Hello my fellow movie goers from around the globe. Today’s review is about a mini-series about the professional and personal lives of Bob Fosse (Cabaret, All That Jazz, Chicago) & Gwen Verdon. Before famous husband & wife duos Christopher Nolan/Emma Thomas, Peter Jackson/Fran Walsh, Judd Apatow/Leslie Mann & Jonathan Nolan/Lisa Joy were born, Bob Fosse & Gwen Verdon were perhaps the first husband & wife duo working as a duo in The Entertainment Industry. Despite separating as a couple, they continue their partnership professionally.
A non-fiction book titled, “Fosse” chronicles the late director’s life, career and partnership with Gwen as he struggles the ups and downs of his addiction to alcohol, drugs, sex and work affecting personal/professional life. The book was later adapted as an eight part mini-series on FX with Sam Rockwell & Michelle Williams portraying Bob Fosse & Gwen Verdon.
Fosse/Verdon officially aired on FX in 2019. (same year Joker came out) It received critical acclaim from critics and viewers alike. The mini-series later became an eligible nominee at “The Golden Globes,” “Emmys” & “Screen Actors Guild.” (SAG for short) Michelle Williams won “Best Actress In A Limited Series Or Television Film.”
The first time I’ve heard of Bob Fosse, I was studying theater in high school from 9th to 12 Grade learning the craft of acting, directing, narrative etc. Heck, I never enrolled in choir or musicals, because I’m tone deaf. I’m more of a guy behind the camera witnessing a performance. As I studied on Broadway, I became fascinated with Bob’s work. He’s one of my favorite directors of all time and he inspire me to create my own stories.
Today’s review doesn’t contains some light SPOILERS. Is the eight part mini-series worth a watch? Let’s find out shall we?
Positive & Negative Aspects
Positive: Sam Rockwell & Michelle Williams both did an excellent job for their respective as Bob Fosse & Gwen Verdon. In addition to portraying the duo, they also served as executive producers along with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Bob & Gwen’s daughter, Nicole.
Lin-Manuel also has a role as Roy Scheider.
Other Cast Members such as Margaret Qualley & Norbert Leo Butz (it’s really his surname so just go with it) both did a great job for their respective performances.
The Eight Part Mini-Series chronicles the professional/personal lives of the real life duo.
Chemistry between Bob & Gwen serve as the primary highlight.
Bob struggles with four types of addiction ranging from alcohol, drugs, sex and work. Regardless of his professionalism, all four of them contribute to his flawed personality.
Sam & Michelle both took dance classes to mimic Bob & Gwen’s dancing skills. Michelle also did her own singing and dancing too. She has some experience in participating in a musical since “The Greatest Showman.”
The Timeline spans from 1960 to 1987. Each specific time period is recreated.
Not a really complex non-linear (out of order) structure like “Memento,” Flashbacks of Bob & Gwen’s trouble childhood factors in on how they got in show biz in the first place. Come to think a timeline shifting between past and present, how friggin’ awesome would it be if Christopher Nolan directed a musical? Steven Spielberg’s next film is a remake of “West Side Story.” If Steve has what it takes to make a musical, so can Chris as an expression of creatively challenge himself as a filmmaker.
Cinematography felt stable lacking a Shaky Cam.
Throughout the mini-series we witness Bob’s works mostly notably “Cabaret,” “All That Jazz” & “Chicago” come into fruition as a film/theatrical director in some form of behind the scenes drama.
Notable famous faces such as Paddy Chayefsky, Neil Simon, Liza Minnelli, Shirley MacLaine, Dustin Hoffman & Roy Scheider have recurring or minor roles.
Negative: To be honest with you fellas, I couldn’t find no flaw. I’m giving The Cast & Crew an Extra Point for making a flawless mini-series as possible.
Episode 1 – Life Is A Cabaret
Good: After “Sweet Charity” flops at the box office, Bob & Gwen work on their next project known as, Cabaret.
Prior to becoming a flop, Bob & Gwen work on Sweet Charity.
Shirley MacLaine (not actually her or digitally de-aged) appears in a small role back when she was filming Sweet Charity.
