TV series review: Spy, series 1 (2011), directed by Ben Taylor, written by Simeon Goulden
One of the unexpected pleasures of 2011 was finding Sky One’s new comedy series Spy. I caught it almost by accident one Friday afternoon as I had left the TV on (rare), on Sky One (even rarer these days). Having seen a trailer or something for it before, I sat down to watch, and was hooked. Not just because “HEY IT’S MAT BAYNTON FROM HORRIBLE HISTORIES, YAY!” but because it was actually really funny.
Tim (Darren Boyd) is an ordinary, fairly boring, guy who enjoys Sudoku-puzzles and works in an electronics store with his probably only friend Chris (Mathew Baynton). He’s bored and decides to quit to improve his life, because his ex-wife Judith (Dolly Wells) thinks he’s a bit of a loser.
The local Jobcentre find him an interview for a job as a civil servant, and because he’s good with computers and puzzle-solving, he gets the job … as an MI-5 agent. Surprise!! He gets to have a gun and everything! Tim the loser is suddenly pretty cool! … If only he could actually talk about it. So at work, he’s now in Her Majesty’s Secret Service with a somewhat unhinged boss (Robert Lindsay), and a nice colleague, Caitlin (Rebekah Staton), whom he quite fancies.
At home, he has to deal with son Marcus (Jude Wright), who is far too smart for his own – and everyone else’s – good, not to mention having to put up with cringeworthy counselling sessions with Marcus, Judith, and Judith’s new partner Philip (Tom Goodman-Hill), who is headmaster of the school Marcus goes to, and is way too keen on man-hugs.
Doesn’t sound so bad, right? No, it wouldn’t be … if it wasn’t for the fact that Paula (Rosie Cavaliero), the counsellor, psychologist, social worker or whatchamacallit, has developed a major crush on Tim and turned into a stalker.
When I say Marcus is smart, we’re talking boy genius, on par with both Phineas and Ferb (but less keen on inventing things), although Family Guy‘s Stewie would be a better match verbally and … well, in sheer evil-genius-taking-over-the-world-iness.
There are absurd parts, too many to mention, perhaps, but I like that. Lindsay is hilarious as the boss, Wright is great as the little mastermind, Goodman-Hill delightfully kooky and Baynton … well, he’s just brilliant full stop. Cavaliero makes me chuckle and Boyd is marvellous. The whole show is a delight to watch, especially since parts of it are quite dark … which in turn I love.
The good news is: Spy will return some time this year – Sky have ordered ten more episodes and a Christmas special. Can’t wait, it’s going to be brilliant.
A surprising 4.7 out of 5 Sudoku-puzzles.