Monday, February 26, 2007

O'BSERVATIONS: "THE STATE WITHIN"

I caught up with the entire run of the mini-series 'The State Within', nearly 8 hours in length, which ran in its entirety on Saturday.

I'm a big fan of high-stakes political thrillers, ever since discovering Fletcher Knebel in high school. (And yet, oddly, I just can't get into '24'.....)

'The State Within' was set in an alternate TV dimension, similar to our world - and that of the main Toobworld - save that the President of the United States was named Wilson.

It could have been set in the near future - no more than just three years away, I'm thinking, because there was no great advances in technology... at least to my untrained eye. But since eventually the time would come when there would be no President Wilson on the horizon for us and Toobworld, it had to be relegated to a different dimension.

But without naming names (i.e., past Presidents), it did establish that the recent history of its dimension was similar to ours. They also had troops in Afghanistan and the collapse of the Soviet Union came about circa 1990 (the date mentioned by Secretary of Defense Lynn Warner). Although set in Washington, DC and Tampa, Florida, the focus was on a fictional country in Central Asia near the Afghan border, Tyrzygztan.

Had it not been for mention of President Wilson, the use of Tyrzygztan would not have eliminated 'The State Within' from consideration for Earth Prime-Time "membership". The main Toobworld is teeming with fictional countries like Caronia, Svardia, and the Isle of Mypos.

It would have been nice to place 'The State Within' into the same TV dimension which houses 'The West Wing' or even the one for 'Commander-In-Chief', but again the near-future timeline preempts that. I would think that given the time frame, Matt Santos and MacKenzie Allen would still be the POTUS in their respective dimensions.

But there is another mini-series which could probably use the company, and it was a British production as well.

Here is the plot summary from the IMDb.com:

Plot Summary for
'A Very British Coup' (1988) (TV)

Socialists (like the fictional Harry Perkins) believe in promoting social change through the democratic system, whereas communism is opposed to democracy. Perkins is only referred to in the film as "communist" by some of those who oppose him, and the actual quote in the film is "Harry Perkins from Sheffield, steel worker and third generation socialist" When Harry Perkins, a third-generation socialist, becomes Britain's Prime Minister, he sends shockwaves through the government, both at home and abroad.

Nuclear disarmament and open government are just two of the things he wants to accomplish. US interests combine with the old boys network to try and defeat Perkins with spies, tabloids, tapes: quiet, behind-the-scenes tools to accomplish a very British coup.

That aired nearly twenty years ago, and again, was probably set in real time for its TV dimension. Twenty years can be several lifetimes in politics, and so I can't see a downside to allowing these two mini-series co-existing in the same TV dimension.

Whoever became the PM after Harry Perkins in 'A Very British Coup' would probably have left office at Number 10 Downing Street by now, and we never heard his name mentioned in 'The State Within'; all we know is that the Prime Minister was male.

I have an alternate TV dimension established which I call Earth Prime-Time/MOW, which has an alternate Earth timeline containing different Presidents of the United States going all the way back to the 1930s, with the TV production of the musical 'Of Thee I Sing'. (My splainin for that being a musical? O'Bviously Sweet the Demon from 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' crossed the dimensional vortex to inflict his powers on the characters.)

The latest entries I had for that timeline were of the TV movies about the Secret Service agent Alex McGregor ('First Daughter', 'First Target', 'First Shot'). Since the last one of that trilogy aired in 2002, it's more than likely that President Hayes left office in 2004 and was replaced by Wilson.

By the way, getting the Toobworld nuts and bolts out of the way, 'The State Within' was edge of your seat excitement for this viewer. I was really caught up in the lives of these characters and the final Big Reveal caught me by surprise. Never even suspected that person as the behind the scenes Big Bad. (I think it may have been due to the blandness of the character involved, which was probably intentional now that I've thunked upon it.)

I've never been a big fan of Jason Isaacs before, but this was a great role for him; and somehow his Sir Mark Brydon, the British Ambassador, reminded me of Connery in his prime. And Sharon Gless was note perfect as the Defense Secretary.

My only real complaint was of the orange hues whenever the scene shifted to Tampa. After awhile, I had to figure that this TV dimension had suffered some kind of global warming catastrophe down South.

Usually with TV mini-series of this nature, I'm never in doubt that everything will be figured out in time. Not with 'The State Within'. I honestly had doubts that the heroes would be able to stop the villains' plans, or even survive to the end. And the final minute of the tele-play was probably the best option to play out; always leave 'em with some doubts.....

BCnU!
Tele-Toby

3 comments:

MediumRob said...

My memory's a bit cloudy, but didn't A Very British Coup end with a coup? Black helicopter hovering into view as the US/British military decide enough is enough and the PM needs replacing? I'm pretty sure the UK/US interactions would have been very different in The State Within in such a situation, even 20 years on.

Toby said...

I think it did end with a coup against Harry Perkins and his Socialists, but only to bring things back to the way they were.

And the blame being heaped on the British because of the bombing could have been payback because of long-simmering tensions stemming from that chapter in history.

20 years after Nagasaki and America was swamped with their transistor radios, so I'm not sure the time span matters that much....

MediumRob said...

JAs Douglas Adams put it, "The difference between Europe and the US is that in the US 100 years is a long time and in Europe 100 miles is a long way".

20 years is nothing. There are still people in Britain gassing on about the Second World War and generally under the impression that Germans are war-like, etc, even though the Germans lost and we've started a hell of a lot more wars since. And let's not get started on the French. We're still narked about 1066.

The US launches a coup against the democratically elected British government of the late 80s? We'd be harbouring a grudge still. Oh yes.