on 21 September 2006
I missed this when it aired on TV and bought the DVD on a friend's recommendation. I'm gald I did, this is outstanding. Interesting to see a pre 'Life on Mars' pairing of John Simm and Philip Glenister (surely a Regan for the new millenium) David Morrisey and Bill Nighy also turn in very convincing performances.
The chief tenet of the show is that politicians will go to almost any length to manipulate events to their advantage, but there is a massively unexpected twist in the denouement that makes this worth watching alone,
Buy or borrow this - you won't regret it.
on 16 March 2006
This series has it all, no stopping for tea, just sit and watch, suspense, intrigue, sex, humour, real life thrills this has it all. Once you start be prepared for six hours infront of the television. What an ending, a hitchcock masterpiece if ever i saw one. Just brilliant, rent it, buy it, own it, whatever, just watch it.
Back in 2003 the BBC asked the award-winning scriptwriter Paul Abbott to write something 'big' for them. Abbott, who'd cut his teeth on the UK's biggest soap, Coronation Street, before creating his own shows such as Touching Evil, Clocking Off and Linda Green, was just about to become the superstar of British scriptwriting, with both his BBC project and another that was in development at the time for C4, Shameless, which was about to launch him into the stratosphere. The BBC project became the political thriller State of Play. To say the BBC pulled out the 'big guns' for it would be an understatement. Some of the UK's biggest and best actors, including John Simm and Philip Glenister (who would be reunited for the excellent Life on Mars three years later) and the mighty Bill Nighy were recruited, along with Polly Walker (Patriot Games, Rome), Neil Morrissey (Framed, Blackpool) and Kelly MacDonald (Trainspotting). The drama also gave huge boosts to the careers of several younger actors, most notably James McAvoy (now a big star thanks to the movies The Last King of Scotland and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) and Marc Warren (Hustle, Hogfather and a memorable cameo in the new Doctor Who).
The series opens with a young black man being gunned down on the streets of London. Initially the murder is dismissed as a drug-related killing, although his family are adamant he didn't touch drugs. On the same day Sonia Baker, the personal assistant and clandestine lover of rising Labour MP Stephen Collins (Morrissey), falls to her death on the London Underground. Collins' breakdown makes it clear to the press and Parliament that they were lovers, and soon his career and his marriage to Anne (Walker) are in danger. Ironically, the only friend he can turn to is Cal McAffrey (Simm), the chief reporter for the London Herald, the paper which is investigating both deaths. An examination of mobile phone records suggests that the two deaths are related. The Herald puts its top journalists on the trail which uncovers evidence of high-level corruption and manipulation. When one of his police officers is killed during the investigation, DCI William Bell (Glenister) takes a personal interest in the case, eventually resulting in an uneasy truce as the police and the journalists work together to find the real story behind the deaths, whilst editor Cameron Foster (Nighy) attempts to keep his superiors from shutting the story down.
State of Play is a stunning piece of work. Taking its cue as much from All the President's Men as earlier BBC political thrillers such as the House of Cards trilogy of mini-series, this is a gripping story with twists that somehow defy cliche at every turn. Misdirections crop up frequently and the extremely well-drawn characters follow through on them logically. It's nice to see a newspaper drama in which there isn't any 'lose cannon' operating on his own: the journalists act as a team, protected by their editor as long as the story seems worth it, and use contacts and modern technology to dig deeper into the facts in a very believable manner. The workings of Parliament, including how the independent committees function under pressure from lobby groups, are also laid out clearly.
Acting-wise, you couldn't ask for a better cast. Nighy gives a performance that may be one of the best of his career, including easily the funniest lines of the series. It takes some damn fine actors to hold their own and stop him stealing every scene, but Simm, Glenister, MacDonald, McAvoy and the rest rise to the occasion superbly, whilst Marc Warren gives a tremendous performance as the incredibly nervous, edgy main lead on the story who is fearing for his life. Morrissey, as one of our very best but underrated actors, makes Stephen Collins a believably weak but human character. Walker is also on terrific form as the wife who finds out her husband was having an affair and planning to leave her.
I don't think there's many more adulations I can pour on this mini-series, which was nominated for BAFTAs and other awards, and is now being mentioned in the same breath as Edge of Darkness among the canon of quality BBC drama serials. Filming has just been completed on an American film version, which casts Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck in Simm and Morrissey's roles (although if they do half as good a job, I will be shocked), and it will be released in early 2009.
State of Play (*****) is one of the best British drama mini-series of all time, period, and I would thoroughly recommend it to everyone.
on 1 May 2005
Having watched this programme 2 years ago (originally transmitted May/June 03 I was really annoyed with myself when I missed the last episode and hadn't recorded it. When I saw it on amazon a few weeks ago to pre-order i knew I just had to own it to see the ending and believe me I wasn't disappointed.
This is a fatastic politcal thriller written by the wonderful Paul Abbott that stars david Morrissey, John Simm and Bill Nighy. I don't want to give too much away about the plot but if you are a fan of political drama this DVD is a must.
