Stupidly I missed Season 1. For some reason I didn’t zone in on its qualities on first airing and let it go by me. But the early rave reviews in the national press for Season 2 made me reconsider it and I started again, binging the 20 episodes over the last month or so.
And what a treat it was.
Jesse Armstrong (the show runner) was previously responsible for Peep Show, The Thick of it and even, back in the day, contributed to the excellent Smack The Pony. He wrote the hilarious Four Lions too.
What this means is that although Succession is essentially a drama it is, in fact, a full blown comic feast with one liners ricocheting across the screen with siege-like ferocity and quantity.
Chief gag thrower is the astounding Keiran Culkin, the weasel-faced runt of the Roy Litter who you’d never tire of punishing, but whose acerbic put downs are guaranteed to split your sides ten times an episode. he takes particular fun in tormenting the, also excellent, Jeremy Strong who plays his inept, drug-consuming brother Kendall with doe-eyed misery as his privileged life gradually falls into greater and greater disrepair. He’s a car crash of a human being.
The other comic character who never ceases to amuse with his rhinoceros-skin dimness is Matthew Macfadyen as Tom, the dipstick husband of the power hungry Shiv (daughter of the patriarch from hell Logan Roy – Brian Cox in his greatest ever role).
A good sport in this show is to decide which of these feckless fecks you hate the most. For not a single one of them has any redeeming features.
That said, my wife had a soft spot for the manslaughterer Kendall and I could at least tolerate the inept (but surprisingly devious) Greig – the limpid cousin. But that’s it, the rest are as hideous human beings as you could make up.
Or are they made up?
The reality is that this is just a great big mash up of the Trumps, Weinsteins and the Murdochs.
Everything in this cesspit is about power and success. They are consumed with the need, as a media conglomerate, to acquire more and more businesses and with manslaughter and sexual misconduct (and subsequent cover-ups) thrown into the mix the result is a mosh pit of vanity and greed.
Supporting roles of note go to Helen Hunter who is delicious as the two timing competitor CEO who briefly joins the company. And the outstanding Peter Freidman as Francis and Jean Smith-Cameron as Gerri – Roy’s Nick and Margaret.
The milf- (or gilf-) like attraction that Gerri has for Roman makes for some of the show’s highlights with truly hysterical moments aplenty.
But at its core, and the bedrock of all that is truly awful in the human race, is the commanding presence of bastard-in-chief, Brian Cox, as the patriarchal Logan who surely has never been gifted a role as meaty as this. Despite over 200 roles on TV and cinema only once has Cox been recognised at the big ones, a lone nominee in the Golden Globes nearly 20 years ago. This is surely about to change. His presence is so all consuming that this has the look of certainty about it.
It’s utterly compelling TV with a cinematic quality and a soundtrack to rival the best that Hollywood has to0 offer. And, oh, that theme music. My tune of the year, bar none.