Spooks, BBC1

by | Sep 12, 2005 | All, Reviews

What to say if you liked it

The return of the slickest, most exciting drama since Tales of the Golden Monkey.

What to say if you didn’t like it

Yet another compendium of alarmist tales so tall they interfere with planets orbiting distant stars.

What was good about it?

• You mean you don’t know. Don’t worry; nothing – except the three leads – has changed since the last series. Economical plotting, moral ambiguity, frantic action

sequences, great acting and those funny doors are all still present and correct.

• Athelston, the near-permanent stooge for the Never Mind the Buzzcocks Identity Round, was a mourner at Danny’s remembrance service.

• The way the narrative was split between the physical action of the bombers slaughtering innocents in London and MI5’s efforts to thwart them; and the philosophical purposes behind Shining Dawn’s modus operandi as Ruth and Shining Dawn sympathiser Professor Curtis exchanged ideological theories on the merits and flaws of terrorist manifesto.

• The twist on introducing new member of the team Zafar Younis (Raza Jaffrey). Where it would be common to expect him to perform some deed with great adeptness, he twice was involved in incidents ending rather badly. Firstly, he tried to talk a suspect to come quietly, but she was shot after resisting arrest, and then he headed off to investigate a tip-off in Adam’s stead, but was captured.

• Working out who the mole in the MI5 office is. Newcomer Juliet is too obvious (and would also be a waste of Anna Chancellor), which leaves the American agents, one of whom we developed an instant antipathy to because he was the megalomaniac in the Dr Who episode with the lone Dalek.

• Because of the many baffling plot strands (see below), we’re anticipating a revelatory twist, such as Harry being the mole.

What was bad about it?

• Some elements exhibit unconscious tinges of self-parody. The villainous bomber was obvious without even brandishing the bomb evilly in his hands; he was a rough-faced miscreant who looked as marked and scarred as the Oval creases did yesterday. And the suspect who was lead out of his house – you could sense he would receive a bullet to the head even before it happened.

• The sense that you’ve experienced this plot before. It’s not an exact replica of previous plots, more that the prime cuts have been hewn off old episodes and reassembled in a fresh composite beast. It’s best not to think too hard about it as it was still fantastic,


• The terrorist group were called Shining Dawn, which is perhaps the silliest, least threatening name for a villainous organisation since The Man From UNCLE’s THRUSH. Obviously derived from the Peruvian terrorists/freedom fighters (delete as applicable, depending on which side of the bed George W Bush has got out of this morning), but where Shining Path evokes images of a silver thread winding into the deep bowels of the Andes, Shining Dawn brings to mind pictures of a cheap MacDonald’s promotion on their breakfast menu.

• After Shining Dawn leader Michael Malone supposedly orchestrated a number of bombings in the US, he fled to Britain. That’s the typical egress of the terrorist mastermind isn’t it? Cause carnage in a country and then seek sanctuary within the borders of their biggest ally.

• Bleeding the viewer for every last drop of sympathy for the deaths of peripheral characters. Apparently, the first bomb killed a whole family “except the dad”, while the agent assassinated as he escorted Ruth as she visited Professor Curtis “blushed” when he spoke of his impending fatherhood.

• The absence (so far) of our favourite character – Tim McInnerny’s barbarously amoral head of MI6 Oliver Mace.

• The terrorists capturing Zafar after Adam called him on his mobile phone. Are we expected to swallow that the technologically advanced MI5 haven’t devised silent mobile ring tones which can be activated at a wink?

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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