K STREET is an experimental fusion of reality and fiction--an entertaining, fly-on-the-wall look at government, filmed in and around the corridors of power in Washington. The series ventures inside the world of powerful p... more »olitical consultants--a world that few people ever experience first-hand. Produced on location in Washington, D.C., the largely improvised ten-episode series combines fictional characters with appearances by real-life political figures, all centered around the biggest political news of the week.« less
An absolute treat for political junkies and dynamic artists
Christopher | Denver, Colorado, USA | 05/28/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's hard to decide which aspect of K Street was the most satisfying...* The ending was positively brilliant. For all those who would, confidentially, love to stick it to Saudi Arabia, watching the "bad guy" walk away with the loot just pulled my grin from ear to ear. * The first two episodes verily lifted me out of my chair, mouth agape, asking, "How are they doing this?" Now that time has passed, you'll have to appreciate that these topics were *peaking* as news stories -right as K Street was wrapping production for the week-. For those 'tuned in' to politics and world news, it was a thrill that is indescribable. Carville actually interacting, on camera, live (as in -real life-!) with Howard Dean and Phili mayor Street at the height of their news cycles? You could actually watch C-SPAN (and FOX News! remember the debate?) to see a true-to-life angle of a K Street episode! Beat that!* There were more cameos than I could enumerate... all A-list Washington insiders. Real senators, real journalists, playing full-blown _parts_ in the week's story. And how brilliant each one was! Never did you feel that they were phoning it in for air time. No, these cameos furthered the pulse of the story.* There is no way that the season could have been planned as it was... It must have been decided around the 3rd or 4th week that it would be the CIA-informant-leak story that would bring the Carville-Matalin office down. I'm almost certain that the writers could have allowed a much brighter, upbeat story to carry through, but they _abided_ by their dynamic philosophy... as Washington goes, so goes the show. Bravo.* The cinematography was fantastic. Even when the dialogue faltered, the low off-angle shots kept the tempo steady. And so many extended shots, with only one chance to make it work! I can't remember a failed scene. * Who could have shone brighter than Carville and Matalin? This was their vehicle, and there is no K Street -concept- without them. Certainly Soderbergh's story took center stage in the second half of the series, leaving Mary and James to simply wonder outloud what the hell was happening... But if you care about politics, you care about the story, because you care about these two people.* Roger Guenveur Smith (playing Francisco Dupre) is a -star-. His aura is undeniable, his character is the heart of the mystery. He was given these lines, probably sometimes in mid-shot (probably some improvised, on his own), and he *stuck* _every single one_. The actors in the room must have been left breathless.For all those out there who've ever said or thought, "Now -that's- television." and want to experience that once again, you can't pass this show up. Judge the experiment for yourself... I came in with no expectations and was floored. Regardless, you'll have a better grasp of what works and what doesn't work in dynamic art after one viewing of K St."
A surprisingly good, complicated series; so-so DVD
Clare Quilty | a little pad in hawaii | 09/01/2004
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Practically everything about HBO's "K Street" and its run was a little odd.
Produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh, it was a television series that debuted in fall 2003 and centered around a political consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
The cast was a mixture of actors and political figures - James Carville and Mary Matalin played fictionalized versions of themselves interacting with real congressmen, senators, lobbyists and journalists. Howard Dean, Tom Daschle, Orrin Hatch, Joe Klein and lots of others had cameos.
Episodes were semi-improvised and shot quickly with a handheld camera, by Soderbergh, just a few days before the shows aired so they could incorporate current events into the plots.
Cool idea. Sounds like one heck of a lot of work. And, overall, the basic idea just didn't play. The main characters often had to jump through hoops to integrate themselves into the topics and most of the politicians on-camera were uneasy and distracting. Rather than seeming "ripped from today's headlines," "K Street" kind of felt Scotch taped to the day-before-yesterday's.
But then the show started getting bizarre, and bizarre in a good way.
