The second season of the Starz hit drama about Chicago mayor Tom Kane (Kelsey Grammer; Frasier) comes to Blu-ray and DVD. Although, “hit” is a complicated adjective in this case since Starz has announced that the series will not be returning for a third season. This really surprised me because the first season received rave reviews, and while the second season is not as strong, it’s still very good. I wonder if there aren’t other factors contributing to Starz’s decision to can the series. It’s unfortunate because obviously the producers of the series were confident in getting another seasons, as season 2 leaves off with a series of unanswered questions that may now never get answered. There are talks to produce a TV movie as a finale to the show, but nothing has been announced for sure yet.
I think maybe the reason season 2 suffered a loss in ratings was that the politics (underhanded or not) driving the plotlines forward were not as interesting as in season 1. This season largely centers around a project to tear down and rebuild an impoverished neighborhood, forcing the predominantly black residents to leave their homes with no certainty if they’ll be able to return once the renovation is complete. There’s also a financial crisis in the windy city that threatens to bring Kane’s kingdom crumbling down. Probably the most interesting thing about the political threads in season 2 is Ben Zajac (Jeff Hepner) finally having to face the public embarrassment of his serial adultery in the middle of his campaign for Governor.
All of the great characters remain strong in season 2. Kitty (Kathleen Robertson) is forced to come to terms with being fired from the Mayor’s office and takes a job running Zajac’s opponent’s gubernatorial campaign. An assassination attempt rips Tom and Meredity Kane (Connie Nielsen) apart, while their daughter Emma (Hannah Ware) struggles with her drug addiction while under house arrest with her parents. All of this is really interesting to me and pushes each character’s arc forward in an organic and compelling way.
Season 2 sees a couple of new additions as well. Kitty’s replacement as the Mayor’s personal aid is Ian (Jonathan Groff) who begins the series as a vaguely Jimmy Olsen type character – wide eyed and naïve while never fully understanding the scope of what’s going on. However, as the season plays out, Ian’s ambitions and intelligence begin to reveal how completely dangerous he really is. It’s a great character, and a welcome addition to the cast.
As far as everyone’s favorite Chicago Mayor, season 2 sees a rapid decline in his physical condition as his degenerative disease wreaks havoc on his body. Seeing Kane try to cope with hiding his condition from the public, as well as his hallucinations of Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan), who was murdered at the end of season 1, gives Kelsey Grammer a lot to play with in his portrayal of Kane. Watching Kane’s sanity slip away as he becomes incapable of controlling his body and mind is really amazing to watch, and Grammer plays it to perfection.
Special features include a behind the scenes featurette, and audio commentaries on each episode. Available on Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate on April 9.