MI-5: Volume 1 (DVD)
Defending their country, deceiving their friends, MI-5 takes us into the secret world of the clandestine UK security servi and the people who make up the elite team. This exciting, fast paced drama, full of split screens and technical wizardry, explores the passion, jeopardy and intrigue of people who have to lie for a living and deceive their loved ones about what they do.
John Le Carre for the Internet generation, the BBC's MI-5 is a smart combination of TV cop show and George Smiley-esque espionage shenanigans that pulls no punches in its depiction of an MI-5 (the British CIA) team fighting a covert war on the streets of London. This is adult, post-watershed drama clearly inspired by the hard-hitting style of shows as 24 and The Sopranos. The strong ensemble cast is led by charismatic Matthew MacFadyen as Tom Quinn, star spy of "Section B," the counterterrorism branch headed by Harry Pearce (Peter Firth). Keeley Hawes, David Oyelowo, and tough-cookie Jenny Agutter make up the team. And as with its British predecessors, Cracker and Prime Suspect, MI-5 (titled Spooks originally) also delves fearlessly into the characters' turbulent personal lives, here given an added twist by their constant need to deceive even those they love. The six episodes of the BAFTA Award-winning first season tackle a variety of tough issues, including religious fanaticism, racism, governmental cover-ups, and, naturally enough, the lingering shadow of Irish terrorism. Throughout, the show strikes a fine balance between a James Bond-ian techno-obsession with spy gadgets and more character-based action, with crisp writing and direction that ratchets up the tension a notch further with every episode. The final cliffhanger is an unforgettable TV moment, and one that leaves viewers agog for next season. --Mark Walker