Liza Minnelli (like Shirley, the real Liza doesn’t show up or is digitally de-aged) appears in a small role with Bob filming her scenes.
Bob recruits a group of extras.
Bob has flashbacks of his childhood taking dance lessons.
Bad: No flaws found.
Episode 2 – Who’s Got The Pain?
Up: Gwen remembers her first encounter with Bob rehearsing for “Damn Yankees.”
Episode 2’s title is taken from a song and dance number from Damn Yankees when Bob & Gwen practice together.
The song “Whatever Lola Wants” actually originated in Damn Yankees. Whenever I hear that tune, I think of Sofia Vergara in a Pepsi commercial.
The Duo confront each other about Bob’s affair with a translator.
Before they met, The Duo were married to a previous spouse.
Bob has a dispute with producers.
Down: Nothing bad happened.
Episode 3 – Me And My Baby
Yay: Gwen reflects back at her early career. Not a pleasant start.
Episode 3’s title is named after a song from Chicago.
Bob struggles editing Cabaret’s structure after he examines four hours material.
Bob is given an opportunity to direct “Pippin.”
In a state of an emergency, Bob hires his friend Paddy Chayefsky to babysit his daughter, Nicole
Nay: No issues discovered.
Episode 4 – Glory
Happy: Bob ultimately wins an Oscar for “Best Director” beating Francis Ford Coppola. (The Godfather) In addition to winning an Oscar, Bob also took home a “Tony Award” for Pippin & an Emmy for “Liza With A Z.”
Episode 4’s title is named after a song from Pippin.
Bob meets his new girlfriend Ann Reinking.
Bob works simultaneously on Liza With A Z & Pippin.
Nicole is seen reading a Nancy Drew book. Sophia Lillis played the character in the 2019 reboot, “The Hidden Staircase.” Coincidentally, Bob worked with Eric Roberts in “Star 80.” Eric’s daughter Emma, starred as Nancy Drew in 2007.
Sad: No sign of any con.
Episode 5 -Where Am I Going
Plus: This episode takes place in Bob’s Summer home as Gwen mourns the loss of a close friend.
Episode 5’s title is named after a song from Sweet Charity.
Bob mentions he’s onboard to direct “Lenny” and Chicago.
Tension escalates between The Duo and their friends.
Bob mentions Paddy about a “TV news script.” A reference to the screenplay from Sidney Lumet’s “Network.” It was in development at the time before it came out in 1976 along with “Rocky.”
Minus: No flaws found.
Episode 6 – All I Care About Is Love
Healthy: Due to severe stress, Bob suffers a heart attack while editing Lenny and rehearsing Chicago simultaneously.
Episode 6’s episode is named after a song from Chicago.
In his mind, Bob performs a stand-up routine taking the role as Lenny Bruce.
Bob has flashbacks of his unpleasant childhood. Turns out his father is an asshole like Joe Jackson, he’s Michael Jackson’s father who was a Dildo In Charge (DIC for short) of ruining his childhood.
Sick: Nothing bad found.
Episode 7 – Nowadays
Sober: Episode 7’s title is named after a song from Chicago.
After Bob recovers from the hospital, he resumes production of Chicago.
Gwen headlines Chicago as Roxie Hart before Renée Zellweger Oscar nominated performance in 2002.
A flashback shows Bob & Gwen’s marriage.
Drunk: Lacking issues.
Episode 8 – Providence
Stable: Bob films All That Jazz.
Bob is nominated for an Oscar for All That Jazz. Unfortunately, he went home empty handed.
The final episode concludes Bob & Gwen’s partnership when the former sadly kicks the bucket.
Bob completes his last film, Star 80.
Lin-Manuel Miranda appears as Roy Scheider.
The final episode ends with a “where are they now” montage.
Unstable: No flaws found.
The Final Verdict: A, FOR APEX!
Fosse/Verdon is a magnificent mini-series captivating a duo who struggled going through the ups and downs of their personal and professional careers. All the positive stuff I’ve listed from every single episode, indicates why it’s a fascinating eight part mini-series detailing the life of a late legendary film/theater director and his partner. If you want to watch Fosse/Verdon, I strongly recommend it. If you have a Hulu account, stream it immediately.