April 8, 2019  (Web Review)

Our Cartoon President: Season One

Paramount, 3 discs, not rated, DVD: $24.99

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

Stephen Colbert skewers Donald Trump mercilessly on his late-night talk show, but his company’s animated Showtime series treats the president more gently, as the central figure in what might be described as a typically wacky family-workplace sitcom. Not that (as voiced by Jeff Bergman), Trump here comes across as intelligent or principled, but he is more of a genial bumbler than a malevolent force: he might have dumb ideas and a voracious appetite to win, but at times he sees limits to what he can do. Indeed, secondary characters are dealt with more harshly, especially sons Donald Jr., portrayed as a boorish, ineffectual schemer, and Eric, depicted as a drooling idiot. Trump’s underlings—at least those who survived the purges before season’s end—are disposed of with one-note nods (Ben Carson is a meandering drone, Jeff Sessions a dunce, Stephen Miller a conspiratorial nut case), while other political figures are limned in similarly simple fashion (Ted Cruz as a crazed maniac, Bill Clinton a sleazy womanizer, and Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi completely out-of-touch). The only reasonable people around are General Kelly (now gone, of course), and, surprisingly, Jared Kushner, ridiculed by others as a know-it-all. Significant issues constantly come up—the wall, for instance—but are treated without any depth. The dizzying rate of change in Trump World makes the series’ failure to be up-to-date understandable, but one might still have expected a sharper satirical edge in a program from Colbert: the cardinal sin of Our Cartoon President is its blandness. Presenting all 17 episodes from the 2018 debut season (plus a 2018 Election Special), extras include an introduction by Colbert, episode commentaries, a promotional interview with the cartoon Trump on Colbert’s talk show, an episode table read, and an image gallery. Not a necessary purchase. (F. Swietek)