Spooks & The Unpredictable

Do you have a diary? Flip it open for me, and if you haven't already, insert "Watch Spooks on BBC One" in the entry for next Monday. This weekend, I watched the first three episodes of the new season (in order to write a preview for heat magazine, Kudos lawyers!), and they're as tremendous as I'd hoped.

Why do I love Spooks? Let me count the ways. Topping the list, if I'm honest, is Peter Firth's performance as MI5's Section D chief Harry Pearce. The man carries such gravitas and presence, while barely raising his voice above a near-whisper. Rupert Penry-Jones, too, has cemented himself into the show as unflappable action hero Adam Carter. Hermione Norris endlessly fascinates as nails-hard ice maiden Ros Myers, and I can honestly say there isn't a single weak link among the rest of the ensemble.

Spooks' plotting is exemplary, with storylines twisting and constantly rotating to reveal different sides and bigger pictures. Then there's the sheer pace of the beast - it's a rare episode of Spooks which doesn't hit the ground running, at such a fair old clip that you wonder what can possibly happen for the rest of the hour.

Vitally, Spooks is also one of the few continuing dramas where you constantly fear for all of the characters' lives. No-one is safe, as we've seen from a number of shocking fatalities over the past six seasons. This makes it consistently exciting.

Talking about unpredictability, here's something I've realised about my favourite TV characters, who are the aforementioned Harry Pearce, the Doctor, Boyd from Waking The Dead and Vic Mackey from The Shield. Something unites them all: you never know for sure how they're going to react to anything. Perhaps that's something to aspire to as a writer, if you see the appeal in this - creating a character who's well-drawn, but never predictable. Consistently unpredictable, in fact...

Note: Let's keep any comments spoiler-free for Spooks seasons past and present, even after the new episodes air.


David Lemon said...

Couldn't agree more- it's a fine show and for me at its best when all the fisticuffs and high tech spy mallarkey is contrasted with the spies' attempts to have normal lives and relationships.
In fact it's sort of been doing on the small screen what the new Daniel Craig Bonds have done so effectively at the cinema by reminding that behind all the intrigue and violence are fallible people capable of emotion.
You're right about Peter Firth too- He really anchors the whole thing. Can't get enough Le Carre type scenes where he has to meet a fellow old spy in Hyde Park.
My only peeve is the way they don't put credits on the end- it makes for a snappy ending, but all the people involved deserve a mention.

Tom Murphy said...

You're dead right - I'm not a regular viewer of the series, but I got sent a preview disc of the first episode to write about it. I haven't had my heart in my mouth so much since the last couple of eps of The Sopranos. Everything about it ramps up the tension to an almost unbearable level.

Tom Murphy said...

By the by - this was my (spoiler-free) review: http://www.orange.co.uk/entertainment/television/31695.htm

Have a good time in San Sebastian!