Victoria Hamilton is great value for money, as is a delightful Jane Horrocks, but Cobra: Rebellion takes itself a little too seriously to be truly enjoyable
“There’s national security and making public protest a capital crime”
As with many a Sky drama, you could easily blink and miss Cobra: Rebellion and also be surprised that this show is now on its third series. Its first was a delicious lockdown romp, its second took itself a little too seriously and that is a trajectory carried on in this third instalment of this soapy political thriller, created by Spooks alumnus Ben Richards.
It is named for the Whitehall meeting room where emergency briefings are held and this time around following solar flares and floods in Kent, the enemy is a sinkhole up north. Naturally, there’s more to it, namely eco-terrorists, civil disobedience legislation and a Tory party at war with itself and with this much resonance to current times, it ought to hit a little harder than it does.
Part of the problem is a tendency towards soapish tropes. Robert Carlyle’s Prime Minister is as concerned with marital problems and rebellious teenage daughters as with the affairs of the nation and though they do intertwine, it is hard to get too involved in their family strife. Even as the wonderful Victoria Hamilton as Chief of Staff Anna Marshall gets embroiled, you can’t help but wish for more focus on, you know, the real drama.
For there’s lots that is interesting. The internal politics of activist groups, the nefarious antics of secret corporate bodies, the endless machinations of politicians of all stripes, the enduring loyalty of police and the army to their own…Lisa Palfrey’s intelligence chief Eleanor is a standout here, particularly as she flirts with the private sector in Rina Mahoney’s unscrupulous Zelda.
And Jane Horrocks, David Haig and Edward Bennett are all great fun as tricksy Westminster archetypes, leaving the sense that there’s unexplored potential here. Minus points too for tossing aside Lucy Cohu so casually as the PM’s put-upon wife. Still, it is undemanding in its watchability which counts for something.