by Jef Burnham
Now available on DVD from BFS Entertainment.
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Party Animals is an eight-episode BBC series, from creators Robert Jones (Ballykissangel) and Ben Richards (MI-5), that follows the unsung heroes of British Parliament. Danny Foster (Matt Smith, Doctor Who) is a researcher for the office of a Labour Party MP (Member of Parliament), his brother Scott (Andrew Buchan, The Fixer) is an up-and-coming lobbyist, and Ashika Chandirimani (Shelley Conn, How Do You Know) is a Special Advisor to a Tory MP. Focusing on the day-to-day machinations of the British Parliament, each episode finds these three attempting to overcome an all new set of political hurdles complicated by back-biting, sex, and the occasional threat of violence.
With the release of this set perfectly timed to coincide with the opening of the latest series of Doctor Who (in which Matt Smith stars), Party Animals is a terrific series featuring scripts that maximize the drama without ever tipping over into melodrama and an engaging cast of characters. Although he is a lobbyist, we even come to quickly care for Scott after an traumatic experience in the opening episode forces him to question his company’s motivations thereafter. It is unfortunate, however, that the character given the least to do outside of his job is often Danny. With virtually no personal life written in for the character, it seems an awful waste of Matt Smith’s talents, especially when you see the juicy stuff Buchan and Conn get to work with throughout. This is not to say that Smith is a better performer than they are or anything of the sort, simply that Smith might have been given a little more to do, thereby heightening our understanding and affection for his character— which is brilliantly written and played otherwise.
Collected here on three-discs with a total running time of 6 hours and 19 minutes, BFS’s transfer of Party Animals is consistently solid throughout with only a minor interlacing problems to complain about. There are, unfortunately, no special features here.
Jef Burnham is a writer and educator living in Chicago, Illinois. While waging war on mankind from a glass booth in the parking lot of a grocery store, Jef managed to earn a degree in Film & Video from Columbia College Chicago, and is now the Editor-in-Chief of FilmMonthly.com.
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