Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy John Irvin

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy John Irvin
Anyone hoping to get the original seven-part version of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy that aired on the BBC in 1979 just as the British Government announced that the Keeper of the Queen's Pictures, Anthony Blunt, was one of the Cambridge Five traitors, should know that this set is the compressed six-episode version released for American audiences. A half-hour interview with original author John Le Carré expands upon the relevance of each character and text comes as supplemental material, along with a glossary of terms for the extensive "spy" lingo employed throughout the series, but this is still just a repackaging of the previous release. Still, this adaptation of Le Carrè's novelized experiences with the revelations of the Cambridge Five traitors holds close to its source material, dedicating the entire first episode to setup, with George Smiley (Alec Guinness), the retired former Deputy Head of Service, investigating the possibility of a high-ranking Soviet mole being a part of the Circus (a name that refers to the Cambridge Circus London Local within the Secret Intelligence Service). It's all done through secret meetings and quiet discussions with a British agent, Ricki Tarr, advising his superior, Peter Guillam (Michael Jayston), who in turn advises Civil Service officer Oliver Lacon (Anthony Bate), who then enlists Smiley, interspersing flashbacks to a failed mission in Communist Czechoslovakia where Circus Agent Jim Prideaux (Ian Bannen) was shot in the back. It all ties into the title, which refers to the codenames for the many suspects, whose level of involvement varies, as revealed through the remaining five episodes. While dated, having some awkward editing and sound issues, the quiet, methodical depiction of a covert investigation slowly builds up as the series progresses, moving from slow and curious to shocking and thrilling. This gradual build-up and attention to detail aren't normally prevalent in modern entertainment, which makes this an interesting companion piece to the impending feature film adaptation. While limited in appeal by the sheer merit of depicting the inner-workings of a Secret Service Agency realistically, this BBC miniseries is a must-see for those with the patience to appreciate it. (eOne)