The Loneliest Jukebox

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Thursday, November 02, 2006


You heard me right. The BBC drama Spooks, known as MI-5 in the USA, is now a staple feature of the schedules. When Season 1 debuted back in 2002, the old leftie in me lacked enthusiasm for a TV series glorifying the security services. More personally, seeing how actor Peter Firth had lost his curly perm in the years since The Flipside of Dominick Hide was an intimation of mortality.

Over time, Spooks has grown on me. True, it had/has elements of the torture-fest that characterises 24. Having once been in a movie with Jenny Agutter - although I remember her more than she remembers me - I also revisited her stint on the show and enjoyed it.

More recently, Spooks has been getting on my nerves. Unlike Stephen Pollard or Melanie Phillips, I'm not getting my knickers in a twist about the alleged anti-semitism on the show (the "it was Mossad wot done it" punchlines). In fact, season 5 episode 9 writer Neil Cross - who, coincidentally, I also in a film with - is fairly selective in his use of Mossad death squads.

No, the real problem with recent storylines is their predictability. If the drama hinges on being betrayed by allies, the CIA, double agents and people who aren't what they seem, then it can be shocking. If the betrayals take place each week, the shock is diminshed. It makes for bad drama, akin to the Hollywood typecasting of the late J.T. Walsh as a case in point. (If you turn up to work in a movie and he's playing your boss, start applying for work elsewhere immediately.) Come on Spooks, sort it out.

And don't get me started on those "ethical" storylines, where MI5 is defeating genocide and saving the planet ...


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