51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on May 27, 2004
It's hard to decide which aspect of K Street was the most satisfying...
* The ending was positively brilliant. For all those who would, confidentially, love to stick it to Saudi Arabia, watching the "bad guy" walk away with the loot just pulled my grin from ear to ear.
* The first two episodes verily lifted me out of my chair, mouth agape, asking, "How are they doing this?" Now that time has passed, you'll have to appreciate that these topics were *peaking* as news stories -right as K Street was wrapping production for the week-. For those 'tuned in' to politics and world news, it was a thrill that is indescribable. Carville actually interacting, on camera, live (as in -real life-!) with Howard Dean and Phili mayor Street at the height of their news cycles? You could actually watch C-SPAN (and FOX News! remember the debate?) to see a true-to-life angle of a K Street episode! Beat that!
* There were more cameos than I could enumerate... all A-list Washington insiders. Real senators, real journalists, playing full-blown _parts_ in the week's story. And how brilliant each one was! Never did you feel that they were phoning it in for air time. No, these cameos furthered the pulse of the story.
* There is no way that the season could have been planned as it was... It must have been decided around the 3rd or 4th week that it would be the CIA-informant-leak story that would bring the Carville-Matalin office down. I'm almost certain that the writers could have allowed a much brighter, upbeat story to carry through, but they _abided_ by their dynamic philosophy... as Washington goes, so goes the show. Bravo.
* The cinematography was fantastic. Even when the dialogue faltered, the low off-angle shots kept the tempo steady. And so many extended shots, with only one chance to make it work! I can't remember a failed scene.
* Who could have shone brighter than Carville and Matalin? This was their vehicle, and there is no K Street -concept- without them. Certainly Soderbergh's story took center stage in the second half of the series, leaving Mary and James to simply wonder outloud what the hell was happening... But if you care about politics, you care about the story, because you care about these two people.
* Roger Guenveur Smith (playing Francisco Dupre) is a -star-. His aura is undeniable, his character is the heart of the mystery. He was given these lines, probably sometimes in mid-shot (probably some improvised, on his own), and he *stuck* _every single one_. The actors in the room must have been left breathless.
For all those out there who've ever said or thought, "Now -that's- television." and want to experience that once again, you can't pass this show up. Judge the experiment for yourself... I came in with no expectations and was floored. Regardless, you'll have a better grasp of what works and what doesn't work in dynamic art after one viewing of K St.
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2004
Practically everything about HBO's "K Street" and its run was a little odd.
Produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, it was a television series that debuted in fall 2003 and centered around a political consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
The cast was a mixture of actors and political figures - James Carville and Mary Matalin played fictionalized versions of themselves interacting with real congressmen, senators, lobbyists and journalists. Howard Dean, Tom Daschle, Orrin Hatch, Joe Klein and lots of others had cameos.
Episodes were semi-improvised and shot quickly with a handheld camera, by Soderbergh, just a few days before the shows aired so they could incorporate current events into the plots.
Cool idea. Sounds like one heck of a lot of work. And, overall, the basic idea just didn't play. The main characters often had to jump through hoops to integrate themselves into the topics and most of the politicians on-camera were uneasy and distracting. Rather than seeming "ripped from today's headlines," "K Street" kind of felt Scotch taped to the day-before-yesterday's.
But then the show started getting bizarre, and bizarre in a good way.
Most TV shows have been in the can for weeks or even months by the time their reviews and ratings come out, but Soderbergh was still shooting the show as it was being panned by critics and ignored by viewers. In apparent response, the series abruptly went from being a minimalist, more cynical "West Wing" to behaving like a long lost Alan Pakula thriller from the '70s.
The characters got creepy: Maggie (Mary McCormack) met a suitor (Talia Balsam) who came on strong and then suddenly accused her of stalking; the robotic Francisco (Roger G. Smith) deepened his secret ties to his Howard Hughesian boss (Elliott Gould), who was making deals with the Saudis; and kinky, hallucination-prone Tommy (John Slattery) slept with his father's much-younger fiance, who then killed herself in his hotel room.
