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
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The explosions and special effects are only getting bigger and better in Season 8. MI-5 is a lavishly filmed BBC series that gets more and more addictive with each season. The threats are becoming more and more ominous and worldwide. The writers certainly have a creative streak using various conflicts in the world to the advantage of their stories.
As with just about every season, there are major cast changes during Season 8. They are unexpected and a bit shocking but that is the life of a spy. It's interesting to follow the moral dilemmas of the spies. It's hard to have to live a hard life with a cold heart at times. Is it fair to sacrifice an innocent person to save several lives or maybe thousands? The MI-5 team is faced with these decisions on almost daily. Ros is faced with a horrible choice at one point. What will be her decision.
One of the key and ongoing plot elements of MI-5 is never knowing who is the "good guy" and who can be trusted. "Good" spies can be "turned" to the other side out of greed or ideological issues. There is always a "mole" inside the MI-5 or the government. There is a revolving door of spies and terrorists and how their paths collide. You also need a calculator to keep track of the number of Home Secretaries the British government has just in Season 8. Things get over the top but yet somehow the viewer wants more and this is a fun series to watch.
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.