Sunday 23 May 2021

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, 1st Gig

Ghost in the Shell started life as a manga by Shirow Masamune. In 1995 the Ghost in the Shell movie was released. It was something of a ground-breaking event in the history of anime science fiction movies and remains one of the best entries in the genre. A sequel movie followed in 2004. But the incarnation we are concerned with here is the 2002 television series Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex. Interestingly, it doesn’t take place in quite the same timeline as the original movie.

The protagonist in all the various versions of Ghost in the Shell is Major Motoko Kusanagi, the number one field operative for Public Security Section 9. Section 9 is a top-secret counter-intelligence counter-terrorism outfit. Section 9 handles cases that are too sensitive or too dangerous for any other Japanese Government agencies. In this near-future world that means mostly counter-terrorism work and that work mostly involves artificial intelligences. It also means tangling with other intelligence agencies and getting involved in some nasty political infighting.

It should be explained first of all that Major Motoko Kusanagi is not entirely human. She is a cyborg but she is much more robot than human. In fact there’s there’s only one human thing about her. She still has a human brain. Which means she still has a ghost. Ghost in this context refers to the essential core of our personalities and most importantly it refers to our memories. Our human memories. Whether the ghost is also a soul or not is a question to which no-one in this future world can give a definite answer. What matters is that it is the ghost that makes us human. The body is just the shell. The Major has a ghost. Is that enough to make her a woman rather than a machine? She thinks that it is, but she’s not sure.

The concept of the ghost and its relationship to the shell was at the core of the original movie and it’s a theme that is elaborated upon in many different ways in the Stand Alone Complex TV series.

There are two kinds of episodes in this series. There are the Stand Alone episodes and there are the Complex episodes. The Complex episodes form part of an ongoing story arc. While the Stand Alone episodes are self-contained stories they also contribute to the gradual building up of our understanding of this cyberpunk future world, of the main characters, and in particular to our understanding of Motoko Kusanagi’s contradictory and slightly troubled personality.

While the Major was very much the central character in the original movie there are many episodes of the series in which she takes a back seat.

Special mention must be made of the great opening and closing songs composed by Yôko Kanno.

If you haven’t delved much into anime the Ghost in the Shell franchise is not a bad place to start - there’s plenty of intelligent and complex science fiction ideas without too much weirdness and there’s plenty of action. Since it takes place in a subtly different timeline you could watch the TV series before watching the movie, but both are equally worth seeing. There are other excellent science fiction anime series (such as Cowboy Bebop) but some of them tend a bit too much towards giant robots or they’re mind-numbingly complex (such as the superb Serial Experiments Lain).

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex is very much in the cyberpunk mould. Some of the violence is quite graphic and there is a small amount of nudity. Whether anime nudity bothers you or appeals to you is a matter of taste but there’s very little of it and there’s no sexual weirdness although there are some sexual themes. The violence is much less extreme than that found in some anime TV such as Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress.

This is anime for grown-ups and in any case is going to be way too complex and cerebral for younger kids.

The coolness factor is very high.

Cyberpunk is a genre that you might think would date very quickly but good cyberpunk (and this series is definitely very good cyberpunk) actually doesn’t date because it’s not really concerned about the details of how technology works. It’s more concerned with the social and existential consequences of technology.

The DVD boxed set offers both the English dubbed version and the Japanese language version with English subtitles.

Episode Guide

The first episode gives us a hostage drama with the terrorists being geisha robots(!) and a senior government minister being one of the victims. He isn’t killed but something worse happens to him.

The second episode is another standalone. A new advanced multiped tank runs amok and heads for the city. Section 9 needs to know who is controlling that tank and what it is they want. It doesn’t seem to be a terrorist incident. The tank has been careful to avoid human fatalities. A curiously bitter-sweet episode.

Episode three is more interesting still. There’s a wave of mass suicides, among androids. To be specific, among a particular model of female sex robot. The Jeri model had been extremely popular but is now out of production. However the Jeri still has its hardcore fans who are addicted to its particular charms. But why would someone want to destroy these sexbots? Because this is a case of mass murder, not mass suicide. Of course robots cannot actually be murdered, or commit suicide for that matter. They’re not human and they don’t have real feelings. Unless of course the rumours are true, that some androids have ghosts. Which means they may in fact be alive. Whatever alive means, and there’s no certainty about the meaning of that term in this world.

