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MI-5 - Volume 2


Rating: NR

Distributor: BBC Worldwide

Release Date: January 11, 2005
Review posted: March 9, 2005


Reviewed by Dennis Landmann




Defending their 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 rules, it simply kicks ass. It tells complex, dangerous, and relevant stories that creates high octane, powerful drama. The filmmakers behind the series create top notch work, from the excellent cinematography to the great-looking sets and locations, and from well researched and sweet scripts to solid acting by the principal actors. The sometimes emotional but more frequently action-oriented music score also serves the show very well.


As much as I love this series, it seems it's not designed for everybody. I read a review of the Volume 2 DVD set and the reviewer gave the show a low rating which really surprised me, however this was due to the reviewer not having seen the first season. Also, the reviewer didn't care for the characters/actors or stories, so there is definitely a difference of opinion. I never thought about this before, but perhaps the average audience might not be able to follow the complex plot threads introduced in each episode. MI-5 doesn't make it easy, though, which might put off some people.


However, I feel MI-5 is smart about the way it introduces the storylines and keeps the plot threads moving; it doesn't come out plainly and tell you what's going on right to your face. Well, sometimes it does, but never in a way that feels forced.


MI-5 also portrays its characters realistically, the drama of the events impacting their lives and professional career. The main focus of the second season is on Tom Quinn, whose character really goes places. I dare not spoiling anything about what's happening to him during the course of the season, but the drama and intensity that builds around his character from show to show gets bigger until in the very last episode (Pit of Secrets) everything comes full circle and Tom becomes somewhat of a haunted soul. The last thirty or so minutes had me on the edge of my bed (I watched the last three episodes by myself in my bedroom one morning), and the last five minutes were so powerful they affected how I felt for the next couple of days; I kept thinking about the character and the tragic events that happened to him. Needless to say I was deeply involved with the characters and stories this season.


Disc 1: Legitimate Target, Nest of Angels
Disc 2: Hackers, Blood and Money
Disc 3: I Spy Apocalypse, President's Visit
Disc 4: Clean Skin, Seventh Division
Disc 5: Military Strikes, Pit of Secrets




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, and pretty clear. Black levels are deep and dark tones are mostly consistent. Grain also shows up in many scenes, but the widescreen presentation itself looks real good.




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.




There is a wealth of information present on the five discs that make up the Volume 2 package, with many featurettes (on each episode and other topics), a dozen or so interviews (with the cast and creative crew), audio commentaries (on five of the ten episodes) and deleted scenes (18 minutes worth) available on each disc, plus other extras like trailers, photo galleries, secret credits, and DVD-ROM materials.


I've read about complaints from other people who say the menus for this DVD are confusing or overly complicated, but I find them rather cool. To read about them, check out my review of the Volume 1 DVD set.


I will not go in depth about all the extras because frankly it would take me over thirty minutes to write and I want to finish this review (I've pushed it back for months already).




I love MI-5 and the second season improves on the first. The DVD is packed with extras and the show looks real nice in widescreen. Fans of the series have got to pick up this set. Beginners should start at the beginning. I highly recommend this DVD; it's a Collector Series item.


The third season of MI-5 premiered on the A&E two months ago. I watched the first two episodes to see how the cliffhanger from last season was resolved; they did it well. The downside with the TV broadcast is the loss of fifteen minutes of footage that is cut to accommodate annoying commercials, plus it's shown in fullscreen. I initially planned to watch the new season on A&E but decided it would be better to wait for the DVD where I could watch the entire season in one sitting if I wanted to.




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