Boss (TV series)
|Created by||Farhad Safinia|
|Theme music composer||Traditional, arranged by Robert Plant and Buddy Miller|
|Opening theme||Robert Plant - "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down"|
|Ending theme||"Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" (instrumental)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||18 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||Chicago, Illinois|
|Running time||54-60 minutes|
NTSC (480i) |
|Original release||October 21, 2011– October 19, 2012|
Boss is an American political drama television serial created by Farhad Safinia. The series stars Kelsey Grammer as Tom Kane, the mayor of Chicago, who has recently been diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies, a degenerative neurological disorder.
The series was broadcast in the United States on the premium television service Starz and was produced by Category 5 Entertainment, Grammnet Productions, and Lionsgate Television. On September 27, 2011, before the series premiered, Starz announced that Boss had been renewed for a second season of ten episodes. The first season premiered on October 21, 2011, and the second season premiered on August 17, 2012.
On November 20, 2012, it was announced that Starz had cancelled the show. A film was being discussed to finish the show's storylines, but those plans were cancelled after series creator Farhad Safinia declined to move forward with the project.
As the series commences we follow Tom Kane, the Mayor of Chicago, who has recently been diagnosed with dementia with Lewy bodies, a degenerative neurological disorder. Determined to remain in charge, Kane conceals the disease from everyone around him except his own physician, Dr. Ella Harris. Kane's marriage to Meredith is one of convenience. His closest advisors, Kitty O'Neill and Ezra Stone, begin to suspect something is wrong with the Mayor but respect the boundary he has erected that precludes asking such questions, though lapses on Kane's part begin to become apparent to others around him, such as the current Illinois governor McCall "Mac" Cullen and The Sentinel's political journalist Sam Miller. Meanwhile, Kane and his team work behind the scenes to groom State Treasurer Ben Zajac to become the next Governor of Illinois.
- Kelsey Grammer as Tom Kane, the Mayor of Chicago
- Connie Nielsen as Meredith Kane, Tom's wife
- Hannah Ware as Emma Kane, Tom Kane's estranged daughter
- Jeff Hephner as Ben Zajac, Illinois State Treasurer and candidate for Governor
- Kathleen Robertson as Kitty O'Neill, Tom Kane's personal aide
- Martin Donovan as Ezra Stone (Main cast season 1; Recurring season 2), Tom Kane's senior political advisor
- Troy Garity as Sam Miller (Recurring Season 1; Main cast Season 2), a political journalist working for The Sentinel
- Jonathan Groff as Ian Todd (Season 2), a political upstart trying to get Kane's ear.
- Rotimi as Darius (Recurring Season 1; Main cast Season 2), a drug dealer with whom Emma is romantically involved
- Daniel J. Travanti as Gerald 'Babe' McGantry.
- Tip "T.I." Harris as Trey (Season 2), a former gang member with designs on a career in Chicago’s City Hall
- Sanaa Lathan as Mona Fredricks (Season 2), Tom Kane's new chief of staff.
- Francis Guinan as McCall "Mac" Cullen (Season 1–2), Governor of Illinois, who is running for re-election
- Amy Morton as Catherine Walsh (Season 2), the Republican candidate for governor
- Nicole Forester as Maggie Zajac (Season 1–2), Ben Zajac's wife
- Karen Aldridge as Dr. Ella Harris (Season 1–2), Tom Kane's neurologist
- James Vincent Meredith as Alderman Ross (Season 1–2), an alderman serving on the Chicago City Council, from the South Side
- Anthony Mockus, Sr. as Mayor Rutledge (Season 1–2), Tom Kane's predecessor and Meredith's father, who is in a catatonic state
- Gil Bellows as Vacarro (Season 2), casino investor and Meredith's lover
- Doug James as the Grey Haired Man (Season 1–2), Tom Kane's enforcer
- Jennifer Mudge as Debra Whitehead (Season 1), caretaker/nurse to Tom Kane's father-in-law
- Ricardo Gutierrez as Alderman Mata (Season 1), an alderman serving on the Chicago City Council, representing the 30th ward
- Joe Minoso as Moco Ruiz (Season 1), the head of a construction company working on the O'Hare expansion
- Steve Lenz as Phone Monkey (Season 1–2), an aide to Tom Kane
- Mary Hollis Inboden as Jackie Shope (Season 1–2), a journalist at The Sentinel working under Sam Miller
Development and production
Farhad Safinia developed Boss in late 2009, with creative input from Kelsey Grammer and his production company Grammnet Productions. In November 2010, the script was shopped around to various cable networks and, following a heated and contentious bidding war, Starz placed an eight episode order for the series, based solely on the strength of the script. This was in keeping with Starz's business model of not ordering pilots but rather green-lighting projects straight-to-series. Safinia wrote the pilot, Gus Van Sant was attached to the project as director, with Grammer, Safinia, Van Sant, Richard Levine, Lyn Greene, Brian Sher and Stella Bulochnikov-Stopler serving as executive producers.