Episode four begins a series of complex episodes concerning the Laughing Man, a super-hacker cyber-terrorist. The story is however much more complex than that. The Laughing Man may or may not exist. He may be several people. Or several groups of people, or organisations. His motives are completely unknown. It’s an actually an old unsolved case but Section 9 now has some ambiguous evidence that might justify reopening. And in fact the case is about to become a very live case. This is full-on cyberpunk stuff and it’s very nicely executed.

In episode seven Section 9 is concerned about a foreign revolutionary leader who has been the subject of countless assassination attempts. So many that it seems a miracle he’s still alive. This story is another exploration of posthumanist themes and more specifically the psychological dimensions of posthumanism.

Episode eight deals with organ harvesting. This is a future in which artificial organs are available but there’s still a market for actual organs. This is a story with personal significance for the Major, bringing back childhood memories (and memories are incredibly important to her given that they’re the one truly human thing about her).

Episode nine takes place entirely in an internet chat room as Motoko tries to find more clues to the Laughing Man case. Of course what happens is what you’d expect in an internet forum - lots of conspiracy theories being tossed around. Some of them might be true. They might all be true. They might all be false. In the internet age can we know the truth about anything?

In episode ten Batou must confront ghosts from his own past as Section 9 hunts a particularly savage serial killer. They’re getting coöperation (of a sort) from the CIA but they begin to suspect that this killer may have been created by the CIA as part of a particularly nasty phase of the Third World War.

In episode eleven Togusa goes undercover in a clinic that treats children with cyberbrain closed shell syndrome, a kind of cyberpunk autism thing. These children are being used for something, but what? And is it connected to the Laughing Man case?

In episode twelve one of the tachikomas wanders off on its own and befriends a little girl who is looking for her lost dog. And the tachikoma finds a cyberbrain which causes great consternation in Section 9.

In episode thirteen a young girl kidnapped by the terrorist anti-cybernetic Human Evolutionary Front reappears sixty years late, looking not a day older. Section 9 has to assault an abandoned floating factory complex and what they find is more than a little disturbing. In this future world there is clearly tension between those in favour of cybernetics and those bitterly opposed to it on ideological grounds. A very good episode.

In episode fourteen Section 9 is investigating a financier whose transactions, on an enormous scale, are causing some concern. The Major also has to deal with a young lady who is actually a yakuza battle cyborg, but what the yakuza’s interest is in this matter remains to be seen. A good episode.

In episode fifteenth Major decides that the tachikomas are becoming a problem. They’re starting to show signs of individuality, which is not supposed to happen. They’re starting to take an interest in philosophical and even theological questions. They’re supposed to be reliable weapons systems and she’s not convinced they can be trusted if they’re questioning the nature of the cosmos and the existence of God. Maybe they’ll have to be dismantled but that’s going to be tricky. The tachikomas are very good at surveillance. How will they react if they find out? Not much action in this story, in fact one at all, but it does deal with one of the recurring themes of the series - the relationship between humans and robots.

Episode sixteen focuses on Batou. He has to investigate a former champion boxer named Zaitsev, suspected of espionage. Batou finds this mission to be emotionally draining. He admires Zaitsev but at the same time despises him for dishonouring himself.

In episode seventeen Motoko and the Chief are in London for a counterterrorism conference. The Chief is asked for help by a lady friend whose bank may have become involved in Mafia money-laundering. The bank is robbed and the robbers take the Chief and his lady friend hostage and then events take several unexpected turns. The British police turn down Motoko’s offer of help but needless to say that doesn’t stop her. A very clever plot with some nice twists. Excellent episode.

In episode eighteen there’s an assassination plot against a visiting Chinese government official, with some personal complications for Aramaki (the Chief of Section 9) involving an old friend, now deceased.

Episode nineteen involves a fiendishly complicated plot to kidnap girls, apparently for organ harvesting. One of the kidnapped girls is the daughter of the former prime minister but everything hinges on whether the kidnappers knew that. And on the relationship between the ex-PM and the Northern Territories Mafia. Is there a double-cross going on? A good episode.

Episode twenty is a Complex episode, another instalment in the Laughing Man saga. Things are becoming more and more paranoid with a number of government agencies involved in trying to suppress a vaccine for a cyberbrain vaccine. Togusa thinks he has a lead but he may not know what he’s getting himself into.