At the peak of all this trouble, suddenly and with no real explanation, the show ended, yanked after two-and-a-half months, supposedly by mutual agreement between HBO and Soderbergh (who, according to HBO's Web site, is still on the hook for 10 episodes of another, similar series).
Good or at least interesting shows get canceled in mid-sentence all the time - c'est la vie - but now suddenly all 10 episodes of "K Street" have been released on DVD. This would've been a great way for Soderbergh, who does extremely funny and interesting director commentaries on most of his DVDs, to
explain the show - how and why they did it, who all the cameos are and how he convinced them to appear and, most of all, what happened in the end. It's bound to be an equally engaging story.
Unfortunately, like the series itself, the DVD is incomplete and comes with no extras at all, just 10 episodes followed by a sudden stop.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 10, 2004
As a political junkie who's not American-based but takes a keen interest in US politics both personally and professionally I awaited the arrival of my copy of this DVD with a great deal of anticipation.
This style of film-making does require concentration in order to get the best out of it, and that's a good thing. Who wants to sit back and let some inane sitcom wash over you when you can engage your mind with a DVD in the same way that you can with some of the best books? That's a rare feat and Soderbergh should be congratulated.
I knew enough of the key political players to keep up, as I suspect would most Americans who watched this series. But I was a little lost when other real life figures entered the fray. While you're thinking "That's obviously a well-known writer, but who is he?!... or maybe he's just an actor *playing* a well-known writer and I'm not meant to recognise him..." some vital exchange between the characters has slipped by. Fortunately, with a DVD you can curse under your breath and hit "rewind", but that does detract from the enjoyment. Some concession to scene setting along the lines of "Jeff, about your column on..." would have helped cue viewers in to the person's (be they real or an actor) place in the scheme of things.
What matters in the end though is that K Street has left me with a sore back. That's because not once during the marathon beginning-to-end viewing session did I sit back on the couch and let this series wash over me. I was sitting up, leaning forward, engaged the whole time. When was the last time you could say *that* about a TV show?
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2004
Political consultants, students of politics, and those involved in campaigning, look no further for tips/strategies in mastering the essential skills needed to be an effective campaign manager! K Street is THE thing to watch! James Carville, Mary Matalin, Paul Begala and countless other key players in the political arena are in K Street and demonstrate, even if it is in an acting mode, the ways of political consulting and campaigning.
It is an incredibly awesome collection - very riveting and full of many lessons to learn from. Since purchasing this DVD, I've done nothing but watch these episodes over and over, taking notes each time and studying the modus operandi of the skilled individuals in the profession.
Very intriguing, very informative, very enjoyable! Do not pass this one up!!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 21, 2011
"K Street" is a complex television series both to make and to watch. Set in a fictional Washington lobbying firm on K Street (hence the name), but dealing with real political issues of the day (in Fall of 2003), it was a series of 10 weekly 30-minute episodes, each one filmed over the course of a few days, edited over the next two days, and then aired on HBO that same Sunday night. There were no full, proper scripts; only detailed storylines - based in part on current news of the week - that were then acted out by the players, who improvised nearly all of the dialogue. The most interesting aspect is that nearly all of the players were not professional actors but real Washington insiders who were quickly briefed about the show, given the general idea of the scene they were to be in, and then let loose in front of the cameras. For example, real attorney Howard Gutman is given several scenes where he plays himself discussing a (fictional) lawsuit against the lobbying firm. And in fact, this is the best part of the show: to see the real politicos and attorneys just talk, because they speak frankly, knowledgeably and with the kind of insider's view that a professional screenwriter could never deliver. Mary Matalin and James Carville are just brilliant and hysterically funny, and produce better improvisational moments than their professional counterparts (though, to be fair, this IS their milieu).
The less successful aspects of this series are the personal lives of the junior lobbyists. While there are some well acted moments (especially from John Slattery before Mad Men fame) the fundamental problem is the structure itself, which in some cases may seem confused when cut alongside the political action taking place. These faults can be excused however, and should be, when taking into account the amount of prep time for the series and each episode, and when looking at the quality of the entire production, which is high. Plots would probably also have been better contructed, finding a smoother rythem, if the series was given a chance to continue.
