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Oh dear, the Riff and Bea Episode
Every great television series has one really duff episode that is so spectacularly naff that you wonder watching it if the creative and production staff left the apprentice trainee in charge of creating one episode whilst they popped down the pub.
It took Spooks until episode eight of series three before they suddenly took fans by surprise by delivering this utter clunker of a story. A burnt out rock star and his equally drugged up missus get mixed up in a silly story of a kidnapped baby which for MI5 get lumbered with as it's 'politically convenient', this in a major nod to the celebrity culture that we seem to be constantly bombarded with these days.
Even poor old Harry Pearce looks dumbfounded at the whole thing pretty much throughout although whether this is because the script called for it or it was just actor Peter Firth's opinion on the lousy storyline is not quite clear.
There are a couple of good bits though, the return of the deliciously slimy Oliver Mace as the head of the JIC and a nice little 'B' story involving a Member of Parliament and his spectacular fall from grace that in a typical bit of burying bad news is hidden from public view behind the silly kidnap story.
It would have been better if the story of the disgraced MP was given prominence and the vast majority of the terrible Riff and Bea storyline ditched.
Still I suppose every great series has to have its bad moments
An episode so unbelievably awful you can't help but think it was a parody. This episode saw the show, which had been tottering somewhat over the last few episodes, jumped the shark so high the shark could have been on the moon. So began the slow and sad decline into irrelevance.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode just aired on a local Public Broadcasting System channel
in the New York area.
The plot is nothing to write home about--none of them are on this series--but a truly believable character is created: "Riff", the aging rocker, a cross between Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton--who did in reality suffer the loss of a child.
In the show's opening scene, Riff is knighted by the Queen in the ancient ceremony of having "the royal bread knife" (a quote from the senior MI-5 agent) placed on his shoulders. But things go downhill for him soon after that. We sympathize with Riff, unlikeable as he often is, right to the episode's bloody coda. Even as he ends his own life, he's cool, man.
The episode contains quite a lot of drug taking, I mean hard drugs, even by a member of law enforcement, along with smoking and drinking of alcohol. **None** of this could ever be shown on American network television but it was integral to the story here.
As for the 'B' plot, I could not figure out what was actually supposed to have happened that had to be hushed up. Was the Member of Parliament telling the whole truth? Was he shading the truth, leaving things out? Fortunately, little running time is spent on this stunted story. Best thing about it: the real newsreader at the very end. Nice to hear an old-fashioned cut glass English voice again.
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