[spooks] code 9 is a new spin off series from the popular BBC Spooks drama supposedly about MI5 Security Service officers in action.
The first two episodes were transmitted back to back, and are currently available online from the programme's website (for the next few days)
Aimed at the 16 to 25 "yoof" audience on digital TV channel BBC 3, this is a spin off from the stylish and successful mainstream BBC 1 / 2 / 3 series "Spooks", which might account for the violence, swearing and sex.
The motto for the series appears to be "For Queen, For Country, For Kicks"
The series is set a few years into the future in 2013, in the Orwellian Police State which has emerged after a (small) nuclear bomb attack on London.
Supposedly the casualties cased by this single bomb incident are such that the rest of the UK carries on, with refugee camps etc., people trying to find their dead or missing relatives, and an Orwellian Police State, with pervasive CCTV surveillance, phone taps, secret concentration camps, compulsory ID cards, a black market in ID cards and radiation sickness drugs etc.
The tentacles of state repression includes the series protagonists, who are supposed to be a Field Operations team of young, inexperienced MI5 officers, working in one of the distributed offices of MI5, Field Office 19, somewhere vaguely in Northern England e.g, the County Arcade in Leeds appears as a location.
The two episodes so far have been stylistically less glossy than "Spooks", but just as full of technical howlers. This series also seems to be full of actual current New Labour
government policies e.g.
"we know what we have to do, get out into the communities, and target the young"
Most of the scenes which do not involve any actual surveillance or investigation work or the use technology, seem to be reasonably well acted.
There have been some violent episodes of the original Spooks series, but these usually involved a decent plot build up, and came with a dramatic shock.
Some details of the technical plot errors in the first two episodes - not sure if these will spoil your enjoyment or add to it:
[spooks] code 9 just started off with pointless violence e.g. two simultaneous surveillance operations resulted in both the suspects under surveillance detecting that something was suspicious, and pulling guns on the MI5 operatives. Both teams ended up escaping only after physically assaulting the suspects and their henchmen, and then running away.
One of the suspects (an arms dealer) was then trivially taken into custody later from a massage parlour, and then tortured by the MI5 team, to confirm that he had supplied an implausible "AK 47 take down sniper rifle". Rob Sullivan the former medical student member of the MI5 team happily shoots off the arms dealer's big toe, and he and his partner threaten to shoot off other bits of his anatomy.
Jez Cook, having bullied an informant on the street (no money, just a slap on the head), the MI5 team discover that their suspected sniper assassin is very particular about the burgers he eats - organic meat, no sesame seeds on the bun etc. They magically track down, simply via the telephone, where such unusual burgers are being delivered. The sniper shoots and kills their slightly more experienced MI5 boss Hannah, instead of the visiting Prime Minister, who they thought would be the target. They manage to chase the assassin until he falls to his death from a roof top.
There was an interesting touch in the use of a 15 year old "hoodie" as the top mercenary assassin sniper (Hannah says "the age of the finger that pulls the trigger makes little difference to the impact of a high velocity bullet").
A bottle of Kylie Ronan 's supposedly anti-radiation sickness pills seems to be labeled with a standard yellow and black trefoil radiation warning symbol - surely these pills should not themselves be radioactive ?
There were lots of shots of, and images taken from CCTV surveillance cameras, which, as by magic, the MI5 team could access with pinpoint accuracy, within a few seconds, something which is a Police State Fantasy, rather than close to reality.
A telling moment was the self satisfied smirk of the MI5 apparatchik Charlie Green, who had left his Compulsory ID Card at home, but when he then had just a single fingerprint checked against his name, at the Police checkpoint, he was identified as an MI5 operative, and the Policeman apologised , calling him "Sir".
This is what can be expected from the Labour Government's ID Card and centralised biometric database National Identity Register scheme. However, even this unrealistic scenario, shows that checking the fingerprints of everyone in the ID card queue is totally impractical.
