Thursday, 4 June 2015

THE COMPLETE SERIES - Spooks (2002 - 2011)

Looking at my compulsion to collect DVDs... and a complete series I own.

A TV series about spies from the BBC.

 The following may contain very mild spoilers, although it tries to avoid doing so.  The "The Ending" section will mention if a show had a resolution or a cliffhanger (but no description of what happens).


2002 - 2011.
Length:  10 series of 6 - 10 hour long episodes each (86 epsiodes) 
Ending:  Wraps things up (but there's a 2015 film)
Creator:  David Wolstencroft.
Cast:  Many and changing.
Overview:  The work and life of officers and staff of MI-5's Section D.

Series 1

6 episodes.  Mostly episodic, but with some ongoing subplots (mostly personal lives).  Ends with a cliffhanger.

Series 2

10 episodes.  The same in tone as the first series, but some of the episodes were general the same quality as serues, although a few episodes fall short and it feels like 10 episodes stretches the writers too far.  The follow-up to the series 1 cliff-hanger is handled poorly and this series, too ends with a cliffhanger.

Series 3

10 episodes.  The series takes a darker turn and there are some major cast changes.  This series is again mostly episodic with only personal lives having ongoing plots.  For once

Series 4

10 episodes.  Continues the tone of the previous series.  As with previous series, it is mostly episodic, although it does start with a two-parter and, again, ends on a cliffhanger.

Series 5

10 episodes.  Starts with a two-parter and has another later in the series.  Due to the events of series 4, the lead character spends many of the episodes suffering PTSD which makes the show bleaker than the previous series.

Series 6

10 episodes.  A serialised season, although many of the endings feel a little like they were tacked on episodes written to be stand-alone.  The result of this is rather that the story feels like it drags a little.

Series 7

8 episodes.  Mostly standalone episodes with an ongoing subplot the grows to take over the final couple of episodes.  The resolution of the end of the previous series is weak and lead to another character having PTSD for the first couple of episodes.  End with another cliffhanger. 

Series 8

8 episodes.  Starts with mostly standalone episodes, with a background subplot growing until it takes over the last few episodes.

Series 9

8 episodes.  The major subplot is based around the past of one of the main characters coming back to catch up on him.  While the early episodes are standalone, the subplot grows to take over the last few.  The cast includes two new characters, one fairly uninteresting and one who has an initial subplot that makes the character unsympathetic.

Series 10

6 episodes.  The final series is based around the past of the final remaining original character coming back to catch up on him.  The cast includes two new characters who, because of the arc taking up all the air time are quite forgettable.

The Run:

The series, although never completely light, the series kept getting darker throughout especially the during the transitional third series.  Conspiracies become deeper and (hopefully) more unrealistic, becoming more like 24 by the end.


Watch the first two episodes.  The first is good, but the second makes the show.

The Viewing:

Can be viewed and enjoyed episodically.  Marathoning's problem best restricted to series-by-series or era (as defined by the main character) at a time.  It should be noted that most series end on a cliff-hanger.


The series retains great writing throughout although individual episodes fall short at times.  The acting is usually first class with the occasional pour casting of a guest star, usually playing Americans.


The shift in tone during series 3 is difficult to get past, I personally quit the show for a long time before coming back to it.  The attempt to remain fresh and outdo the previous series probably undermines the series as a whole and gives the impression that it may have gone on a little longer than it should.  While a lot of the betrayals and double crosses are well handled, some are a little too sudden, and feel less unexpected and more last minute ideas.  The resolution to some of the cliffhangers seem a bit forced.


Spooks: Code 9 (2008) - A 6 episode series set in 2013 after a successful nuclear attack on London during the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics.  Commissioned as a spin-off, but some involved in the project denied a connection between the two.  Disliked by critics and viewers and cancelled after one series.
Spooks: The Greater Good (2015) - A big screen continuation of the series.

The Ending:

Not a happy ending, and perhaps a little cruel to the loyal viewers, but in keeping with the series.  It certainly wraps up the final storyline and brings closure without stopping the potential for future stories, which is lucky considering the movie.

Watch it if...

First two series - if you like smart British spy shows and movies, like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
The Rest - if you like action/conspiracy spy series in 24.

~ DUG.

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