Pilot: “London Spy”

A television series hailing from a particular network carries with it high expectations. There’s a certain level of quality one wants and it’s why viewers get excited about those network’s shows. However, as it turns out, not all shows can live up to even the basic of expectations.

The BBC series “London Spy”, hasn’t proven to me why I should keep watching this, which is really surprising for something like this.

This drama series stars Ben Whishaw (“Spectre”, “In the Heart of the Sea”), Jim Broadbent upcoming (“The Legend of Tarzan”, “War & Peace (2016)”), Edward Holcroft (“Lady Chatterley’s Lover”, “Wolf Hall”), and Samantha Spiro (upcoming season “Game of Thrones”, “The Wrong Man’s”).

The series was created by Tom Rob Smith (“Doctors”).

The series began airing in the U.S. on Jan. 21, 2016.

At first I was unsure of what this was. It kind of came out of nowhere. Somehow I got around to watching the trailer and I was intrigued. So much so that I wrote it down on my list of Spring shows to watch, or attempt to keep up with, and I did eventually get to watching it. Which brings me to this post. What did I think of this first episode? Hmm… Let’s take a look as it’s quite surprising.

There was the expected character building. I’m always excited to see how a new show is going to spend its time introducing the characters that will inhabit its world. Usually it’s fun and interesting. In this first episode, it was okay. Decent I guess. Nothing too creative had to be done as there was more than enough time to get to know the characters. But at some point, enough is enough. You have to stop introducing and actually move the characters forward. I also get, I really do that not all things can happen instantaneously, but at some point it just gets tiresome. I just found myself realizing that nothing actually happened, well, nothing particularly interesting. Nothing that really kept my interest and that itself became a problem as the 50-something minute run time crept by.

Making things exceptionally bad, is with the pacing of this show. I’m used to longer than usual shows, especially ones that don’t take commercial breaks. However, most of those have actually kept me interested. I didn’t need to force myself or try to convince myself. The problem with this show, which seems to be the problem overall this week, is it was too slow and boring. Things just didn’t move at all. Nothing ever seemed to happen with these characters. I don’t really think they had lives, or anything that passes for a life. Character introductions and studies are fine in shows, but they also have to have purpose. I barely thought they did. At some point we jump eight months and are left with just Whishaw and he certainly hurt the experience. Mind you, I also found that whatever performance he was giving, the character he was playing was an absolute bore. No personality either.

However, all that now having been said, I did like the 15 or 20 minutes (whatever) we got of the relationship between Whishaw and Holcroft. It was sweet and I bought it. For a little bit I had a reason to pay attention. But, as you already know, that didn’t last long.Let me add this now, because it’s fitting, but I’ve seen episode two already and things didn’t improve at all. Yes, Charlotte Rampling made an appearance, but I still barely cared as I was still bored. Also, nothing really helped move the story from how the end of the pilot turned out. It was really back to slow character insights, which again, is only wrong because it was slow. Who knew a show could be so boring.

Other than the relationship building, which is the reason why the rest of the series occurs, the best part was the ending. It was a good and solid way to get me interested enough in the next episode. Well, I actually regret having watched the second episode and regret it. I’ve never gone so far backwards in the course of one episode.

I’ve seen several BBC produced and released programs over the years, and like many people, have come to enjoy them. Some were top notch dramas and others were just pure fun. The only thing I’ve never seen, until recently, was a show that didn’t excite me all that much. It’s sad that this discovery is coming on the heels of that dreadful miniseries called “War & Peace (2016)”. I may have to think twice about a BBC imported show.


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