De­li­ciously more- ish, it’s crim­i­nal to miss

Spooks 9.25pm, ABC1

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

FRI­DAY has long been crime night, es­pe­cially on the ABC. But there’s television crime in the Jerry Bruck­heimer sense ( Cold Case and the Law & Or­der and CSI fran­chises), where ev­ery­thing, no mat­ter how des­per­ately in need of clar­i­fi­ci­a­tion or fur­ther ex­plo­ration, is sur­gi­cally edited into four neat acts. You’re left with no sat­is­fy­ing af­ter­taste be­cause there has been no time for any­thing like char­ac­ter de­vel­op­ment.

This is fast food TV, suit­able for mid­week crime pangs, when most of us stag­ger in from work, or­gan­ise the kids, fix din­ner and have lit­tle en­ergy left over for any­thing too chal­leng­ing on the box.

Then there’s TV crime of a dif­fer­ent or­der, crime that does not de­mand per­fect clo­sure in 42 min­utes flat. Spooks is clearly in this sec­ond tier. It is crime that chal­lenges the brain by re­veal­ing its mys­ter­ies grad­u­ally. It is like a three- course meal in a de­cent restau­rant: crime a la carte, if you will.

But the real clas­si­fier of Spooks as some­thing in a dif­fer­ent league is the story arcs that re­solve them­selves dur­ing the course of an en­tire se­ries.

This is not to say you need to have sat glued to the screen from episode one to have a clue what’s go­ing on. It’s just that the lux­ury of not hav­ing to hit a plot point ev­ery 10 min­utes or so is ev­i­dent in al­most ev­ery frame.

Spooks is slick and it flirts with mod­ern post- pro­duc­tion tech­niques such as split screens, fast mo­tion and ac­tion re­peated from var­i­ous an­gles.

The other thing that de­fines it is con­flict among the team, with much haughty Bri­tish im­per­ti­nence in the face of author­ity.

Tonight MI5 se­cret ser­vice agent Adam Carter ( Ru­pert Penry- Jones) is in a right English snit, bawl­ing out co- work­ers and over­do­ing his in­ter­ro­ga­tion tech­nique in the team’s lon­grun­ning pur­suit of ter­ror­ist sus­pects.

The poor fel­low is hav­ing dread­ful trou­ble at home with the girl­friend, who un­til this episode has been kept in the dark and is need­lessly piqued by his ridicu­lous hours, fre­quent bloody noses and gen­eral stress- head un­pleas­ant­ness.

And look out for long- suf­fer­ing reg­u­lar Juliet Shaw ( Anna Chan­cel­lor) who tonight out- Bonds Bond. She has a gad­get im­planted in her neck with no anaes­thetic via an ex­ceed­ingly thick nee­dle, right on the ta­ble in the boss’s of­fice.

Later, she daz­zles with a quick­think­ing dis­play of fem­i­nine wiles when a vic­tim whose drink she spikes has a bad re­ac­tion to the drug and starts to have a fit. Bared breasts are just the thing to make the goons who rush in be­lieve his noises are more plea­sur­able than med­i­cal.

Ian Cuth­bert­son

Dishy: Ru­pert Penry- Jones as MI5 of­fi­cer Adam Carter in Spooks

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