Friday, September 15, 2006

TV's Best Spy Show

I used to love A&E when it ran shows made by the BBC. Then A&E switched over to a reality format, making series about airports and tattoo parlors and I stopped watching it.

Tonight marks the return of the best spy series on TV, "MI-5" (11 p.m., A&E) and the return of the network to quality television.

"MI-5" (named for the British intelligence service charged with domestic espionage, sort of like our NSA) is everything "24" isn't: gritty, realistic, well-acted and well-written. Whereas in "24" you have the superheroic Jack Bauer defying realism and logic as he singlehandedly defeats terrorists and L.A. traffic, "MI-5" follows a team of British agents who go deep undercover in order to root out problems facing Britain.

These agents don't shoot 100 people per episode. They don't face ridiculous plots that can't possibly happen in the real world. They don't have cell phones that can work while on a helicopter flight. Sometimes, these agents fail. Sometimes, they even die.

(I'm all for the escapist nature of TV and film, but writers have to follow the rules of willing suspension of disbelief. Characters have to stay true to a realistic nature. "24" falls well, well short of these themes.)

Tonight marks the start of Season 4, picking up with the events of the Season 3 finale, in which one of the agents sacrificed himself to save his partner. Incidentally, Season 5 of "MI-5" (or "Spooks as it's called across the pond) is starting up soon, so hopefully it will be here before too long.

"MI-5" was created by Tony Jordan, who also created "Hustle" and "Life on Mars," two of the best shows you can possibly watch, and "MI-5" is a worthy partner.

CASTING NEWS: The uber-talented Amber Benson ("Buffy, the Vampire Slayer") joins the cast of "Supernatural" in a recurring role as a vampire. (Joining her in recurring status is Linda Blair, as a cop). Benson is a multi-talented woman who is also a top-notch writer and a tremendous singer.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Speaking of "Buffy," the WB bids farewell to its fans with a Sunday lineup full of the pilots of some of its best series.

The pilot for "Felicity" begins at 5 p.m., followed by "Angel," "Buffy" and "Dawson's Creek." The WB goes off the air the next day, and will be replaced Monday by the CW, a hybrid of the WB and UPN.

TV's best reality show, "The Amazing Race" kicks off its 10th edition with a 90-minute special (8:30 p.m., CBS - time approximate because of football). "Race" suffered two editions ago with the ill-fated family version that turned some people off, and struggled to regain its foothold in the ratings. Now back to the familiar two-person team format, here's hoping the new night will revitalize the show.


Alex R. said...
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Zodin2008 said...

Ok, we disagree, obviously. "24" is the most exciting show on Television and I spend 6 months missing the show until its back. "Mi-5" maybe more realistic but I could barely stay awake during the few hrs. I watched. Sorry.