Intelligence Series 2 Review : it’s no laughing matter

When writing this review my Grandmother’s words sprang to mind: “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

On that basis I should end the review here.

I wanted so much to like this series because I criticised the first for being absurd. Absurd that the incompetent staff members would ever be employed at GCHQ let alone be allowed to be involved in State security. I decided for the second series that I would suspend my need for a degree of reality and treat the show as a farce, a pantomime, a nonsense play. A decision based on, creator and writer, Nick Mohammed’s interview (see post 1st June) in which he said, ”… it’s such a silly show, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s been a fashion of late for a lot of comedies to be quite dark or tipping over into drama. Whereas this is unashamedly fast-paced, gag-heavy, silly, farcical, character-driven, out-and-out comedy. It absolutely puts comedy first.”

I do agree that the line between comedy and dramedy is narrowing. A lot of dark humour is screening at the moment: some good, some bad. But, having watched the first two episodes of Intelligence series 2 there is so much in his penultimate sentence with which I disagree. “Gag-heavy”: there are few but mostly they fail to land. “Silly, farcical, character driven”: absolutely agree. It is farcical for the reason mentioned earlier that the characters are totally incompetent. In episode 1, these idiots are the world’s last chance to stop a Chernobyl type catastrophe happening at Hinkley Point nuclear power plant. Fortunately Jerry (David Schwimmer) developed the virus that the hackers are using and if he can only remember the password he can turn it off and avert disaster.

So we have 25 minutes of him trying to remember the password whilst we are subjected to Beano/Dandy standard jokes; Joseph (Nick Mohammed) doing nothing to help whilst phoning his girlfriend and trying to book a table for dinner with his dad, and a mole keeping Russia informed of matters. Then Jerry remembers that the password is in a notebook taped to the back of his refrigerator back home in the States. Eventually he remembers and disaster is averted.

The second episode has a really weak storyline revolving around Jerry receiving a vase of flowers for Valentine’s Day then walking around cuddling it all day whilst trying to discover who sent it to him. Meanwhile Christine Cranfield (Sylvestra Le Touzel), head of the division, has decided that she and her work averse daughter, Uma (Eliot Salt), will be the only people in the whole of GCHQ to dress up in WWII military attire, for a week, to celebrate 76 years since the end of the conflict. Jerry discovers that Mary (Jane Stanness) is the mole before putting her through a ludicrous, slapstick interrogation.

 “It absolutely puts comedy first” said Nick Mohammed. I think not. I’m sure, as Nick and David said in their interview, that it was great fun to make. Unfortunately it is not great fun to watch.

So, despite the fact that Diane Morgan will make an appearance soon as Joseph’s love interest, it will not be enough to justify watching further episodes.

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