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The Last Days of Lehman Brothers

Here we are, very close to a year since the collapse of Lehman Brothers. What a week that was!! Not only did I know by Sunday night that the next day was going to be long, I was already dreading the whole week when I realised I was going to be on my own. That week, the colleague I used to supervise had booked his annual leave! On top of that the main server in the office decided that it was time to collapse together with the rest of the world.

So, there you have me battling the waves in the market plus fencing off the evasive replies from Dell regarding the server. It is indeed a week that will stay with me for a very very long time. That is why when I saw that the BBC was going to air a dramatisation of the events I felt that it was something that I had to watch.

“The government’s not going to let you go down! It would be like the American government itself going bankrupt” exclaims an incredulous Miller to a cornered Fuld in “The Last Days of Lehman Brothers”. I have to say that these are words that went through my head the days before the actual event and some that little by little became less intense but ever more annoying as the week continued its decay.

The programme started quite well, using a similar technique to that used in “House of Cards” with a seemingly cynical narrator to guide us into the intricacies of the story. However, the Tennesee banker that plays the Fuld’s gofer does not have the inside knowledge or the gravitas to portray the necessary level of urgency to the situation. I still can’t see the point of making a reference to Fight Club at an early stage of the programme. Not only that, but at some point the script completely forgets that he was around at all. There is also a sequence where the sister of this “banker” makes an Olympic effort to explain what went wrong with the banking system; all in a very poorly scripted and (even worse) acted manner.

The inside view is presented by the tense meeting in the boardroom of the New York Federal Reserve. This is a much better developed story line and one that is very well sustained by James Cromwell playing the Treasure Secretary, Henry Paulson. If anything the only criticism that I have is that it was not immediately clear who was who in that boardroom.

I believe that the script could have had a couple more reviews before production and there are so many good angles that they could have attacked, so long they had actually decided to follow them through. Either you go for the sombre maze of power and greed, or you go for the comic relief approach. In this case, the mixture turned out to be quite frankly embarrassing. I just think that they had missed a great opportunity to do some good drama based on real events.