Thursday, January 15, 2009

Close your eyes, can't happen here

Earlier I gushed about the British TV spy drama the Sandbaggers. I am about to wrap up the second season/collection and I was just blown away by the episode titled "It Can't Happen Here." This episode takes the 70s paranoid style to a new level. Spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you haven't seen it.

The episode starts with the assassination of an American Senator. The London based CIA chief of station thinks it is the FBI, since they did the Kennedy and King jobs after all. Burnside thinks King, Kennedy sure, but Hoover is out, so no more dirty tricks, yes? Not so much says CIA guy. Burnside is aghast and is happy it can't happen in the UK. Famous last words of course. Turns out a highly placed British Cabinet Minister is in bed with the boys from the Lubyanka. Try as they might, the SIS cannot dislodge the Minister who merrily goes on his way. Burnside tells his allies that it is better not to go around assasinating politicians in your own country, but then tells one of his staff something a bit different. The last line is an absolute classic.

What is astounding about this episode is that it agrees with the paranoid style films of the 70s that rogue government agencies are taking the law into their own hands, but also that this is in fact a good thing overall. Amazing!

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