With lottery fever at an all-time high in the United States, I think it is only a matter of time before the brilliant British television series The Syndicate is adapted for the market. The title of The Syndicate refers to a cooperative, or “syndicate” of five workers who buy lottery tickets as a group. The first season of the show chronicles their experiences just before and after winning big. I make it a point to watch a fair amount of British TV each year, and of everything I have recently seen, The Syndicate is far and away the most promising. I was instantly addicted.
The five-person group of lottery hopefuls all work together at a discount store, which appears to be something of an English Wal-Mart. There are five members of the syndicate, Bob (Timothy Spall), Denise, (Lorraine Bruce), Leanne (Joanna Page), and two brothers, Jamie (Matthew Lewis) and Stuart (Matthew McNulty). Each employee is living paycheck to paycheck. In fact, Stuart is in such bad shape that he is weeks behind in his share when they win.
Being behind in his payments could cost Stuart dearly, if the group decides not to include him. What makes The Syndicate so great though is that Stuart’s winning or not is practically the least of his worries at this point. He and his fiancee are so broke that they live with his mum in a cramped apartment, along with their kids of course. When we meet him, he is well and truly desperate to get out.
For the most part, each episode focuses on a member of the group. Although there are only five one-hour episodes to this first season, we come to know each person in the syndicate very well by the end. Since the series only focuses on a brief period of time after the big win, it leaves open a number of doors. I found myself on the edge of my seat throughout this series, and am hoping that it will be renewed for a second go-round.
Although I rarely watch British programs in the hopes that they will be brought to the United States, I could not help myself with The Syndicate. I never thought that The Office could be adapted for the market, but it was – quite successfully as a matter of fact. With The Syndicate, I think the job would be much easier. In any case though, I have to say that this is one of the finest English shows I have seen in some time. It is well worth a look, and the five-episode first season is newly available as a double-DVD set from Acorn Media.