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State of Play
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this political thriller from the BBC operates at an intricate, highly sophisticated level that is only appropriate for teens who express an interest in following such a complex story. Mild violence and sexuality are key elements of the storyline, with occasional moments of more intense violence without significant bloodshed.
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What's the story?
The 2003 BBC miniseries thriller STATE OF PLAY opens with two seemingly unrelated deaths -- the shooting of a teenage pickpocket and the discovery of a young researcher's dead body. The researcher was both employed by politician Stephen Collins (David Morrissey) and entangled with him in an extramarital affair. These two disparate acts of violence slowly converge into a single conspiracy revolving around Collins and other high-ranking British government ministers. It's up to reporter Cal McCaffrey with the aid of editor Cameron Foster (Bill Nighy) to untangle the intricate plot even as Collins' own life unravels at the center of it. If this sounds familiar, it was remade into a major motion picture starring Russell Crowe and Ben Affleck.
Is it any good?
Some entertainment demands attention -- a loud Michael Bay blockbuster movie, for example, or a deafening rock concert. Other works require attention, yours to give or deny, and your failure to concentrate is ultimately your own loss.
State of Play requires attention; it's an intricately plotted conspiracy thriller with an impeccable cast that brings nuance and tact to their roles. But it does not spoonfeed viewers, nor does it stop and linger over critical plot points so that everyone is sure to catch on. It's not designed for casual viewing while dinner's on the table or laundry is being folded. Instead, it's that rare animal -- a dramatic TV series that rewards close viewing, that does not wilt under attention but instead only flourishes when you're really watching and listening.
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