Review froom the New York Sun

This BBC/BBC America miniseries, filmed in Toronto, was broadcast on 2 November 2006 on BBC1 in the UK, and in the US in February 2007.

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Review froom the New York Sun

Post by Helen8 » Tue Feb 13, 2007 12:15 pm

It's very long, but it's a great review. I've excerpted the best.

Blaming America First

February 13, 2007

Don't worry about getting bored. "The State Within," a three-part, seven-and-ahalf-hour BBC/ BBC America miniseries showing on BBC America February 17, 18, and 24, is a glossy, skillful, well-acted, multilayered, and thoroughly engrossing production that has all the suspense of "24" minus the over-the-top cliff-hangers, candelabra lighting, and perpetually frayed vocal cords of Kiefer Sutherland. Rest assured, whatever happens, no one will utter a sentence such as: "A nuclear bomb is about to explode two miles from here in seven seconds. I need you to get the president on the phone, and then call…"

The program's title alludes to the perception, common in Britain and hardly unusual here, that since the election of 2000, America has been run by a cabal bent on starting wars and willing to engineer atrocities on its own soil in order to justify them. Beginning with a British Airways flight exploding over Washington, D.C., the film pits British rationality and (mostly) good intentions against American overreaction, mendacity, and imperial greed.

It's also a kind of left-wing fantasy about how the British-American "special relationship" ought to function.

"This war's illegal, Lynn," the British ambassador, Sir Mark Brydon (Jason Isaacs), tells the American secretary of state shortly after we glimpse him in front of a portrait of Winston Churchill. "Stand the planes down!" In that sense, "The State Within" might as easily have been called, "If Blair Were Not a Poodle." To be a British pol worthy of Churchill here means opposing American aggression, while any threat emanating from the Muslim world is seen as a smokescreen behind which corporate and neoconservative skulduggery can flourish. The real villains are corporations like "Armitage" (read: Halliburton) and "CMC," or think tanks like "the Lowenberg Institute." Eric Ambler's celebrated line from the 1939 novel, "A Coffin for Dimitrios" — "The most important thing to know about an assassination is not who fired a shot, but who paid for the bullet" — remains key.

Politics aside, "The State Within" does many things superbly. Particularly good is its take on Washington as the center of world power, a city in which almost every action is covertly filmed or bugged. Mr. Isaacs convincingly portrays an ambassador who, despite having a touch of James Bond, is less in the loop than his aide, Nicholas Brocklehurst ( Ben Daniels), who works for MI6. Nicholas is having an affair with Christopher Styles ( Noam Jenkins), America's Undersecretary for Defense Intelligence, who works directly for the Secretary of Defense, Lynne Warner (Sharon Gless).

This is in keeping with the film's thesis that politicians are mostly front men, whether they realize it or not. (The American president is never shown, the unmistakable implication being that to do so would be pointless, since it's Warner — Dick Cheney in drag — who's running the show anyway. One of the few times the president is even mentioned is when Warner says, "Of course, it's the President's decision" — and then smirks. The British Prime Minister is similarly invisible.)

"The State Within" is not only a terrific thriller, it's also a sobering reminder of how most of the world, including much of America, views this country now. To underline the point, BBC America is airing the first two episodes over Presidents Day weekend. Nice one, mate.

Last edited by Helen8 on Tue Feb 13, 2007 9:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Hilary the Touched » Tue Feb 13, 2007 1:05 pm

since it's Warner — Dick Cheney in drag — who's running the show anyway.
Hm, which emoticon conveys grim amusement?
Cogent review, Helen--thanks for sharing it!

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