For King and Country

A wicked British mini-series imagines a political battle royal

What is a King good for? Perhaps no question better illustrates the political gap separating Britain from America. The British royal family is simultaneously venerated and dragged through the mud, looked up to for stability and moral authority, and disparaged as powerless and irrelevant. Imagine if Bill Clinton had to answer to Queen Elizabeth as well as Bob Dole.

Better yet, watch Francis Urquhart (Ian Richardson) face a similar problem in To Play the King, a wickedly entertaining BBC mini-series that has just debuted on PBS's Masterpiece Theatre for a four-week run. Urquhart, the Machiavellian party hack who schemed his way...

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