Having deduced that their only other lead, the other surveillance suspect, a middleman fixer, might be injured, and using a dead security guard's ID card to book into a hospital, two of the team, Rob Sullivan and Rachel Harris casually dress up as a doctor and nurse, and drug and kidnap him, from a hospital bed, to threaten him, so that he takes a mobile phone (obviously with a built in tracking device, rather less well done visually than in the "Spooks" series), to lead the MI5 unit to the person who supposedly hired the assassin,
He turns out to be the former MI5 operative now working in the private sector, who had had been trying to recruit the MI5 team leader before she was killed. Why could they not simply have tracked down the phone number which had been stored in the phone, from the Communications Traffic and Location Data ? Why were they not listening in to the middleman's phone conversations ?
As they close in on the ex MI5 man, he phones someone for "an intervention unit", which, unseen, manages to stab him to death, before the surrounding MI5 team get quite close enough to capture him.
On returning to base, their remaining lead, the middle man, is reported as having committed suicide.
The second episode starts of with some sex scenes between MI5 agent Jez Cook and his supposed informant, who then turns out to be the person who they are trying to hunt down, for illegally broadcasting evidence of deaths in a secret concentration camp, onto the Orwellian public TV screens at a local University, but also out to the internet.
Instead of refusing to support such a policy of repression, and exposing the Government cover up, they end up blackmailing an army officer to reveal the names of the dead people shown on the video, so that they can track down potential friends and relatives of the victims, to see if one of them is the person who dared to broadcast this video evidence to the public.
"You're telling us that our chief suspect is one of our informants ?"
"Well do we know where she could have got the encryption code that's enabled her to hack into the alert system ?"
"Did she ever have access to our phones or laptops ? They run the same encryption software as the Alert system."
"Well, Tech are working on changing the encryption codes, but it's going to be a couple of days before they can stop her hacking in.
Aaaaagh ! This is utter, utter IT Security incompetence ! Surely one of the technical advisors to the Spooks series could have pointed the scriptwriter and directors towards the fundamental Kerkhoffs Principle - "a cryptosystem should be secure even if everything about the system, except the key, is public knowledge".
"What if she's connected to a Civil Liberties Group ? They're using far more aggressive tactics nowadays ?"
With fascist / communist style secret police apparatchik torturers like MI5 Field Office 19 helping to destroy our fundamental freedoms and liberties, that is surely something to be welcomed !
The depiction of what should be the obvious dangers to the public of setting up an SMS text message terrorist alert / Evacuate Now type warning system, which would inevitably lead to innocent deaths, when, not if, false alarms have been injected into the system.
The plot device of cloning an MI5 agent's Personal Digital Assistant, which somehow would then allow a student to have access to the supposedly encrypted SMS alert system, is nonsense.
The inability of the supposed mathematician Charlie Green to use anything more than some manual password guessing, to access a video clip from his assassinated former boss, handed to him after her death, on a USB media player / memory device is laughable - the password turns out to be his own name !
The Government spin TV broadcast by the Head of MI5, Saeed Khan, who "confirms the existence" of the concentration Camp Winsmere "all detainees are being held lawfully under the authority of the Britannia Act", but who claims that the video of the dead bodies there is a fake, is sickeningly plausible, given the propaganda lies and media spin by the current Labour Government.
How the lone student hacker and MI5 agent seducer, magically manages to gets hold of explosives and a detonator, is simply glossed over, but since the MI5 team end up shooting her dead, that is not ever likely to be revealed.
Obviously they never even thought that the electronic detonator circuit could easily have been be fitted with a "dead man's switch, just like the principle of a hand grenade, which would have blown up the bomb, up even when the person holding the detonator had been shot ?
At the end of two episodes, almost everyone that the team of MI5 agents has come into contact with during their "investigation" has been killed, or tortured or threatened or blackmailed or bullied.
This is a death squad, not an effective team of counter-terrorism investigators.
The third episode preview, appears to feature a council estate which is a hot bed of illegal black market (anti-radiation) drugs activity, where all the CCTV cameras have been vandalised , something which is plausible. However, there is also meant to be a secret, untested, sonic crowd control weapon which can magically incapacitate a crowd of, presumably, rioters, and which the local people, are supposedly not cunning enough or intelligent enough to have either detected or subverted.