Spooks Series 8 Review: High MI5

November 4, 2009 by  
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4SPOOKS SERIES 8: Wednesday 4th November, BBC1, 9pm ALERT ME

Critics of Spooks will tell you that the show bears no comparison to 24, its American counterpart.

But the trouble is that not many TV shows do, and of those that don’t quite measure up, this is one of the finest.

It’s always been an intelligent (if slightly action-lite) drama and fans of the programme will be pleased to hear that the eighth series plunges the MI5 employees straight back into the spy-mire we left them in last time out.

With Ros (Hermione Norris) as a sardonic poster-girl, the show seems to have lost none of the highly-charged espionage schtick that established this high-end show at the cutting edge of British TV.

Anyway, so where were we?

That’s right, Harry was kidnapped by those pesky Russians and Connie confessed to selling everyone down the river before getting herself conveniently blown-up.

As you would expect, the new series picks up the story no more than a couple of minutes down the line and a cut-and-thrust opening sets a frenetic pace for the episode.

While we agonise over whether Harry is dead or alive, the team find out that he thwarted a clandestine operation to smuggle weapons-grade uranium into Iraq to justify the war. Now, the rogue officers who masterminded the operation want their uranium back.

Like most of the characters in it, Spooks is a slick operator and the BBC have done tremendously well to create a show which can be mentioned in the same bracket as its American equivalent – and on a budget greatly reduced from that enjoyed by Fox producers.

The various twists are spun with a satisfying guile and the blur between protagonists and antagonists also keeps the audience on its toes, but we are still left with the feeling that the programme is missing a catalytic ingredient.

Despite the presence of a personable group of characters, we are left feeling that the show could be taken to the final level with the addition of a charismatic lead, about whom the plot seems to revolve.

Maybe Jack something…

Yet the simple fact that these kind of comparisons are possible tells us just how good Spooks is and the lack of adverts probably redeems such meagre shortcomings.

Sean Marland

RobM says:

There’s a big difference between Spooks and 24. One makes some kind of sense and is watchable. The other is 24.

JMP says:

Good review but disagree with both the 24 comparison and the need for a constant, central character.

Whilst it is now possible to sort of predict things after 7 series, the key thing I like about Spooks is that no one is safe from being killed off in it. I love the freewheeling, ensemble nature to it. It also allows the series to operate pretty much spolier free which I believe is a massive plus.

If Jack Bauer was killed in 24 it would end. Period. Therefore, you know Keifer’s going to pull something out of the bag, no matter what’s going on. For the 1st two seasons of 24 this wasn’t apparent and it kept me on the edge of my seat but now it’s such a jugganaut it just won’t happen.

That said, I don’t think Spooks will ever kill Harry, but as he’s not out in the field often I don’t think it damages the show. Besides, he’s my favourite character by a long stretch so it’s not just a think, it’s a hope!