After suffering through the laughably dire spooks code 9, low budget spin off, the "proper" version of the BBC's flagship prime time spy / terrorism drama Spooks, came as a relief.
The new series 7 of Spooks has higher production values, and manages to convey some dramatic tension in its handling of various clandestine meetings, and also during the various "following a suspect in the street or on public transport" scenes, which use far fewer people than are actually needed to do this without being detected.
However, the BBC still manages to pump out utterly implausible technology nonsense.
Not since Spooks series 2 episode 3, which came up with the the physics defying idea of a fake radioactive isotope source, which could magically fool Geiger counters into only appearing to be giving off deadly levels of radiation, has there been a more technologically implausible plot McGuffin, than the one in series 7 episode 2.
Again, this involves "computer hacking", presented in an utterly implausible way.
The Russian government is, for no good reason, launching an alleged "cyber attack", some sort of Denial of Service attack via the internet, which is somehow supposed to cripple the UK economy and cause panic on the the City of London's financial markets etc. This is hardly necessary, given the incompetence of Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Chancellor Alistair Darling, who have manged to do this without any outside help.
This attack is to be launched from a Russian submarine, tapping into a single fiber optic telecommunications cable, off the Cornish coast.
This dastardly plot is foiled, through the simple means of magically getting a CD/DVD full of secret communications software, not from any Russian Navy base, but from the Russian Embassy in London.
Somehow, this allows Malcolm, back in Spooks HQ, to communicate in secret, with the submerged spy submarine, before it is starts to tap into the fibre optic cable (which is plausible technology), and then to transmit a Zero Day Virus to magically disable three sets of computer firewalls, and to physically cripple the submarine.
He does this via some unseen communications method, having somehow automatically determined which of the many undersea cables was going to be tapped into, giving no thought to trying to isolate that target cable from the rest of the UK's infrastructure.
See The Register Spooks foils fictional Russian plot for more comments about the idiocy of this plotline.
Getting the details of the existence of this "cyber attack", involved the increasingly deadly Ros, who seems to be able to outdo even James Bond or Jason Bourne, by overcoming the security of a Russian oil oligarch billionaire, with close connections to the Kremlin, who has a penchant for stolen artworks
This involved getting him to strip naked and then physically torturing, threatening to blackmail etc. him. This is the stupid way in which the spooks code 9 secret police thugs also magically obtained vital intelligence information, and it is simply not believable.
This series of Spooks, like spooks code 9, appears to have a "find the traitor in MI5, but do not confide in your colleagues" ongoing sub-plot.
Episode 4, also contains some more utterly pathetic "technology", this time alleged nanoparticles which can magically be tracked via microwave signals from satellites, even inside buildings in central London.
Meanwhile, the more mundane and plausible use of mobile phone technology, including Location Based Service tracking on a computer screen, whilst used very heavily throughout Spooks, also rings alarm bells , to anyone who actually understands a bit about how mobile phones work.
Episode 4 involved a secret Al Quaeda courier, who passes on a mobile phone SIM card to MI5 (whilst getting stabbed in Victoria train station). Even though they determine that there is only a single telephone number stored on this SIM card, they somehow have to wait until they actually phone it, in order to try to physically track the other mobile phone down.
Supposedly once the brief phone conversation is terminated by the terrorist mastermind at the other end who wants to talk to MI5, they are then unable to trace the location of the mobile phone.
In reality, a mobile phone is obviously traceable via the mobile phone network infrastructure, whether or not anyone is using it to make or receive a voice call or SMS text message, provided that it is switched on, and has established a signal with a Mobile Phone Cell Base Station transmitter. Getting an accurate position fix is not guaranteed, even in cities like London with lots of mobile phone Cell transmitters, but also with lots of radio reception blackspots, reflections off metalised window glass, the vast radio coverage dead zones on the London Underground etc. etc.
If the terrorist mastermind's mobile phone was not switched on, and was not traceable at all, then how did they manage to phone him on it ?
Why on earth did Harry, the head of MI5 section D and his second in command Ros, go to a secret meeting with the Al Quaeda terrorist mastermind, who they obviously cannot trust, and then meekly surrender their own mobile phones full of secret contact information, along with their high tech GPS tracking lapel pins ? Such phones would be rather more valuable to an enemy, than the Blackberry mobile phone / PDA, which was allegedly stolen from a Downing Street apparatchik during Prime Minister Gordon Brown's visit to China before the Olympic Games.
Is it genuine ignorance of how modern computer and telecommunications technology actually works, or is it deliberate disinformation, on the part of the BBC / Kudos Productions script writers and directors ?