Film & DVD Reviews: Spooks : Complete BBC Series 5 [2007]

  • Actors: Peter Firth, Rupert Penry-Jones, Raza Jaffrey
  • Directors: Omar Madha, Julian Simpson, Andy Hay
  • Format: Box set, PAL, Subtitled
  • Language English
  • Region: Region 2 ( DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 5
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Contender Entertainment GroupSpooks has incredibly high production values. This set contains all 10 episodes from the fifth series of the BBC’s political espionage drama following officers in MI5. A whole year is spent just on producing ten episodes like these.

    Spooks doesn’t shy away from controversial story lines. Here many threats come from ‘the enemy within’ rather than from overseas. The first two episodes centre on the introduction by the government of emergency measures in an apparent response to a series of ‘terrorist’ attacks. A terror attack on a gas and oil depot has led to energy rationing and people are dying of cold. MI5 suspect that figures within the media, intelligence and political establishment are using fear to justify the introduction of repressive laws. Is there an attempted Coup going on?

    The final episode on this set sees MI5 pitted against an environmental terrorist group, which is threatening to flood London if the government does not publish a document exposing its ecological policies as a sham.

    Of course MI5 are portrayed as the good guys with basic liberal democratic values (sometimes compromised). They appear to be loyal to some sense of State not based purely on Government. This is never defined but sometimes characters like Adam speak of liberal values (and even loyalty to the Queen!). Perhaps even in the real MI5 would be difficult to articulate and may even only exist on a shallow level. Their motivation is difficult to understand.

    MI5 are working in a hostile environment where large sections of the population and establishment are suspect – even apparent allies (like Israel and the USA) are not to be trusted. Indeed one of the storylines on this set caused controversy when first broadcast in 2006. It centred on Israeli spy’s operating on UK soil disguised as Islamic terrorists.

    Some have expressed disappointment regarding this DVD set. Their complaints centre on the Extras that have been made available. The lack of decent commentaries has been a particular bone of contention. The previous four DVD box sets were produced by Contender on behalf of Kudos. These contained interviews, commentaries, scripts, deleted scenes etc. Here there are just three short special features. I can understand the criticism, therefore, but as someone who rarely finds the Extras on DVDs of great interest (with some notable exceptions) was not overly concerned.

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