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MI-5: Vol. 8
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Consistently hailed as a benchmark for modern drama, award-winning MI-5 returns for a rip-roaring eighth season. As the season begins, the fallout from Russia’s thwarted attack on London finds the team in a race against time to rescue Harry, who has been kidnapped by rogue Russian agents. But as they dig deeper into his disappearance, they find a trail that leads to Iraq, and a conspiracy that involves the CIA, MI-6 and some missing weapons-grade uranium. Could Harry know where it is? And how is former team member Ruth Evershed, returned to the security of MI5 having fled her new life in Cyprus, connected to it all?
Though American television seems to have no love for the UK spy series MI-5, its devoted fans can rest assured that the venerable program has a second life on DVD, as this eighth-season set can attest. Change has been the name of the game on MI-5 for the last few seasons, with major Section D figures meeting their untimely end at an alarming rate. Season eight is no exception, with no less than two series regulars killed and a third leaving the show due to age issues. There's also the return of Nicola Walker's Ruth Evershed, the arrival of a new character, tech expert Tariq Masood (Shazad Latif), and a new villain in the form of "Nightingale," a multinational organization bent on world domination. Section D's attempts to rout Nightingale before it can trigger a major nuclear conflict form the backbone of season eight's eight episodes, though the continuing question of the loyalty of Lucas North (Richard Armitage) becomes a tantalizing secondary story line. In short, it's a typically action-packed, intrigue-laded season of MI-5, and a solid setup for the show's ninth and most momentous foray, which settles the Lucas North issue once and for all. It's too bad that the content on the three-disc set is limited to a pair of boilerplate making-of featurettes concerning various stunts and two dry commentary tracks by director Alrick Riley and producer Chris Fry, but this keeps in line with the dwindling extras on previous MI-5 sets. --Paul Gaita
Top Customer Reviews
The stories are realistic and timely, the acting superb (with one exception), and the action is fast-paced. Actress Genevieve O'Reilly struggles with an American accent and some decidedly non-American idioms, but that's a minor complaint.
And in typical MI-5 fashion, Section D sustains personnel losses, often when the viewer least expects it. Long-time viewers will be pleased to see Ruth Evershed return in an exceptionally good storyline, and in another Lucas North is confronted by the man who imprisoned and tortured him for 8 years. I'm a fan of Richard Armitage, but I watched the series before he joined and will continue till the Powers That Be cease production.
On its' worst day, MI-5 beats 99% of other dramas' best days hands down.
MI-5 not only escapes that fate, but actually breaks it and throws it in the trash bin. After eight years, the series is strong, engrossing, intelligent, suspenseful, and continues to expand on it's base story line, the "defense of the realm" by common people who become officers of "5" from all walks of life. This is easily one of the best produced, acted, and scripted television shows ever made, and that's saying a lot, but, in my opinion, its absolutely the truth. These episodes are like 60-minute movies rather than TV shows, and the suspense and intrigue so immense that there can only be counted two, or perhaps three, truly "weak" episodes in the eight year run of some 70 - 80 episodes (and one of the weakest episodes is the pilot, which is typical as new shows get started and are unsure how to immediately handle all the show's components).
In fact, I've often likened MI-5 to one of those plate-twirlers you occasionally see, where the person takes a dinner plate, puts it atop a tall stick, and twirls it so that the plate seems to defy gravity by spinning effortlessly on top the pole. And then, the twirler adds another plate on another stick, and with a few deft twists, keeps a second plate simultaneously up in the air. And then a third. I've felt from the beginning of the series that MI-5 is just like that. By the end of Season One, we have a plate up in the air, and it seems difficult to believe that the series can maintain this level of suspense and interest. But then Season Two comes along, and they do just that, with now TWO plates in the air. Of course, you can't really maintain that for any length of time, but we have THREE plates up and spinning by Season Three, and by this point, we keep saying, "OK, that's it... they've reached the crescendo, there's nothing more they can realistically do and keep this believable and workable, the decline will start here, ..." But then, they do it again. And again. In fact, this progression keeps up to a point where even by Season Eight (the Season listed here for this review), its just impossible to believe how this can possibly be maintained. But indeed it is, and it is, truly, a wonder to behold.
I won't go into story lines, plot descriptions, or characters, because you can read all that in detail elsewhere (and it's often a mistake to do so, or you'll loose a lot of the drama and twists that get thrown at you by knowing these things ahead of time). What I will say is that this is simply one of the most amazing TV shows I've ever watched, and I've been watching TV since the 1960's. The actors are superb, the stories dramatic and intense, and the ability to make realistic story lines while keeping up the drama is a talent all too rarely seen in shows.
I can highly recommend MI-5 if you like drama, and particularly if you like to consider the sometimes contradictory forces of a nation's security concerns and its dedication to the rule of law. There are some tough criticisms within the show directed at a variety of countries (including the UK, in no short amount), so you have to be willing to take the slings and the barbs as they come, but its surprising to see that, just because one country does things a bit differently than another, doesn't necessarily mean that they are wrong, or even unwise. There is much to be said when one considers the complex issues addressed in this show (and the manner and approach taken toward each), and that's just part of the MI-5 experience.
Six stars for performance, six stars for stories, six stars for technical implementation and direction. Some of the seasons, unfortunately, are very expensive, and that's a shame, but most of the rest are reasonably priced (including Season Eight, here). And one final comment: to really get the most out of this series, start with Season One, and watch the episodes in order. The stories build upon themselves. The opening pilot epoisode is perhaps not that strong, but just get past it and the next one or so, and watch the whole production take off like a slingshot. Or, should I say, a plate twirler. And watch with amazement, as I have, as the plates keep getting added Season after Season. By the end of Season One, you'll see what I mean, and if you keep it up in order, I think you'll be convinced of my description. Enjoy!
But, although I do think names are massively important (Juliet, let us remember, was wrong, wrong, wrong,) none of that really matters with this series. It's just so amazingly good . . . .
In most long-running series, the production values get better while the plots get worse. Not true here. The issues are timely and sharply focused and remarkably balanced. As an American, I feel the slings and arrows of British opposition to our foreign policy, but fair enough. I've started using clips from the series in my Humanities class as examples of how much the US resembles the Athens of Thucydides.
As the other reviewer says, the casting is impeccable. And I've been hoping for the return of Ruth, the dead-pan intel genius.
This is a great series at a good price. My only complaint is that there are so very few episodes.
PS and I agree with the first reviewer about the CIA woman's accent/vocab; who could believe a CIA operative saying "I don't like being messed about" ???
In short, love the show, and loved season 8 almost, but not quite, as much. Aspects of both the story arc and individual stories had strong echoes of seasons past and made me wonder if the shows best days are behind it.
Also a gripe -- as I write this episode 6 is not available. Why? Somewhat unlikely that a single episode in the middle of a series has different licensing issues than the rest of the season.