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This is a most engaging story of WW2 special agents sent to France. The
characters are strong and the drama is well directed. There may be many
stories of this kind but this is one of the better ones that keeps you
hanging on waiting for the next episode.
Sadly this has not been repeated (to my knowledge) on TV - more's the pity. With the dearth of good drama, and a never-ending diet of soaps and "any old excuse to put the public on TV" it would be good to see this again.
Those captivated by "Wish Me Luck" when it aired on television will be
delighted to hear that it is now being released on DVD. This is an
exceptionally well-done drama centered on the work done by civilian
volunteers for the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) in France
during World War II.
There are, of course, other works of this kind, but "Wish Me Luck" stands out as particularly well-researched, providing innumerable small details that should please aficionados of the intelligence and resistance work of the war. The focus of the series, though, is clearly on the romance, suspense, and drama of the story. Overall a fantastic work.
As a fan of wartime drama series like Secret Army I picked up this Network 2007 title earlier this year and having now strolled through the entire contents I must say, despite the lack of extras, I'm extremely delighted with the entire 23 episodes of "Wish Me Luck" (in a 4/4/4/3/4/4 disc configuration). It has certainly been an enthralling emotional journey for a show that is superbly crafted with well-defined characters, dramatic scripts, effective incidental music and marvellous location filming. Each season of the show follows an established pattern of introducing two new trainee British agents of conflicting backgrounds and personalities and after initial training they find themselves in occupied French territory attempting to put what they have learnt to good use. The German aggressor for each run is primarily personified by a significant officer. For the 1st season it was the softly spoken Colonel Werner Krieger (Warren Clarke), the 2nd season the unsettlingly quiet Colonel Voller (Donald Gee) and the 3rd brought us the barking mad power crazed General Stuckler (Terence Hardiman). The first two seasons pose additional personal complications for Liz Granger with the eventual disintegration of her marriage and her blossoming romance with Kit Vanston a highly effective operative whom she knew before the war. Each season concludes with a dramatic final set piece. In the 1st it is the rescue of Matty Firman from the Germans, in the 2nd it is the engineering factory raid coupled with the resolution to Vivien's renewed relationship with her daughter and in the 3rd it is the mass German assault on the Le Crest resistance movement. Personally I found the 1st season incidental music a trifle overpowering however there are some beautifully effective pieces used in the 2nd and 3rd seasons which helps to greatly enhance the viewers enjoyment. Although present in the 1st it is the beautiful location filming used during the 2nd and in particular 3rd season which is especially breathtaking and helps to significantly elevate this series against other World War Two drama series. Although all the regular cast contribute marvellously to the overall believable aspect of the series I personally would single out both Michael J Jackson & Kate Buffery for special praise for their outstanding performances as Kit Vanston & Liz Grainger, two stars whom convey such a resonate believable atmosphere to their characters, their previous history prior to the war and their newly blossoming romance in such dangerously difficult present times. Passionate delivery of scripted lines can also be appreciated from many of the series guest stars like Trevor Peacock (Renard), Nigel Le Valliant (Laurence Grainger), Shirley Henderson (Sylvie), Caroline John (Helene), Bryan Pringle (Father Martin), Jeremy Brudenell (Jean-Louis) and Stuart McGugan (Gordon Stewart) to name but a few. If you enjoy great emotive exciting drama with engaging character interaction matched with stunning scenery and appropriately moving incidental music then I strongly recommend you nab a copy of this series. I am confident it will be the wisest investment you have ever made!
Wish Me Luck has to be my all time favourite TV series. There is just
something about it that captivates me even now 20 years after I first
saw it! The characters were perfectly cast and gave excellent
performances. Especially Kate Buffery and Michael J Jackson who I
thought fitted the bill perfectly. I can't imagine anyone else playing
those two characters.
This series is definitely worth watching again (or maybe for younger viewers for the first time around), especially if you're interested in the WW2 era. I think it particularly struck a chord because, although the storyline was fictional, these kind of events or similar actually did take place all those years ago and it's a stark reminder of what the Allies fought for and sacrificed so that we may have our freedom today. And it was portrayed subtly without the 'over dramatisation' some war series/films seem to add.
So if you haven't seen this already - go out and buy it!
Back to 1987 to see really well made drama and this one a wartime one on the SOE. The first series is really very good, especially with Kate Buffery. Pretty well researched although there are a few errors and with a good feel ending which is not too lacking in veracity. Same for second season except a lot of emotionalism in the last episode and it started to unravel. The third series seems to have become lost in what is either a serious drama on the SOE or something of a Barbara Cartland novel. I have to see the last four episodes but something has really gone wrong and it is a wretched shame because it was so believable in the first two series. Now its wacky. In general though this is a first class wartime drama, far superior in its early series to anything else I have seen. I mean we have a real life Lysander here which was the aircraft type used during the war and that really is a first. Well shot but must have been expensive as a lot of vehicles and factories get blown up in a time before CGI. Julian Glover and Jane Asher do extremely well as the home front whilst Suzanna Hamilton is outstanding in the first series and Jane Snowden is good in the second series, both as radio operators, but JS is a victim of the weird plot in series three. Both these girls seemed to disappear from sight after Wish Me Luck which is a great shame.
We enjoyed this drama, having found it in out local public library. We usually enjoy English drama. Was initially a bit put off by the potential violence. However, we really enjoyed the characters. We haven't finished it yet, but wanted to check on what others had thought. If you have the chance, rent it or see it. Very enjoyable. Good for Americans post 9-11.
Suppose for a moment, you're a British female in German-occupied
Western France around 1940 before the Americans entered the war. You're
posing as a French national who is a trained nurse making house calls.