Episode twenty-one is another Complex episode, with Section 9 in conflict with the narc squad. And when I say conflict I mean they’re shooting at each other. It’s all connected with that vaccine.

Episode twenty-two is also a Complex episode, with more on the conflict with the narc squad. Someone is trying to get at Aramaki and their methods are pretty ruthless. Major Kusanagi has a slight problem. Her body is completely kaput so she needs a new one and you have no idea how embarrassing a procedure that can be. It can make a girl quite annoyed and when the Major is annoyed it’s best to keep clear.

Episode twenty-three is a very talky explanatory episode giving more details of the conspiracy involving medical micromachines and cyberbrain vaccines, and the kidnapping of the head of Serano Genomics which may or may not have been connected with the Laughing Man.

In episode twenty-four Section 9 itself is under siege as a result of corrupt political machinations. It’s a fight for survival. Lots of action in this stand alone episode. I can’t say anything at all about the plotlines of the final three episodes without revealing spoilers. All I will say is that at the end it gets quite existential and starts to seriously confront the consequences of living in an artificial information-saturated society.

Final Thoughts

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex is complex grown-up science fiction (although it’s certainly not without humour and light-hearted moments). And there’s no shortage of action. Very highly recommended.

It's available on both DVD and Blu-Ray in boxed sets which also include the second season (or 2nd Gig).

Friday 14 May 2021

Mission: Impossible (TV tie-in novel)

Considering how successful the series was it’s a little surprising that Mission: Impossible spawned only four TV tie-in novels (all of which were original stories). The first of these was Mission: Impossible by John Tiger. John Tiger was a pseudonym used by Walter Wager (1924-2004). I believe he also wrote I Spy TV tie-in novels.

This first tie-in novel is interesting because it’s based on the first season of the TV series, which means the Impossible Missions Force is led by Dan Briggs (played on TV by Steven Hill) rather than the better-known Mr Phelps of the subsequent seasons. Which is OK by me because the first season happens to be my favourite - I liked the fact that Dan Briggs seemed nothing at all like the popular idea of a secret agent. He could be an accountant, or a pharmacist. I’ve always imagined real spies as being like that - very very ordinary-seeming people.

Mr Briggs gets his instructions in the usual way. He has to go to a particular office at a particular time where a tape-recorded message awaits him. The latest assignment for the IMF is to catch two wanted Nazi war criminals and foil a plan to manufacture a madness-inducing gas. The mission will take the IMF to the small (and of course mythical) South American republic of Santilla. The two Nazis (who are evil mad scientist types) have constructed a secret laboratory on an island in a lake. The laboratory is just about impregnable.

You won’t be surprised to learn that for this mission Mr Briggs selects his four most reliable agents - master of disguise Rollin Hand, weightlifter Willy Armitage, technical expert Barney Collier and of course the ever-glamorous model Cinnamon Carter.

Dan Briggs believes that this will be such a tough mission that it is advisable to have not one but two elaborate plans.

The five members of the IMF arrive in Santilla with their covers in place. Dan Briggs is posing as a Texas oil man. Cinnamon Carter is a beautiful American woman on the prowl for rich men. Rollin Hand poses as an Arab Prince, with Barney as his aide-de-camp and Willy as his bodyguard.

Plan A goes badly wrong so Briggs switches to Plan B. Plan B is based (like any good IMF plan) on deception and it is also based on the use of fear as a weapon. Fear leads people to make mistakes and the IMF needs the two Nazis to make a few mistakes.

Nazi plots were a staple of both American and British action-adventure series in the 1960s. In the world of 1960s television Nazis were all-powerful, they were everywhere and they were constantly about to establish the Fourth Reich.

The book is a bit more cynical about the US Government than the TV series. It is admitted in the book that the US Government is happy to support military juntas (even brutal ones such as Santilla) because it’s good for American business. It’s only one throwaway line but it’s a hint of cynicism that would never have been permitted in the TV series.

In one respect the author misses the point of the TV series. Mission: Impossible was the most relentlessly plot-driven series in television history. There is less characterisation in this series than in any other series ever made. This was a deliberate choice. Nothing was to distract the viewer from the plot. It was vital for the audience to know nothing about the regular characters. This presents an author with difficulties. Writers, even writers of pulp thrillers, want to tell us at least something abut the characters to bring them to life. So the author provides the five IMF members with backstories and emotions. This is a very big mistake. It’s not a fatal error but it is a definite error.

