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emma persky

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Spooks Code 9

August 13th, 2008 · 3 Comments · Disaster, Events, Musings

For those of you cut off from the outside world, Spooks Code 9 is the brainchild of BBC 3 Controller, Julian Bellamy, a so called spin-off series of the BBC 1’s BAFTA award-winning series Spooks. Set in the quasi-post-apocalyptic future in which London and the South East have been destroyed by an unsubstantiated terorrist group (presumably al-Quaida) during the 2012 Olympics, MI5 is forced to hire the most incapable, dim witted and immature spooks since Austin Powers. This is justified as the disaffiliation to the ‘private sector’ of the vast majority of 5’s former employees has left the service bereft of capable individuals. What’s not adequately justified is why they were incapable of hiring anyone with any relevant experience.

I’m not saying that recent graduates shouldn’t be spies, but that the production lacks any sense of realism, which was one of the crucial factors in the early series of the original series. Furthermore it is Code 9’s (I refuse to denigrate Spooks’ reputation by associated their names), flaccid attempt at mimicry that is it’s greatest downfall, right down to the early execution of an officer. Unfortunately for Code 9, Spooks really set the bar high, what with boiling an officer’s entire head in hot chip pan oil, possibly one of the grizzliest scenes the BBC has ever conceived, and an execution carried out by a 15 year old sniper simply doesn’t hack it these days.

The BBC also seem to believe that decent spy drama necessitates the use of deadly force by intelligence officers, from torture through to carrying guns in the street. They are supposed to be spies, under the radar, blending in. Leave the gun wielding to the police or any other organisation whose officers are publicly known, and if you must, please find a more creative way to torture people.

My advice to the production crew is to abandon any links with Spooks, build up your own identity, rather than living in the shadow of your much better cousin, and you might have a chance at succeeding. Don’t be afraid to take risks, and I mean real risks, not the use of a racist slur.

Finally get your digital act figured out. I have no interest in viewing extended background information on the web, in some sort of 21st century copy of the gamebooks of my childhood, nor in taking part in some sick prediction of the outcome of nuclear holocaust Real interactivity is needed to keep modern day audiences interested. Simply showing me different videos based on a few link choices no longer makes the grade. I want real responses, I want to interact with real people, I want to feel like I’m part of the show, and not merely and observer.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Terence Eden // Aug 13, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    I’ll agree that it wasn’t the most compelling bit of TV ever. That said, I did like the “alternate reality” they created. Having my twitter feed pinged with “Woman killed in attempted mugging” after the assassination of the officer was very compelling. The linked news story was also rewarding.

    I can imagine the libertynews site getting “hacked” live on screen and seeing it reflected online. Propaganda spewed out on twitter. Facebook “events” in the future. It could be a first for British TV.

    In the end, that’s perfect for the ADD generation - TV on, phone twittering, laptop surfing, red-button pressing. Just a pity that the story itself was so week.

  • 2 Richard Hayden // Aug 14, 2008 at 8:50 pm

    Yeah, it was a bit crap and totally incomparable to Spooks, both in terms of plot and execution.

    However, when you’ve got the budget and impossible remit of BBC THREE, I doubt it’s easy to do any better.

  • 3 Will Knott // Nov 4, 2008 at 12:26 pm

    ahem. M.I. High.
    True, having tweenagers as spies isn’t that inventive (Spy Kids anyone) but they do it with a little more style.

    It would be fun to try to write a replacement for it. It could be done low budget, expect to see something of that ilk sooner or later on YouTube.

    Where could I submit a script?

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