Just when you think nothing else can possibly go wrong in 2020, Europe is about to be hit by a massive solar flare causing widespread power blackouts and disrupting electronics. COBRA (Cabinet Office Briefing Room A), the room in which the government’s leading experts, senior politicians, and crisis contingency planners are forced to put their differences aside and work together, in this case, to restore power after outages lay much of Britain into the dark.
The 6-part series, scheduled to premiere on PBS beginning October 4, stars Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty) as the UK prime minister who has the unenviable task of making sure those that gather in COBRA will ‘play nice’ as all of Europe is plunged into darkness. Victoria Hamilton (Pride and Prejudice, Victoria & Albert, Lark Rise to Candleford, The Crown) and David Haig (The Thin Blue Line, Yes Minister, Killing Eve) star alongside Carlyle as Downing Street Chief of Staff and Home Secretary, respectively.
While you’d think the impending solar storm would be the focus of the storyline, COBRA centers more on the government reaction to the forthcoming catastrophe that is unfolding before our eyes. In what seems, at times, like art imitating life, those in charge must assess a major situation and balance seemingly impossible political decisions all the while knowing that political opponents will seize on any opportunity to exploit a perceived sign of weakness and use it to their political gain.
I think that’s what initially drew me to COBRA when screening the series not long after it premiered in January 2020 in the UK. It wasn’t about terrorism, it wasn’t about a global pandemic, it was about something completely different yet entirely plausible that could cause widespread panic, chaos and damage. Seeing how the inhabitants of COBRA handle the situation might actually be a subtle reminder to the COBRA’s around the world of how disaster can be averted when you put politics aside and work together.
COBRA with Robert Carlyle airs Sundays at 10pET/9pCT beginning October 4 on PBS.