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MI-5, Vol. 2
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55 of 58 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 17, 2005
I continue to be riveted by this show. There is no show on television in America that presents a truer picture of what it means to serve your country in the War on Terror. This season ratchets up the suspense and personal angst of the main characters. There were times as I watched this show that I was literally floored by the actions of these men and women, the lengths they were willing to go in order to do their job as they saw it should be done. Matthew MacFadyen once again turns in a bravura performance and by the end of the season you are actually on the edge of your seat to know what happens. This series continues to be one of the most well-acted and well-written spy shows I have ever seen. Should not be missed by anyone who loves great drama and the spy thriller genre.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on August 20, 2005
The fabulous cast, ambitious stories and dry humour all return in Series 2 of this hit UK show.

The arc of the quality here seems to be the complete reverse of Series 1. While I enjoyed both series, Series 1 had been marred by a pilot that made precious little sense and carried almost no sense of danger. Series 2 starts off on a roll and retains its momentum all the way until the final episode, when a somewhat contrived plot, too much exposition and a forced ending (which the writer admits was necessitated by a question about whether a cast member would return for Series 3) mar the enjoyment.

But it remains a strong 10 episodes. All the talent involved -- directors, writers, actors -- appear to be more comfortable since the template of the show was already so clear from the first series. Matthew MacFadyen is given more of a chance to chomp scenery, and he excels at it -- his marvellous way with confrontational dialogue is made more enjoyable by the fact that he still has that boyish face which sometimes can sneak into '80s Tom Cruise territory, but when he turns on the heat, MacFadyen's intensity is electrifying. Keeley Hawes still has the ability to light up the screen with her English-rose beauty, but she's also given a mix of a heartbreaking subplot as well as some deadpan jokes, both of which she delivers with aplomb. Megan Dodds is superb as CIA agent Christine Dale, an oddball cross of mischievous schoolgirl and vicious ice goddess. The fact that she never completely slides into either role makes her endlessly interesting to watch, and Dodds makes for a much stronger romantic interest for MacFadyen than Series 1's Esther Hall (Ellie).

David Oyelowo is sadly given less emphasis in this series, but Peter Firth remains great as head spook Harry Pearce, and the loss of Jenny Agutter was really no big deal, the role of Tessa being too one-dimensional to be interesting anyway. The "older woman" role is filled by new addition Nicola Walker, whose energy fits the cast much better. Also new to the cast is Shauna Macdonald, a vibrant young Scottish actress who walks off with some of the funniest moments in the show. This sense of humour continues to carve MI-5 an identity distinct from that of the American spy show, 24, despite the similarities. In Series 2, MI-5 further indulges in its unique strengths: Since this show doesn't shy away from using real names, real countries and real causes (nothing like 24 Season 2's "these three Arab countries" device here), this lends MI-5 a huge degree of verisimilitude which serves to make us even more on edge. Let's face it, it's much more engaging, and liberating, to be able to hear "Libya" or "President Bush and Tony Blair" on the show than vague references to "Arab countries" and "the Prime Minister and the Ambassador". I suppose American TV doesn't trust the audience to be willing to accept the idea of using real names in fiction, so when MI-5 throws you an episode where the Prime Minister and the royal family of Britain are all presumed dead, it's exhilarating to watch.

My only grudge is with the final episode. Again, it's the classic TV dilemma -- how do you deal with the potential departure of a central actor? The episode is bogged down by the need to have an open-ended ending which allows them the freedom to bring the actor back (or otherwise). But it's still moving in many places, especially the Romeo and Juliet trials and tribulations between Tom Quinn and Christine Dale, compounded by the fracture of the Harry-Tom-Zoe-Danny axis.

A great show, and I can't wait for Series 3 to arrive.
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35 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2004
The BBC nails another one. This is the best show on television. If you like 24, this is better. The writing is more crisp, the plots believable and exciting, and the acting is far better than anything on American tv. You don't get scenery chewing 101, you get real characters with wit and intelligence who occasionally screw up.

This show makes Alias look like Romper Room. These 1-hour versions give you the WHOLE show, not the 44-minute A&E butcher jobs. It's like watching a densely plotted mini movie with continuing characters. Macfadyen, Hawes, and Firth are terrific, etching flawed but believable characters. Wonderful stuff.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on July 29, 2006
After having greatly enjoyed the first series (which had only 6 episodes), I was a bit worried that the second series would start to get predictable, as so many spy/action/detective-series do. However, I was not disappointed! Although the personal experiences and job frustrations of the characters bring lots of tension into the series, they do not dominate and each episode has a worthy plot in itself. In other words, if there's a standard formula for episodes, I haven't discovered it yet and each new plot has kept me sitting on the edge of my chair. On to the third series!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2004
Magnificient reproduction and true to fact of the politics involved in espionage. Gritty, with no punches held back in this, the second feast from Britian's MI5 brigade. Especially fortright in it's portrayal of the civil service's "Yes Minister" attidues and how in fact senior civil servants run government departments and not the figure headed ministers themselves placed in charge. Excellent stuff once again from the BBC. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 6, 2006
This is such an excellent show. The 2nd season is just as good as season one and in fact is a bit more exciting. The plots are not nearly as over the top as '24' and the realism is much much higher than in Alias. The characters are well portrayed as everyday people which makes it easy to connect with them. Again, I like the fact that the show has a British view on world politics and seeing the landscape through their eyes is very interesting compared to how American TV portrays the world. Buying this show is money well spent.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
I have both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of this outstanding series and can't say enough about it. The stories are dramatic and compelling and the DVD's contain both the uncut versions of the episodes as well as an impressive number of quality extras including interviews, stills and documentaries. If you're a fan of the spy genre, this series is a must-have addition to your library.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 26, 2006
This series will take your breath away begining with episode one in season one! The final episode in season two leaves you spent and needing more. The sophistication of the plots, dialog and characters is several cuts above the typical U.S. spy thrillers, including "24". In fact, after watching the first season of MI-5, I could not get back to "24" which seemed sophmoric by comparison. If you enjoy "24", wait for the series to end before starting MI-5. This is one excellent television drama!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2006
I started watching MI-5 because I'm a fan of Matthew McFadyen's. He's excellent in this series, as are the other key actors on the show. It's hard to write a detailed review of this show without giving away plot points so let me just say it's a little pricy but worth it, particularly if your a fan of Matthew's.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I had only marginally good things to say about MI-5, Series/Season 1. Willing to give the series a fair shot, I watched Series/Season 2. And I'm glad I did. Much better than the first go-around, Series/Season 2 ends with a bang with quite a bit of meat enroute to the series conclusion. Two episodes - the Emergency Reaction Exercise and President's Visit episodes - were outstanding. There are two new series - I can't wait until we get them on DVD.
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