The Bottom Line
- Gripping action, brisk dialogue
- Conspiracy theories loose ends actually tie up
- Sophisticated grasp of real world policy and industry relationshiips
- Lots of British accents!
- Plot events strain credibility, while charges of villainy are pretty predictable
- Rapid fire cuts in the beginning can be exhausting, but they give way in time
- It ends after seven episodes!
- Produced by the BBC and BBC America
- Executive Director Jessica Pope; also directed by Michael Offer and Daniel Percival
- More Information available at The State Within website
Guide Review - The State Within
The six-part miniseries, The State Within, chronicles the relationship between the UK and the United States in the aftermath of a terrorist attack that occurs on a British plane as it departed U.S. airspace. At its center is Sir Mark Brydon (Jason Isaacs), the British Ambassador to the United States, who must liaise between the two countries in the midst of a tense and escalating situation. His efforts to keep the situation under control are met by the fury of the U.S. establishment, represented most colorfully by Sharon Gless as the Secretary of Defense. But that's just the first episode.
The series was produced by the BBC and first aired on Channel Four in 2006, and is keyed to relations between the Bush and Blair administrations turns in part on differences during the Bush administration between the American and the British approaches to terrorism. The United States seen through British eyes, in this miniseries, is a place to wonder at, full of power and ethnic prejudice in equal measure. “I guess they’ll be dunking witches next,” says one British official, frustrated by U.S. detention processes. Relationships between Western governments and developing nation dictators, and the military and military contractors serve as fodder for plot twists (Gless is great not only as a steely eyed SecDef, but as the former CEO of a major military contractor supplying developing nation dictators).
Now that both Bush and Blair are gone, the program may seem slightly musty to some, although issues raised such as ethnic profiling and outsourcing military tasks are far from resolved. The State Within is worth watching on its merits as a fast-paced and tightly plotted drama with some surprisingly nuanced acting, considering the kinds of easily caricatured public official roles being played.