Wednesday, July 17, 2013
'Spy' S2: Bond Family Bond
As yesterday's review of the DVD release of the wonderfully wacky britcom "Spy" S1 promised, today's subject is the recent DVD release of the second season of "Spy." The US format release of that show deserves high praise if only for including the 2012 Christmas special; UK format releases of British shows usually only release those specials as separate sets.
The prior review covers much of the lore of this series about "ordinary bloke" Tim Elliott, who stumbles into the MI5 training program in the pilot episode. The condensed version of that brief summary of "Spy's" concept is that the career change is part of Tim's efforts to earn the love and admiration of his borderline demonic nine-year-old son Marcus who barely expresses any emotion during the first season.
The second season opens with Tim advancing to full-fledged spy status after spending the first season in the MI5 training program. The numerous other changes in that episode include a new actor playing Philip, who is Marcus' headmaster and is also dating Tim's ex-wife Judith, goofy sidekick Chris becoming a highly unmotivated and unqualified gym teacher at Marcus' school, and the Elliott family being assigned a new court-appointed family therapist regarding Tim's and Judith's legal battle for custody of the now 10 year-old Marcus.
A more significant change comes in the form of introducing Marcus' new classmate Nick Chin, who knocks that former dictator of his grade school down enough notches to warrant noting that Marcus takes it on the Chin in several episodes. The season premiere has Marcus and Nick competing for school president. Other competitions involve comparing a talent for bicycle tricks, membership in a Mensa-style society, and getting a literary work published.
In the spirit of the first season, Tim covertly uses his spy skills to help Marcus in bids to gain his favor. Examples include conducting surveillance of a campaign meeting that Nick is holding in a 10-year-old girl's bedroom, using spy tech to cheat during a father-son quiz show that Nick tricks Marcus into signing up for, and slipping a diarrhea-inducing drug in Nick's beverage during a pre-teen dinner party.
Tim's official work-related escapades include involvement in a hilarious hostage situation and harboring a woman in the witness protection program after his psychotic boss "The Examiner" publicly reveals her identity.
Tim must also deal with his status at work falling when "The Director," played by awesome British actress Lindsay Duncan, takes over for an assassination addicted and newly mellowed "The Examiner." In true "Spy" fashion, these developments play a pivotal role in Marcus' latest power grab.
The best of a plethora of great story lines relate to genius-level combination of Tim's personal and professional lives. The funniest example is a bring-your-son to work day that requires that Tim take Marcus to MI5 headquarters while shielding him from both the hazardous activities in the building and the true nature of Tim's work. Marcus' presence triggering "The Examiner" experiencing paranoid thoughts is only part of the fun.
Another classic has Judith developing amnesia after catching Tim participating in an MI5 training exercise. "The Examiner's" role in that episode includes targeting Judith for assassination to protect Tim's identity as a spy. Judith subconsciously acting on her open dislike of Tim and apparent ill will toward Marcus is equally amusing.
Further, the second season episode that is closest to the spirit of the Mel Brooks' '60s sitcom "Get Smart" involves "The Examiner's" cowardice and a co-worker's bumbling turning a hitman's scope on Tim. The resolution of that plot is terrific television.
The Christmas special, which is also the series finale, wraps up "Spy" well. A mutiny against Marcus' leadership and an incident that requires that Tim's MI5 colleagues covertly operate from Marcus' school on the day of a Christmas pageant in a manner that literally requires that most cast members get into the act are highlights.
That special also includes "The Director"in one of the most hilarious scenes of any "Spy" episode. The Mexican standoff that involves her, Caitlin, Tim, and "The Examiner" is fall on the floor funny.
The analysis of the threat assessment regarding "Spy" is that not watching this clever and entertaining show deprives American TV fans of missing one of the best television comedies that most of us have never seen.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Spy" is welcome to email me a coded message. You can also communicate via the secure method of Twitter via the alias of @tvdvdguy.