I'm quite a fan of Hulu's original programming. The Booth at the End is a great mystery mini-series, and their daily Morning After segment offers a good recap of TV shows I miss, albeit with some occasional awful jokes. Over the past week I have found and caught-up with Battleground, another Hulu program, and am quite impressed by it. I guess I'll write this as a general summary to get people interested, as well as a couple discussion points. Spoilers for the first episode follow.
Battleground could best be described as The West Wing meets the Office. It takes the political and witty world created by Aaron Sorkin and mixes it with the mockumentary workplace antics found in earlier seasons of the Office. It follows the Senate Campaign of Deidre (I don't know if I'm spelling that right) Samuels, however--even moreso than the West Wing--the major focus is on the team behind the politician. However, as the series focuses on running a smaller campaign, different roles are required, and the majority of the cast are fairly young.
The series' emphasis is placed on Tak Davis, the campaign manager. For the most part he's a likable guy--good at his job, affectionate father to his two children, etc.--but I give the series credit for also giving him some sizable flaws. As cliched as it may be, the workaholic doesn't leave enough time for his wife, but, whereas most other shows would display this as some uncontrollable, tragic misunderstanding, Davis is portrayed as very much selfish at times, choosing dinner with his staff over a planned dinner with his wife, and constantly forgetting her. He also has some pretty great freak-out scenes, showing him slowly break as things get closer to the election day. He's a likable and interesting lead, to be sure.
The rest of the series is padded out with a good supporting cast. There's the inspirational under-dog candidate, her sleazy husband, the spoiled, ignorant (and source of most of the series' laughs) son of the candidate, the skilled but somewhat crazy speechwriter, the girl (it's really the only thing I could think of that would describe KJ. She's the worst part of the series), and the adorable young, geeky (soon to be) couple. Like the rest of the show, the characters aren't especially original, but extra layers of depth and likability are added to make them entertaining.
Another interesting part of the series comes from the involvement of the documentarians. Unlike most modern mockumentaries, they are referenced to, and sometimes even seen on screen interacting with characters. Most importantly, though, the series' talking heads all take place after the events of the show and campaign. From this we see that the geeky intern and nice intern got together, and the campaign's speechwriter is currently in jail. Considering the predictability of the former, it's nice to see a show that doesn't try and trick you into thinking the couple won't and instead just tell you flat-out they will. The latter gives a surprise, and a question the viewer can look forward to an answer to by the series' end. Something else peculiar from the structure is that Tak is nowhere to be seen after the show's events, with characters not only speaking of him in a very respectful light at all times, but also utilizing the past tense to describe him.
As I've said before, Battleground isn't especially original or groundbreaking. What it is, is a smart comedy-drama that is definitely worth checking out, especially for fans of The West Wing or mockumentaries.