The Game TV Series

This series can be bowled over in a weekend - and it'll keep you thinking!

Are you someone who hears the term Cold War and kind of never understands what it entirely means in terms of political convictions and what actually went down? Do you not understand much more than the East and West were spying on one another? But are clueless as to what extent?

What were the ramifications of the Cold War when the threat was at its greatest?

And are we seeing this kind of environment reasserting itself today considering the USA are bugging German Prime Minister, Angela Merkel’s phone? If like me you love your information packaged on a small screen then this 6 part mini series The Game is definitely for you.

What’s It About

Arkady, (Marcel Lures) a double agent makes contact with MI5 to inform them that Soviet sleeper agents are being reactivated under the code name Operation Glass.

Imposing actor, Brian Cox heads up MI5, under the rather ridiculously, but very believable code name of ‘Daddy.’ Charged with setting his house in order and keeping the British public safe ‘Daddy’ assembles a secret task force to deal with and make sense of the information from their Soviet mole, Arkady.

No one knows what the operation entails – yet it's possible it could be totally disastrous for the West and ultimately bring democracy down.

A spy thriller with a myriad of Cold War tensions that escalate between the Soviets and Brits, and where the consequences could very likely be nuclear war is worth remembering, given the Iranians are hell bent on developing nuclear bombs at present, the Pakistani’s and North Korea have them, we’d do well to be reminded of the tensions from these times.

With a great story line this series bristles with intrigue, innuendo the investigative work keeps you absorbed from go to woe.

If murder and intrigue are your thing, and double-crossing scenario’s are the stuff you think about in order to make sense of your own work lives, pay attention to the ambitions of these characters in MI5. How instructive underhanded people in bureaucracy or any organization can be is demonstrated to great effect in this series.

It is a smart script, wonderfully atmospheric in the way it’s shot and exudes a brooding air, specifically through the central character Joe Lambe, and if this is a game changing operation, we’re all keen to find out how it is, what it is specifically, why its being activated now and especially who is involved.

Joe Lambe (Tom Hughes) is a simmering hottie, impossibly handsome, awfully conflicted and dangerously smart.

The onus is on Joe Lambe, the central character to prove he is what he says he is, an MI5 agent and nothing more. In a world where double agents abound our intellect is challenged. Viewers find themselves second-guessing almost everyone, particularly Joe Lambe’s actions and motives and as a haunted character, Joe Lambe is going to attract a viewing fan club of his own but also an unusual amount of suspicion.

Poor DC Jim Fenchurch, (Shaun Dooley) is a regular cop who’s been put on the taskforce is there to establish credentials for the MI5 spooks who need to remain covert, so it’s Fenchurch who taps on doors and gains information. As an outsider, it’s also refreshing that we have one character we know is completely trustworthy.

When Joe Lambe finds out the Soviet agent, Odin who drowned his girlfriend is involved in Operation Glass, it’s a game changer for Joe who begins bending the rules to get results. With Joe having already been involved in one mishap with the Soviets, which got his lover and double agent, Yulia (Zana Marjanovic) killed he’s even keener to prove himself now.

For Tom Hughes “It’s a big challenge as an actor, to find a way of allowing him (Joe Lambe) to remain at all times both enigmatic and intriguing to an audience, without being so distant that they don’t feel like they know him.”

Bobby Waterhouse, (accomplished actor Paul Ritter) another MI5 agent who lives with his overbearing mother, (Judy Parfitt) who degrades him at every opportunity, ambitiously hopes to rise through the MI5 ranks. Bobby works on his internal spying skills, however he unwisely chooses to investigate his direct superior ‘Daddy’ as a way of achieving his ends. In turn Bobby’s decisions are clouded, which has lead many to call this series a brainy spy yarn that captures the Cold War’s perplexing multi-dimensional nature.

While The Game TV series may be getting a rep as low key because the tech wizard, Alan Montag, (Jonathan Aris) while adorably kind and married to Sarah Montag (Victoria Hamilton touted as the next head of MI5) spends his days planting old school bugs in archaic telephones, where listening needs to take place next door, think it through people, this is more authentic than bringing it in line with the 21st Century and bullshitting viewers.

Like Mad Men this series has been styled for the times it was written for and not everything can or will take place at lightening speed. Even Alan and Sarah’s marriage seems very old school. Soviet double agents aside, misidentified MI6 agents all work alongside brand new agent, Wendy Shaw (Chloe Pirrie), who has been promoted from being Daddy’s secretary because she demonstrates a flair for spying which is rather dazzling given her bland appearance and naivety in other matters of life, in ways that make you think back to early Peggy in Mad Men and we’ll watch her trajectory with enthusiasm if they give us a second season.

Set in 1972 London, from a style point of view this series is right up there with Mad Men. If you enjoy Retro, the details in all these episodes are particularly insightful, and if you’re thinking of adopting some within your own offices these MI5 suites are wonderfully detailed and worth watching for alone.

I fell completely for the soundproof cladding and the suits alone we should be wearing!

Any Negatives

Despite how drastic this sounds, the first couple of episodes meander along. The Game has been criticized for its lack of pace, and this isn’t unfounded criticism but when you get to the finale, you’ll understand what important scenarios were being set up in those first couple of episodes, so pay attention. The trade off is the next four episodes are cracking, and because the final episode is that good, you’ll want to be one step ahead of The Game.

In a world where we’re used to answers being delivered at the swipe of a finger, here with more on the line, and intrigue and ingenuity the name of The Game, in patiently working out what is being infiltrated, which sleeper agents are damaging and what the overall objective of Operation Glass is, you’ll manage to be well and truly occupied and invested from episode 3 onward.

A further negative for some is that there are not enough weapons or gadgets, but this series isn’t being promoted as James Bond, so that too seems unfair criticism. For one I was rather happy with the way things were broken into, and access gained, which at times was pedestrian at others wonderfully covert.

One critic summed it up as not rivaling the best spy thrillers, but definitely warrants serious attention. We disagree – but then it’s not as easy to remove old relic critics from our environment as the Soviets did their used-by-date-double-agents.

mildred issue