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Series / State of Play

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2003 British Conspiracy Thriller Mini Series starring David Morrissey as Stephen Collins, a rising star MP whose researcher dies on The London Underground, and John Simm as Cal McCaffrey, an old friend of Collins' who managed his first election campaign and now works as the reporter investigating her death. What starts out as a tabloidy hatchet job quickly turns out to be the tip of a very big iceberg, and the reporters manage to uncover all sorts of unwholesome facts about the government.

Directed by pre-Harry Potter David Yates. Later adapted into a film starring Russell Crowe.

This miniseries contains examples of:

  • All for Nothing: Stephen finds out the secretary he's having an affair with is The Mole for the multinational oil company he's investigating. He feels both betrayed and in a bind (he can't just fire her) so he looks the other way when his old army buddy decides to kill her, only to find out afterwards that she had decided to stop spying for her employer because she was In Love with the Mark.
  • Batman Gambit: The government has known all along about The Mole, but don't tell Stephen as the oil industry is making the changes they want to preempt his inquiry, avoiding a costly battle with the multinationals which would damage the economy.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: a mild variation in Stephen Collins. On the outside he is a Nice Guy, a calm, quiet man, deeply saddened and sorry for what has happened, contrite and ashamed of what he has done. However, when something happens to make him angry he can turn into a self-righteous hypocrite, attacking whoever is on hand with scathing and cruel insults, where he pushes any blame onto someone else.
    • The most telling example of his character is when he finds out that his wife started an affair after she separated from him when his own was revealed to the nation. What he says to both Anne and Cal show that he really thinks of both of them as pathetic, damaged, disgusting and inferior to him (remembering that he has been crying for sympathy from both of them from the very start), and then he comes home and bitches out his own son extensively, blaming both him and Anne for "looking at him sideways" and "driving him away", essentially neglecting him and making him commit the affair in the first place.
  • Cool Old Guy: Cameron Foster. Cool, calm and collected, he orchestrates the reporters' tactics on the story, and his sense of pride for his protegés is completely palpable.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: All the reporters. They're right.
    • Subverted though as the murders which kick off the investigation aren't by the secret service or the evil multinationals — they're carried out for purely personal reasons.
  • Friend on the Force:
    • DCI Bell becomes this for the journalists when it becomes clear that his superiors want the case prematurely closed.
    • DI Brown is one for Della before he gets killed.
  • Going for the Big Scoop: The journalists are variously threatened, blackmailed, burgled, held at gunpoint and ordered to stop by their boss, his boss and a High Court judge and still persist.
  • Headphones Equal Isolation: The hotel cook completely fails to notice a hitman and a policeman running past him with guns.
  • Healthcare Motivation: When Dan suggests his father is selling out for not pushing harder to get the story published, Cameron reminds him of his mother’s medical bills.
  • Moral Myopia: Quite a bit of this going around. On an average everyday level, there is Stephen, who expects understanding and sacrifice from the people in his life when he has a year-long affair with his employee, yet has a tantrum when his own wife has an affair afterwards when they are separated, making those same people - e.g. his wife, who previously lied for him in a press conference to cover for his infidelity - suffer from his anger. On a criminal level there is oil and lobby executives as well as significant parliamentary figures who believe they are perfectly justified in destroying people's lives and/or killing them, while taking immediate offense (read: intimidation, threats and proactive steps) to people digging into their lives to discover the truth.
  • Nom de Mom: Cameron tells Dan the articles he writes will be under his mother's maiden name. And not call him "Dad" when they are in the newsroom.
  • No Party Given: While it's pretty obvious that Stephen (along with the government) is Labour - e.g. he mentions the Tories as opponents - it's never actually stated.
  • Precision F-Strike: "They're offering me a seat. I'll tell them to fuck themselves."
    • "Precision" is the operative word here - the above is delivered not in speech but in written notes. In Parliament no less...!
    • "You're like peas in a fucking pod!"
  • Rewatch Bonus: Stephen's breakdown at the initial press conference hints at his affair with Sonia, but it's not until the end that you realize he's also traumatized by the fact that he was responsible for her death.
  • Wham Line: Two of them:
    • "She'd (Sonia) fallen in love with Collins. She'd gotten herself pregnant to him." This inspires the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    • "Sonia meeting Paul Canning on a daily basis down at the Trocadero, telling him everything!" Cal doesn't realize the significance of this at first, but when he plays the tape back, he realizes only the Psycho for Hire knew this information, and the only way Stephen could know it is if he was the one who hired him.