Nick Nolte is a Bad Ex-President in this broad, but nonetheless refreshing, new comedy.
Nick Nolte is many things: exceptional character actor, gravelled-voice national treasure, 1992 People’s Sexiest Man Alive. Talented comedian he is not. Graves is a fun show- possibly an important one- but it seems to consider itself a comedy, and it simply isn’t very funny. It’s not all Nolte’s fault- the script lacks jokes- but he doesn’t help. He’s playing serious in a silly playground.
Nolte plays former US President Graves, a Reagan surrogate beloved by the far-right for his record on taxation, gay rights and unions (there’s even a cameo from Rudy Giuliani). Even for a practical socialist like myself, it’s extraordinarily refreshing to see a Republican as the hero of a mainstream TV show. The appearance of Graves’ new personal assistance, played by Skyler Astin, who’s also a young conservative, brings up even more interesting issues.
I want a comedy about a Republican president, but Graves seems to want to abandon this as soon as possible. During the half-hour pilot, which is very enjoyable (the soundtrack is superb), Graves has an existential meltdown and runs away with- gasp- a pot-smoking bohemian waitress! It’s a neat idea- to have a Republican turn blue in his elder years- but this show might’ve worked better if Graves had remained a hard conservative– now he’s just gonna turn into Selina Meyer.
Graves isn’t a particularly smart political show; or a particularly political show. Its comedy is too broad; its plot too obvious. But it’s a lot of fun.