Friday, July 8, 2011

[ spooks ]

Espionage drama. BBC's spy show, [ spooks ] (known as M.I.5 in the States on A&E) has been a favorite of ours. We've stayed on board through the many cast changes as many characters simply do not survive the show. There is a lot of drama and action. The show rarely, if ever, goes too far over the top in the spirit of 007. There is a strong sense of remaining as realistic as possible which I appreciate.

Harry Pearce and Ruth Evershed
Only one character has been with the show through all nine series or seasons since it's debut in 2002, the head of Section D, the boss. What a great character he is, too. Serious and down to earth, sometimes coldly so. The agents portray how dangerous the job is as they continually fall and get replaced. The writing draws us in and suddenly we care about them. And just as sudden, they die. We've had several favorite characters. One lately was Beth Bailey (played by Sofia Myles- Madame de Pompadour in Doctor Who- Girl in the Fireplace!). We also like Ruth Evershed very much. She's been in a majority of the seasons. Like most BBC programs, the casting and the acting are top notch.

There was one short lived spin-off called Spooks Code 9 which was set in a near future London shortly after a nuclear strike hit the UK. Didn't care for it and didn't follow after the pilot. Apparently not many others did either since it disappeared quick.

Another show that may be a spin-off is a show produced for younger audiences- M.I. High. I've seen one episode of the show and wasn't impressed as it seemed very over the top and gadgety and very clearly for kids. The secret agents in this series are students in school who are undercover in their school. The bad guys they fight are almost monsters you'd see in Power Rangers, etc. I've taken a 2nd look at the show as inspiration for a Spycraft game along the lines of Ally Carter's young adult book series- Gallagher Girls which Leesha has taken a liking to. The Gallagher Girls are a very similar setting, but a much more realistic take. I've actually read two of the four books and enjoyed them a great deal. M.I. High is a spy show that my  four year old might enjoy quite soon, too.

Neil Burnside - Director of Operations
The other spy show that I really enjoyed out of England was Sandbaggers. This is a very serious spy drama. I discovered the show from Greg Rucka's Queen & Country comic book and novel series. Sandbaggers was truly cold-war espionage. There wasn't a whole lot of action, but a great deal of very clever writing and dialog. On some levels the show was disturbing because our protagonist, Neil Burnside - Director of Operations, was cold and sometimes simply a monster! You wonder if the 'bad guys' were actually better than our hero. I highly recommend Sandbaggers to anyone interested in realistic and dramatic espionage not requiring action and gadgets. The show's allure is complete with it's creator's, Ian Mackintosh's mysterious disappearance.

There is another spy show coming from BBC soon called Morton:

Morton, 8 x 60 series, written by Frank Spotnitz made by Kudos Film and Television
Meet Sam. A spy. A hunter. And herself hunted by an enemy more ruthless and determined than any she's ever known. Sam has been running from her past her entire life but when she returns to Mobius, the organisation that employs her, and begins to pursue her pursuer, she will discover the only way to escape that past... is to confront it. This is the story of a spy with a bull's eye on her back, a human target unable to trust anyone at any time, even the man she loves. She is, quite literally, running for her life. Morton is a smart, complex and contemporary spy series.
link

Frank Spotnitz was involved with the X-Files and MilllenniuM. Morton may star Gillian Anderson, also from X-Files, but these appear to be rumors at this point.

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