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4.2 out of 5 stars
A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD]
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 13 February 2011
It's not easy to get into this, but it's worth persevering. Good, solid traditional BBC-type acting, and some wonderfully sparse settings.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 2 January 2013
This is a lovely box set of the seven episodes that the BBC made of the adaptation of the John le Carre novel A Perfect Spy.
The series was made at a time when the BBC were producing really first rate material and not so budget strapped unfortunately like a lot of today's material. Beautifully acted and you get a real sense of the period from this great piece of work.
A difficult book to translate onto the screen but in this case very well done.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Having watched this years ago when it was televised I was thrilled to see it released for sale though not here in Australia for some time so was reduced to buying the VHS from the UK. Now at last have the DVD of this terrific story by Le Carre, partly autobiographical I gather. It's gripping but also very sad; a story of a man trained in duplicity since childhood and who becomes lost when his double agent's career is threatened, and who has been in thrall to a manipulative father all his life. He is quite a hollow man. Great performances by Ray McAnally, Peter Egan - though the latter very different to the character I imagine when I read the book. He is terrific at the finish. Also Ruediger Weigang makes a terrific Poppy. All in all a very worthwhile production which I will watch again.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 January 2012
This production is 'unputdownable' and probably one of the best spy dramas ever.It probably would not be made these days because of it's 'slow burn' - but it's well worth the wait. What more can one say!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
It took me a while to warm up to this series and get it. Up to nearly the end, I thought it was too slow and convoluted. It takes a deep look at the spy's psychology: his father was a charming con man, either in the money or broke, even in jail; yet he always resurfaces, even to run for parliament. The boy is ashamed of him, loves him, feels guilt and responsibility towards him and never free. It is pathetic, yet his recruiters for "the firm" think a little crime in the family is a fine thing.

The young man inherits the charm of his father and is apparently talented, at least if admission to Oxford means anything. He proves adept at gathering information discreetly, rarely regrets his betrayals, to the point that it is clear he is the same kind of sociopath his father is = he marries women he doesn't love for "cover" and eventually compromises himself because there is a need inside him that cannot be fulfilled. (I reveal nothing here, for his journey to this is what is important. It is subtle and complex, as we expect from Le Carre, and it is not spelled but must be interpreted, which is one thing I love about European film.) He is seduced and makes a career that makes a mockery of his colleagues and indeed the entire intelligence service. Of course, it works itself to a terrible crisis, not at all what one would expect. The spy, Pym, disappears, but the look of nervous exhaustion is unmistakeable and, I thought, believable.

Though I found it difficult to understand what exactly the spy was supposed to be doing and what he did, it is revealed slowly. Perhaps too slowly. It does work very well in the end as a drama, but it may lose many viewers before the climax. Recommended. This is not as good as Smiley's People.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 12 March 2012
I watched this in one go. I didn't intend to, but the captivating performance by Peter Egan as the flawed, troubled Magnus Pym just meant it was impossible to stop. This is the biography of a spy and this BBC production with an amazing cast is a superb interpretation of Le Carre's book.

The story is a take on the espionage world which parallels the historical (here fictionalised) Cambridge Spies : Complete BBC Series [2003] [DVD] in that one was left wondering if he were a perfect spy what would an imperfect spy look like?

The dangling question, never fully answered (and the story is better for that) is "why?"

We are introduced to someone with a troubled upbringing, a con artist/black marketeer father that consorted with "working girls" (but were tarts with hearts that seemed to offer him affection if not love) and an early life that drove his mother insane. The boarding school system was painted accurately as cruel and cold, nothing like the feasts at midnight or jolly japes of Jennings Goes to School.

Somehow the product of all this, still in thrall by his father, adopting some of his father's skills (perhaps a little like The Talented Mr Ripley [DVD]) became a spy and a double agent, with a triple life: the third being his bolt hole, known to none.

Unlike the Cambridge spies, he seemed untroubled by ideology. His first love was a honey trap. But somehow the Czechs seemed to offer him something substantial but we're never explicitly told what it was.

A marvellous tale, much better than A Perfect Spy (BBC Audio) so good I can't imagine watching it twice but I'm hanging on to the DVDs in case I change my mind.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2012
A Perfect Spy: Complete BBC Series (3 Disc Box Set) [DVD] This I think, is the best of the TV Le Carre adaptations that the BBC have produced- while it has less of the glamour of the Smiley adaptations, it is much closer to the book and has a poignancy beautifully highlighted by the two central performances of Peter Egan and the late but great Kevin McNally. Great script and only very occasional drops in sound quality (quite usual in archive material.)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2012
The story and its motion picture version are a perfect (and rare) example of how one's most private personal architecture intersects with their public roles. No-one (least of all his larger than life father), except his unlikely, shadowy, German friend had the slightest insight into the complex character of the protagonist. Is this a sad story? It may well be, but it is also disturbingly ordinary. Brilliant cameo performance by Peggy Ashcroft.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2012
Even though the program was made in the '80s, it is still a rattling good spy story told in great detail. Enough time is given to develop the characters and you do achieve a rapport with the main character, even though he is not a hero figure. Once we began viewing the series, we had to keep going to see what was going to happen next. It's like a good book you can't put down. I don't think it's the type of series you can see again and
again. I will give it a rest for a good while, then dig it out again when I feel like a sojourn into the deep and murky of MI5. I can recommend this series if spy yarns are your cup of tea. My wife and I enjoyed it very much.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 28 March 2009
A painful portrait of a father and son. Peter Egan's performance is full of charm and angst. Le Carre before the politics became the central point and my favourite Le Carre book and TV series.
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