Tuesday, 21 September 2010


[6.47 - French Time] Spooks - MI-5 in the US - is back for its ninth series on BBC One (Monday, 9pm). Another agent is dead, there's a wedding proposal, Harry Pearce has a drink with an old friend and wants to resign. There are newbies in the MI-5 Section D (counter-terrorism), which must deal with a sea threat hiding something sneakier.

Sir Harry (Peter Firth) is deeply affected by the tragic and explosive death of one of his operatives and when he learns that a trusted friend is responsible he decides to have a heartbreaking conversation with him. Anyway the surviving members of Section D have no time to mourn their colleague.

There's a new political regime but it's business as usual, when Lucas North (Richard Armitage) is aboard a ship in Tangier to assassinate a terrorist. His job is interrupted by Somali pirates, actually members of a terrorist cell, who have transformed the ship into a floating bomb. Unless the whole thing is a decoy for something more sly, masterminded directly from London.

Spooks used to be a highly sophisticated spy drama where everything could happen within a certain degree of realism which was part of its appeal. But the format is worn out since a couple of series and its distinctive trademark of killing regular or semi-regular characters is now a gimmick. "In the long run, we are all dead" said John Maynard Keynes.

There's a relapse of the "old" Spooks in the premiere's pre-credits sequence, with the funeral and the beautiful lecarréesque Scottish abridged conversation. Lucas North meets new team members Dimitri Levendes (Max Brown) and Beth Bailey (Sophia Myles) and everybody save London from two explosives submersibles with the help of an EMP bomb hidden beneath the Houses of Parliament! It's Bugs (1995-1999) minus the humour.

When he's not playing the soap opera spy, Richard Armitage is very bondian. Should there be another series of Spooks (but would it be reasonable?) he would be the busiest operative of the British television industry, as Sky1 has commissioned a second series of Chris Ryan's Strike Back. Provided Lucas survives this ninth series of Spooks, of course. In the long run...

No comments: