Once upon a time, there were lots of spies on TV. From “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” to “I Spy” to “The Avengers” (not Marvel), secret agents offered a way out of mundane life. These shows gave us excitement and luxury. The daddy of them all was and is James Bond.
Recently, spies have become thin on the ground, on small and large screens. “Spooks” – known as “MI5” in North America – resurrected the genre and left you dizzy with wondering what had happened as each episode ended.
Fantastic actors came and went. The show killed off stars, shamelessly. Every character lived in a beautiful home, showing that spying paid well.
But it was a much more downbeat existence than that promised by earlier spy shows.
Does “Spooks” live up to viewer expectations?
It’s entertaining and Peter Firth is wonderful. Bleak times call for sad faces.
American interests are plotting to take over MI5. An evil terrorist – Arabic-speaking – is on the loose. Has Harry (Firth) turned against MI5?
New cast member Kit Harington plays Will Holloway. Harington is in “Game of Thrones”. Elyes Gabel is charismatic as Qasim the terrorist although he plays to stereotypes, throughout.
Originality was a major selling point of the TV show and there isn’t much of that on offer here.
But it all rattles along and the chases and explosions are all present and correct.
I found the beginning credits, with those peculiar square brackets, distracting and out of keeping with the rest of the story.
Tuppence Middleton, David Harewood and Tim McInnerny play key roles and are impressive. Jennifer Ehle has a great part. I wish I could stop seeing her as the ultimate Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice”. In my memory, she’s stuck in time.
My companion and I enjoyed it as did all at a very-full Stratford East Picturehouse. I was left wanting more of the quirkiness that characterised the original show.