Casting announcements began in November 2010, with Grammer first to be cast. He portrays Tom Kane, "the Mayor of Chicago who is diagnosed with a degenerative mental condition that only he and his doctor know about". Next to join the series was Connie Nielsen as Meredith Kane, Tom's wife: "Meredith and Kane have a bad marriage and barely speak when they aren't in public". Jeff Hephner was next to be cast, as Ben Zajac, "the state's treasurer, an impeccably handsome and ambitious Chicago native who is clearly about to become a major player on the Chicago political scene". Hannah Ware and Kathleen Robertson were the last actors to join the main cast, with Ware playing Emma Kane, Tom Kane's estranged daughter, and Robertson playing Kitty O'Neil, Kane's personal aide.
Starz later announced that Martin Donovan, Francis Guinan, Rotimi Akinosho, Karen Aldridge, Troy Garity, Ricardo Gutierrez, James Vincent Meredith, and Joe Minoso had joined the series as recurring guest stars. Martin Donovan was cast as Ezra Stone, "A savvy Yale graduate, and senior advisor to Kane, Stone knows the Mayor better than anyone. Whether it's pushing Kane’s agenda, or assisting with personal matters, Ezra always delivers". Francis Guinan was cast as Governor McCall "Mac" Cullen, "The governor of Illinois, Cullen hates playing along with the Mayor’s apparent unwavering support for his re-election bid. And his ugly temper is getting even worse". Rotimi Akinosho was cast as Darius, "a muscular drug dealer who’s covered in tattoos, but he’s smart, well spoken, and cares for his sick uncle". Karen Aldrige was cast as Dr. Ella Harris, Mayor Kane's neurologist and (initially) the only other person who knows about his current medical condition. Garity was cast as Sam Miller, "a politically savvy journalist for The Sentinel, with a nose for a real story". Ricardo Gutierrez was cast as Alderman Mata, "Political boss of the 30th ward, Mata is a thug in a suit who believes the ends justify the means, however vicious". James Vincent Meredith was cast as Alderman Ross, "Kane’s biggest rival", and Joe Minoso was cast as Moco Ruiz, "A construction worker, Ruiz is one of Mata’s guys".
At the 2011 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour, Starz announced that Boss would premiere on October 21, 2011; the second season premiered on August 17, 2012. The series was produced by Category 5 Entertainment, Grammnet Productions, and Lionsgate Television.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||8||October 21, 2011||December 9, 2011|
|2||10||August 17, 2012||October 19, 2012|
Season 1 (2011)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||US viewers|
|1||1||"Listen"||Gus Van Sant||Farhad Safinia||October 21, 2011||0.659|
|After the discovery of a serious medical condition, Mayor Tom Kane must set things in motion for the upcoming gubernatorial primary, while attempting to reconnect with his distant wife Meredith and estranged daughter Emma.|
|2||2||"Reflex"||Jim McKay||Farhad Safinia||October 28, 2011||0.391|
|A new political force enters the race with only a few weeks until the primary. When the City Council stands in Kane's way, Kane and his crew must flex their political muscles to stay on top. Meanwhile, Meredith gets some unsettling news that adds to her growing suspicions that her husband is keeping something from her.|
|3||3||"Swallow"||Mario Van Peebles||Lyn Green & Richard Levine||November 4, 2011||0.268|
|As Zajac's campaign gains momentum, Kane has problems adjusting to his new medical reality. An embarrassing media storm catches Governor Cullen off guard, while Miller stumbles upon a story that seeps much deeper than he imagined.|
|4||4||"Slip"||Jim McKay||Bradford Winters||November 11, 2011||0.420|
|Kane finds himself starting to lose control, both politically and personally, as his supporters begin to question their confidence in him. Zajac ventures into uncharted territory while campaigning, as Miller continues to dig for answers.|
|5||5||"Remembered"||Jean de Segonzac||Angelina Burnett||November 18, 2011||N/A|
|After long-buried information resurfaces, Kane and his camp find themselves battling the media for control of public perception. With the primary just around the corner, they have to pull out all the stops to contain the situation and keep the upper hand.|
|6||6||"Spit"||Mario Van Peebles||Lyn Green & Richard Levine||November 25, 2011||N/A|
|Kane takes an unannounced break from City Hall as his political image hits an all-time low. The election looms and he'll need to enlist the help of others to weather the storm. At an emotional impasse, Kitty makes a bold move, while Meredith, increasingly suspect of Kane's behaviour, seeks opportunities of her own.|
|7||7||"Stasis"||Jean de Segonzac||Bradford Winters||December 2, 2011||0.353|
|Just days away from the election, Kane slowly regains control over City Hall. Though a swift political move will help identify his adversaries, will doing the unthinkable improve his public image in time?|
