Date: January 13, 2004
Review posted: April 20, 2004
country, deceiving their friends, no one is immune from the eyes
and ears of MI-5. Enter the thrilling world of MI-5, the clandestine security service,
and meet the people who make up the elite team, specifically
agents Tom Quinn (Matthew MacFadyen), Zoe Reynolds (Keeley Hawes),
and Danny Hunter (David Oyelowo).
They tackle organized crime, terrorist activities, embassy sieges,
weapons proliferation and anarchists, not to mention the conflicts
and power struggles back in the office.
MI-5 is thrilling, dramatic, and fast, yet this British series
is much more concise. Each story is complex and convincing, plus
the scripts are very well written. A lot goes on in each episode,
and it's detrimental for a show like this to keep the action and
tension going as fast as possible. I didn't expect MI-5 to
be this fast-paced. Obviously there are the usual board meetings
and discussions, but they're always interesting and important to
the story. The way each episode is structured, the scripts are
required to cover a lot of ground. A terrorist problem or
situation, whatever the ramifications or involvement, needs to be
introduced carefully, but also effectively in order to grab the
viewer's attention. And it works, it works quite well.
The other rewarding
thing about this show is the fact that the first season is
comprised of only six episodes. While this seems incredibly short,
the idea is actually very good. This ensures that each episode is
strong in content and execution. American shows tend to run for
20-25 episodes a season, and while developments occur, there are
always the filler episodes. With MI-5 there is nothing like
it, no filler material at all. In fact, the first season sees a
lot of development. Towards the end of the second episode, a
confrontation between the good and the bad ends shockingly. Also,
agent Tom Quinn must keep his real identity a secret from his
girlfriend and her young daughter, a reality that comes with the
job, but not being able to be truthful with his girlfriend is
eating away at him.
Moreover, the show's
production values are high, and the actors portray their
characters realistically. Direction is strong, and overall MI-5
utilizes an exciting visual style, the way 24 combines
different angles of the same scene in one image. MI-5 is a
really good show and I highly recommend it. I never had the chance
to see an episode on A&E when it premiered some time ago. It
received very good reviews, but the show didn't take off. One
reason for this, I'm sure, was the fact that nearly fifteen
minutes were cut from each episode to satisfy commercial time.
With MI-5 originally being a one-hour show without
interruptions, the amount of story lost in each episode is rather
large. Thankfully, all six episodes of the first season appear
uncut on this Volume 1 release.
The BBC presents MI-5 in 1.78:1
anamorphic widescreen. Image quality is good but not great.
Compression noise and artifacts present themselves in several
areas of the presentation. There's also a bit of softness to the
image, and pixelation also occurs. Colors are quite strong and
vibrant, also pretty clear. Black levels are deep and dark tones
are mostly consistent. Considerable grain also shows up in a few
scenes, but the widescreen presentation itself looks nice.
The BBC presents MI-5
in English 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound. Dialogue is clear
and easy to understand. Sound effects, background noise, and a
smart/hip score come across pretty well. A 2.0 soundtrack is
also featured. English subtitles are included for all of us who
can't understand every accent.
Extras are spread
across all three discs. The amount of material is quite
impressive, and the quality is good, but not great. Each
episode features audio commentary from various cast and crew.
They're fairly low-key but contain some good anecdotes and
I'm not going to
go in-depth on all the various featurettes, interviews,
cast/crew profiles, secret credits, photo
galleries, and DVD-ROM material spread across the
discs, because I don't have to go through them. Rest assured, if
you're intrigued by the show and like what you see, the
featurettes should appeal to you. The featurettes deal with
specific topics about the show, such as origins, creation,
directing, editing, looks, terminology, producers, the world of
spies, and it goes on. These are all video interviews without
any show clips, which is rather interesting. Some video lasts
over six-to-ten minutes at which point it becomes a bit
wearisome. The shorter videos are concise and to the point.
scenes on discs 1 and 2 are three minutes in length each,
while the ones on disc 3 last nearly sixteen minutes. They're
generally nice to watch as they give the characters more
personality and background. Now you should have a pretty good
idea about what's included on the discs. A lot of material is
present alright, but the downside is the lack of a "play all"
function for the featurettes/profiles/etc.
The DVD menus
are quite cool. It loads up slow, but the presentation is very
unique. An MI5 agent infiltrates an office and waits at a desk
for your command. In front of him are several different things
that correspond to the menus, such as a stack of discs is
episode selection, a manila folder lists special features, the
phone presents language options, the computer offers subtitles, etc. The only downside perhaps
may be the fact that you have to listen to a voice describe
what's what, but after a few times the menus should be easy to
Each episode runs
approximately 59 minutes and is divided into eight chapters.
There's not one single
moment in the six episodes that make up Volume 1 that's boring or
unnecessary. MI-5 is a concise, daring, interesting, and
complex series. I can't wait for the next DVD release. BBC's
video/audio is not great, only decent. The arsenal of bonus material
is very good, not to mention surprising. MI-5: Volume 1 will
definitely be worth your time and investment.
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