Brits do Minis in a Big Way


The U.K. isn't known for food or dentistry, but when it comes to miniseries they set the standard. Political thrillers "State of Play" and "The State Within" stand out for acting and action.

"State of Play" was remade as a feature film in the U.S. Though the political drama is the same, the British version's additional storyline adds punch and is better cast. John Simm plays investigative reporter, Cal McCaffrey, whose college friend, Stephen Collins, is a politician. Collins comes under scrutiny for an alleged affair. Because of McCaffery's relationship with Collins, his newspaper expects exclusive information. The situation intensifies when McCaffrey investigates a shooting and unearths a briefcase that pits the paper against the police for withholding evidence. John Simm's performance is full of agonizing decisions as his profession and friendships are in conflict.

"The State Within" stars Jason Isaacs as British Ambassador Mark Brydon. When a plane explodes over Washington D.C., the finger pointing begins. Sharon Gless is the steely, unforgiving Secretary of State and Ben Daniels plays Nicholas Brocklehurst, Brydon's deliciously conniving assistant. Everyone except the hero has at least one hidden agenda. The many storylines seem disparate in the first few episodes, but persevere and the intricate plot is masterful.

Both miniseries are gripping thrillers full of acerbic dialog showing how politics can be as dangerous as a drunken knife fight.


--Cindy F., Headquarters

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