Most TV shows have been in the can for weeks or even months by the time their reviews and ratings come out, but Soderbergh was still shooting the show as it was being panned by critics and ignored by viewers. In apparent response, the series abruptly went from being a minimalist, more cynical "West Wing" to behaving like a long lost Alan Pakula thriller from the '70s.
The characters got creepy: Maggie (Mary McCormack) met a suitor (Talia Balsam) who came on strong and then suddenly accused her of stalking; the robotic Francisco (Roger G. Smith) deepened his secret ties to his Howard Hughesian boss (Elliott Gould), who was making deals with the Saudis; and kinky, hallucination-prone Tommy (John Slattery) slept with his father's much-younger fiance, who then killed herself in his hotel room.
At the peak of all this trouble, suddenly and with no real explanation, the show ended, yanked after two-and-a-half months, supposedly by mutual agreement between HBO and Soderbergh (who, according to HBO's Web site, is still on the hook for 10 episodes of another, similar series).
Good or at least interesting shows get canceled in mid-sentence all the time - c'est la vie - but now suddenly all 10 episodes of "K Street" have been released on DVD. This would've been a great way for Soderbergh, who does extremely funny and interesting director commentaries on most of his DVDs, to explain the show - how and why they did it, who all the cameos are and how he convinced them to appear and, most of all, what happened in the end. It's bound to be an equally engaging story.
Unfortunately, like the series itself, the DVD is incomplete and comes with no extras at all, just 10 episodes followed by a sudden stop."
Baffling sometimes, enthralling always
Rex Widerstrom | Perth, Western Australia | 11/11/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a political junkie who's not American-based but takes a keen interest in US politics both personally and professionally I awaited the arrival of my copy of this DVD with a great deal of anticipation.
This style of film-making does require concentration in order to get the best out of it, and that's a good thing. Who wants to sit back and let some inane sitcom wash over you when you can engage your mind with a DVD in the same way that you can with some of the best books? That's a rare feat and Soderbergh should be congratulated.
I knew enough of the key political players to keep up, as I suspect would most Americans who watched this series. But I was a little lost when other real life figures entered the fray. While you're thinking "That's obviously a well-known writer, but who is he?!... or maybe he's just an actor *playing* a well-known writer and I'm not meant to recognise him..." some vital exchange between the characters has slipped by. Fortunately, with a DVD you can curse under your breath and hit "rewind", but that does detract from the enjoyment. Some concession to scene setting along the lines of "Jeff, about your column on..." would have helped cue viewers in to the person's (be they real or an actor) place in the scheme of things.
What matters in the end though is that K Street has left me with a sore back. That's because not once during the marathon beginning-to-end viewing session did I sit back on the couch and let this series wash over me. I was sitting up, leaning forward, engaged the whole time. When was the last time you could say *that* about a TV show? "
The perfect "training" video for campaign management
Erin Esposito | Rochester, New York | 11/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Political consultants, students of politics, and those involved in campaigning, look no further for tips/strategies in mastering the essential skills needed to be an effective campaign manager! K Street is THE thing to watch! James Carville, Mary Matalin, Paul Begala and countless other key players in the political arena are in K Street and demonstrate, even if it is in an acting mode, the ways of political consulting and campaigning.
It is an incredibly awesome collection - very riveting and full of many lessons to learn from. Since purchasing this DVD, I've done nothing but watch these episodes over and over, taking notes each time and studying the modus operandi of the skilled individuals in the profession.
Very intriguing, very informative, very enjoyable! Do not pass this one up!!"
Too bad they got canceled
Mara Villa | providence, ri | 09/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I had no idea what this dvd was about but I was intrigued by James Carville and Mary Matalin. Anyway I didnt even know it was fiction. I read somewhere that there were actors but when I was watching it I couldnt figure out who was an actor and who was a real. Actually it was only in the second DVD when really weird stuff started happening that you knew it wasnt reality TV. It was incomplete, and I really wanted to see where all this weirdness headed. I was a little bummed that it got canceled because I found Carville really entertaining."