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|Index||95 reviews in total|
Just when you thought that British television had forgotten how to make
good dramas, along comes Spooks and shows that there is more to
television than trash like Footballers' Wives and Big Brother. Spooks
was, and constantly remains to be, a surprise of the highest order.
I'll admit to not having high expectations of what I thought was going
to nothing more but a poor British man's attempt at doing the type of
thriller series that the Americans had been doing for so long, like 24
and CSI, but what makes this show so good is that creator David
Wolstencroft and fellow writers like Howard Brenton, have taken what
they have learned from shows like that, but twist it into a series that
is quintessentially British. They don't forget that they aren't
American, the show is basically set in a recognizable British country
with British characters, only with the pace and production values one
would expect to see from a series like 24.
Initially, from the opening moments of the very first episode, one cannot help but think that what they are about to watch is essentially 24:London style. There's a moody synth music score, there's split screen, there are photogenic but believable actors and flowing and constantly moving camera work, but the show goes beyond that and instead of fashioning a single plotted terrorist thriller like its American equivalent does, admittedly very well, Spooks, as far as it's storytelling goes, is more along the lines of CSI, with more often than not, the episodes are made up of stand alone tales, with the personal lives of the characters taking up any on going plot lines within the show's universe. The show over the course of its four (soon to be five) years on the air, has developed into a superb piece of British television, recalling a time when show's like this would have littered the airwaves thanks to the likes of Sir Lew Grade and his company ITC. Unlike those shows with their quasi fantasy plots, Spooks isn't afraid to be dark and at times gritty and realistic. The show has dealt with political extremists, a very near the knuckle plot line of London being bombed (filmed months in advance of the July 7th attacks), hostage taking, IRA splinter groups and the internal politics of British intelligence. Not only that, but many characters have come and gone, with some having been killed off (it's most famous example being in the show's second episode of its freshman season, which I won't spoil for anyone who hasn't seen it).
A lot has changed with Spooks over the course of four years. It's original leading trio have gone and have been replaced, although this hasn't done anything to affect the show in my opinion. As much as I loved Matthew McFadyen, Keeley Hawes and David Oyelowo in the show, Rupert Penry Jones has more than made the show his own, and as a by product of such a cast loss from the show's third season, many of the show's fantastic supporting cast have made the grade to much more active parts in the show's stories, especially Peter Firth as the team's boss Harry Pearce, who truly deserves an BAFTA for his work on the show.
A show like this should be embraced by the British public. With the advent of video games, DVD and now digital television, the days of a television show (outside of soap operas anyway) garnering ratings above ten million viewers are now gone, and Spooks is only ever seen by around six to seven million. This is the type of show that should be a phenomenon instead of a well respected hit for the BBC. With the likes of CSI and 24 becoming more recognised internationally, at least the BBC have a homegrown show that they can hold up and be proud of.
Being a longtime fan of espionage movies (James Bond movies, "Our Man
Flint", "The Eagle Has Landed", "Eye Of The Needle", "The Day of the
Jackal"), the American television equivalents just don't have that same
sort of "oomph" that these classic movies exuded. Enter 2002 and the UK
television series "Spooks" (known here in the states as "MI-5") just
may have offered up the closest thing to great espionage cinema
translated to the small screen. It's quite a different take on the
lifestyle of a spy. Lying to the your friends and family is all in a
Series creator and writer, David Wolstencroft, has crafted a wonderful balance of slick, highly-paced story lines firmly grounded in the real world, battling real enemies such as al qaeda, the IRA, and national anarchists. The DVD boxed sets are a must see, for the A&E cable versions cut 15 minutes from each episode to accommodate for commercials. I highly recommend this series - it's a breath a fresh air for American's who have tired of the usual guns and explosions that proliferate our weekly television airwaves. Using smarts and cunning to solve the UK's national security issues...what a concept!
I eagerly await Season 3 on DVD...
