Monday, August 29, 2011

The Ultimate Spooks-Lovers' Guide to Spy Teams: Seasons 1 through 9.

Which is the best team of Spooks the show has ever had?
I've made my decision. Now you can too. Here is a chart that shows all the different combos of characters that have been together over the run of the show -- Seasons 1 through 9.

*Note: I discovered a mistake in my chart that I am correcting (9-24-11); the mistake involved Season 4. My chart failed to show Fiona and Jo's characters overlapping, which they did for 3 episodes. Sorry if anyone read the earlier version and was mislead.

My Spooksmania is at a peak, given that the final MI-5 Season (Series 10) will be airing soon.  I was trying to decide which is my very favorite team of all time. It is an exceedingly difficult task made harder by the fact that I could not find a definitive list of what teams there have been. (If you want to see my list of the best characters, click here.)

So I made my own. Using IMDB as my data source, I put this chart together.  25 different teams have worked together at MI-5 during the show's 80 episode run so far. What I am calling a team includes the main  characters -- not political figures, bad guys or Americans :) 

This is organized, not by seasons or episodes, but by combinations of characters. So the "T" number at the top is just a way of making reference to these character groups. The seasons and episodes during which the combo appeared is given, and of course the names of the officers. An "X" means that character is now gone. If someone's name is in red font on its last appearance, it means they are (more than likely) dead; if the name is in green font, they left the show more or less alive. The bottom row tells the number of people on that team and how many episodes they appeared in together.

SPOILERS note: I don't have plot spoilers here but by its very nature the whole chart is a spoiler (through season 9) regarding who left and died and when. So please don't look if you don't want to know.  

T1 T2 T3 T4 T5 T6 T7 T8 T9 T10 T11 T12 T13 T14 T15 T16 T17 T18 T19 T20 T21 T22 T23 T24 T25
S1 S1 S1 S2 S2 S3 S3 S3 SS3 S4 S4 S4/5 S5 S5 S5/6 S6 S6 S6 S7 S7 S7 S8 S8 S8 S9
Ep 1 Ep 2 E 3-6 Ep 1 E2-10 E1-2 Ep 3 E4-6 E7-10 E1-4 E5-7 8-10,1 E2-3 E4-5 6-10, 1 E2-6 E7-8 E9-10 Ep 1 E2-7 Ep 8 Ep 1 E2-3 E4-8 E1-8
Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry Harry
Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. Malc. X X X
Tom Tom Tom Tom Tom Tom X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny Danny X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Zoe Zoe Zoe Zoe Zoe Zoe Zoe Zoe X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Tessa Tessa Tessa X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
Helen Helen X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

Colin Colin Colin Colin Colin Colin Colin Colin Colin Colin Colin X X X X X X X X X X X X X

Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam Sam X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth X X X X X X X Ruth Ruth Ruth Ruth

Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam Adam X X X X X X

Fiona Fiona Fiona Fiona X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

Zafar Zafar Zafar Zafar Zafar Zafar ? ? X X X X X X X X

Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo Jo X X

Ros Ros Ros Ros X Ros Ros Ros Ros Ros Ros X

Connie Connie Connie Connie Connie Connie X X X X
Revised 9-24-11

Ben Ben Ben Ben X X X X X

Lucas Lucas Lucas Lucas Lucas Lucas Lucas

Tariq Tariq Tariq


7 ch 1 ep 8 chr 1 ep 7 chr 4 ep 7 chr 1 ep 8 ch   9 ep 9 chr 2 ep 8 chr 1 ep 9 chr 3 ep 8 char, 4 ep 7 chr 4 ep 8 chr 3 ep 7 ch     4 ep 6 chr 2 ep 7 chr 2 ep 6 char   6 ep 6 chr 5 ep 7 chr 2 ep 6 char 2 ep 8 chr 1 ep 7 chr 6 ep 6 chr 1 ep 6 chr 1 ep 6 chr 2 ep 5 chr 5 ep 6 chr 8 ep

Here is the chart as a jpg:

Some of my observations:
  • The longest running team was together for 9 episodes in Season 2. It included Harry, