`MI-5' is `24' plus accents

New on DVD

Movies: on screen, DVD/ Video

January 22, 2004|By Terry Lawson | Terry Lawson,KNIGHT RIDDER / TRIBUNE

If you're embarrassed about how much you enjoy 24, you can feel a wee bit safer going public with MI-5, the Brit equivalent that made its A&E debut last year. The original six episodes are now packaged as MI-5 Vol. 1 (BBC, $49.98) on three DVDs.

The Jack Bauer of England's Section B, a counter-terrorism division headed by level-headed Harry Pearce (Peter Firth), is the dashing and less emotionally damaged Tom Quinn (Matthew MacFadyen). As part of a team that includes Firth's old co-star from Equus, Jenny Agutter, Quinn takes on everyone from anti-abortion fanatics to former IRA loyalists who just won't give up.

As with 24, the stakes are raised to end-of-the-world levels in every scene, but the dialogue is superior, the situations more believable and the characters less cartoony. That is not to say MI-5 is better, but it is less blatant in its manipulations.

Since these aired on commercial-free BBC in England, each episode is 10 minutes or so longer than the ones that aired here.

Members of the cast and crew supply commentary. Also included is a glossary of spook-talk, and if the rat-a-tat dialogue is too quick - or the accents too thick - you always have the closed caption option to fall back on.

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