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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Spy Show
It's hard to describe this show to anyone. It is about an elite group of specialists who perform the physical jobs of espionage: extracting defectors, assassinations, action in foreign countries and the like. For all that, there is very little true action. Most of the action is off screen and most of the show consists of people talking on the phone or talking in...
Published on November 28, 2010 by Jason M. Waskiewicz

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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars good show, poor remastering
The digital remaster has made the picture clearer, but introduced artifacts such as white squares at the corners of some scenes and occasional white lines. I returned the first set and am now on my second, but the artifacts are still there. Since these aren't present in the original DVDs I rented, I assume they were introduced during a sloppy remastering. Too bad, I enjoy...
Published on January 31, 2012 by beardedone


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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Spy Show, November 28, 2010
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This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
It's hard to describe this show to anyone. It is about an elite group of specialists who perform the physical jobs of espionage: extracting defectors, assassinations, action in foreign countries and the like. For all that, there is very little true action. Most of the action is off screen and most of the show consists of people talking on the phone or talking in offices.

Yet, each show is so densely packed that it draws the viewer in. I like to think that it provides a more realistic look at espionage: the politics, double-dealing, questionable morality, and office drudgery. At the same time, the office politics are in relation to real action in the field.

The show illustrates some uncomfortable parts of espionage. Sometimes agents die...badly. There are no graceful or dramatic deaths. In one case, an agent is actually killed on the orders of the lead character in order to solve some other problems. One agent even dies after a dramatic story as he walks to work and is struck by a car in an ordinary pedestrian accident.

A lot of attention is required to watch this show. A lot of forgiveness is required as well. The sets are obviously that: sets. The exterior scenes are mostly shot in England and it's pretty obvious, even when they claim to be in a foreign country. The only exception I saw was Malta. The action in the show is fast and ends before you realize how poor the special effects were.

Nevertheless, the stories and most of the acting are so good that the viewer doesn't notice the faults.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sandbaggers - British Spy Drama, November 10, 2010
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This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
I've enjoyed British spy dramas on TV from "The Professionals" to "Spooks". This series aired after "The Professionals" and is much darker and closer to a Le Carre mood. Indeed, the series ended when its creator, Ian Mackintosh, vanished under mysterious circumstances - almost a selling point, were it not tragic.

The Sandbaggers are an exclusive branch of British intelligence (presumably MI6), but if you expect a glamourous and high-budget group of Double-O agents, forget it. They are underfunded. The government is just waiting to close them down. The nominal team strength of four is hardly ever reached, and generally they manage on two, often due to deaths. The one who most resembles 007 hates carrying a gun and is inclined to throw up if he has to actually kill someone. There's no gadgets or fast cars, and they often rely on the CIA to help them stretch their budget-based limitations.

But their jobs include espionage, extraction of defectors, bodyguards and assassination. Their leader, Neil Burnside, is capable of ordering team members to their death, except of course he can't get replacements. The stress shows.

A typical British production, it doesn't even try to "dumb down" complex situations, or magically resolve them with firepower and gadgets. Think of it as 'Smiley's Circus' meets 'Yes, Minister', then take away the laughs.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting time trip, August 18, 2011
This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
I really liked these shows. First off, though, they are dated - the women are all "girls", even the professionals. Everyone smokes like a chimney. But the acting is very different from what we see today, as is the dialog, and the sensibilities of the writers. One episode ended with a long, inspirational speech about how precious our freedoms are, and what happens if we loose them, and it was not being campy or insipid, it was very serious.

That's a word I would use about this series - serious. Everyone is very ernest. Even in their double-dealings and duplicity. It's actually more about office politics than it is about spying and espionage. But in a world of spycraft, that's a key part.

Everyone's acting is pretty good, too. I especially like the lead character. It's not often you can almost *feel* someone thinking. I got a sense that I was watching a real person, not an actor hamming it up. And the episode on the JFK assassination was probably the edgiest thing I've seen on broadcast TV. No wonder it didn't air in the US!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best spy series ever., May 10, 2012
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Black Campbell (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
The Sandbaggers is not what most people would expect -- it's about the politics of intelligence wrok, the planning, and most of all, the waiting to here if an op has gone off. The acting is good, the scripts and verisimilitude superb. It's a great look into the espionage game circa 1978-80.

The transfer leaves something to be desired, but it's still watchable. Here's a show that could do with a restoration job.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Old series that has aged well, March 21, 2012
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Dragoneer (Albuquerque, NM USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
The Sandbaggers is about a small elite group that is part of British intelligence. I'm not sure what "sandbaggers" means in London slang but its probably different than the American poker term for a player who initially checks then raises later in the round. I saw most of the episodes when they originally appeared on USA TV and was impressed. They have aged well so I'm enjoying them all over again. Most of the action is between people; intelligent people talking, plotting, and planning. We learn a lot about the characters and form opinions about their viewpoints. Most of the physical action is described and analyzed rather than shown. Occasionally we do see some of the action and since it is rare, there tends to be big emotional impact. (I will not describe particular incidents since that might spoil your experience.) I think that those of you who enjoy spy stories as well as sagas that "sort people out" will find this series one of your favorite.

I believe that the only American TV showing of The Sandbaggers was late 1980's on PBS.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars good show, poor remastering, January 31, 2012
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This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
The digital remaster has made the picture clearer, but introduced artifacts such as white squares at the corners of some scenes and occasional white lines. I returned the first set and am now on my second, but the artifacts are still there. Since these aren't present in the original DVDs I rented, I assume they were introduced during a sloppy remastering. Too bad, I enjoy this series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Spy Drama Ever (and one of the best television shows ever, too)., August 29, 2013
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This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
Watched this series when it was first broadcast back in the day. Thirty years on I remain struck by the quality of plot, dialogue and character. It's budget limitations do little to undermine the sheer brilliance of the series. In comparison to The Sandbaggers, television espionage series like Burn Notice, Alias, Mission Impossible and 24 are pretty much reduced to the level of Get Smart. Before the Sopranos, there was The Sandbaggers. This is television at its very best. You won't regret travelling back to the world of the British secret service during the Cold War. You really won't.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best of The Genre., May 12, 2013
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This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
If you like highly produced, non-stop action, implausible plots, and beautiful people casts - keep moving. If you like intense, brutal, dialogue and complex plots, exceptional character acting and a look at one problem from multiple perspectives - this is a series for you. Simply awesome.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Series, May 5, 2013
By 
Michael Eisenberg (Merrick, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
I really enjoyed watching this series back in the early 1980s and wished that more episodes had been made. Unfortunately, the series creator, who was rumored to be a master spy himself, died under somewhat mysterious circumstances - which conspiracy minded fans said might have been to prevent him from divulging certain state secrets!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Welcome Revival, July 13, 2012
This review is from: Sandbaggers, The Complete Collection (DVD)
With the scope TV dramas have today, with the possibility of international locations and virtually no restriction on what can be brought to life in action scenes, I had quite forgotten how things used to be. Claustrophobic static, low-budget sets were the name of the game in British TV drama and comedy of the time, with very few forays into the outside world meant that storylines had to be intriguing and tight, and acting needed to be convincing and on-the-ball. In this respect 'The Sandbaggers' does not disappoint. The stories are just as dark and cynical as you'd expect from a Cold War spy drama. 'Callan' is also a must-have from this genre. It's great to see these 'greats' being resurrected for ardent LWT fans.
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