However, that's just you're day job. You have a fake identity card and
a fictitious history. In truth, you're actually a crackerjack radio
operator specializing in Morse Code. Your task: to receive information
about German military operations and movements through a network of the
French Resistance in Normandy and Brittany and transmit the information
via a Morse Code radio back to Britain. The surrounding area is being
constantly surveyed by German soldiers headed by a German colonel who
would probably prefer staying where he is rather than being sent to the
Eastern Front of the war. In short, he's under as much pressure as you
are to do his job. And then you're brought to his headquarters for a
"routine" interrogation. Will the colonel accept your fake
identification card, or will he suspect that you're in fact an agent
working for the Allies? This is part of the set-up of a truly enjoyable
British-produced series called "Wish Me Luck".
Liz Grainger (Kate Buffery) and Matty Firman (Suzanna Hamilton) are two females who desire to work for Special Operations Executive (SOE), the British equivalent of the CIA which operated predominantly during the Second World War. SOE's main function was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements. Liz and Matty first train in the British headquarters of SOE then are sent out into the field on missions nearly as dangerous as those fighting on the front-lines. In short, their tasks are to undermine German-controlled France by providing intelligence to the allies about possible war plans, missions, and strategies. If they're caught, they will probably be tortured for their information, sent to a death camp, or simply executed on the spot.
Of the two, Matty has the most crucial of jobs: to send as frequently as possible coded transmissions of intelligence through her radio back to Britain. Her cover, described above, is a French national nurse who simply makes rounds to patients in need of care. The tasks of her colleague, Liz Grainger also posing as a French national, is more subtle. She's there to support some of the different resistance members and spies by receiving and sending messages through the network, many of whom are of the French Resistance while others are from different countries and allegiances, including some communists. Some of these contacts include priests, bakers, and simple townsfolk, not all of whom are willing to cooperate because of previous altercations with the Germans. Like her colleague, she risks her cover being blown. She lived many years in France and speaks French without an English accent. Her messages are often hidden in places like the confessional of a church, or at a local shop.
Eventually Liz meets up with a French friend from her school days, Claudine de Valois, who was part of the French aristocracy and lends books out from her family's library. They concoct a cover story which includes Liz, posing as Celeste, having been in France her entire life, even though she's essentially a British citizen and not French. The German maintaining order and constantly sniffing out possible resistance operatives is Colonel Werner Krieger. He has become somewhat smitten with Claudine and constantly visits her small library. When Liz arrives at Claudine's library, he invites himself to tea with the two women who must act casually to maintain their cover stories. Luckily the colonel because of his infatuation with Claudine enjoys the women's company rather than trying to undercover whether the women's stories ring true. While the women act happy and nonchalant, inside they are terrified their covers could be revealed at any moment.
Overall a very enjoyable and compelling series about female spying, intelligence and espionage. While we often believe the real fighting of the Allies happened predominantly on the front lines, many others, both men and women, were engaged in extremely dangerous missions under cover. These people helped to support the Allies in their larger efforts to undermine the German stronghold on occupied countries. While the fighting of the soldiers was extremely important and not to be diminished, the spy network was at least equally as vital to the eventual destruction of the Third Reich.
I love Foyle's War and was hoping this would be in the same vein, but
unfortunately Wish Me Luck is not as well written, acted or directed,
and the production values are cheap. The single biggest flaw is the
second rate Star Wars theme variation soundtrack that permeates this
film from beginning to end.
Like many BBC productions, Wish Me Luck also suffers from having been shot on videotape - a cheap method of filming that ruined a lot of worthy British dramas in the 1970s and 1980s. In keeping with the cheap production values, most scenes appear to have been shot on the first take and would have benefited from more rehearsals and takes. As is, the suspense never builds in this series because the special effects and stilted overacting constantly reminds the viewer that this is just a teleplay.
On the good side is some accurate research behind the story, excellent costuming, and realistic sets - especially in series 3 which is almost entirely shot on location in southern France. This would be a great candidate for remaking into a film or re-shot as a shorter series.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really wanted to like this show, after thoroughly enjoying "Foyle's War," but "Wish Me Luck" can't hold a candle to that. I understand this is an earlier series, but even so, I can't see how the British succeeded, relying on this lot! The training is not consistent, very strict in some things and laughably lax in others. And why is everyone speaking English, including the Germans? How did Mathilde/Amy NOT know how to ride a bicycle, yet went over sixty kilometers on her first day? And she had lived in France, but still rode on the "wrong" side of the road? Liz/Celeste has to memorize a lot of convoluted instructions and directions for the simplest tasks, while Mathilde/Amy drops clues like boulders all over the place. The guys aren't much better. One is so paranoid, he doesn't trust anyone, and another seems to think the whole thing is just a lark. I like the idea of stories based on the civilian side of the war, but was the Special Operations Executive really so amateur? It would help to know more about how they recruited people for all these kinds of missions. Also, some dates would help, especially for US audiences who may not know that much about the British home front before 1941. After reading the comments about bad acting, I'm wondering if it wasn't the writing that could use some work as well.
This has been a thrilling series to watch. Wish it went further. It sure beats reality TV. The series tied it all together each episode and the characters brought the story line to real life without overdoing any part of it. I am sorry that there were only three seasons to watch as I was truly interested in the way the war was conducted by the resistance and the German invaders who seem to live up to everything I have ever read. It also portrays the resistance fighters as being lacks in their fighting process but did the best the possibly do under the trying circumstances. I would like very much that the series continued to support the invasion by the allied forces to see how they would handle it. Than You for a great thee seasons.
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