Veep is back! Veep is back! Selina Meyer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) has settled into the Oval Office quite nicely since we last saw her at the end of Season 3. At that time, she had just ascended to the highest office in the land thanks to the family turmoil of the then-POTUS, and all while she was knee-deep in her own Presidential campaign. Her two most serious challengers at the time, Minnesota Governor Danny Chung and Baseball Coach Joe Thornhill, are still in the competition when season 4 starts, but there are some staffing shakeups.
Famed campaign manager Bill Ericson, played by the returning Diedrich Bader, had been guiding Thornhill’s campaign to success. But when Ericson realized that ol’ “Baseball Joe” had reached the top of his bounce, he abandoned ship and sought a position within Selina’s administration. After all, even if she’s only in office for a short while, a position within the White House looks good on an already stellar resume.
The hilariously incapable volunteer staffer Richard–played to convincing perfection by Sam Richardson–that accompanied Selina during her Iowa book tour is still toiling along for the Meyer campaign. A political shark he most definitely is not, but he certainly has all of the blind eagerness required in a loyal campaign staffer. Richard for now is the foil to Anna Chlumsky’s put-upon campaign manager Amy Brookheimer. Amy is always one step ahead of everyone else, so it’s wonderfully frustrating for her to have as an assistant Richard, who is always at least five steps behind.
Mike McLintock, meanwhile, still inexplicably has a job within Selina’s administration. He’s now the White House Press Secretary, and revels in the minuscule levels of recognizability and fame that comes along with the new gig. Turns out, getting recognized by someone he’d previously-met-but-was-forgotten-by-until-a-press-conference-jogged-their-memory is enough of a rush for Mike’s ego no matter how convoluted it is. Given how well Matt Walsh plays the bumbling McClintock, this should come as no surprise.
The primary focus of the first episode is Selina’s address to a joint session of Congress, in something resembling a State of The Union address. It seems to be the intermediary congressional address bridging the administrations of Selina and her predecessor. The first few minutes of the episode lead up to President Meyer getting ready to deliver that all-important speech when… the teleprompter goes dead. From there, we get a look at the events in the last 24 hours leading up to speech. Mike and Dan work with White House Communications Director Jim to pound out the speech and make it as close to her legislative goals as possible all while simultaneously being vague enough to sound politically rousing to the party and nation.
Sue, (Sufe Bradshaw) who was the most effective member of Meyer’s office while she was Veep, is serving up brand new heights of organization and wry responses. Timothy Simons is breathing some of his best work into Vice Presidential liaison Jonah Ryan this season. Patton Oswalt plays Teddy, Vice President Doyle’s Chief of Staff, and he becomes Jonah’s epic new scene partner. Teddy seems unassuming until he literally grabs the situation between he and Jonah by the balls.
There is some brilliant tension arising between Selina and Gary (Arrested Development‘s Tony Hale) in the premiere, and from the looks of it, it’s going to come to a head very soon in the season. As President, Meyer can no longer have as many people around her at all times due to the levels of security clearance involved in the proliferation of knowledge. That means Gary–and also Selina’s daughter Catherine–are often cast aside at inopportune moments. As Gary has had almost completely unfettered access to Selina, more so than her own daughter, he’s starting to feel the rejection very harshly. However, this change in status quo gives us some of the best Gary faces for comic relief. Sure, his humanity and self-worth are taking a drubbing, but how great it is for the chuckles.
Finally, we’re right back at the Selina’s congressional address, while her team tries to fix both the teleprompter issue and try to load the correct draft. They don’t succeed with selecting the proper draft, of course, and by the end she has promised military spending she intended to cut. All in a day’s work for President Meyer.