Spooks: How to kill off a series

Just a little over six weeks ago, my better half and I were looking forward to the final series of Spooks.

Before we watched the first episode we lamented the end of an excellent series.  Okay, so it was telly-land, not real life, but it had action, suspense and intrigue.  It was a high-quality production.

We imagined Spooks fans writing in over the next several weeks to Radio Times campaigning for another series, just as they are doing for the retention of BBC4.  Initially, that happened.  Then the letters dwindled away.

This is probably because the final series was a soporific. Whether by accident or design, it was storyboarded, written or directed in such a way that watching each of the six episodes was akin to swallowing cod liver oil.  Tiresome and unenjoyable but, somehow, necessary.

I dozed off during three different episodes, my better half once or twice.  I can’t say for sure — I might have been sleeping at the time.

‘This is straight out of the Cyril Frankel playbook,’ one of us would say.

For those who do not remember, Cyril Frankel, now 90, directed some of the slowest, dullest episodes of The Champions and Jason King.

However, the last series of Spooks had a few other issues.  One was the drawn-out human interest factor.  Harry and Ruth.  Harry and Elena.  Combine that with the Cyril Frankel pace of the thing and, frankly, who cared anymore?

‘Ruth looks like a lefty,’ one of us would say to break the boredom.

‘Typical Grauniad reader,’ the other would nod.

Then there were the omnipresent Apple Macs.  Really? In a Government agency?  I don’t think so. Read IT industry articles about the public sector; they use Microsoft.

Finally, we saw the disappearance of the middle aged — despite the final shot of Harry at the end — in favour of the three young pups: the brunette, Dimitri and the wisecracking blond chappie.  I hope that’s a piece of fiction, too, because if our intelligence services depend on these types running operations, I do wonder about the future of our country.

14 comments for “Spooks: How to kill off a series

  1. October 26, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Perhaps that’s the real world and we’re in some bizarre matrix?

    • October 26, 2011 at 8:34 pm

      If that’s the real world … count me out. 😉

  2. October 26, 2011 at 9:55 pm

    We came late to Spooks – and burdened with intrusive flashbacks to ‘The Flipside of Domnic Hyde’ – but agree with you wholeheartedly.

    Part of the problem is that the replacements for Hermione Norris, Gemma Jones and Richard Armitage lacked their charisma and screen presence; the interchangeable ‘young pups’ are no substitute.

    The trouble is, I suspect, that in today’s TV commissioning climate,a riveting plot is less of a priority than human interest, gadgetry and having really good hair.

    • October 26, 2011 at 10:42 pm

      Thank you! It all seemed a bit staged, especially the ‘good hair’ bit. The pups were but cardboard cutouts — probably the fault of character development in the scripts more than the acting.

      The actors you mentioned presented their characters as real people. We felt so bad when they left the series and could only imagine the ongoing dilemmas and dangers that real spies endure on a daily basis.

    • October 27, 2011 at 5:26 am

      “The trouble is, I suspect, that in today’s TV commissioning climate,a riveting plot is less of a priority than human interest, gadgetry and having really good hair.”

      Sadly true, but then it did seem as if even THAT took a back seat to ‘human interest’ for the final series…

  3. October 27, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Spooks is one of the things brought to me via the interweb since denouncing and renouncing the tellybox.
    Over the past 18 months I have bought and enjpyed series 1-8 via Amazon. From your posts and comments perhaps I would do well to give series 9 a miss?

    • October 27, 2011 at 12:45 am

      You’ll probably want to see it to know how it all ends, although we could save you money and explore that here in due course.

      Apologies if I included a spoiler or two. Just don’t expect the final series to be like the first eight.

      Later edit: If you’d like to know, it’s probably a good idea to ask me within the next couple of days before I forget the order of events.

    • October 27, 2011 at 5:27 am

      Nah, go for it! As churchmouse points out, you’ve got to see how it all ends!

      • October 27, 2011 at 6:30 pm

        Perhaps I’ll save it for Boxing Day

    • October 27, 2011 at 5:28 am

      If you want to deny the Beeb any money, of course, you could always BitTorrent series 9.. 😈

      • October 27, 2011 at 6:33 pm

        I’m denying the foul and disgusting BBC Nothing! I would not even have known about Spooks had I not (allegedly) come across some random episodes at a site that has subsequently become defunct due to their nazi tactics.

  4. October 27, 2011 at 5:24 am

    “Then there were the omnipresent Apple Macs. Really? In a Government agency? I don’t think so. Read IT industry articles about the public sector; they use Microsoft.”

    Mostly, yes. But I’ve a lot of civil service friends, and they tell me that anyone in the graphics fields in their departments are likely to have Macs. They aren’t entirely unknown, though very few and far between.

  5. October 27, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I stopped after series two. The mortality rate was just too silly for me to continue with it.

  6. October 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    If you want a bit of mortality plus bestiality, sex, disability abuse, incest, sexual slavery, sodomy, racism. corruption, adultery, paedaphilia, incidental Colonialism, suicide, matricide, rape and inter-racial orgies courtesy of the BBC try


    “I Claudius”, in full; until the Beeb finds and pulls it.

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