barely talks to and never sleeps with, an estranged daughter (Hannah Ware) whom he and his wife shunned because her drug problems were a political liability, a host of enemies plotting his downfall, and, worst of all, a condition known as Lewy body, a fatal, untreatable form of dementia that is steadily robbing him of his mental acuity and physical wherewithal. There's an element of soap opera in all of this; simply keeping track of the sexual escapades of Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner), a duplicitous young Kane protégé, may require a scorecard (nudity and profanity are also abundant). But the political maneuverings are even more compelling, as we see just how treacherous, scandalous, and even murderous Kane and everyone else who lusts for power can be. It's not a pretty sight.
All in all, this is very juicy stuff. Every episode is beautifully shot and directed (including one helmed by co-executive producer Gus Van Sant, whose credits include Milk, Good Will Hunting, and other fine films), with a main title song by Robert Plant. And while the dialogue is occasionally overcooked and the plotting somewhat over the top, Boss has more than enough to keep you coming back for more. --Sam Graham
Mayor Tom Kane (Golden Globe winner Kelsey Grammer) is King of Chicago, and he rules his domain with an iron fist. Deception, scandal, and betrayal go hand in hand with Kane's form of politics. As long as he gets the job done, the people of Chicago look the other way. Despite being the most effective mayor in recent history, Kane is hiding a dark secret. A degenerative brain disorder is ripping everything away from him, and he can't trust his memory, his closest allies, or even himself. Watch as Kane viciously fights battles on all fronts in "Boss" Season 1.