Succession

Now hear this. Brian Cox is not playing Rupert Murdoch in Succession. Apparently.

You could have fooled me.

In this HBO drama Cox plays ageing Logan Roy, a Scottish-born self-made media magnate, whose offspring are in a tug of war for the multi-billion dollar company. But Logan has no plans to relinquish control anytime soon.

The HBO drama opens unflatteringly with a disoriented Logan stumbling around in the dark in the middle of the night, not knowing where he is. He pisses on the carpet floor until his third wife Marcia (Hiam Abbass) reminds him he is inside his new apartment.

Elsewhere power-mad son Kendall (Jeremy Strong) is attempting to close a multi-million dollar deal with a new tech company, but its young entrepreneur (Rob Yang) is pushing back against the ‘old world’ dinosaurs who appear to plunder all they touch. It immediately sets Kendall off on a path of paranoia, especially when his execs (led by Pine Gap‘s Parker Sawyers) ask him “Do you wanna call your dad?”

Striding into the calamity is younger brother Roman (Kieran Culkin), clearly the black sheep of the family, still with one eye on the prize but with none of the conventions.

“I was never a corporate c** suck. I never made it this high in the f***ing building,” he jokes.

The two brothers may feign affection but it is obvious there is little more than blood ties between them.

The other key player is daughter Siobhan (Aussie Sarah Snook) who is the most level-headed of Logan’s children, but whose fiance Tom (Matthew Macfadyen) is gasping fo air in this family, and constantly snubbed by Logan.

When the family gather for Logan’s birthday he presents them with a new business plan that involves Marcy joining the Board -and none of the kids are happy (save for indifferent eldest son Connor played by Alan Ruck). Logan’s great-nephew Greg Hirsch (Nicholas Braun) also walks into the lion’s den attempting to mend his own family ties, with inopportune timing.

Suffice to say this is one helluva dysfunctional family. And while it may not be all Murdoch-based (it will draw upon everything from Shakespeare to the Royal Family), it’s hard not to see it as anything else.

Written by Jesse Armstrong (Babylon, Veep, The Thick of It) and co-produced by Will Ferrell, this dry and cynical series attempts to slay giants from the inside. Director Adam McKay draws upon documentary camera techniques which are not out of place given it includes paparazzi and family members leaking to the press themselves.

There are power games, lies, grovelling, greed. Watch for a distasteful display at a baseball game as a comment on how tone deaf these people are. How long until we get hacking, business failures and new brides? Throw in choppers, limos, and NYC apartments and you get the picture….

Amongst the performers Sarah Snook emerges as the most balanced of the reckless Roy children, while Brian Cox is suitably abrupt and unpredictable as the ageing patriarch. Matthew Macfadyen’s feeble attempts to endear himself to the family are darkly comedic.

It’s taken far too long for this to hit our screens (it debuted in the US in June) so I can’t say whether Foxtel was nervous about screening this or not.

But hopefully better late than never. Or see it before someone gets a call to pull the pin on it…?

Succession airs 8:30pm Thursdays on FOX Showcase.

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