11 August, 2008

What the Papers Say: " Spooks: Code 9"

Andrew Billen, The Times

We have four years left to enjoy it before it is 2012, when it is destroyed in a nuclear attack. Such is the cheerful premise of Spooks: Code 9, which is to Spooks what Torchwood is to Doctor Who (ie, not as good).

With a cast of fresh-faces and a budget of several pounds, it fancies itself as gritty and hip, combining state torture with a boozy, flirty This Life house-share for the torturers, yet it lacks the balls to link the “code-9” attack with either the Olympics or al-Qaeda. A preamble assures us that, afterwards, life outside London continues much the same. Judging by the crowded Mancunian shopping malls, through which the junior spooks dash, this is indeed the case. Note also that in “new world, new rules” Britain, the pussy bow, dismissed by so many as just this summer's fashion fad, remains the height of post-holocaust chic.


Adrian Lobb, The Guardian

"Setting a spin-off series of Spooks in 2013, as Britain regroups after terrorists nuked London during the previous year's Olympic Games, might be an innovative (if somewhat scary) notion. But there's more to Spooks Code 9 than just a TV show about the new breed of counter-terrorist operative.

While the spying game is played out on screen, viral marketing and high-concept interactive elements are extending the story - and the brand - to the online community. BBC3, already home to multi-platform shows like Lily Allen and Friends, are rolling out the techie tricks to drama.

At libertynews.co.uk (a website purporting to belong to a future news agency), news, sport and entertainment stories from 2013 abound. We can see the extent of the radioactive exclusion zone in London, and discover which landmarks were damaged in the bomb blast.

Amy Winehouse adds her voice to the London relief effort, displaced football teams Arsenal and Chelsea have been relocated to Spain, and EastEnders characters re-emerge in post-nuke soap Camp 136. The world of Spooks Code 9 is fleshed out interactively online, and we can place ourselves in this alternate reality, conversing with its inhabitants and trying to spot the seeds of future Spooks Code 9 storylines. Members of the online community can even role-play and share their 2013 stories and photos.

When major events occur on our TV screens, whether it's a bad guy being bagged or a good guy being blasted to kingdom come (this is a Spooks spin-off, so we can't expect the whole team to survive the series), additional information will filter through via news reports on the site.

But will it work? I've seen a preview, and the show is disappointing. But with such energy fizzing throughout its online extensions, the question is no longer what these web offerings can add to the television experience. Rather, will the televisual adventures of these maverick young MI5 operatives live up to Spooks Code 9's multi-layered web of online activity?"


Gareth McLean, The Guardian

Spooks: Code 9 is a spin-off too far
Pitch me your ideas for the most preposterous spin-offs you can think of. They can't be worse than SC9

As spin-offs go, Spooks: Code 9 is ropey indeed. I can't quite decide what's most irritating - the clunky, lazy writing, the fact that they all live in a house together, the random relocation to Leeds, an insistence on making the female spies dance suggestively in club scenes, the dreadful haircut sported by Georgia Moffet, or a combination of all of the above. But whatever it is, Spooks Code 9 is an utterly cynical venture and a damning indictment of the lack of imagination at work in commissioning new drama. (BBC3 will commission this twaddle but not the genuinely intriguing The Things I Haven't Told You. You go figure, because I'm close to giving up.)

Moreover, given its patronising awfulness, SC9 actually damages the Spooks brand. And that's what it's about - the brand. Increasingly in drama, it seems to be all about how a drama can be marketed. And boy, does that suck.

So in the spirit of brand extension and targeting demographics, pitch me your ideas for the most preposterous spin-offs you can think of. I've lately wondered why they don't do a Young Miss Marple. Presumably the keepers of the Agatha Christie flame are against such things, otherwise it would have happened already. It couldn't possibly be ropier/hammier/more irksome than the current Marples. (Sorry, Agatha Christie's Marple. As opposed to anyone else's, one presumes.)

So how about Law Student John Deed? Or a drama about the old dogs of New Tricks as young pups? Secret Diary of a Rent Boy? B&B Babylon? Actually, as Fashion Babylon is apparently on its way, perhaps we shouldn't joke about that last one.


Official site

Press pack

Daily Telegraph article


BBC3, Sunday nights for six episodes

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