When Spooks: Code 9 started a month ago I was immediately suspicious that the BBC had dumped into the relative broadcast no-mans’-land of BBC Three. But the scheduling monkeys put the cringingly crap Bonekickers on BBC One, so until it aired I clung onto the possibility that this might be a sleeper show that would progress to have another series on higher profile channel. But alas, now I’ve seen the whole thing it was probably well positioned on Three, as the BBC doesn’t normally release its productions directly to UK Gold.
In my first review of Code 9 I suggested was Spooks-lite, and in retrospect it was exactly that. The problem was that it was also light on just about everything that made Spooks so watchable: character development, plot development, action and viewer involvement. You can add horribly inconsistent to that list, which I can only attribute to having a different writer for every one of the six shows, and three different directors involved. Split between nine different people it’s not exactly rocket science that the show lurched from one insipid episode to another. Surely if you wanted to get a format established you’ve make it a one writer and director deal for the first six episodes, or was this just meant to be experimental from the outset?
But enough of what this show might have been and wasn’t, how was the climactic final episode? I was hoping we’d find out more about Vik than his name, that at least one of them was gay or transsexual or just alive, that we’d been looking at the traitor for five weeks and someone would punch that MI6 lady Gates with the burr up her ass. But I could have found out the answers to all those points before Sunday, because bizarrely the series DVD went on sale officially today (Monday), yet most online retailers would send it out before then. I know the timescales for DVD release are shortening, but two hours and ten minutes after screening must be some record!
Spoilers from here…you’ve been warned!
This first half story fancies itself as Mission Impossible, as the team must get a David Blaine look-alike nuclear scientist out of high security prison. The method they use is so off the wall that it makes some of the MI episodes seem tame by comparison. In this, Vik gets some useful screentime, but we’re not any wiser who he is at the end. Better served is Kylie who returns to being the crazy chick she was in episode 1, but far too briefly.
I’d rightly worked out in episode 3 who the mole inside their group was, and the identity of the potential MI5 traitor, so when Rachel and Gates started acting strange it didn’t actually come as any surprise. It also wasn’t much of a shock that the obviously fake attempts to incriminate Rob were just that. Twists are only that if they’re not telegraphed obviously in well in advance, something the writers of Code 9 haven’t mastered at any point in the whole run.
The back half of the show is divided between them locating the second bomb and the traitor, which turns out to be stupidly easy on both fronts. The only surprise in the whole of this show comes at the end when there have the over-dimensioned cahooners to deliver a cliff-hanger ending! Will they stop the bomb going off? Does Rachel – who’s hot for Charlie – live? And most importantly, does anyone watching care?
This makes the amazing leap of faith that Code 9 gets another outing. I’d be amazed if it did, but then I thought that Lewis Hamilton had won a Grand Prix fair and square yesterday, before the stewards decided that his car was the wrong colour, or something.
So I’ve decided that it’s better to make my own ending up, as I’m unlikely to see any on TV. Rachel is dead, because Rob’s track record of saving shot people is 100% failure. Vik and Jez are blown up by the bomb because they’re boring characters and wouldn’t be coming back anyway. Charlie leaves MI5 and, using his maths skills, works for the BBC in the risk analysis of new productions actually working. Kylie goes on the game till the radiation makes her skin fall off, and Rob becomes a Vet where he gets to put patients down rather than make fruitless efforts to save them. Done.
I’m left with the distinct sense that Code 9 was meant to be something brave and experimental, an edgy TV show about rogue intelligence agents. But in the end the challenge of making it seems to have overtaken those involved to the point they fell back on by-the-numbers production that offered nothing new or even on par with Spooks. Overall, a massively disappointing production that didn’t even deliver the unintentionally funny highlights of Bonekickers, for what they were worth.
Read Mark’s take on the previous episode here…