Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Tony Watkins

Spooks

Recommended Posts

Any fans of Spooks among A&Fers? Has it travelled across the Atlantic?

Series 5 started on BBC 1 last night in the typical Spooks vein: intelligent, electrifying, tough, challenging and stylish:

The wait is over. Spooks is back for a fifth, razor-sharp series. Kicking off with an explosive two-part special and introducing some new faces to the team, this slick, ever-topical series bursts back onto the screen this autumn.

A series of sinister terror strikes, combined with chronic fuel shortages, has plunged Britain into crisis. As a chronically weakened Prime Minister fights to hold onto power, the public mood turns increasingly anarchic. . . (BBC Press office)

When I get a little more time I will write something on it for CultureWatch. Meanwhile, anybody want to discuss what makes it is such extraordinarily good television?

Stylistically I think it is one of the most exciting things on TV - very filmic with some clever framings, dynamic use of sudden zooms in or out, jump cuts, split screens, colour, some lightning fast editing in action sequences, powerful use of cross-cutting, and much more besides.

The actors are, almost without exception, very fine performers. The core cast include Rupert Penry-Jones (Charlotte Gray etc.), Peter Firth (Pearl Harbour etc.), Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral etc.) among others. The double episode which started last night also featured Hermione Norris (COld Feet), Roger Allam, Nicholas Jones, and Robert Glenister.

The writing is very sharp:

Andrew Woodhead, back to produce his third consecutive series as Producer, agrees that the writing is key: "Like every successful series, it's successful because of the strength of the writing and the quality of the acting," he says. "But also because the stories reflect the world we live in."

Spooks' writers follow the news agendas closely to maintain its topical and hard-hitting edge.

"We are always looking ahead to new political issues," says Simon. "Prescient and topical is what we aim for. We have to make sure the storylines are at the front end of the big political issues of the day. Fortunately the production is fast-moving so we can stay ahead and remain fresh."

When the series launched five years ago, few could have predicted how terrorism would become an everyday fact in all our lives.

"Pre 9/11, spies were wondering what their role was," says Simon. "The Cold War was over and peace was coming to Northern Ireland. 9/11 happened while we were still writing the first series and, of course, it changed everything. The role of the intelligence agencies suddenly became headline news.

"Now one of our main challenges is not to do endless episodes about Al-Qaeda. Sadly there are now countless other threats that the UK has to contend with, such as environmental issues, financial terrorism and the breeding of our own home-grown terrorists.

"The irony of it all is that we still find ourselves rejecting well-researched storylines, based entirely on fact, because we feel viewers would find them simply too far-fetched." (BBC)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I discovered yesterday that Spooks has crossed the Atlantic to the USA where it is called MI5. Highly recommended - as long as you're not struggling to kick some anxiety-related habit like biting your finger nails or smoking! Tense stuff. And at

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Seasons 1-3 are available from NetFlix, et al. Apparently Season 4 won't arrive on our shores until Jan, 2007. I can't wait!

Season 4 has some major cast changes but give them time - the new team members are excellent. Season 5 (currently showing here) is the best yet I think, or at least vying with season 1 for the top slot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just added the first disc of Season 1 to my Netflix queue. Which, at my current rate, should mean I'll see it sometime next June. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just added the first disc of Season 1 to my Netflix queue.

A wise decision.

I like the new avatar, by the way - though you will always be the doppelganger of the old one in my mind (I have a brain defect which prevents me from recognising that an avatar is not a portrait of the user. This only applies to humanish avatars of course - I don't think mrmando is a penguin or whatever his creature is, and clearly I don't see myself as a tardis. I struggle a bit with gigi - not so much that I think she is a green frog but I know what I'd be expecting if I ever spoke to her. Some transformation is possible: Alan has made a successful mutation in my mind from being some kind of robot into being a very cute baby girl. So in 3 months' time I may be struggling to remember which of your new faces is the real you.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's been 4.5 years since anyone's posted in this thread.

I went searching for one because I watched an episode from season 4 today (Netflix has 9 seasons streaming) and was reminded how good the show can be. I stopped watching awhile ago after even more of my favorite characters left (the show has a really high turnover rate), but as I'm thinking about it now, that's also one of the strengths of the show; it's not like 24, where you know Jack's going to make it out somehow. On MI:5 (the show's alternate title), there's always the danger that something really bad, that they can't go back from, will happen. And since each episode is usually a complete, self-contained story, it can be pretty draining (in a good way) to watch several in a short period.

Any other fans on the board?

[edit] If you watch the show on Netflix, don't read the episode summaries. They give away a lot.

Edited by Tyler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I watched the first episode with Richard Armitage today (beginning of season 7). He's going to play Thorin in The Hobbit. I think I'll like him as an actor, but he doesn't seem very dwarfish here; he looks pretty gaunt.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll resurrect this thread once again because, like Tyler, I have found this series on Netflix as "MI5"... and my wife and I are currently totally engrossed in it. We're almost through Season 3. Damn, this show has a high turnover rate for the main characters! That adds to the intensity, for sure, but it's also tough to get adjusted to the new people so often.

The actors are all great (I really enjoyed seeing Ian "Emperor Palpatine" McDiarmid in one episode, and Andy "Gollum" Serkis in another), and the storylines are amazing. It's almost non-stop action, and yet even amidst that you're always being challenged with uncomfortable questions about torture, terrorism, and the ever watchful eye of "big brother." This show really touches on some sensitive, politically volatile issues. Just when you have it pegged as either a "liberal" or "conservative" show, it throws you a curve ball.

One interesting thing, I've always been told that European audiences don't have the tolerance for violence that American audiences do, but this is easily the bloodiest show I've seen. It's way more graphic than CSI or any other American show I could think of. Then again, I don't watch American TV, so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The cast turnover was the reason I initially stopped watching the show--I thought I'd never care about the new characters as much as I did the older ones--but I got over that when I picked up the series again. I got pretty attached to some of the later characters, even though I knew they wouldn't be around forever, and it was usually shocking and even painful when they did leave.

BTW, stay away from the Wikipedia character pages. They often give away a lot more than you want to know, and without any warning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I finished watching the 10th (and final) series tonight. It continues the trend of making Harry Pearce the center of the show, and while some of the middle episodes weren't great--they recycle plots that the show has done before--the main storyline was quite strong. And the ending [/highlight=black] got to me in a way that the end of 24 didn't, even though they have similar trajectories. [/highlight]

Lara Pulver, who's going to play Irene Adler on Sherlock, joined the cast for this series. She didn't have that much to do beyond the usual spy stuff, except for one episode, in which I thought she was really good.

Edited by Tyler

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×