|8||8||"Choose"||Mario Van Peebles||Farhad Safinia||December 9, 2011||0.505|
|On Election Day, the race is close, and while the candidates campaign, Kane and Stone must do their part to turn the gears of the political machine. Emma's world is turned upside-down, while Meredith goes to great lengths to prove her allegiance to Kane.|
Season 2 (2012)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||US viewers|
|9||1||"Louder Than Words"||Jim McKay||Dee Johnson||August 17, 2012||0.317|
|10||2||"Through and Through"||Jean de Segonzac||Bradford Winters||August 24, 2012||0.229|
|11||3||"Ablution"||Lesli Linka Glatter||Angelina Burnett||August 31, 2012||0.371|
|12||4||"Redemption"||Phil Abraham||Julie Hébert||September 7, 2012||0.390|
|13||5||"Mania"||Jean de Segonzac||Kevin J. Hynes||September 14, 2012||0.382|
|14||6||"Backflash"||Mario Van Peebles||Bradford Winters||September 21, 2012||0.409|
|15||7||"The Conversation"||Nelson McCormick||Angelina Burnett||September 28, 2012||0.312|
|16||8||"Consequence"||Jean de Segonzac||Paul Keables||October 5, 2012||0.436|
|17||9||"Clinch"||Mario Van Peebles||Julie Hébert||October 12, 2012||0.340|
|18||10||"True Enough"||Jean de Segonzac||Dee Johnson||October 19, 2012||0.442|
Awards and nominations
The series received two nominations for the 69th Golden Globe Awards for Best Drama Series and Kelsey Grammer received a nomination for Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Television Series Drama. Kelsey Grammer won his category, while the show lost out to Homeland.
The show garnered a total of 1.7 million viewers across multiple airings in its opening weekend. By comparison, other Starz TV series such as Spartacus: Gods of the Arena delivered 2.8 million viewers in its first weekend, Torchwood: Miracle Day produced 2 million viewers, and Camelot had 1.6 million viewers for the Friday airings alone. However, just two weeks later, the ratings had fallen to around a quarter of a million. The third episode, "Swallow", aired on November 4, 2011 averaged only 268,000 viewers — down 31% from the week before on October 28 ("Reflex"), which had just 391,000 viewers.
In an attempt to garner more television viewers, Starz shifted the season two premiere date from October 21, 2012 to August 17, 2012. This placed the season two premiere in a more advantageous state; between the finales of most summer shows on cable and the traditional launch of the fall television season, where an October launch would have been buried with many other programs. Starz also put the season two premiere full episode online for free on August 20, 2012 for a limited time.
The season two premiere had 317,000 viewers, which was less than half of the 659,000 viewers who watched the series premiere. With encores that same night, the ratings rose to 509,000 viewers. Over the weekend, the season premiere pulled in 915,000 viewers, just under the 1.1 million average in the first season.
The show's low ratings are cited as the main reason for its cancellation.
At Metacritic, Season 1 has an overall Metascore of 78 out of 100, based on 24 critics, and an 8.3 out of 10 User Score, based on 99 ratings. Season 2 has an overall Metascore of 75 out of 100, based on 18 critics, and an 8.5 out of 10 User Score, based on 31 ratings.
At Rotten Tomatoes, Season 1 has an overall 79% Fresh TomatoMeter Rating, based on 28 critics' reviews, and a 93% Audience Score, based on 21 user ratings; the Critics Consensus reads: "A mature drama, Boss constructs political devolution with ease and packs a powerful punch with steamy tales of corruption and sex." Season 2 has an overall 89% Fresh TomatoMeter Rating, based on 18 critics' reviews, and an 89% Audience Score, based on 24 user ratings; the Critics Consensus reads: "Kelsey Grammar [sic] alone provides ample reason to watch Boss, but the rest of the stellar supporting cast of wretchedly fascinating, emotionally entangled characters holds viewer attention."
|Canada||Bravo||October 9, 2013||Wednesday 22.00|
|United Kingdom||More4||March 21, 2013||Thursday 23.00|
|Italy||Rai Tre||October 4, 2012||Thursday 21.05|
|Norway||VOX||September 16, 2012||Sunday 22.10|
|Australia||SoHo||July 4, 2012||Wednesday 21.30|
|Sweden||SVT2||November 16, 2012||Friday 22.15|
|Spain||Canal+ 1||December 8, 2012||Saturday 21.30|
|India||Star World||January 30, 2013||Saturday 09.30|
|Indonesia||HBO||January 2, 2013||Monday 22.00|
|Ireland||TG4||January 2, 2013||Monday 23.00|
|Germany||FOX||March 18, 2013||Monday 20.15|
|Belgium||Canvas||April 7, 2014||Monday 23.05|
|Jamaica||CVM TV||October 23, 2014||Thursday 21.00|
|Mexico||Fox||October 10, 2014||Tuesday 21:00|
|Greece||NERIT||October 27, 2014||Monday, Tuesday 23.00|
|Portugal||SIC Radical||February, 2017||Tuesday - Friday 23.50|
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