Kelsey Grammer's 'Boss:' What the Critics Are Saying

One declares the dark series “marks the arrival of Starz,” another quips it should be called “Mob Boss.”
Chuck Hodes

Kelsey Grammer stars as the mayor of Chicago in Starz' chilling new drama, Boss, which premieres Friday at 10 p.m.

What are the critics saying about the show, which is a departure from Grammar's  star-making Frasier character?

Writes Tim Goodman in The Hollywood Reporter: "Kelsey Grammer's drama strips politics down to ugly truth -- creating an "it" show that marks the arrival of Starz.

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"You can look back at the history of any number of storied cable channels and pick the series that truly set them on the right course -- the series that made them players. For HBO, it was The Sopranos; for Showtime, it was Dexter; for FX, it was The Shield; and for AMC, it was Mad Men," he goes on.

"Other series might have received as much critical acclaim, and still others would get higher ratings. But those were game-changers. And now Starz has its channel-defining series in Boss, a wholly impressive new drama that comes out of the gate with gravitas, swagger, originality and intrigue. It's the kind of series that truly puts Starz on the map (and if it makes two or three others, it will be a highly competitive three-way race in the pay cable field)," he adds.

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"Boss is the kind of series that seems to have the 'it' factor from the opening credits. High-quality emerging series often announce themselves with authority, so it's clear Starz has something special here. The premium cable channel reportedly has 19 million subscribers, about the same as Showtime, which in turn trails HBO by more than 10 million. That means Boss can make a real difference, not only by being a show people absolutely need to see but also by luring more creative producers to Starz," writes Goodman.

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In the New York Post, Linda Stasi writes, "Lots of the characterizations work wonderfully, and the acting is fantastic. But, in the hands of Gus Van Sant (“My Own Private Idaho,”) and Farhad Safinia (“Apocalypto”), and under the auspices of Starz of the sluts ‘n’ sandals epics like “Spartacus,” the city of Chicago seems less like a municipality than a principality run by some meth-fueled Arab sheik."

But she points to the violence, and quips, "Maybe they should call it 'Mob Boss.'"

In the New York Daily News, David Hinckley writes, "Imagine if Tony Soprano had run Chicago instead of the Jersey mob, and you'll get some idea what to expect in "Boss," a hard-boiled new drama that catapults Kelsey Grammer into a different universe from Frasier Crane."

"That relentlessness might be the main thing that will keep some viewers from getting absorbed in this complex and rewarding drama. "Boss" rarely takes its foot off the accelerator, and the filming style, with frequent lingering closeups of eyes or lips, magnifies the intensity," adds Hinckley.

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"It may also feel more intense because of the nudity and often joyless sex scenes, with an explicitness that doesn't add much otherwise to the story," he goes on."

"It's true that we've met most of these driven, self-obsessed, amoral characters before. We've seen most of the things they do," he writes. "But that's true of almost any drama, and Boss makes the stories compelling and chilling all over again."

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