In another of its recent attempts to remain competitive with Netflix, Hulu has launched its own original-content campaign. While Netflix recently added all eight episodes of its new comedy series “Lilyhammer” to its streaming stockpile, Hulu is taking a slightly more traditional route, releasing one episode of its new political dramedy “Battleground” every Tuesday.



“Battleground” follows the congressional campaign of Deirdre Samuels (newcomer Meighan Gerachis), focusing mainly on the colorful characters who make up her campaign staff. Leading the ensemble of inexperienced but charismatic young actors is Jay Hayden (“The House Bunny”) as Tak Davis, the chief political strategist who always comes up with last-minute creative ideas he hopes will get the financially plagued campaign back on track. KJ Jamison (Terri Reeves, “General Hospital”) is Tak’s primary love interest and the head of media operations, but her frequent disagreements with Tak lead her to pursue the campaign’s speechwriter — known for writing the infamous Howard Dean speech — Cole Graner (Jack De Sana, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”).

Though the show portrays the complex campaign world more realistically than “Parks and Recreation” has managed to this season, “Battleground” has yet to tap into its true comedic potential. The writing is smart and the characters are amusing, but the pilot has too much drama and politics and not enough laugh-out-loud moments for a workplace sitcom. The writers nail even the smallest details of political strategy and campaign life with skill and accuracy that hasn’t been seen since “The West Wing,” but “Battleground” is supposed to be a sitcom, not a serialized exposé of a congressional race.

Most of the humor leans on the overly eager, bumbling intern Ben Werner (newcomer Ben Samuel). Ben is the Jerry Gergich of the campaign office — he loses a bet on his first day that results in him having to speak and act like he’s a Renaissance-fair performer for the rest of the episode. Ben is endearing in his innocence but still feels like an underdeveloped character. Tak is less lovable, but more engaging in the complex way his mind works and his unconventional approach to campaign strategy.

“Battleground” relies on the once-revolutionary, now-wearing gimmick of filming in the style of a mockumentary. The talking-head format allows the audience to get right into the heads of the characters and results in hilarious payoffs — “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Modern Family” and the film “District 9” all have managed to epitomize the style. But with so many shows taking on the mockumentary lens, it no longer feels fresh. “Battleground” at least adds the extra layer of including interviews with the characters some time after the present-day campaign happenings, in which they reflect back on the events and drop subtle, foreshadowing hints as to what’s to come.

Hulu has certainly set the bar for the scripted, online-only series. The production value and tone of the sitcom are similar to anything you can find on premium cable, and the writing is equally polished. More character development and chemistry between the cast of newcomers will hopefully bring the show’s humor to the next level as the 13-episode series progresses. For now, “Battleground” is simply an amusing show that should and could be hilarious without losing its political edge.

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