What I Watched Last Night: MI-5/Spooks

My binging on British television continues with my ongoing enjoyment of MI-5/Spooks. Though the show was originally called Spooks, for reasons I’m not entirely clear on, the U.S. and France (and briefly, Canada) choose to call it something different. I’m watching through Netflix Instant, where it is called MI-5.

MI-5/Spooks group photo from season 4MI-5 is based on the British intelligence agency of the same name, with “spooks” being the colloquial term used for spies. The show concerns a lot of undercover operations, foiling terrorist plots, and occasionally having to deal with their somewhat difficult American counterparts. It’s well-written, well-acted, and for once, the BBC actually seemed to give it a large budget from the get-go. The show ran from 2002 until 2011.

Last night, I watched the first episode from Season 4, “The Special: Part One.” In it, terrorists who believe the Earth’s population needs to be “culled” set off a bomb in a crowded outdoor market and say that unless a certain person is released from prison, another bomb will go off in ten hours. The team is having trouble tracking down the culprits, despite having a good idea of their identity, since it appears that MI-5 has a mole leaking information.

Because this show aired primarily during the second Bush administration, it’s interesting to watch the British version of heightened security and how the U.S. influences their policies. It’s also quite different from the more aggressive 24, which had a similar run length. Because Season 4 echoes the July 7 terrorist bombings in London train stations (the episodes were shot before those attacks, and the BBC ran warnings ahead of airing), I’m curious to see how the show deals with that after this two-parter.

Finally, because my brief TV recaps tend to have some sort of eye candy element even when I’m trying to be serious, let us take a look at agent Adam Carter and his wife, Fiona, both of whom first worked for MI-6 before coming over to 5. Now that’s a good looking couple. Shhh… I know bad things eventually befall them, but let’s just enjoy their presence for now.

MI-5/Spooks Fiona and Adam, a very attractive couple

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

15 thoughts on “What I Watched Last Night: MI-5/Spooks”

  1. OH YAY! I never get to talk about MI5! I love this show, though it breaks my heart now and then. They pull NO punches, so you really never know when something terrible might happen.

    I love how many strong female characters it has, both good and evil. And I think it’s a very grown-up show.

    It took me a while to realize how perfect Harry Pearce is. He’s really amazing.

    1. Indeed! All the characters are great in their own way. The guy who plays Harry was on an old episode of Highlander that my husband was watching — but as a bad guy, and now I’m like, “HARRRY! NOOO! WHY YOU GOTTA BE LIKE THAT?”

      I may be overly invested. ;)

        1. Well, according to a couple of interviews and his Wikipedia page, so who knows. But I sometimes I like a good grump (see: my ongoing appreciation of Noel Gallagher), but “Roo” called Doctor Who “a very good children’s show,” and we just can’t have that. ;)

          No I don’t know — I may be wrong!

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