K Street (DVD)
K STREET is an experimental fusion of reality and fiction--an entertaining, fly-on-the-wall look at government, filmed in and around the corridors of power in Washington. The series ventures inside the world of powerful political consultants--a world that few people ever experience first-hand. Produced on location in Washington, D.C., the largely improvised ten-episode series combines fictional characters with appearances by real-life political figures, all centered around the biggest political news of the week.
What a weird and wonderful creature is this thing called K Street
. Named after Washington, D.C.'s "fourth wing" of political power and coproduced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, this beguiling, problematic HBO series ran for only 10 half-hour episodes, each aired immediately after blistering five-day production schedules during which Soderbergh, as director, editor, and videographer (under his nom de camera
, Peter Andrews) combined fact and fiction within Washington's corridors of power, casting savvy actors alongside real-life D.C. power brokers, journalists, lobbyists, and political consultants. The result is one of the most unusual hybrids in television history, in which top-drawer consultants (and bipartisan celebrity couple) James Carville and Mary Matalin work for a fictional firm run by a reclusive billionaire (Elliott Gould), where they must endure FBI scrutiny for doing business with a Saudi organization that might
be a front for terrorists. As this crisis approaches meltdown, Soderbergh's fly-on-the-wall approach (first tested in Traffic
) grows increasingly fascinating (especially for Beltway insiders, many appearing as themselves) and potentially mystifying for less-informed viewers. There's no hand-holding here, no back-story, no glossary or who's-who, and (most regrettably) no DVD supplements to guide the political layperson. What you get instead is a privileged glimpse of backroom politics in action, quasi-factual, semi-fictional, and never less than riveting. --Jeff Shannon