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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good in every way
I enjoyed reading the book and a few years later I enjoyed listening to the unabridged audiobook. Now I've finally watched the TV series and enjoyed that as well. It really does the book justice. A nice bonus is that the picture quality of this BBC DVD is fantastic, a lot better than you usually get with an old TV series, maybe the best I've seen of all the old Brit TV...
Published on 30 Jan. 2011 by Julian Hughes

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Spy
Super Amazon service as usual. Never saw the series when first aired. Overall good acting but basically thought it slow and boring. Kept thinking it would take off and had to get better. Perhaps the dramatisation by Arthur Hopcraft of the Le Carre novel is not the best. Never have been a fan of Peter Egans acting and this just re inforced that opinion.
Published on 23 Sept. 2012 by David Barton Smith


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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good in every way, 30 Jan. 2011
By 
Julian Hughes (Hove) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
I enjoyed reading the book and a few years later I enjoyed listening to the unabridged audiobook. Now I've finally watched the TV series and enjoyed that as well. It really does the book justice. A nice bonus is that the picture quality of this BBC DVD is fantastic, a lot better than you usually get with an old TV series, maybe the best I've seen of all the old Brit TV shows from the 70s, 80s and 90s. The picture quality is massively better than similar series such as Smiley's People or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Those have the full complement of artefacts of analogue videotape with blown highlights, noisy shadows, poor sharpness, low resolution, muddy colours and so on. When enjoying A Perfect Spy one is not distracted from the content by the limitations of the medium or presentation. I can't imagine a series like this making it to the screen these days. The first two episodes (55 minutes each) would probably be wrapped up in 15 minutes or rendered as narrative destroying flashbacks over the entire series in a modern version, but actually all the detail and content matters, and fortunately it is brilliantly executed. Every texture and nuance and event early in the story has repercussions later on. There isn't the amazing pace of a modern TV series, instead you have flavour and lasting satisfaction. Many performances are exceptional, none are less than very good.
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115 of 119 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A slow starter, but ultimately rewarding, 7 Mar. 2007
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This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
Peter Egan, the nominal star of this serial, makes his first appearance in episode 3. In the first two episodes we see his childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. The pacing is very slow at the beginning. Flashback sequences would have alleviated this, but the programme can be seen as an excellent antidote to the frantic cutting of modern television productions.

This role is Egan's best performance I have seen to date. In one scene he sits in a restaurant with his father and you see his attitude melt from bitterness to unwilling humour by facial expressions alone. Egan also impressively portrays the ambiguousness of the enigmatic Magnus Pym, an ambivalence that inhabits every part of his life - personal or professional.

By episode 5 the story is in full flow, and the building sense of unease compels you to watch. Magnus's life looks set to unravel. His spy bosses, his wife, even his young son begin to perceive what kind of man he is. Only Magnus's father accepted him for himself, for there is a subtle but clear similarity between them. Again, Peter Egan is convincing enough for you to lose yourself in the drama.

