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Spooks : Complete BBC Series 2  [DVD]
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All 10 episodes of the second series of the BBC series documenting the missions of MI5 agents. In 'Bosnian', Zoe (Keeley Hawes) goes undercover as a video shop assistant to get close to a Serbian terrorist sympathiser. In 'Mosque', a Birmingham mosque suspected of large-scale fraud turns out to be harbouring a 'nest of angels': a group of young men being trained to sacrifice themselves as suicide bombers. 'Hacker' finds Danny (David Oyelowo) uncovering hackers who have infiltrated the MI5 systems at an IT fair in North London. In 'Bank', the agents are called in to investigate when the Russian mafia try to launder £20 billion through an old English family bank. In 'Germ Warfare', a routine exercise starts to get a bit too realistic for Tom (Matthew MacFadyen)'s liking. 'President' sees the American president in town for a top secret meeting with Libyan government officials. In 'Briefcase', a leading French scientist involved in the development of state-of-the-art weapons technology is found dead. In 'Unions', a celebrated soldier's death in a 'car accident' turns out to have more sinister causes. In 'Drugs', the agents are on the trail of a Columbian drugs cartel with connections in very high places. Finally, 'Christine' sees Tom being set up for the assassination of the head of the armed forces. Can he ever find a way out, and get his friends and colleagues to believe the truth?
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One requirement on the part of the viewer will be an ability to take the whole thing with a pinch of salt (or even a whole packet full!) The stories range between the fairly implausible to the totally far-fetched, but that doesn't really matter as "Spooks" is at heart an old-fashioned adventure series, designed to take the viewer on an exhilarating ride to an exciting climax. When it sticks to this brief "Spooks" works very well, but it is less successful when inserting scenes about personal relationships; these are rather cliched and break the overall flow. Also, occasionally, the programme tries to explore the moral ambiguities and political issues which face those involved in spying, but this is done in an embarrassingly simplistic way. You need a Graham Greene or a John le Carre to do this properly, and the writers for "Spooks" are definitely not in that league!
"Spooks" is served by a hard-working, competent cast who manage to breath a fair amount of life into what are mainly two-dimensional characters, and they deserve special praise (particularly Peter Firth) for managing to keep a straight face when delivering some of the riper dialogue. The makers also make use of every dramatic cliche in the book, as well as unashamedly referencing famous scenes from blockbuster films (spot the idea nicked from "The Godfather" in the penultimate episode!), but it's all done with great panache and, for the most part, very well paced. It is not going to place much demand on one's intellectual faculties, but "Spooks" is an entertaining romp and it is easy to see why it became so popular.
That said, I enjoyed enormously season 2 episodes 1-8(7.5), up to the point when Matthew's character starts quarreling with his boss. Also made no sense - they worked along one another for many years, it seems, Tom's in the service since he was a student, it's quite impossible to find out you don't get along with your boss after all these years. But, apart from the weak 2 last episodes, you will enjoy the show enormously. There are a few scences though that are not very watchable, because they include images or actions of torture, but they are quite few and you can close your eyes. I wish entertainment would stop being about violence, this is just irritating and disgusting, not entartaining at all. It's part of life, but can be suggested, not grossly depicted.
Be warned - for some reason quite difficult to explain, "Spooks" is addictive. Watch it on television and buy one series to catch up on one you missed - often cheaper than one evening at the cinema - and you will buy another and another then find yourself sitting at home in the darkness watching them with friends, wives/husbands, sharing them with other members of the family and generally having hours of harmless fun. If you know London, you might find yourself spotting places or discussing the plots with family and friends.
Like life, some episodes are better than others, but they're well worth living through just for the fun of it. Recommended but, be warned. You will want the next one and need another book/CDshelf soon.
Picture quality is as good as you'd expect and although the sound quality could be improved upon in this and series 1, it didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the series.
For me, the balance in the storeylines between the spy drama and the characters' personal drama is just right - The BBC are masters of the genre and Spooks doesn't disappoint.
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