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4.3 out of 5 stars108
4.3 out of 5 stars
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This certainly turned out to be a most satisfying alternative to the usual TV thrillers out there that rely on police procedure or crime solving. Here, the lynch pin of the story is Sir Mark Dryden, the British Ambassador to the US, played by Jason Isaacs. Frankly, this is probably the most effective role I have seen him in, and is certainly a world away from playing Lucius Malfoy in Harry Potter movies.
This is a truly British type of story, with dominantly British characters and with a complex plot. However, it is set in America, featuring all the landmarks we would expect to see in an American thriller.. the West Wing, Lincoln Memorial, etc. To add to the American mix, we even have a recognizable star of American TV - Sharon Gless, who completely casts aside her past in Cagney and Lacey here to embrace the role of Secretary of Defence with a real sense of grit.
Perhaps the most British aspect of this series is the underlying criticism of certain aspects of government - not least The Patriot Act which comes under fire along the way. Certainly terrorism and its origins are at the very foreground of the action.
To reveal too much about the plot would be unfair, but in a nutshell, Sir Mark is caught up in a web of deceit when a plane leaving for London is blown up, apparently by terrorists. Meantime, a Brit is on Death Row protesting his innocence. Could the two be connected...? Suffice to say many more plot strands arise, and interweave in a manner designed to satisfy and keep you glued to the end.
A 6 part mini-series, one hour per episode, was the perfect format for this thriller - instead of a rushed movie, the characters have enough time to develop and breathe, while the plot never slacks pace.
The only criticism to be made, is that they have followed the American model of TV making just a little too far with the ultra rapid editing and `24' style jump cuts. There is enough thrill on the screen from the plot and the acting without this rather incongruous attempt at accentuating the kinetics - without this minor quibble, this would be a 5 star gem.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 September 2007
A cracking political thriller with most of the action Washington based and involving governments, private companies and perhaps predictably, a small oil-rich Asian country (Trygyzstan, Tyrgyztan or Tyrygsztan depending how quick your eyes are) so the events are very contemporary and mostly credible, too.

The 350 minutes get off to a stunning start with an airliner being blown up and crashing onto an expressway near Washington and from this point on you'll be hooked like I was. Considering this is not big bucks Hollywood the crash looked incredibly convincing, as does everything else though it was mostly filmed in Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario.

The six parts move along efficiently, especially with plenty of steadycam and accompanying sound effects, but you'll have to pay attention because this is not black and white plotting, the good guys are not obvious and there is no winning side. The casting is fine with Jason Isaacs turning in a great British Ambassador and perhaps Sharon Gless should be taken on by Department of Defence as their no-nonsense Secretary (but maybe her hands are tainted, too). Nothing is what it seems at first.

The DVD includes a twenty-seven minute 'making of' extra. Worth a look though it is the usual back slapping stuff. Several minutes are devoted to creating the airliner crash, which I thought were interesting and Grainne Marmion has some good comments on how she interpreted the production.

This is a conspiracy thriller that will certainly be worth watching several times.
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on 11 September 2007
If you can follow the plot and don't mind a slowish pace then this is well acted intelligent drama. There is action so I do not understand the accusations of it being dull. Maybe there are some plot holes but there usually are if you look hard enough. There are some great twists in this.
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on 6 March 2007
I watched this on TV and couldn't wait for the DVD. A really smart story, with great writing, superb acting (Jason Isaacs for Bond NOW!) and excellent cinematography. I was horrified to discover that some newspapers listed this series as one of the big (creative) flops of the year - they couldn't be more wrong.

If you like intelligent, exciting political thrillers which give you the idea they're revealing a lot about the way things REALLY are run, give this a chance. You won't be sorry.
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At nearly 6 hours long this was hard going at times but having stuck with it through some sticky moments it satisfied me eventually.

It does bear a 2nd viewing though because there are many threads going on which eventually link up to make sense.

Jason Isaacs is always very watchable;good looking and solid but with frayed,vulnerable edges and in this series he finds himself isolated, not knowing who to trust within the embassy in which he is the British Ambassador.

Pitted against him are rogue CIA,rogue American and British Special Forces and diplomatic insiders whom may have their own agendas.

I'm glad I watched to the end because it panned out well and was ultimately highly entertaining.But I am a fan of Isaacs.
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on 26 November 2009
Bought this DVD on the strength of the previous reviews and thoroughly enjoyed it. Shame that it was so short (relative to 24) and hope that the writers produce this quality again with BBC at the helm.
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on 12 December 2006
Mesmerising performances, brilliant script - British TV at it's best.

The life of a British Ambassador has never been something I'd been previously curious about however proved a rich source of possibilities - and so good to see an original drama that wasn't revolving about the Police and medical services.

Having watched it faithfully on TV, I'll be watching the DVD series again!

Can only hope there will be a second series...
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on 9 October 2013
One of the best series I have seen in a long time. Cast were superb. It is a must see. The frightening thing is that this situation could already have happened/happening now/or happen in the future.

I will endevour to make time to see all of the episodes in one go.
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on 24 June 2009
Superb script, fabulous performers, great filming. This at the top rank of political thrillers. The plot deals with contemporary global politics and important issues are intelligently and provocatively handled. All the incidents have happened somewhere in the world in the last five years. As the bizarre extremes of fact seem to want to outstrip fiction, it's a challenge for drama to keep up with them, but 'State of Play' does it.

I note a strong female input on the production side and the most harrowing legal execution scene ever. Why not clear a weekend to watch this series right through as it is a really suspenseful page-turner (disc-changer?).
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on 31 May 2009
After an initial bang to start the series, the show is quite a slow burner, which gradually picks up pace towards a final crecendo. It becomes increasingly difficult to turn off. The State Within is an intriguing political drama with a considerable element of plotting and conspiracy. There is a lot to think about here, not just in terms of the unfolding story, but also how aspects of it may reflect the real world. You will need to concentrate and keep your wits about you. Not one to watch when tired and struggling to focus.
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