Not sure who the writers are of this abysmal piece of garbage, but they ought to be fired. So many unbelievable scenarios and situations the series became a laughing stock in our household. Take the scene where Danny is driving with a fellow who is shot by a sniper. Who in their right mind would slam on the brakes and stop in the middle of the street, get out, and look for a sniper? Think you might become a target? Brain dead. Get out of the kill zone, drive to a hospital, anything would have been better. Zoe gets sentenced to 10 years for a killing she may or may not have instigated. Wants to hang around in jail rather than take up life in Chile. Spies who have difficulty killing someone who threatens the safety of the world with a killer microbe. And this series actually won some awards??? I'd be ashamed of the security services in Britain if anything like the real thing. Is good for watching while napping, though.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The first two Series of Spooks are perfect television, 10 out of 10,
the third series is an 8 out of 10, with the quality starting to
decline and after that is not worth watching.
When Spooks was first released I thought it was a brilliant show. It is a realistic spy show, looking at the counter-terrorism section of MI5. Its shows that most of their work life is focused on investigation and research, and that there was very little action in real espionage. It looked at real threats from extreme Islam, the I.R.A, anti-abortionists, Colombian drug barons and Serbian War-Criminals. It was well acted and had good production values. It had a more moral position to a show like 24, avoiding using torture and that sometimes their isn't a rush and investigations last a long time. The programme also looked the psychology and the relationships of the MI5 officers. The best example was Tom Quinn (Matthew Macfadyen), who was struggling with his relationship with Ellie Simms and her young daughter. I thought that Matthew Macfadyen was so good in the role that he could be a future Bond. The show was also brutal at times and didn't shy away from controversy. It showed the brutal murder of a female field agent in the second every episode, in the second series a teenage boy became a suicide bomber. The first two series was an example of the BBC at the best and has been called John Le Carre for the internet ages.
During the third series the quality started to decline. There are a few reasons for this, first the three main cast members were all left and in the real world senior MI5 officers don't get replaced that often. The plots became more unrealistic such as a rock star's baby son was kidnapped and MI5 investigated it because he was recently knighted and ex-SAS soldier turned mercenary was planned by an oil company to attacked another oil company's London headquarter. I also felt that MI5 and MI6 have a friendly rivalry, but in the third series it makes out that MI6 were used by the JIC to head destroy MI5: not likely to happen.
By the later series the plots got really silly, such as a Russian Billionarie tried to buy the NHS, Christain extremist attacking Muslims who tried out to be working for a bishop with links to the government or MI5 bombing a train in Tehran, etc, etc. Spooks later on show MI5 senior officers were enlightened liberals who are fighting everyone else. In real life MI5 are conservative with a small c.
In conclusion, the first three series are worth watching, but after that the show really jumps the shark.
'Spooks' has to be one of the few interesting, unique British shows on
television at the moment. All too often British shows make the mistake
of being too realistic and end up focusing on work politics, paperwork
and over-angsty characters.
On the other hand, 'Spooks' is realistic enough without compromising on the action. It has intelligent story lines and at last a British agency actually looks appealing much like the Americans make the FBI or the NYPD look interesting.
My only complaint is it needs to lighten up a little. The characters never smile, they don't seem to be close to one another and, many times, they are too cold to be very likable.
This shows centers around the British spy organization MI-5 (England's
version of the U.S.'s FBI) and it's agents. Not only does the agents
keep England safe from terriosts and other national security threats but
struggle to keep thier private lives "normal". The choices they have make
and the things they have to do to keep the country safe, affect their
lives and the ones closer to them.
One of the shows main character, Tom Quinn, is a young head agent who in the show tries to integrate both his spy job and his family-to-be life together only to find out that they are not compatabile. at the end he has to make the choice of which life he belongs to.
Danny, a young agent with high computer skills, gets into trouble for hacking in the mainframe and raising his credit line to support his buying habbits.
Zoe, Danny's partner, is incrediblily smart and innocent, but main fear is living alone because of her job.
Harry, the hard nose director of MI-5, does what he has to do make sure the job is done and his agents stays in line. Can be cold from time but does support his people.
