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MI-5 - Volume 2 Review




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Rating
Video:   9/10
Audio:   9/10
Extras:   7/10

Amazing set!
by Gord Lacey (All reviews)
1/11/2005

Known as Spooks in its native Great Britain, MI-5 is based on the UK security organization that bears its name. The show originally premiered in May, 2002 in the UK and was brought to the United States by A&E in July of 2003. The series helped the specialty channel gain a younger audience.

Using stylish camera work, beautiful sets and wonderful special effects, MI-5 takes a look into the UK security organization. MI-5 deals with terrorist organizations, assassination plots, hate groups and anything else that would threaten the stability of the country. Their officers often go undercover to infiltrate organizations so they can be brought down. The show focuses of 3 of these agents; Zoe Reynolds, Danny Hunter and senior officer Tom Quinn. Their boss, Harry Pearce, is a no-nonsense man that treats them with respect, but wants results. This show is an exciting look at MI-5.

Season 2 of the series picks up right after the explosive events in season 1. The second season was expanded to 10 episodes from the 6 in the first season, and the BBC has delivered it on 5 discs with 2 episodes on each disc.

Video

There aren't any surprises with season 2 because the quality is the same as the previous set. The anamorphic widescreen (1.78:1) picture is much nicer than the butchered 4:3 version A&E airs, and there's also the 15 minutes of original footage that we get on the DVDs. After watching the second season on DVD I think I'll skip the broadcast of season 3 and just hold out for the DVDs; there's a huge difference between the two. Just a few grainy scenes in the set, but nothing too horrible. There are chapters set after the opening of the show.

Audio

No surprises here either; the audio is on par with the first set. The Dolby Digital 5.1 mix sounds phenomenal, and I really noticed the low frequencies pumping from the sub. Explosions will rock the speakers, so be aware if you're in an area where others may be disturbed. The BBC has included an English stereo track as well, and the set it subtitled for the hearing impaired.

Extras - How we rate extras

Controversy (11:37)
David Wolstencroft (creator/writer), Howard Brenton (writer), David Oyelowo ("Danny Hunter"), Karen Wilson (script editor), Gareth Neame (executive producer for the BBC), Nicola Walker ("Ruth Evershed"), Rory McGregor ("Colin Wells"), Stephen Garrett (joint managing director, Kudos) and Bharat Nalluri (director) discuss the controversy behind the second episode of season 2. Located on disc 1.

Howard Brenton (15:22)
Howard Brenton has written for all three seasons of the show, and this featurette features him. Cast and crew comment on the writer's work. Found on disc 2.

MI-5 USA (10:18)
The cast and crew talk about the show airing in the US. I found it interesting to hear why the name was changed, and how they cut 15 minutes from the episode to fit into the US time slot. Disc 3.

Scoring for MI-5 (13:21)
A featurette focusing on Jennie Muskett, the composer for the series. Disc 4.

Season 2 Writers (18:23)
Faith Penhale and Karen Wilson, the two script editors on the series, discuss their role in the production of the episodes. The season 2 writers are also featured in here, which is what you would expect given the title of the piece. Disc 5.

The Martyr's Shroud (8:14)
Jennie Muskett (composer) discusses the score she created for the second episode of the season. Located on disc 1.

Trailers (7:14)
Trailers for other BBC titles: MI-5 Volume 1 (1:01), Cambridge Spies (0:30)
, The Office (1:00), BBC Drama (2:32), BBC Classic Comedy (1:31) and The Blue Planet (0:40). Located on Disc 1.

DVD ROM Content
Scripts, Wallpaper and Weblinks.

Gallery (117)
Every disc in the set contains photos from the episodes.
Disc 1 - 28 photos
Disc 2 - 27 photos
Disc 3 - 29 photos
Disc 4 - 17 photos
Disc 5 - 16 photos

Secret Credits (68)
MI-5 episodes don't contain any credits, but they're "hidden" here for you to browse.
Disc 1 - 14 screens
Disc 2 - 14 screens
Disc 3 - 13 screens
Disc 4 - 12 screens
Disc 5 - 15 screens

Deleted Scenes (18:25)
Some scenes removed from the episodes.
Episode 4 (disc 2) - 5:46
Episode 9 (disc 5) - 7:10
Episode 10 (disc 5) - 5:29

Creating Season 2 (10:02)
David Wolstencroft, Gareth Neame, Jane Featherstone (executive producer & joint managing director, Kudos), Bharat Nalluri, Peter Firth ("Harry Pearce"), Simon Crawford Collins, Karen Wilson and Faith Penhale (script editor), discuss some of the events and changes with the second season of the series. Located on disc 1.

