Some of the best things we've seen on DVDs we've borrowed from the Library have been TV series we never caught up on when they were first broadcast. If they were broadcast here at all.
Over the last couple of days we've watched the six hour-long episodes of The State Within, in
which Jason Isaacs plays the British Ambassador in Washington, a man of
considerable integrity and honesty, and an unwillingness to play the
warmongering game that the current Secretary for Defense is playing.
series had innumerable twists and turns - some of which, in hindsight,
seemed to be there for no reason more than to cast suspicion on a
character - but it was well written, very well directed and presented,
and had a solid cast of Brits and Yanks. And a big budget, too; early in
the piece a passenger plane is blown up over a motorway, and this is
only one of a number of large set-pieces.
was written and directed by Daniel Percival, and co-authored by Lizzie
Mickery, a writer with a great deal of television experience behind
her. Percival began his career as a documentary maker, and his eye for
the right detail shows throughout this series. Michael Offer also
shared the directing credits. There'd need to be a co-director: taking
on the mammoth task of directing more than six hours of film would
require the stamina and brain of a workaholic. However the work was
shared out (they claim three episodes each on imdb.com) there's no sense
of this not being all of a piece.
Isaacs more regularly plays suave villains, some more evil than others (The Patriot, Harry Potter),
but here he brings his talents to a role that requires him to be hero,
substitute father, solid friend, lover and whatever else he has time
for. He's on screen for a great deal of the time, and makes a
considerable impact, and gives a solid centre to the series. His
offsider is played by Ben Daniels, who is required to keep us guessing
throughout (even after it's been revealed which side he's playing on).
Daniels manages this difficult task well, especially as in a couple of
instances there seems to be a bit of a puzzle in the scriptwriters'
minds as to how far into the double-dealing game he's gone. There are a
host of other characters, many of whom stand out, but it's great to see
Sharon Gless, Cagney from the 80s Cagney and Lacey series in a role that allows her some wider leeway for her talent.
series, which was made in 2006, hasn't dated at all; warmongering with
smaller nations, which plays a strong part in the plot, is as rampant as
ever, as is the hyping-up of terrorism as an excuse.