The British have a strong tradition of satire, holding our superiors to account, and making the whole experience hilarious, albeit shocking and informative, but hilarious nonetheless in the 80s this achieved perfection in the razor-sharp Yes Prime Minister a show so accurate in its takedowns, that it was a favourite of then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. In 2013, 26 years after the original aired, the show was rebooted, based off a play, that followed an evening of self-serving bureaucrats attempt to save the country and answer the call of Yes, Prime Minister.
Much like the play it’s based on, this adaptation follows one of the worst nights in Hacker’s premiership. With a shaky relationship with Scottish Nationalists keeping his government afloat, Hacker and staff must deal with oil pipelines, prostitutes, independence, among other issues. All while the unpopular Hacker administration tries to stay afloat for the evening.
The adaptation boasts David Haig, a mainstay of British comedies, having just come off a tour on the hit contemporary satire The Thick Of It, takes the reins here as Jim Hacker, while nobody could replace Paul Eddington this Hacker is much more than a carbon copy. Bernard and Sir Humphry are back, stilling feeling as close to the 80s Bernard and Sir Humphry as they can. There are some new characters too, like Zoe Telford as Advisor Claire Sutton. Followed with a nice cameo by Robbie Coltrane as the deputy prime minister.
Much of the action takes place in a single room in the Prime Minister’s country retreat (I assume that’s the case in the play too). The set gets updated as the day goes on and the six episodes play out. The constant briefing projector reminding us of the looming oil pipeline situation, reminding us that this all is taking place over a single chaotic night. Counting as a single glass becomes many. It is, however, all literally set dressing to the main reason why we are here: The Machiavellian mischief between the elected official, Hacker, and the civil service, still as sharp as ever, Feeling fresh and replenished by the novelty of current headlines.
Yes, Prime Minister feels weird to look back at now, as so much has changed in politics. Despite the evolutions, Yes, Prime Minster did feel like it ripped plots straight from then-current headlines. While nothing could replace the original, this is a fitting successor managing to keep as much as it can, while revamping everything else. Showing that stories may change, debates may change, leaders come, and leaders go, but this remake shows us we can always rely on the comedic power struggles of Yes Prime Minister.
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