After nearly losing his career, his family and his mind, Mayor Tom Kane's (Kelsey Grammer) grip on Chicago is as powerful as ever. With high doses of medication, he's able to beat back the physical symptoms of his debilitating brain disease, but it comes at a cost. Kane is left with intense and uncontrollable neurological side effects. Despite the delusions, Kane breaks ground on the O'Hare Airport expansion and looks toward his next endeavor: protecting and repairing his legacy. With the astute counsel of new aides Mona Fredricks (Sanaa Lathan) and Ian Todd (Jonathan Groff), he plans to remove and rebuild a long forgotten housing project, now home to gang activity and rampant corruption.
Fully aware of Kane's illness, his wife Meredith (Connie Nielsen) finds herself questioning who holds the key to preserving her position of power. While their daughter, Emma (Hannah Ware), who is a product of their loveless, political marriage, battles her own destructive demons. Without his longtime advisors Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan) and Kitty O'Neil (Kathleen Robertson), and his political protégé Ben Zajac (Jeff Hephner), the odds continue to stack against him. As corrupt heads roll and his list of enemies grows, Kane's virtuous actions begin to erode the very foundation of power he's worked a lifetime to build. In order to maintain it, Kane must govern as he always has: ruthlessly.
As long as there are TV shows, and as long as they keep putting them out for home video consumption, we'll continue to run into problems like this. Premium cable channel, Starz, has already announced that it's canceling 'Boss' before its third season. So, if you're a fan of the show you're left wondering if investing in a second season set is even worth it, knowing that most likely it ends without the resolution you might be craving. The age of serialized dramas has brought us to this. We love them while they're on, but when they end abruptly it's hard to keep committed in supporting them on home video when you already know their fate.
I enjoyed the first season of 'Boss.' Being on Starz it came out of the gate bursting with graphic sexual content and wild plotlines (after all it's on the same channel as 'Spartacus '). However, around the third or fourth episode the show seemed to settle down. It tempered the shock-value material and instead focused on the intricate characters and storylines it was creating. I enjoyed seeing Kelsey Grammer take on a vicious, unlikable role. Being Tom Kane, corrupt mayor of Chicago, allowed Grammer to let loose with his dark side, and boy did he ever.
The first season entrenched itself in Chicago-style politics which, as the show portrays, are ripe with corruption, backdoor dealing, and outright bribery. Kane isn't above any of it. His iron fist is heavier than most. He crushes those who oppose him and exiles those who annoy him. Somehow, as the mayor, he's amassed more political clout than the state's governor. He's "The Man" when it comes to Chicago politics and you'd better learn to play his game if you want to have things go well for you.
As the first season ended, we saw a lot of huge changes take place. Kane found out that the people closest to him are conspiring against him. As the second season begins, Kitty (Kathleen Robertson) is gone, his daughter is in prison because of him, and his closest advisor, Ezra Stone (Martin Donovan) has felt the Wrath of Kane. Kane now finds himself unchecked. His advisor meetings have been replaced with loneliness and cussing out his new assistant.
All the while Kane is still trying his hardest to battle, and forget, about the degenerative brain disease he was diagnosed with in the series' first episode. A man as determined and as vane as Kane doesn't really believe anything can take him down. To me this is one of the most interesting aspects of the show. To some degree we all do this. We ignore faults in our lives that we know are there, but we choose not to acknowledge. The "out of sight, out of mind" philosophy. Kane tries this same trick with his disease. He acts like it isn't there. Like he'll somehow beat it in the end. How else do you explain his insatiable hunt for power? He's determined that he isn't going to be beaten by some silly disease and watching him convince himself of that is quite captivating.
Kane is even meaner in season two. Without Ezra Stone to keep his emotions in check, Kane finds himself wearing them on his sleeve. He's still as devious as ever though. Watching him work the system is equally frustrating and fascinating. He's a pro.
Sadly, the show won't be back for a third season, unless it has an eleventh hour renewal like AMC's 'The Killing.' That doesn't seem likely though. There are rumors that a movie may be produced to tie up the loose ends, but it's only a rumor now. So, it's up to you if you want to invest in a show that ultimately was canceled before it had time to come to a full resolution.
Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
Distributed by Lionsgate, 'Boss' comes in a standard keepcase with two 50GB Blu-ray Discs. There are 10 episodes in this season. Each disc contains five episdoes. There is a small insert included that gives episode numbers, titles, synopses, and writing and directing credits. It's labeled as a Region A release.
Video quality remains as immaculate as it was in the first season release. The 1080p presentation here mirrors the demo-quality of season one. Even in the dark halls of Chicago politics visual detail is as clear as it can get.
The show's penchant for ultra-close-ups shows just how detailed the presentation can get. Not only do you see small facial lines and wrinkles, the tiniest of hairs are visible too. That soft peach fuzz that can only be seen close-up is always visible as backlight shines through it. Pores are easily defined. Even the intricacies of eyes, like veins, iris details, and so on, can be discerned during close-ups.
Colors pop off the screen. Shadowy places, like Kane's office, are home to the deepest of blacks. Head outside into the bright Chicago sun and the city gleams. The grey brick buildings feature great earthy colors and textures. Contrast is spot-on. Essentially, it looks as good as it ever did.
'Boss' is provided with a DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix feels a little bit like overkill considering the talkative nature of the show. That said, the extra channels are handled well, and we're given a nicely rounded sound mix that provides more than enough ambient sound to keep one engaged.
When Mayor Kane, or anyone else for that matter, walks the busy Chicago streets, the sounds of the bustling city life are picked up and accurately placed throughout the soundstage. Cars and taxis whiz by from left to right. Cars honk, people mingle, and political speeches echo through the rear channels.
This enveloping soundtrack is nicely spread through the seven separate channels. It draws you into the show. Into every scene. It may lack the big-time action scenes that we're used to having with 7.1 sound, but the engaged ambiance is successful in its own right.
It's a shame 'Boss' has likely been canceled. Grammer is effective as a snarling bad guy politician who couldn't care less about his constituents, all he wants is to feed his massive ego, and he does that alarmingly well. Audio and video are really great here, so fans will be delighted. The question is, do you want to invest your time and money into a show that's already been axed? Despite the high scores, this one is best for fans only, considering the show's demise.