TV Scoop’s Television Top 50 2008, Number One: Spooks (BBC One)

Did you work it out? There were some clues, but there were also some potentially high-flying TV shows that didn’t make our top 50 at all, so it may not have been entirely obvious. But yes, our top slot for 2008 goes to the wonderful, seat-edge, sweat-inducing, nail-biting and ever-twisting Spooks. I started watching this year with trepidation aforethought. After last year’s relatively poor (in Spooks terms) series, it could have gone either way. I needn’t have worried. Not only was Spooks back on form, it set a new bar. Series eight will have to be bloody good to better this.

For this year’s full Top 50 line-up go here. To read all our Spooks news and reviews, go here.

Where Spooks #6 lost its way slightly was in the concentration on Muslim extremists. It may have been topical but it seemed the writing team – and the acting team come to that – were ill-at-ease with the subject. Even the CIA weren’t beyond reproach last year.

In contrast, after getting a few middle-Eastern bomb plots out of the way earlier in the series, #7 brought back our more traditional enemies: the Russkis. Do we still say Russkis? It’s a bit 70s maybe. Russians then. With the introduction of the “is he, isn’t he?” Lucas North, the possibilities for double-blinding the audience were legion and every single one was exploited to the max.

Coupled with that, a shorter series (by two episodes) meant the writing was tighter, the plots more pacy and the whole thing just felt as if it had been given an injection of something a spook might use to boost his or her energy. What would that be, then? Don’t ask me, I don’t do drugs (just say NO kids!).

As far as I can see the only problem with having a series as good as this in the bag is how they will match it next year? We know how it will start, naturally, since Harry is in transit to somewhere where they feed you on borscht and keep you chained to a wall. But where will it go from there? Who knows. We can fill in the time between now and then making notes of our favourite shows for next year’s Top 50!

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