"The more compelling moments of the series come not in the various subplots surround the mystery in front of us--although it is mystery indeed--but in how indoctrinate and incestuous the interplay between politics, media, and industry are in the modern information age. All three stand at cross-purposes, yet secretly acknowledge that none can succeed without careful consideration of the other two. Vital communication often runs deep underneath the observed interactions between the groups, taking place in back-room meetings and clandestine e-mails, and through veiled threats." Judge Arsenault
Having just come off the viewing of 10 weeks of the critically acclaimed HBO's TV show 'The Wire', I needed a pick me up, and wowser did I find one. This BBC 6 show series that aired in 2004 has it all and it is an even toss up with me as to which show is best, 'The Wire' or 'State of Play'. In both series the acting is superb. Bill Nighy as the wry, buttoned down, full of himself editor of the Herald hits the mark every time and won the UK's Best Actor award. Polly Walker known to most of us from HBO's 'Rome' is the politician's wife and is flawless. David Morrissey, as the politician, John Simm and Kelly Macdonald as the intrepid reporters for the Herald mark this cast as fully realized.
The shotgun murder of a drug-related killing, and the apparent accidental death of Sonia Baker, a researcher for Member of Parliament Stephen Collins seems unrelated. The one difference is the makings of a scandal when the news of Sonia's death hits the streets. Stephen Collins the Parliament member who employed Sonia is visibly shocked and upset when her death is announced. The editor of the Herald suspects some hanky-panky and sends two of his best investigative reporters out to look the matter over. Cal McCaffrey and Della Smith find that these two deaths are not only related but were linked to the oil industry and the British government. One scandal after another is uncovered and this minor story soon leaps to the largest story of the year.
The story of corruption and mayhem and lies and deceit are all realistic. The fact that the media, government and industry could all be in collusion seems all too true to those of us in the US looking at the war in Iraq and what has been wrought. What we don't count on is that once we think we have everything figured out, a new twist occurs. Some of this is a little over the top, but the superb acting counters any fallacy.
'State Of Play' shines on the media, in this case, the newspaper, the Herald. Financial success is intertwined with the government, and it is not easy to convince the CEO and the board that publishing the story is the right thing to do. Everyone in this series is touched in some manner by the final decisions and actions that take place. The action, the suspense, the writing, the cinematography are all as one to produce one of the best BBC series I have viewed. Helen Mirren and Russell Crowe are at this moment filming a movie version of this series. We have the best here, how could they ever top this series?
Highly, Highly Recommended. prisrob 03-13-08
The Girl in the Cafe
8 1/2 Women
on 16 April 2006
Starring two of Britain's finest actors- David Morrissey and John Simm, this much-acclaimed drama is of a quality that will simply astound you. Without going into the storyline -this is best left to see for yourself, the intelligent dialogue and superb plot will simply take your breath away.
Although Morrissey gets top billing and is, as ever, superb, there is no doubting that this series belongs to John Simm, though admittedly Bill Nighy -not deviating one bit from the standard "intelligent rogue" character he has down to perfection, almost steals the show -but not quite. Simm is cast to a tee as the broadsheet investigator who, along with his team, uncover the story of a lifetime and there is also a fabulous performance by a young James McAvoy.
Though the plot is indeed far from simple, it is to the credit of the writers that the viewer is never left confused so sit back and enjoy this intelligent political thriller of the highest order. I cannot recommend it highly enough
on 13 April 2006
This is a must-see for anyone who likes political thrillers. Or well-written dramatisations of deception and human frailty. Or brilliantly plotted stories which unravel at just the right pace. Or wonderfully acted, British drama.
I only wish there were more DVDs like this. Absolutely gripping!!
on 29 March 2006
Nothing much I can add to the other reviews except that I found myself so tense my back hurt; and that doesn't happen every day in front of the TV. A really great six hours.
on 11 January 2009
I have read in many sites about how good was State of Play, a couple of friends even told me to get a copy in DVD to check it out, so I did and I was kind of scared, as usually when everyone tells you something is good it tends to disappoint you, but no, this is actually very good. John Simm is brilliant as ever, that man can really act, his character is amazing here, in his humanity, which means that he has both good moments, brilliant ones and darker ones. The whole cast was pretty good but I should say the script is definitely one of the reasons this is so interesting, keeps you guessing and wanting more.
I do recommend it, as I have enjoyed it.
on 24 August 2007
I just wanted to add my praise to the rest of the reviews. This was intelligent, well acted, gripping drama.
All the performances were faultless. Some of our best actors are in this : David Morrisey; John Simm; Bill Nighy;
James McAvoy; Polly Walker (Rome); Kelly MacDonald (the girl in the cafe); Philip Glenister (Life on Mars) and Marc Warren (The vice).
I thought the character played by Marc Warren was quite amusing though he was not supposed to be. It was just his efforts to escape I found funny. James McAvoy adds a light touch as well.
This requires careful concentration but it is worth it.