As for the DVDs, this release would have greatly benefited from good anamorphic transfers and featured and commentaries of any kind. Sadly, there are none to be found. Perhaps HBO will see the wisdom of releasing this series on Blu-ray.
If you like well-written series or films where your attention is required, or you like politics, or both, this is the series for you. Don't miss it.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2006
Those of us who like Steven Sodderberg's work will definatley love K-Street. The recent success of movies like Traffic and Syriana should show the viewed of any of his films or TV creations, that his main goal is to show the duality of man.
The characters in K-Street represent this Duality. Maggie Morris is a leader in the lobbying group with connections with the Bush White House. She looks like she has everything in control but her personal life is like a roller coaster. She is a lesbian and had a very turbulent relationship with another woman, this has quite an effect on her working relationship with others. Francisco Dupree, an odd man who has his hands in everything and knows many key players in Washington, is in reality nothing more than a political opportunist. In one instance he hires a photographer to take pictures of him with congressional and senetorial leaders. Tommy Flannegan at first glance seems to be a quiet well mannered lobbyist. Instead he sees a therapist with his wife because of his dark secret where he picks up prostitutes and makes pornographic movies. The final key point is that all of these members are essentially opportunists who conduct have internal wars with eachother.
K-Street features a cast of real life political hard ballers with James Carville and his wife Mary Matalin forming main characters. In addition there are apperances by James Dean, Tucker Carlson, Tom Daschle, Paul Begala, Al Hunt, and many more.
K-Street is quite possibly one of the best series on political lobbying and the infighting in Washington. I especially liked the Sodderberg form of filming, using interesting angles and filters.
While I enjoyed the way the creators had free-thought scripts, it eventually led to my main point of contention. The story had so many different plots and stories it went in a million different directions and kept the viewer off-guard and then unriveted.
As for the DVD I was hoping there would be much more offered. I had hoped that there would be interviews with political leaders or even George Clooney, yet there were no extra features. At the end of episode 10 there was really nothing that finished up the show. It just simply ends. To be honest when it finished I was getting into the story and I felt ditched.
I will give this 4 stars because while the DVD and some of the plot was lacking it is still a necessary addition for anyone who loves politics or very interesting intelligent television.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2007
K street reminds me of the pain I suffered when HBO cancelled "John from Cincy" after just one season.
This is a great show for political junkies of all stripes since it is inside the beltway from both sides of the aisle.
You have to remember that this show was in production during all of the events it depicts and that it interacted with the political scene in a very post-modern way.
Some stuff from the show made it into the political debate and vice versa and it is often hard to tell what is scripted, what is not, if it is a real or fiction, etc.
--in one famous incident, Howard Dean actually used a line from the show in a debate!
Carville and Matalin are great, and every politician/lobbyist/lawyer plays their role well too...
I loved this show when it was on HBO and I just got the DVD and felt the same way.
My girlfriend--who has worked in politics her whole life--had never heard of the show and she was enthralled with the depiction of life in DC.
If you are at all a fan of Soderburgh and like his style as depicted in "Traffic," you will love this series.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on August 1, 2004
I rented the DVD to see what this series was all about. I admit that I had somewhat skeptical expectations since I tried to watch one random episode when it was being aired on HBO. Watching the series from start to finish - WOW! For all of you who are wondering how two leaders of opposite camps could exist together, more so, be married, I think this series gives them a glimpse of how they (Carville and Matalin) play off of each other -- and it works. The series shows the underside, albeit game playing, of American politics. Viewers may have been thrown if they did not watch the series from the beginning -- but that's all the more reason to buy this DVD set! So disappointed that the series was cut right when it was getting even better, but oh well...great while it lasted. Lastly, John Slattery is hot -- 'nough said.
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2005
I had no idea what this dvd was about but I was intrigued by James Carville and Mary Matalin. Anyway I didnt even know it was fiction. I read somewhere that there were actors but when I was watching it I couldnt figure out who was an actor and who was a real. Actually it was only in the second DVD when really weird stuff started happening that you knew it wasnt reality TV. It was incomplete, and I really wanted to see where all this weirdness headed. I was a little bummed that it got canceled because I found Carville really entertaining.
on February 28, 2015
so so series.