Sometimes things turn out just the way you suspected they would, and sometimes they turn out even worse. So it is with the British drama The State Within, which premiered last night on BBC America.

Episode one (of three TV movies in the series) truly is a compendium of suspense cliches, with the perspective in this case being decidedly left of center. The heroes are liberal British government workers in the United States, along with a pair of liberals working in a project to free unjustly convicted persons languishing in American jails. (And in this case, the prisoner is black, of course, and is a British Falklands War hero. Is he going to turn out to have been framed because He Knows Too Much about some war crimes that have been kept secret? You make the call!). Also presented as reasonably decent is a female American police investigator looking into a murder linked to some of the villains of the story.

The villains are businesses that make money from war (boo!), plus some sinister paramilitary troops who kill one of their own on American soil and dump his body in a stream, and of course the so-called hardliners in the U.S. government (hiss!) and in the Virginia state government  (feh!) who are more concerned about national security than about the happiness and convenience of noncitizens on American soil.

For instance, after it is determined that a British Muslim in the United States was responsible for the bombing of a plane taking off from a DC-area airport, the governor of Virginia rounds up all British Muslims in the state. (Yes, I remember a lot of things like that happening after 9/11. . . . Or did they?)

That’s not only horribly cliched (depicting as it does an endlessly repeated fever dream of leftists in the United States) and extremely unlikely, but we can try at least to play along.

But then, of course, two innocent British Muslims are killed by state troopers when they try to escape from a roadblack because they fear being sent back to Britain.

We’ve seen the failed escape from a roadblock in suspense films only about what, a million times?

What is worse, and goes entirely unexplained, is the truly grotesque illogic of the scene: Why are the Muslim couple so worried about being sent back to the tolerant utopia of Great Britain and away from the repressive horror that is post-9/11 America that they’ll risk death, and in fact be killed, to avoid it?

As if all of that weren’t bad enough, the U.S. government ponders a Patriot Act II, in which foreign nationals on U.S. soil can be detained without warrants and have to prove their own innocence in order to stay.

Yes, I recall that very proposal being floated in Congress last year—or maybe that was merely a report on Michael Moore’s website. And of course upon hearing this proposed law, one British government worker says that we’ll be dunking witches next, and another snidely asks, "What next, ethnic cleansing of all Muslims?"

All of this is presented straight, as a reasonable reaction to the mad Americans’ repressive ways. You’d think that we were Soviet Russia. Oh, wait, those were the good guys, as I recall.

And somehow all of this is being seriously considered by a Democrat-controlled Congress, with the national security committee led by a thinly disguised fictionalization of California senior Senator Diane Feinstein (D).

Here we are definitely deep in fantasyland.

Logic has clearly had no influence at all on the program’s story line. And unlike current American suspense shows such as 24 and Prison Break, the narrative doesn’t compensate for this unreality by hustling us along with breakneck action and numerous startling plot twists. On the contrary, it’s all drearily predictable.

Adding even more pain to all this silly attitudinizing is the fact that the entire narrative is thoroughly dull, as the characters are direly uninteresting in addition to the situations being cliched. The producers’ idea of interesting characterization is to make one of the central figures a (poorly) closeted homosexual, and show him necking with another guy for a much longer time than is necessary in establishing this fact. A homosexual in a position of power in the British government? Who would have expected that? And he’s not the only one, we soon find out.

The rest of the characters are equally uninteresting, and the earnestness of the presentation and performances makes the entire endeavor more than a little silly.

I’ll stick with 24, thank you very much.

NOT recommended.