MI-5: Volume 2

Another one of BBC's successful exports, MI-5 (known as Spooks in the UK for some odd reason) is a slick spy thriller/drama based around Britain's secret service. While U.S. television reeks of crime, forensic investigations and even a little spying, few match the sophistication of this British television series (with the exception of the original Law & Order). For those who thought everything was jolly across the pond, MI-5 proves otherwise. Every baddy, from locals like the bomb-loving IRA (such an easy target) and Britain's own corrupt military to Algerian extremists and those druggy Columbians, is dealt with in covert operations. Ending with a nail-biting cliff-hanger for season one that saw main character Tom (Matthew Macfayden) bidding farewell to his wife and daughter while they were about to be blown up by a laptop bomb, the first episode of season two unravels in a thrilling way. It isn't difficult to pick up and watch this series even from the beginning of the second season. The characters are complex in their own right, as the show reveals intermittently while they defend their country undercover. Tom has difficulties keeping his family together; Zoe (Keeley Hawes) can't seem to trust her fiancé, especially after he learns of her secret occupation; and Danny (David Oyelowo), well, he just wants his flatmate back. Even more impressive are the tech-savvy set up screens. The menu brings you into the show's theme of espionage by merely selecting an episode or one of the special features. Based around the desk of a suspect, you move the arrow to the DVD stack on the desk to select a program: go to the stack of papers on the desk for special features; to request an audio set up go to the phone; the rolodex unlocks key features for each disc. The extras are plentiful, but not always easy to discover. The featurettes delve deeper into MI-5's top-secret world. The first explores what went into creating a second season, after an immensely popular debut. Another explores the cliff-hanger and how they went about coming up with the gripping storyline. The two others cover the work behind the first episode of this volume and the introduction of new character Sam Buxton (Shauna Macdonald). Plus: commentary for select episodes, interviews, galleries. (BBC/Warner)