One of the most fascinatingly mysterious characters is Axel, who crops up throughout Pym's life and, it seems, will be a major force in his destiny.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect Spy, 10 Dec. 2009
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C. E. Druce "Iconoclast" (Chipping Norton UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
This is first class stuff. The dramatisation of le Carre's novel brings out the many levels in the book and is certainly semi-autobiagrahical. The con-man and the spy are artfully combined in the plot and the acting is never less than brilliant. It appears to have dated very little over the years. It is a brilliant dramatisation of the effects that con-men and spies have on fiends and families. Vey absorbing.
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91 of 96 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, substantial piece of TV drama, 15 Sept. 2000
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P. KINCAID (Coventry United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I only leave off the fifth star because this is ultimately less satisfying than the previous LeCarre adaptations by the BBC. But it is still a towering achievement, especially when compared to the glossy but hollow dramas which which we must make do with nowadays. This is a powerful tale, almost Tolstoyan in its ambition: epic and intimate, specific and universal. My only qualm is over the aging of the actors: I suppose it always difficult to cast a story which follows a set of characters over several decades, but I do not feel that they solved it very well here. Some characters seem ageless, others prematurely aged. It's a small quibble, but a quibble none the less. TV is so much better a medium than film for adaptations of demanding fiction of this type that one wonders why it hasn't been exploited more often: Grahame Greene's work, for instance, would benefit from the treatment.
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82 of 87 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a perfect story, 26 May 2009
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W. Hamilton (Sydney, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
This is just about a perfect spy story. Of the three Le Carre yarns given the BBC treatment, it could be said that "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" is a "whodunnit" and "Smiley's People" a "howdunnit", while "A Perfect Spy" is a "whydunnit". The "why" question is usually the most interesting, which is why I rate this above the other, admittedly fine, productions. Peter Egan and Ray McAnally - father and son - are superb in every scene together, showing how two fundamentally different people can forge a single identity of deception, true only to each other in a dreadful way. The portrait of Magnus Pym is carefully and convincingly drawn: it could be said to represent not just a perfect spy, but a psychological template for every spy. The supporting cast of Alan Howard, Rudiger Weigang and Jane Booker, in particular, are terrific. The whole production showcases the best of a strong era for television drama in the UK.
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50 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well pitched and absorbing, 16 Sept. 2005
This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
The previous Le Carre adaptations lit up by Alec Guiness's near legendary performance as George Smiley make anything seem poor by comparison, which is a shame because this is a beautifully crafted series. It is by 2005 standards built rather slowly, but the way Pym unfolds towards his downfall is superbly managed. I think this TV series is actually about as close to the effect and quality of reading an absorbing book as you can get. There are no real fireworks in it - but it is very, very good.
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57 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Perfect DVD, 9 Jun. 2005
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This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
This John Le Carre adaptation is almost as good as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, there's no legendary performances here but the screen play by Arthur Hopcraft and a strong cast make it a pleasurable viewing experience. The suspense and understanding the psychology of a spy builds through each episode and for such a slow paced film at times it really is surprising edge of the seat stuff. Just a quick note on Peter Egen, at first i had trouble not picturing him standing next to Richard Briers (Everdecreasing Circles) but once you get over this initial shock by the end you realise what good job he does for the part and that he is actually a rather splendid actor.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinated in the genre, intrigued by those who work in it, 4 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
I am a great fan of Le Carre and, in particular, his spy and cold war material which I have re-read and watched many times. This BBC serial, being autobiographical material for David Cornwall (himself a spy and affected by the betrayals of Kim Philby and co) is an intriguing and helpful insight into the psychological profile of those involved in espionage.

It reminds me of Ricky Tarr in Tinker Tailor who says of himself to Smiley "my father thought he could beat the sin out of me, but he only beat it further in". Herein we see the influences that come to bear on young Pym as he grows and searches for identity, truth and meaning. As Axel says, he has loyalty, but to who? This story then is the journey of a man from cradle to grave, and the life that was stolen from him. I find his unravelling following Rick's demise absolutely fascinating, albeit his ending sad and lonely.

It is longer than the other BBC Le Carre adaptations but very worthwhile. For another reviewer who said it was a long movie, it isn't. This was a serialised production shown in weekly episodes so I suggest you plan to view over many sittings, letting the story sink in. I felt that the roles were mainly well cast, with only the change in actor for the teenage to adult Pym causing one to startle! Otherwise those who go the distance in character (Pym, Axel and Brotherhood) are excellent. Although short, the later scene with Sefton Boyd (Ian McNiece) is absolutely brilliant!)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A perfect spy - by John Le Carre, 1 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
A great spy story which gives a great insight into the personality make-up of the central character with back flashes of how his past life affected and formed him. Might be a bit slow for lovers of the more modern genre but for those who have enjoyed the much slower pace of previous le Carre offerings this film will suit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great but..., 30 Mar. 2012
This review is from: A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] (DVD)
There is no doubt that this is a fine production and it has been on my wish list ever since I got the Alec Guinness DVDs. It is substantial, well acted and has undoubtedly good production values.

The cast is a quality one. When Peter Egan is good he is very good. Unfortunately there are times when I felt he could quite deal with melodrama. Rüdiger Weigang is also very good as Axel. Ray McAnally is superb throughout.

The plot is detailed, interesting and quite absorbing as you expect from Le Carre. The issue I have is that at the end of the day I really did not care for any of the characters. At the end of the day, I happily took the DVD out of the player and stuck in something else. I felt no need for reflection or any sort of emotion. In fact the character that probably best sums this up is played by Jane Booker (Mary Pym). Despite the intense emotions that clearly she is supposed to suffer, she comes across as one very cold fish indeed.

I suspect the acid test will be to read the book. Unfortunately, I don't feel inclined to do this just now. Maybe later.

I hesitate between 3 and 4 stars. I'll give it a generous 4 rather than a stingy 3.
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