I thought this week we could scoot across the pond and visit one of my favorite television series discoveries. A few years back, I was watching BBC America, and I stumbled on a show called MI-5. If you’re in the UK or are a hard-core Anglophile, you probably know the show as Spooks. But here in the US, a title like that could bring the ACLU kicking and screaming to the gates of Warner Bros., so they ended up going a different way here in the States.
MI-5 is about the clandestine British security service of the same name. It stars the delicious Matthew MacFadyen (Pride and Prejudice) as Tom Quinn, the stoic and complicated officer who leads a band of talented young spies in their daily struggles against terrorism, organized crime, anarchists, and their sister organization, MI-6. The subtly sexy Keeley Hawes is Zoe Reynolds, the female officer that gets the appropriately suggestive undercover assignments, and David Oyelowo is the adorable Danny Hunter, who’s just trying to keep his head above water and do his job.
Wrangling this band of counter-spies is Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), the stern yet lovable leader who always has his team’s back. Follow their first season adventures, but don’t get too attached to any one character. As seasons progress, you never know who will be lost.
This is one of the most realistic spy dramas I’ve seen. Having spoken with some clandestine types in the past, I’m told the operational tactics and tradecraft in this show are quite akin to the real thing, which makes this show even better. The signature dry British humor is also in full effect, and the stories are topical and often right out of the headlines.
The whole series is more scrumptious than scones and clotted cream. If you’re a spy buff, this will be right up your alley. And even if you aren’t, check it out anyway if you want to see good drama well executed. You won’t be disappointed.
The three-disc MI-5: Volume 1 collection includes all six original first season episodes, including footage that was never broadcast in the US. There’s also some extra goodies like cast and crew interviews, featurettes and deleted scenes.