Calling this sharp and funny just doesn't do it justice. It's a bit of a cliché to describe it as "Yes Minister" for the 21st century, but it does fit rather well.
Any British person who has followed the news over the last few years will be painfully familiar with "spin" as practised by the current government of the United Kingdom. Where "Yes Minister" dealt with hapless ministers being manipulated by the civil-service mandarins (the power brokers of the time) ... "The Thick Of It" deals primarily with hapless ministers being manipulated by spin doctors (the current power brokers). Spot the difference?
Series one kicks off with the clinical execution of a cabinet minister (department of "Social Affairs") by the party communications director Malcolm Tucker, played to perfection by a fantastically high-powered and abusive Peter Capaldi. In comes the completely ineffectual Hugh Abbott (Chris Langham) as his replacement -- the most recent in a long line we are led to believe -- and off we go. It's a picture of near-total ineptitude. The business of government is to please the media, all the time under the baleful gaze of Tucker and his team of ferocious Rottweilers, and of course the 24 hour gaze of the media... forever on the lookout for stories. Useless empty policy statements, petty oneupmanship, and doing anything to please "Number 10", or the Chancellor at "Number 11" -- or rather not, since pleasing one side can bring down the wrath of the other as you are obviously part of a plot to undermine them. No, it's best just to churn out focus grouped policies that are bland enough not to upset anyone, all the while dreaming of advancement to departments that matter.
It's all desperately funny and insightful. There are no bad performances. Series one and two combined add up to just six half-hour episodes in total. That may surprise Americans used to much longer runs... but when it's this funny and insightful, you are just glad it exists at all.
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