Episode One (3:19)
Bharat Nalluri, Stephen Garrett and Shauna MacDonald ("Sam Buxton") discuss the first episode of the season. Disc 1.

Episode Three (10:45)
Matthew Graham (writer) and Karen Wilson talk about the script Graham wrote. Disc 2.

Episode Four (5:29)
Howard Brenton (writer), David Oyelowo, Nicola Walker and Peter Firth discuss the episode. Disc 2.

Episode Five (5:35)
Rory McGregor, Nicola Walker, Shuana MacDonald, David Oyelowo comment on episode five. Disc 3.

Episode Six (3:49)
David Wolstencroft and Megan Dodds are interviewed regarding the sixth episode. Disc 3.

Episode Seven (2:05)
Karen Wilson, Peter Firth and Rory McGregor discuss the episode. Disc 4.

Episode Eight (7:14)
Steve Bailie talks about the episode he wrote. Disc 4.

Episode Nine (7:32)
Faith Penhale, Ben Richards and Shauna MacDonald talk about the episode. Disc 5.

Episode Ten (2:54)
Howard Brenton talks about the difficulty of writing the season finale, and Nicola Walker discusses crying on camera. Disc 5.

Cliffhanging (3:06)
David Wolstencroft, Bharat Nalluri and Karen Wilson discuss the cliffhanger at the end of season 1, and the opening of season 2. Disc 1.

Shauna MacDonald (4:40)
The lovely Shauna MacDonald ("Sam Buxton") talks about how she got into acting. Disc 5.

Sam Buxton (4:35)
Shauna MacDonald ("Sam Buxton") talks about her character. Disc 1.

Nicola Walker (2:40)
Nicola Walker ("Ruth Evershed") discusses how she got her acting break. Disc 5.

Ruth Evershed (6:40)
Nicola Walker, Jane Featherstone, Simon Crawford Collins, Peter Firth and Faith Penhale talk about the character of Ruth Evershed. Disc 2.

Megan Dodds (4:08)
"Christine Dale" talks about how she got the role. Disc 4.

Christine Dale (4:42)
Meagan Dodds talks about the CIA character she plays. Disc 5.

Rory McGregor (1:31)
The actor that plays "Colin Wells" discusses his career. Disc 4.

Colin Wells (2:32)
Matthew Graham talks about how he expanded the role in the episode he wrote. Disc 4.

Also Available (1:31)
A trailer for season 1, and The Cambridge Spies. Disc 1.

The Story Conferences (2:28)
Gareth Neame, Ben Richards (writer), Jane Featherstone and Simon Crawford Collins discuss the "Story Conferences" when the writers get together and plan the upcoming episodes. Disc 4.

What we did on our holidays (6:54)
The cast and crew talk about what they did during their time off from the series. Disc 5.

Commentary Tracks
Episode 1 - Bharat Nalluri and Simon Crawford Collins
Episode 2 - Bharat Nalluri, Simon Crawford Collins and Howard Brenton
Episode 3 - Matthew Graham, Nicola Walker and Rory McGregor
Episode 5 - Howard Brenton, Nicola Walker, Hugh Simon, Rory McGregor
Episode 9 - Howard Brenton, Faith Penhale and Meagan Dodds

DVD-ROM Material
Scripts (PDFs), wallpaper (7 different photos) and weblinks can be found on each disc.

Summary

This is such a fun series, and I love being able to watch the uncut episodes on the DVD set. I think I'm going to skip the broadcast of season 3 on A&E and wait for the DVDs to be released. I know it'll be awhile before they come out (oh...probably a year), but the MI-5 sets are so good that it makes sense to wait and enjoy them with the best presentation possible.

I was a bit bummed that only half the episodes contained commentary tracks, but I was impressed with the wealth of other extras. It's nothing more than the previous set, but it's a lot more than most DVD sets contain.

If you're looking for a plausible spy show then you have to check out MI-5. It's a great show, and this is another solid BBC release.


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