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Party Animals: Complete BBC Series 1 [DVD] 
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BBC Drama Party Animals recreates the behind-the-scenes rough-and-tumble of British politics. Conservative politician James Northcote (played Patrick Baladi, better known for his role as David Brent's straight-laced boss Neil in The Office) and Labour MP Jo Porter (Raquel Cassidy) epitomise the changing public faces of their parties. But the real action centres on their aides. Dedicated researchers Danny, Kirsty, Matt and Ashika help the MPs score points against their enemies - whether adversaries are across the floor or on the same side. Meanwhile, lobbyist Scott finds the shifts in power at Westminster affecting his working life, with both personal and professional loyalties tested. The show takes a sideways, through-the-keyhole look at the way power is deployed and is laden with enjoyable cynicism. The characters are not especially nice people. Vulnerable, yes, though mainly when they fail to exploit others' vulnerabilities, and yet they're interesting. And given that Party Animals a fast-moving drama first and a civics lecture a poor second, it succeeds in telling a bit about the way Westminster office politics truly works.
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With an interest in the world of politics, but disillusioned with many current politicians, I identified closely with Danny's idealism, but also with the dilemmas that Scott faced too. The chaotic private lives of the two main MP's and the behind the scenes treachery of some of the important other characters all rang true of New Labour and the then just about resurgent Tories. Shelley Conn as Ashika the British Asian rising star, torn between what she knows and the possibilities that might be there for her was also a convincing character, as were Patrick Baladi and Raquel Cassidy as the two main MPs. In fact the casting and acting was particularly good throughout.
The writing, filming and music, as well as the great performances by everyone involved, really made this captivating viewing. The mix of down to earth characters and totally out of touch characters felt right and the mix of humour, intrigue and a few high drama moments all made it very addictive - I watched the whole series in three sessions over 3 days. Reflecting at the end, I felt that it wasn't really totally true to life, depicting real events as a drama, although a few real life events are referenced from time to time. It is a very good summary of the various motivations and dilemmas of the people who serve as MPs and their staff, emphasising their human frailties, weaknesses and just occasionally some goodness, but always emphasising that they are just people like us. Overall it is a convincing depiction of the sort of things that almost certainly go on and that sometimes appear in the tabloids and daily news.
If you enjoy people watching type of drama, wondering what various characters are going to do next, or you love the behind the scenes story of the daily lives of politicians then you will probably enjoy this series, and at around £5 for almost 8 hours of drama had to resist!
The 2007 BBC2 eight part series, so acclaimed by the critics, deserved a second season which never came. That is the bad news. The good news is that the talent so abundant in it was at once recognized, new doors rapidly opening for its charismatic cast. Great roles lay ahead for Shelley Conn and Andrea Riseborough, whilst Andrew Buchan (Scott) now impresses in "Garrow's Law" and Matt Smith (Danny) shines as Doctor Who.
Recommended - not just as an involving illuminating drama, but for a chance to see when current famous faces began to attract attention.
Lots of intrigue, double dealing, relationship and plot twists. The story is so realistic and well crafted it could have been a docudrama like 'The Deal'. Also featuring the impossibly beautiful Shelly Conn as the aspiring Tory Candidate and main love interest.
The writing by Ben Richards is as usual complex with well rounded, real characters and up to the minute storylines. The cast act this effortlessly in a really naturalistic way (there is way more talent in this production than their relative fame would indicate}.
The only thing I don't understand is why it never made it to a second series.
One series was simply not enough. The TV companies need to get out of a budget centered approach and really grow Drama. This was a great start but sadly looks like it will remain a one off. Get it whilst there are bargains to be had.
It beggars belief that a second series was not commissioned, as the interweaving storylines had so much further to run, and it's not too late. We could skip several years, and show our characters older and probably wiser?...OK, even more devious. BBC - if you are reading this, pay attention.
Recommended viewing, and an absolute bargain. Buy it for those damp cold summer evenings when the TV companies abandon any attempt at scheduling something decent/cerebral to watch. Simply Brilliant!
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