Picking at the bloated carcass of geek culture...occasionally!!!

MI-5: The new obsession

In Television on January 9, 2010 at 12:25 am

Okay, so I know I tend to develop unhealthy relationships with the media I interact with.  I mean, I’m currently on the job hunt.  I shouldn’t be spending so much time with video games, board games, movies, and TV shows.  My wife watching started watching this British show called MI-5 on Netflix and she became really into them.  What started as a way to spend time with her watching them has quickly turned into an obsession for me.  I’m not quite sure if I can put my finger on why I like it so much.

The show, put simply, is about a specific group of spies dealing with foreign and domestic threats to England.  But that just kind of just scratches the surface on this show.  The first thing I appreciate about the show is it’s “George R.R. Martin” treatment of the cast.  Basically, anyone and I mean anyone can be killed at anytime.  You think I’m kidding?  In the first two episodes, a would-be major character gets killed in an unbelievably horrible way.  This leads to a pretty high cast rotation as tons of characters disappear, usually in horrible ways, making way for new characters to get executed, maimed, or otherwise disappeared.  No one is ever really safe, so the tension in this show is a palpable, asphyxiating thing.  It’s pretty amazing, to be honest, in that it demonstrates the correct amount of danger a job like spy might provide.

Another great thing about the show is its grittiness.  It never seems slick or sexy, just terrifying, violent, and horribly stressful.  You watch James Bond, you think: “How cool would that be.”  You watch MI-5, you think: “Thank God that’s not my life!”  Someone gets shot in the head, you find yourself thinking: “Phew…at least that lucky bastard didn’t get tortured to death.”  It’s awesome.

Don't get too used to these faces. I'm serious. One of the luckier one of these individuals gets to die by the relatively painless method of car-bombing.

It’s not perfect, however.  In England, it’s called Spooks and while I resent the “Mi-5 for the acronym-obsessed yanks” insult that it is, I find it a better name.  Spooks sounds silly to me.  Also, it seems like England is the cesspool for terrorism and chaos in the free world, where British agents save the free world on a near daily rate from assassinations, car-bombing, and suitcase thermonuclear devices.  It is often like the plot of Chuck without the playful, tongue-in-cheek tone.  I can’t tell if the show is great, or just pretty good with a classy British veneer that tricks my small-minded colonial mind.  Either way, it has become my new thing and I recommend to you all.

  1. do they have mountain lions in the united kingdom? either way, it sounds rad. i’ll check it out…

  2. Excited to check it out too. I always like seeing British or French television/movies where someone other than the Americans are saving the world. At first it makes you laugh a little because you think “ha, this is totally ridiculous. everyone knows that when the world needs saving we’re the ones to do it.” but then half a second later you think “oh wait…that’s not right. Why can’t this be right? Is it possible that when the world needs saving WE actually rely on THEM? Oh crumbs.” Basically I just like how it exposes the 30 years of jingoistic brainwashing I’ve fallen prey too. (all the same…I can’t imagine the army from Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honor actually defeating the Nazi’s without some assistance…from the Red Army that is.

    • You’d probably enjoy the portrayal of the Americans in this show too. Lots of bullying by the CIA, full of bluster and ignorance, to do whatever they want on British soil. It’s pretty funny.

  3. […] and British spy thriller TV shows (or show, actually).  My replaying of Dragon Age and viewing of MI-5 have been my source of entertainment for a couple weeks now and that doesn’t give me much […]

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