PBS Drama ‘COBRA’ Reminds Viewers That ‘Politicians Are Human Beings’

Cobra Anna Marshall Robert Sutherland
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Courtesy of PBS

A natural disaster has turned all the lights out — and the British government is reeling in PBS’ COBRA.

Stoic prime minister Robert Sutherland (Robert Carlyle, Once Upon a Time) certainly has his hands full in this intense six-episode import. He and his Cabinet Office Briefing Room A committee (COBRA) are up against a ticking clock to figure out how to handle an impending solar storm — one that will literally cloak the country in darkness.

“While the show starts with a catastrophe, we are more interested in the social consequences,” says executive producer Ben Richards. “How far should a government go to prevent a descent into anarchy?”

Before you can say blackout, planes are down, fires are raging — and looters, vigilantes and prison escapees are running wild. Even among those trying to restore order, some opportunistic officials have their own agenda.

Cobra PBS

(Credit: Courtesy of PBS)

“It’s important to remember that politicians are human beings,” notes Richards. Case in point: When Sutherland’s daughter, Ellie (Marisa Abela), calls, sobbing over a friend who has nearly died, he tells wife Rachel (Lucy Cohu), “I just don’t have time for that.” He’s got a whole country full of people to keep alive.

COBRA, Series Premiere, Sunday, October 4, 10/9c, PBS (check local listings at pbs.org)