It Couldn’t Happen Here
‘Have you got no sense of occasion,
An American senator is murdered. Ross believes it was done by
reactionaries in the FBI. There may not be any evidence, but it
does seem odd that the Secret
Service doesn’t seem to trust the FBI either.
Events West Germany reveals there may be a cabinet minister who
has been giving information to the USSR. Burnside grapples with
the question, how do you stop a man who is more powerful than
you? The pussy-footing around ends in a frank discussion as Burnside
promises not to assassinate Stratford-Baker.
Although not quite as forthright as Oliver Stone's JFK, this episode
rather unsubtly puts forth conspiracy theories about the assassination
of President John Kennedy. For a change, Burnside plays the skeptic,
while other people try to sell him difficult ideas. It's usually
Burnside pitching the difficult ideas to others. In this case,
conflict between the Central
Intelligence Agency and the Federal
Bureau of Investigation.
For American viewers, this episode may be a bit annoying. Both
the late Senator Herrin and the bowtie-wearing Al Briscoe come
across as a bit brash; the ‘American Rifle Association’
is a misnomer; and Burnside appears to have a credulity-stretching
knowledge of U.S. senators (Willie: ‘The young senator from
Maine.’ Burnside: ‘Donald O'Shea?’). Though,
it is possible the events were headline news, or that Burnside
had been reading up on it since he admits to have been thinking
about it all night.
Jana Sheldon’s American accent is very good, but she stumbles
slightly over the pronunciation of ‘photocopy of a letter’.
Look carefully at the letter Peele holds after the scene where
Burnside starts dictating to Diane. The entire text
of the dictation is on the page.
Maybe one more take?
Wipe your mouth, Jeff. Why didn’t Neil bring some napkins?
Last appearance of James Greenley. He exits gracefully and forcefully,
bending Burnside to his ethic of lawful public service, at least
temporarily. Burnside is more terrifying
in this scene than Bond is in any 007 picture.
Intersections with the real world
major theme in this episode is the ethics and responsibility
assassination. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
produced an excellent radio documentary examining exactly this
point. The show is available in the Real Audio format. The
programme, from the CBC
Radio One show Dispatches,
is called State
And of course, there is a Presidential's
Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.