Friday, August 03, 2007

In Good 'Company'

A few years ago, "Masterpiece Theatre" ran a great series about the so-called Cambridge Spies, about four mates from university who managed to infiltrate the highest levels of the British intelligence community while working as double agents for the Soviet Union. (It's a DVD you should rent by the way, if you love spy thrillers).

The leader of the Cambridge Spies was Kim Philby, who was the No. 2 man in MI-6 for many years while serving as a liason to the CIA.

Philby's story is told once more — again, told very well — with the debut of TNT's miniseries "The Company" (TNT, Sunday, 8 p.m.) Airing over the next three Sundays, "The Company" tells the story of Cold War years from both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. perspectives, and the key role that Philby played in the deadly spy games of the CIA and KGB.

Part I of "The Company" opens in Berlin, where a top U.S. agent codenamed The Sorcerer (Alfred Molina) and his protege (Chris O'Donnell) are trying to get a key asset who is defecting from East to West across the border. When the operation goes bad, The Sorcerer suspects a mole. But a key intelligence analyst, codenamed Mother (Michael Keaton) thinks otherwise.

"The Company" also follows the personal lives of the agents, both how they were recruited and how their lives were affected once they entered the world of espionage.

"The Company" is very similar in tone and themes to last summer's Matt Damon hit, "The Good Shepherd," and O'Donnell's role of a young man recruited by the CIA out of Yale is very reminiscent of Damon's.

While the miniseries drags a bit during the stretches of the characters' personal lives, it still makes some of the best viewing of the summer, particularly if you are a fan of the spy genre.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: The Doctor and Martha try to escape the clutches of the Daleks in the wrapup of a two-parter on "Doctor Who" (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.)

Both "Monk" (USA, 9 p.m.) and "Psych" (USA, 10 p.m.) are new, though considering how both shows have been even more below par than usual of late, you might find better things to do.

Music fans might enjoy "My Music" (PBS, 9 p.m.) which focuses on the British Invasion.

ABC developed a potentially cool series called "Masters of Science Fiction," then, being ABC, banished it to Saturday nights at 10 p.m. With an array of big-name guest stars, it's still worth checking out when it debuts this weekend.

And, just to show what a fair guy I am, earlier this week, I criticized ESPN for not showing Tom Glavine's first attempt to join the 300-win club. So, I should point out that the network will be broadcasting Glavine's second attempt (hopefully, the Mets bullpen won't blow it this time) as New York visits the Chicago Cubs Sunday night (ESPN, 8 p.m.) More likely, this is just a fortunate happenstance of Glavine just happening to be pitching Sunday night, but at least it will be shown.


Jonathan said...

Maybe I'm just so into Shaloub's character I've got blinders on or something, but I've found the first few episodes of "Monk" this season to be of a pretty high quality. Sarah Silverman was great in the season opener, and the next episode with Snoop Dogg I found to be clever and well written even though I was expecting the worst. And then last week's episode actually provided a damn good mystery which is something the show has lacked as of late. "Psych," after seeming to find a good balance between the smart ass humor and the weekly mysteries toward the end of last season has completely gone off the map and is pretty damn annoying at this point. I usually go ahead and let the DVR record it since I already have it set, but I might be done watching it pretty soon.

I am a huge spy thriller fan, and am looking forward to the miniseries. Nice to hear it's as good as it appears to be from the previews.

Phillip Ramati said...

I have been underwhelmed by Monk this season, and I've never been much of a Psych fan. I did, however, like the Snoop Dogg cover of the Monk theme song.

zodin2008 said...

Go Braves.

Phillip, a correction: "The Good Shepard" with Matt Damon came out in December. This is the second time you got a summer vs. December time frame wrong this week...first it was "My Boys".

You should consider hanging a calendar in your apartment.

My wife and I have officially decided to end our 'relationship' with "Monk". It's been just OK for a whiole but we finally gave up. I would be happy to quit watching "Psych" but she really enjoys it.