MI5:Spooks-When the BBC gives me what I need

For years, American studios have struggled to produce a credible secret agent show, with personal drama and story arcs that aren’t hopelessly soap operaesque. Apart from the more cartoonish ones that have succeeded on a certain level, the “gritty” ones have failed to entertain me (I’m especially thinking of 24 here).

But MI5:Spooks is great. It strikes a balance between cliffhanger episodes and well-resolved ones, it has longer story arcs without going to ridiculous extremes, and it has great characters that it is willing to demolish on George Martin levels. It’s got problems, to be sure, but I’m not here to quibble. I’m here to gush and see if anyone else is on board here. And, of course, to raise awareness. You need to torrent this at the least, and the real dvd’s are a decent value.

Also, I’ve gotten to the ending of season 4, and am in the process of acquiring 5 (alas, the stalwart Iraqi bootleggers only did up to 4). So, no spoilers please.

Sounds interesting. I love the spy movies that take a bit grittier, realistic approach to spying. Spy Game was the first movie where it seemed like the spies were at least semi-plausible.

Will have to look for torrents on this one.

I’ve seen the first two seasons and it is quite awesome. Some really great guest stars too (Hugh Laurie, Anthony Stewart Head, Alexander Siddig).

A&E used to air this in the states but they edited about 10 minutes from every episode. From what I understand, BBC America now has the rights and will be showing it unedited.

‘Spooks’ is a brilliant show. Season 6 starts in Autumn.
It’s actually one of the main BBC shows when it is on.

I haven’t seen much of Season 5, but Episode 3 in particular is brilliant.

I enjoyed the first two seasons, but I lost interest a bit in the third never finished it. Is it quality all the way into season 5?

You have to stick with it a bit. It really picks up near the end of the season, and 4 is pretty money. I’ll let you know what happens with 5 when I get that done.

Rest assured, it will have plenty of surprises for American viewers, not least of which are the McGyverisms the gunless British must occasionally resort to.

If you like Spooks/MI5, I recommend The Sandbaggers. It’s a late-seventies/early-eighties BBC spy drama that includes some of the most tightly-plotted and believable cloak-and-dagger action that I’ve seen on TV or film. (Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country series of graphic novels is an unofficial sequel, of sorts, to a TV series that only lasted three seasons before ending after its creator’s untimely death.)

Wow, I didn’t even know they were still on the air… considering at the end of season 2 (or 3 dont remember) they killed off/sent off a bunch of good characters.

That’s part of why it’s so great. You have an honest fear that people are going to get fucked up. Ep2/S1 was all it took to convince me: the fry cooker.

I will definitely check out the Sandbaggers.

That was the gotcha moment for me as well. The first episode was kind of ho-hum but, damn, that second episode hooked me.

Great, great show. I’ve seen up through Season 5, and it has it’s ups and downs, but overall it’s been excellent. Very highly recommended.

I have season 1 on DVD, but held off on 2 due to the insane price for basically a handful of episodes.

I like the show, but it really does have some major issues. Like MI-5 basically revovling around those three agents. They do everything… Northern Ireland and the IRA? Check. Middle-eastern counter-terrorism? Check. Regular counterespionage? Check. Seriously, I think the British budget is big enough to hire a fourth or fifth agent for some of these tasks.

I mean to look into getting the DVDs for this series but I can’t help thinking back, oh about 25 years?, to a show I think was called CI:5 (The Professionals?) which was a British/BBC spy drama. I have the quote “NO COMPROMISE!” burned into my brain to this day… ring a bell to anyone else? Really just going off the cuff here; probably should Google a bit. :/

The Professionals.

Best theme music ever.

Added to netflix. I have heard good things about this show from friends in the UK. Thanks for the recommendation.

S1 + S2 are miles ahead of the rest in quality. Tom is the best character by a long, long way.

Yeah, I couldn’t believe it when they moved Tom off the show (or maybe he chose to leave). Anyway, he had the best acting chops by far and the best character. sigh

Matthew McFayden wanted out, basically eyeing a movie career. Interestingly, he and Keeley Hawes (Zoe) hooked up during Season 1, even though she was recently married. She got a divorce, they got hitched, and then she left the show after he did. They’ve got an upcoming movie together.

Seconded. The Sandbaggers is in my opinion the best TV spy series ever made with the possible exception of the Tinker Tailor adaptation.

Will check out MI5 thanks for the tip!

At first I was in the same boat, but I really admire the way they handle what would have been a show-ender in almost any comparable series. Also, I found the new characters in keeping with the different direction the series took, and I enjoyed the general focus on less exceptional characters that were no less enjoyable in the long run.

Of course, the series goes over the edge from the very beginning with the casework the team handles, and I would have enjoyed more of the sort of episode like “the cleanskin” where they bring in outsiders or unknowns to do the undercover bit. Less so than the range of their cases generally, it is the variety of undercover assignments that a single character is asked to do that bothered me. I would have preferred more “handler” type situations, which would add to the (semi) realism and give more of the sort of dialogue intensive situations at which the show excels.

The same leeway I give to most of the better dramas on tv applies: I don’t mind if their characters are the center of the universe.