What to watch and review on Sunday. Tonight's TV tips

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What to watch and review on Sunday. Tonight's TV tips

July 17, 2016 - 12:27
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What to watch and review on Sunday, July 18.

The Secret Agent

The Secret Agent (BBC1, 9pm) As we begin to emerge from the summer TV doldrums the Beeb proudly presents a three part adaption of Joseph Conrad's classic novel. Starring Toby Jones and Vicky McClure, this tale of espionage and intrigue in 19th century London is a must for all discerning viewers.

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Rufus the Dog's picture

"Here's the challenge chaps... I have literally hundreds of extras all dressed in period costume, horses, carriages, penny farthings and a bucket of street urchins and your mission is to find camera angles in London that still make it look a bit Victorianish" ... "Oh, and get toby to walk about a lot looking moody... BAFTA Gold!"



Anna May's picture

Toby Jones is one of my favourite actors. Having just watched him in Wayward Pines as David Pilcher, I’m already impressed with his ability to become just about anyone. However, he’s very underused here. In fact, all the actors are. I’m hoping the next two episodes will gather pace.

Jones’s role as Verloc is very well played out with a nice rugged London accent as we flick back and forth between his home life and secret dealings. His wife, Winnie, has an autistic brother who lives with them, along with their mother. We’re fed a few scenes of flat conversation between mother and daughter and pretty soon the mother leaves her two children...exiting on the back of a horse and cart. Bye kids, don’t worry about me, I’m off, see ya! So, yeah, that happened. I’ve forgotten her already.

Poor Winnie, played by Vicky McLure, is now left to run the family business, which of course is a sex shop, whilst also caring for her brother, Stevie. Meanwhile, hubby is organizing bombs and terrorist attacks, because that’s what all this is really about and, lucky for him, he now has a friend who’s a walking suicide bomber. It really couldn’t be any easier.

I’m not even sure I remember too much else, because the whole episode was…what’s the word I’m looking for…loose?

By loose I mean the editing seemed unnecessarily longwinded and there was an awful lot of wandering about to different locations in order to exchange a few lines. Added to this, I’m very aware there are often instances where a well-placed pause or lasting look can be essential for natural timing, but I honestly felt so drained by the end of it all…mostly because I was constantly being made to wait too long for someone to actually do or say something important. I hate waiting!

I had to keep reminding myself that just staring at the screen between crucial dialogue and thinking about the can of beans I couldn’t find earlier that I’m sure we hadn’t eaten, was not helpful.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with the story or the acting. However, considering this was an hour long, I’m pretty sure it could have been jollied along a bit and squashed into, say, forty minutes.

I will keep watching, because there are only three episodes and two more won’t kill me. Also, the look and feel of the Victorian setting really brings the story to life in that era, but, if I’m honest, those bowler hats were a bit too much for my liking and, during some of the more crowded street scenes, I just saw a bunch of Diddymen. Probably just me. I can’t help it.