Written by TV

Spooks: Code 9

So what is there to make of the latest Spooks spin-off Spooks: Code 9? The series is set in the a near future of 2013 after some kind of nuclear device has gone off in London. MI5 seems to have been decimated and now relies on pretty young twenty-somethings to join their ranks, recruiting from all walks of life (seemingly, this hadn’t previously been very necessary). The rest of the authorities all seem to have a much broader age range, so quite why our frontline terrorist defence department is led by a bunch of kids who have no experience at all is not clear.
Amongst their number is a mathematician (who by the end of the first had done very little in the way of actual mathematics), a junior doctor (seemingly, a country wracked with radiation poisoning wouldn’t be in need of every doctor they could get their hands on, and instead would be happy to let them join the security services), an ex-con (he’s black, but I’m sure that’s just accidental), and a handful of others. And for the most part they’re all terribly well spoken and very pretty. Oh, and they’re all hiding something – MI5’s screening is not as good as it once was obviously.
This motley band is put in charge of things like ensuring that Manchester is safe for a visit by the PM. When they say that they can’t guarantee his safety, officialdom don’t seem that concerned and say that they just have to do it anyway.
We’re told that the north of England is full of refugees from the south, and to paint that picture we see various shelters making the whole thing look a little like US series Dark Angel, although with obviously less money spent on it. The cheapness of the production means that there are lots of extreme close-ups so that expensive wide-shots don’t bother the production too much.
But that’s nothing compared to the appalling script which is full of cliché after cliché. When they’re looking for someone who might have uploaded some video to a university computer system they quickly catch sight of someone who was shockingly using a wifi enabled laptop in university grounds. This solitary person turns out to be the terrorist they’re searching for. How lucky! Surely every university in the country is packed to the gunnels with students using wifi with their laptops? As a plot development, it was worse than something from a US daytime soap. I’ve not seen the kids spy show MI High (like this and the original Spooks, also made by Kudos), but it can’t be as bad.
Overall it was thoroughly disappointing. There are some interesting darker areas that the series goes into: an ID card society is well and truly under-way, and torture seemingly works as an interrogation method (handily, having been interrogated and giving up some true information, the suspect committed suicide rather than, say, giving false information out and then committing suicide while they followed up a false lead).
There’s an ongoing dark conspiracy that’s obviously set to run throughout the series, but this was just lazy drama really. Spooks is pretty light and fluffy anyway (go back to one of the BBC’s seminal Le Carré series from the eighties for a proper spy drama), so I’m not sure what was to be gained by producing something even lighter and fluffier. On the other hand, something like the US series Burn Notice (not noticeably showing on any UK channel) at least attempts something a little interesting with the spy genre.