Yesterday I finished watching Billy Ray‘s The Comey Rule (Showtime), which is not a miniseries but a two-parter, and a highly absorbing one at that. Take no notice of the 64% Rotten Tomatoes rating and the corresponding 58% Metacritic score. Because it’s good, and by that I mean good enough. More than that actually. If you don’t go looking for God or salvation or cosmic happiness you’ll be completely fine with it. Ray has directed and written in a professional, first-rate fashion.
I can only conclude that the critics who panned it aren’t reviewing the show as much as venting fury at what Comey did to Hillary Clinton and in fact the whole country when he announced on 10.28.16 that the FBI was reopening an investigation into her emails because of Anthony Weiner’s laptop (which was a terrible call on his part). I, on the other hand, am reviewing the show, and I’m telling you it’s not a problem.
The Comey Rule may not be the most profound or earth-shaking dramatization of a recent, real-life Washington melodrama, but it’s good enough. I wasn’t expecting an imaginative or mind-bending revisiting of the former FBI Director‘s saga between his 2013 appointment and 2017 termination (who would want that?), but a taut and exacting one. This is exactly what you get. I was hooked from start to finish.
What I was mostly looking for was (a) efficient writing and (b) skillful performances from the various players, and in these realms I was wholly satisfied.
Yes, that includes Brendan Gleeson‘s reanimation of Orange Plague. Does he deliver the greatest impression of Trump ever seen or imagined? No, but he’s suitably menacing. Is he trying to be funny like Alec Baldwin? No, but he’s vaguely hilarious anyway. I also found him convincing as far as it went. Gleeson is perhaps a little more satanic than the Real McCoy, but nonetheless a good guy to have around, and I mean that in the sense that Gleeson really means it.
As Comey, Jeff Daniels delivers the fundamental decency and cautiously bland rectitude. But God, this is exhausting…how can I deliver assessments of 20 or 25 performances, all of them decent and more than a few arresting or even fascinating? I’m drowning just thinking about it. Holly Hunter‘s Sally Yates…a little too cornpone but that’s Hunter for you. Michael Kelly as Andrew McCabe — perfect. Jennifer Ehle as the savyy, strategic, Hillary-supporting Patrice Comey — ditto. Scoot McNairy is dead-on as the chilly but curiously naive Rod Rosenstein.
Jonathan Banks as James Clapper, Steven Pasquale as Peter Strzok, Oona Chaplin as Lisa Page, Amy Seimetz as Trisha Anderson, Steve Zissis as Jim Baker…as good as they could possibly be, in the zone, pocket drop.
T. R. Knight‘s Reince Priebus is such an asshole! Anthony Bowden‘s George Papadopoulos is a hoot…a real opportunistic lounge sleaze. And I especially loved (i.e.m felt relaxed with) Kingsley Ben-Adir‘s Barack Obama. KBA also delivers a satisfactory Malcom X in One Night in Miami.
The first half of The Comey Rule focuses on the no good option situation regarding Clinton’s idiotic emails. Comey and his staffers were between a rock and a hard place, but Comey’s decision to mention that the FBI was looking into the email contents of Weiner’s laptop handed the election to Trump. There’s no question about that. In that sense Comey brought about an American tragedy, and as far as I’m concerned he should sleep poorly for the rest of his life because of it.
The second half is about “you’re dead, Comey, because you have Trump to deal with all he wants is a toady.”
The Comey Rule, which is based upon Comey’s “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership“, is a good and honorable sit.