Home » THE REGIME Premiere – “Victory Day” | Review

THE REGIME Premiere – “Victory Day” | Review

by Jef Dinsmore
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It seems that the internet is alive with an opinion from some, like the Washington Post, that this limited series, THE REGIME, is flawed. They were privileged with an advance screening I guess. It and others remarked that it is just not that good a political satire. I say, before viewing, who cares? From the trailer, it looks like a quirky little comedy. In the political miasma of today’s world who needs it to be satire, just make us laugh. So its not Armando Iannucci’s VEEP. I’m tuning in because it is Kate Winslet doing comedy, something not common in her filmography. So let’s give THE REGIME a whirl.

Here’s a bit of detail before jumping into the plot. Kate Winslet is Elena Vernham, the chancellor of a Central European autocracy who finds her position threatened by domestic strife. The country is intentionally fictitious just as Selina Myers’s political affiliations were skirted around. It helps to not have it known, as not to tie the tale to current realities or compare it to real places. I guess that aids in the negativity towards the political satire aspect, however, but I don’t mind it at all. Moving on, Elena ends up taking disgraced soldier Herbert Zubak, played by Matthias Schoenaerts, under her wing as her top adviser. Mousing about is her husband Nicholas Vernham, played by Guillaume Gallienne. Now to the debut’s plot.

TheRegime_Pic02It is the day before Victory Day and we find the day not quite as we expected. I thought it would be either a totally mucked up chaotic day or a one of celebration as the country prepares for the big day when they honor the new government that had fairly taken office seven years prior. Instead, we start on a different bent. We start with Herbert Zubak being brought to the palace as he has been granted a new position at the Chancellor’s right hand. He is the official humidity checker because the place is riddled with mold spores which sickens the leader, or so she thinks. Acclimating him to his new life includes Agnes the Palace Manager (Andrea Riseborough) and a number of cabinet members. Elena & Herbert awkwardly hit it off. There comes a moment in the first episode though, when Herbert saves Elena’s life and from that moment on he becomes her trusted confidant much to the dismay of her husband. A quirky bond will evidently carry these two through the series.

As for the politics of the day? Well, her cabinet does not much like the Chancellor. They think she is running the country rather poorly and there are big concerns regarding a deal with the U. S. The deal on the table is to give the States mining rights to a vein of cobalt in her jurisdiction. As for the Chancellor herself? She is fragile, moody, odd, and more than likely a hypochondriac. All of her staff put on the proper airs in front of her. Equally disliked is Lubak. He is nicknamed ‘The Butcher’ for the military action that took civilian lives he was pulled from. Will they move past their crises?       

But, as of this writing, the internet is abuzz on how poorly this series is clicking with viewers. That is all because of the tone of the piece, I feel. It doesn’t pass great political commentary like say, SUCCESSION nor does it offer laugh-out-loud humor a la VEEP. What THE REGIME does do is slip in played-down absurdity, matched with a subdued dry humor. Add to that the sensibilities of Will Tracy as writer and executive producer on the series with Stephen Frears and Jessica Hobbs directing episodes and executive producing. The eye and mastery of director Frears in this debut were spot on. So, in all, broadly appealing, perhaps not, but interesting nonetheless. Well, at least for me.  Did you take a chance on the premiere episode of THE REGIME? Did you appreciate the oddity of it all? Perhaps in a couple of weeks will bring it all up again here on HBOWatch. In the meantime tell us what you think. THE REGIME plays on Sunday nights at 9:00 pm ET on HBO & Max.

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