He even throws in a hint of romance between Briggs and Cinnamon, an ever bigger mistake. The entire point of the series was that the IMF members are professionals whose survival depends on having no emotional involvement whatsoever. Their personal lives are rigidly separated from their professional lives. If Dan Briggs had had any inkling that Cinnamon was interested in him romantically he’d have fired her. He’d have had no choice. Spies cannot afford such luxuries. Emotions lead to errors of judgment and errors of judgment get people killed and (even worse) can prejudice the success of the mission.

The other major difference from the TV series is that there’s a lot more violence in the book. The avoidance of unnecessary violence was another key element in the TV series. If someone has to be killed it’s better to manipulate his own people into killing him. It’s crucial that the IMF should not leave a trail of death and destruction behind them - that sort of thing attracts attention and spies do not want to attract attention.

There’s also slightly more emphasis on sex. In the TV series it’s hard to imagine a scene in which Cinnamon is bound and gagged stark naked but we get such a scene in the book. I can understand the author’s decision to add a bit more sex and violence - readers expected spy thrillers (unlike TV series in the 60s) to have those ingredients.

One of the things that made Mission: Impossible such a good series was its realism. Real-life spies don’t run around with guns - spies who run around with guns will only get themselves into trouble. Spies rely on deception and manipulation. That’s why Cinnamon Carter is the most realistic female spy in TV history. If she gets into trouble she doesn’t reach for her gun (she doesn’t carry one because they terrify her) and she doesn’t rely on her martial arts skills (she has none). She talks her way out of trouble. If that doesn’t work she turns on the sex appeal, or appeals to the bad guys’ sense of chivalry. She does what it takes to survive and she knows that trying to shoot or fight her way out of a situation will just put her in more danger.

So there are a few unfortunate minor departures from the spirit of the TV series. On the plus side it has to be said that Wager understood that the key to the TV series was elaborate plots based on deception and he provides us with just that. The fear campaign against the ex-Nazi colonel is clever and it’s absolutely consistent with the methods the IMF uses in the TV series.

Wager also understands the importance of giving each IMF team member a role based on that character’s special abilities - Barney gets to fiddle with high-tech gadgetry, Briggs uses his planning skills, Rollin uses disguise, Willy makes good use of his unusual strength and Cinnamon uses her considerable skill in the art of seduction. Apart from the excessively high body count this does feel like a real IMF adventure. And on the whole the characters behave the way they should. Rollin lives on his nerves but that’s what brings out the best in him. Barney remains cool if any of his gadgets malfunction - he has absolute confidence that he will eventually get them to work. Dan Briggs is methodical and utterly ruthless. Cinnamon is equally ruthless in her use of her sex appeal.

On the whole it all works and it captures the atmosphere of the TV series more successfully than most such novels. It’s fast-paced and the plot feels like a Mission: Impossible plot. It’s all very enjoyable and highly recommended.

The review of this book at Glorious Trash is also worth checking out.

Wednesday 5 May 2021

The Professionals season two (1978)

The Professionals, which was screened in Britain on ITV between 1977 and 1983, was another series created by Brian Clemens whose output at the time was prodigious.

At the time the series was somewhat controversial for both the levels of violence and the levels of political incorrectness. The fact that it depicts a fictional intelligence-counter terrorist agency that effectively operates above the law and uses methods of extreme ruthlessness also made some people uneasy.

In fact of course there were plenty of contemporary TV series (in both Britain and the US) that portrayed government agencies acting with a sublime disregard of both national and international law but there was a difference - series like Callan and Special Branch took a rather critical look at agencies such as MI5 and MI6 while The Professionals clearly takes the view that disregarding the laws of the land is a jolly good thing.

But that’s perhaps a bit unfair. As season two progresses we get a couple of episodes which look at the dangers of abuses of power, at both high levels and lower levels. So what seems at first to be a purely action-oriented series starts to develop a bit of nuance.

The Professionals deals with an agency called CI5 and focuses on the agency’s chief, Cowley (Gordon Jackson) and his two top operatives, Bodie (Lewis Collins) and Doyle (Martin Shaw). The take-no-prisoners attitude of Bodie and Doyle quickly made them cult favourites.

