After a plane explodes over Washington D.C. panic begins to envelop the British embassy, and its ambassador to the U.S. Mark Brydon finds himself caught up in a potentially damaging diplomatic incident.
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Ambassador to Washington is the pinnacle of success in the Foreign Office and the position is offered to only the brightest and the best. But Ambassador Mark Brydon finds his skills tested to the limits when, following a major diplomatic incident, he is thrust into a web of tangled relationships and conflicting interests. In a world of high stakes, where manipulation of information means ultimate power, the question is: who can he trust? Written by
Going into this six-part series, I have to admit that my interest at first was mostly prurient, thanks to a couple of well-placed clips on YouTube (and I'll let you guess which ones.) Rare is the occasion that my partner and I will put up with an entire series over the span of two nights, but we got so involved that we actually did it: Parts 1-3 one night; 4-6 on the following evening.
And was it worth it! From the moment a British jetliner on the way back to London explodes over Washington, DC, THE STATE WITHIN literally grabs you by the throat and won't stop shaking you until the final episode.
Now, fans of series like 24, CSI and THE UNIT should take note here: this is way out of the comfort zone of the 'casual' viewer. To their credit, writers Lizzie Mickery and Daniel Percival are not about to spoon-feed you one single detail, so mentally you'd better be 'on your toes' at all times and keeping up with all the espionage, double-dealing and a large and exceptional cast, because this train's not stopping to wait for anybody. Plus the kinetic directing styles of Michael Offer in the first three episodes and writer Percival taking the helm for the remainder, ensure that it stays moving and engaging, even when there's not a lot of things blowing up or people getting dispatched in the nastiest ways possible.
The ensemble cast, led in an unusually heroic turn by Jason Isaacs is great, as everyone brings something to the table. If you are familiar with British and Canadian television, a few faces will definitely be familiar to you, especially FOREVER KNIGHT'S Nigel Bennett playing one of his most hissable brand of baddies, and Lennie James in a surprisingly sympathetic role as a death-row inmate. Ben Daniels and Noam Jenkins are standouts as two men who are essentially on opposite sides of the same coin (and so much more.)
And definitely worth noting is Sharon Gless' performance as the steely Secretary of Defense who seems to be pulling all the strings and manipulating all the players in this nightmarish scenario, but wait! No one and nothing is as it seems in this piece, and though it feels like the first two episodes kind of leave you swinging in the wind, your patience will be richly rewarded as by Part Three, the pieces begin to fall into place. And if the story threads of WMD's, covert military operations, backroom deals and cold-blooded murder sounds a little too familiar, you better believe that it's intentional.
In fact, it's a mark of Mickery and Percival's creative skills, that when I started watching the news shortly after finishing Part 6, I felt like I was still watching the movie!
I recommend THE STATE WITHIN with extreme bias on my part. I love "thinking man's thrillers", and this is one of the best I've seen in a long time. American writers and producers should watch this and learn something....
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