Saturday, 22 October 2011

SPY, 1.2 – "Codename: Tramp"

Saturday, 22 October 2011
Vaguely better than the awful premiere, but that's strangely because most of episode 2 didn't have anything to do with the actual spy conceit. Instead, large chunks of time were dedicated to a social worker developing a crush on single father Tim (Darren Boyd) and the unwelcome stay of a tramp in his home. Said homeless man (who comes from Eastern Europe, because funny accents is this show's level) was rescued by Tim after falling off some scaffolding. Why was Tim up some scaffolding to begin with? Oh, he was trying to retrive a red bag, as part of his MI5 training. That's the kind of excitement this show delivers.

I'll be brief. Spy is just soul-crushingly bad. It's a terrible waste of some good actors—especially Boyd and Rebekah Staton as spy partner/love-interest Caitlin—and just doesn't seem to have any imagination or ambitions when it comes to its central idea. It's certainly very different to have a father and son relationship where they both hate each other, but it also means the show has a truly insufferable character in Marcus (Judge Wright) to put up with. Wright's great, don't get me wrong, but you just want someone to throttle him every time he's on screen. Why is Tim so keen to keep custody of the precocious brat?

I don't know. A full hour into a comedy called Spy and it's milked almost no laughs from the idea of a naïve dad being trained by MI5. I'm not expecting Spooks-style action from a show like this, but retrieving a red bag? Are you serious? That's not funny because it's so unexciting, it's just unexciting. About the only sign of life is when Tim's boss The Examiner (Robert Lindsay) throws a ninja star, and then you wonder what kind of universe we're in where British intelligence use ninja stars.

I guess my problem with Spy is that I can see a far better show being made from the idea behind it. A commenter last week astutely observed that this show is basically a remake of 1990 ITV series The Piglet Files, with Nicholas Lyndhurst as a spy keeping his career a secret from his wife. I never thought I'd say this, but why can't it be as funny? If it's going to be silly, go full-blown silly. If it's going to be more of a domestic comedy about a dad trying to impress his son and keep custody from his ex-wife, why bother with the spy angle at all?

written by Simeon Goulden / directed by Ben Taylor / 21 October 2011 / Sky1