The Sweeney (and before that the final two seasons of Special Branch) had changed the face of British television. Shooting in the studio was out, location shooting was in, and the emphasis was on non-stop action heavily laced with (by the standards of the time) fairly extreme violence. The Professionals adopted the same action-oriented approach.

There’s certainly no shortage of action and the action is consistently done well. This is an adrenaline-charged series. By this time British television had broken away completely from the shot-in-the-studio look - The Professionals features lots of great location shooting.

In the 60s American television series like Mannix and Hawaii Five-O has been much more action-driven that their British counterparts but from the mid-70s to the early 80s it was British television that set the pace when it came to action and violence. American series like Police Woman were considered quite violent in the US but they seem ridiculously tame compared to The Sweeney and The Professionals. That would change when Miami Vice exploded onto American TV screens in 1984.

The formula initially appears to be that Bodie and Doyle are the tough guys, the guys who handle assignments that are dirty and dangerous, but it’s the middle-aged Cowley who turns out to be the hardest of the three. He likes nothing better than getting the opportunity to demonstrate his tough guy credentials and psychologically he’s as hard as nails. It was a major change of pace for Gordon Jackson and he does a fine job.

The Professionals
was hated by critics at the time and it attracted the ire of moral watchdogs for its celebration of violence. It was attacked for being too macho (even though it had legions of female fans who adored Bodie and Doyle) and too mindlessly action-oriented and nowadays it’s regarded as being almost as politically incorrect as The Sweeney. All the criticisms directed at it are true and that’s why it was so immensely popular and that’s why it still has a loyal following. Clemens knew what audiences wanted. Audiences knew what they wanted. British TV critics for the most part had no idea what audiences wanted and just hated anything that the public liked.

This series is disreputable and glories in its disreputable qualities. It’s outrageous fun.

But, having said all that, while some episodes are mindless escapist entertainment some do have some actual substance as well. The Professionals somehow manages to combine a roller-coaster ride of action and excitement with some surprisingly subtle and cynical scripts.

British spy series of this era (such as Callan) could be very cynical indeed with no real moral difference between the good guys and the bad guys and there’s a certain amount of that in The Professionals. Espionage and counter-espionage are very grubby games and no-one can play these games and have clean hands.

The ten episodes of the second season went to air in late 1978.

Episode Guide

In Hunter/Hunted Bodie and Doyle are testing a new sniper rifle. It has a laser gunsight which in 1978 was cutting edge technology. Unfortunately they manage to have the gun stolen from under their noses. For highly trained professionals their idea of security is pretty laughable. If they want to keep their jobs they’re going to have to get that rifle back. Given the way they conduct the case it might have been better if Cowley had simply fired them on the spot. Anthony Read’s script is as full of holes as a Swiss cheese. Bodie and Doyle are supposed to be the elite of the elite but the script relies on having them act as if they’re rookies straight out of Police College. I wouldn’t trust these two on traffic duty.

On the plus side it looks great, there’s some fine location shooting and there are a few superb action set-pieces. The acting is excellent and the repartee between Bodie and Doyle is consistently sparkling. All it needed to achieve greatness was a complete rewrite of the script.

The Rack
is an interesting episode. CI5 conduct a raid on the mansion of the notorious Coogan brothers. Unfortunately the tip-off from an informer was wrong and they don’t find the drugs they expected to find. The complete lack of evidence doesn’t bother Cowley. He has both brothers interrogated and one of them, Paul Coogan, dies in custody. A court of enquiry is set up which, if it goes badly, may mean the disbanding of CI5.

What this episode is really all about is the question of whether outfits like CI5, which effectively operate outside the law, are justified or not. There’s no doubt that in this case they don’t have a leg to stand on. CI5 conducted a raid without a search warrant and interrogated suspects without allowing them legal counsel and in the process they killed one of the suspects.

What it’s all leading up to is Cowley’s passionate closing statement to the court of enquiry in which he argues that as unpleasant as it might be society needs organisations like CI5 and that protecting society cannot be done within the confines of the law. Whether you accept Cowley’s argument or not is up to you. We’re clearly expected to accept it but some viewers might have their doubts. You do have to remember that this was the 1970s when the idea that crime was out of control and that terrorism was a deadly threat made the idea of government agencies breaking the rules to combat such threats rather popular.

Of course the tension between the need for the rule of law and the need to protect society crops up in many police shows (and spy shows) of this era. And movies as well of course.

