This is the story of Magnus Pym, from his childhood to the end of his career in middle age. As a young man, there is little doubt that his father Rick was the most influential character in ... See full summary »
The murder of a Soviet defector forces his old handler, British spymaster George Smiley, out of retirement. His investigation leads to an old nemesis, the Soviet spymaster known only as Karla. This will be their final dance.
In 1895, Sidney Reilly had an affair with Ethel Lillian Voynich, a married Russian author. In 1897, Voynich wrote a popular novel, "The Gadfly". It was rumored that the adventurous hero of the novel was based on Reilly. In 1956, the novel was made into a movie, and Dmitri Shostakovich was commissioned to compose the music. The same music, "The Gadfly-Romance", is heard as the theme to this show. See more »
Nadia Massino did not marry Alfred Nobel - he died a bachelor in 1896 and according to the series, Reilly met her in the 20th century. Feliz Dzerzhinsky never met Reilly, and did not carry out the interrogation or execution. Reilly also was not connected with the forged letter that toppled the British government. See more »
Live for the present, die for the future.
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Like a great mystery book, this series is hard to put down (or stop watching). Some mystery series lull me to sleep. This one didn't. It is definitely slow-paced as they did series this way in the 80's and PBS allowed for longer series then and allowed the writers to take their time. Longer series (like this one at 12 episodes) allows for a more leisurely pace, allowing us to sink into the stories and plots and the characters! I haven't read the book Ace of Spies on which this series is based. But these TV episodes unfold in a chapter like pace which is great. All credit to the directors, the writer and the cast.
Sam Neill definitely looks like a Bond-study role. But the weight of an actor to carry a whole series like this on one's shoulders is tremendous, and Neill does an excellent job, being in almost every scene. And then to be surrounded by a great supporting cast surely helps too. Norman Rodway, Leo McKern, Hugh Fraser, Ian Charleson, John Castle, Peter Egan, Tom Bell, Lindsay Duncan, many of whom would have major roles of their own in other PBS British imported series. It is a bit odd to hear Kenneth Cranham's Lenin and David Burke's Stalin with English accents, but forgivable since none of the other actors as Russians try for any accent.
The usual attention to detail in this period piece, production designs, costumes, etc. all add to this excellent series.
If Thames TV/PBS tried to remake this today, it would be probably watered down to just a couple of episodes and the scenes would be cut to the quick edits and many of the smaller supporting characters would be totally eliminated and there would for sure be much more on screen violence and gore and lots of loud sound effects. So for me this version is more enjoyable. I highly recommend it.
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