Tessa, another verteran agent, is extorting money from MI-5 by collecting money for terriost contacts that don't exsist and blackmailing Harry into not reporting her to MI-5.
The story line in some episodes are suspence and brutal. Some can be realistic in the version of the choices they made on what is more important. Doesn't have that shoot them up and bullets action like most American spy show but has the process of making y ou think over the stragedy. People do die and People pull off dirty tricks, which makes it more enjoyable to watch.
Language barrier on how thier English version differs from here in the US can be a problem to understand, but still a good show to watch.
I'm in a predicament: i have thirty odd quid which IS going on enlarging my DVD collection; but what to buy. I'm split between Star Wars and Spooks. I'm thinking spooks; why? I'll tell you why; Standard edited format of the series means your getting at least 10 hours of film for your buck; whereas star wars is about six. Plus the uncensored version; add the special features; trailers; extensive biogs of cast and crew; documentaries; behind the scenes; your probably going to get 15 or so hours for thirty quid there;bargain! It's the best of British Series in my opinion; like a good magazine; thick,dense,glossy,informative and entertaining with some belter action scenes (waaaah S.A.S.!) the highly polished series was like watching a Michael Mann fantasy; rich vivid colours of blue; green, red ,and turquiose paint a very powerful picture of the best counter terrorism domestic service intelligence agency in the world. Tremendous feat from the crew; powerful and gripping acting especially from Quinn who is way better (i know) than Clive Owen in, say, the Croupier or even King Arthur! BUY THIS DVD RIGHT NOW! it's that simple; get it now! 5 stars; highly recommended. May the force be with SPOOKS.
Spooks is a very good drama done by the BBC. It makes the BBC much better
than its rival channels, and the BBC also has the licence to show
Spooks' storyline changes with each episode - although it is usually based on some terrorists plotting a major attack. This is both good and bad. The good bit is that you don't have to watch every episode to know the story (unlike 24), but the bad bit is that there is no major enemy.
Spooks is also full of suspense, like at the end of the series where Tom's girlfriend is trapped with a ticking bomb, and she gives up on defusing it. The visuals in Spooks are very good, with rolling scenes of London with views of the Millennium Dome and the London Eye. The actual MI5 interpretation is somewhat unrealistic though. Spooks depicts MI5 as a small organisation with a few offices and a conference room the size of a shed, and hardly any activity going on. The offices are littered with 'modern art'. MI5 is a large organisation, and I would at least expect more security technology to be in Spooks, and above all, a control centre like the one at NASA and in other agencies. MI5 would probably be buzzing with activity, and they would not waste time with modern art & bachelor pad styling in their offices.
Also, Spooks unsuccessfully employs 24's 'split-screen' stylings. 24 worked with it because of a real-time storyline. Spooks doesn't work with it because each episode is different.
Apart from a few nitpicks, Spooks makes other programs look like private cable junk.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The episodes are well acted and the tension is built to a usually satisfying climax in each case... however the last episode in the series is simply too predictable and unlikely to happen, it becomes obvious and somewhat comical to the extent I found myself cheering as each ridiculous plot artefact unfolded... A fortress building without a contingency for occupants in case of fire, or bomb, in the building... An agent that takes a laptop from the IRA and it doesn't occur to him that it might be booby-trapped? What sort of an idiot would do that? A security system so well designed it is disabled with a bit of chocolate fondant? What utter nonsense. The script writer needs a slap if this is their excuse for a good piece of work.. shame on them.
I watched the first 4 seasons of this series and it just gets sillier and sillier with each season. I can't say for sure but the idea that any "secret operative" of any agency would tell the young child of a lover that they are "spies but don't tell anyone ever" is just absurd! It seems like they just brag about being spies a bit too much to be believable. The plots become repetitive and nonsense the further on in the series I get. If you want intelligent television try watching "The Newsroom" or "The West Wing" which I consider two of the best TV shows ever broadcast. I would hate to think this is a realistic portrayal of MI-5. It seems to me that real life MI-5 agents must find this program laughable and probably hate the ridiculous image of their service that it portrays. Don't think I will bother with season 5 onward.
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