There’s also a problem for Doyle in this episode - he’s the one who killed Paul Coogan and he doesn’t feel too good about it.

In First Night an Israeli politician is kidnapped but it doesn’t seem to be politically motivated. It seems to be all about money. There’s some good sifting through clues in this story - it’s amazing the information you can get from a single photo. There’s a nice sense of urgency and some fairly good action scenes with the kidnappers using a hovercraft and a helicopter to make their escape. And Bodie makes an entrance worthy of The A-Team. A reasonably good episode.

Man Without a Past
starts with a bombing in a London restaurant in which Bodie’s girlfriend is seriously injured. Maybe the bomb was intended for Bodie, or maybe for the couple who were supposed to have that table but cancelled at the last minute. Cowley orders Bodie off the case but of course Bodie ignores the order. The plot is a complicated spider-web of deception with multiple possible motives and three or four different sets of bad guys. A good episode.

In the Public Interest is a bit different from what you usually expect from this series - this time the bad guys are cops. Cowley has been alerted to the fact that the Chief Constable of a certain unnamed city has managed to reduce crime rates to a remarkable degree. Too remarkable. In fact this chief constable has turned his city into a miniature police state. The impressive arrest and conviction rates have been achieved by fabricating evidence and by extraordinary abuses of power. The police are also acting as moral policemen. He sends Doyle and Bodie in to find some hard evidence and they’re lucky to get out alive.

This is one of the rare occasions when the series get into some social commentary, raising interesting questions about whether law and order is worth it if means the loss of freedom and also questions about the potential for abuse of power when the police are given too much power. So it’s actually a lot more relevant today than it was in 1978. A pretty powerful episode.

In Rogue Barry Martin, CI5’s first recruit and the man who trained Bodie and Doyle, goes rogue. They’re going to have to hunt him down which won’t be easy since he’s as good as they are. Unfortunately it’s obvious from the start that Martin is a bad ’un but there’s some decent action. A so-so episode.

In Not a Very Civil Civil Servant CI5 are called in on a case involving corruption in the building industry. It’s not the sort of case they usually deal with and Cowley suspects that the government minister who called them in wants to manipulate him into helping with a cover-up. Which of course makes Cowley very annoyed indeed. So he decides that CI5 will dig a lot deeper than the minister intended. A fairly good episode with Cowley getting to do some action stuff and the script (by Edmund Ward) is pleasingly tight.

A Stirring of Dust
is a story of elderly spies. Tom Darby (obviously a fictionalised version of Kim Philby) is an MI6 man who defected to the Soviets many years earlier. He has been living in retirement in Moscow. Now he’s vanished and both Cowley and the KGB think he’s returned to England. Why would he do something so stupid? Cowley doesn’t know but gradually an awful suspicion forms in his mind. The other problem is that England is full of elderly spies who believe that Darby betrayed them. They might be inclined to look for revenge. CI5 have to find Darby before he’s found by the KGB or by a bunch of geriatric British ex-spies.

It’s a solid spy story with the stirring up of ancient scandals and hatreds and some emotional dramas to add interest. It benefits from a great performance by Robert Urquhart as the rather sympathetic Darby, a man who still sincerely believes that his actions were justified. An episode with some psychological and moral complexities and there’s plenty of action as well. Great stuff.

Blind Run starts with Bodie and Doyle being given a mysterious mission. They have to escort a visiting diplomat but they have to do it unofficially. Cowley tells them they’re on their own, they can expect no backup and that officially the mission will never have happened. From that point on it’s a constant succession of car and boat chases, sieges and shoot-outs. And a constant succession of double-crosses and deceptions. This episode combines copious quantities of extremely well-staged action with a lot of cynicism. Excellent stuff.

Fall Girl is very cynical stuff. Somebody is trying to assassinate an East German diplomat and they intend to frame Bodie. Cowley has a fair idea of what’s going on but he’s going to have a tough job getting Bodie out of this. The trouble starts when Bodie runs into an old flame, who happens to be an East German actress who may or may not be a spy. Bodie spends most of the episode on the run. This is an episode in which the British are very much the bad guys. A great season-ender.

Final Thoughts

The second season starts a little bit unevenly but finishes very strongly indeed. Maybe not the best British spy series ever but certainly the most action-packed. On the whole it’s great stuff and highly recommended.