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What would Frasier Crane make of Tom Kane? We shudder to think, as Kane, Kelsey Grammer’s Machiavellian mayor of Chicago, receives a brutal diagnosis with jaw set and self-pity absent: he has a degenerative brain disorder. Bad timing, with a governatorial election to manipulate, a crisis on a building project to manage and an estranged wife and daughter to keep onside.
The set-up recalls both ‘The Sopranos’ and C4’s own ‘The Fear’, as an all-powerful puppetmaster is brought low by failings of body and/or mind. Grammer is spectacular as Kane, a strutting, scowling kingpin radiating dangerous charisma. And, with a supporting cast including wife Connie Nielsen and protegé Martin Donovan, as well as Gus van Sant behind the camera, it grips like a vice. Dense, dark and unsettling – ‘Boss’ lasted a mere two seasons in America, but there’s more than enough here to make you hope the mooted spin-off film comes to fruition.