Synopsis by Hal Erickson
Premiering May 13, 2002, on BBC1, the British espionage-adventure series Spooks pitted undercover agents of the country's MI-5 squad (the U.K. equivalent of the NSA) against international troublemakers and terrorists. Though extremely violent and almost unbearably tense, the series scored its biggest points by dramatizing the pressures brought to bear against "average" people engaged in a top-secret profession: For example, one of the many plot threads involved the love life of Senior Case Officer Tom Quinn (Matthew MacFadyen), whose girlfriend was convinced that Tom was merely a lower-level computer tech. Other members of the "Spooks" team included Quinn's second-in-command, Zoe Reynolds (Keeley Hawes), technical genius Danny Hunter (David Oyelowo), reckless Tessa Phillips (Jenny Agutter), and department head Harry Pierce (Peter Firth). During the series' first season on the air, Spooks made headlines throughout the British Isles by virtue of its explosive second episode, in which a popular soap opera actor, misleadingly advertised as one of the series' "stars," was abruptly and nastily killed off; thereafter, audiences could never take anything that happened on the series for granted -- and the viewership soared. Spooks debuted over the American A&E cable network under the title MI-5 on July 22, 2003.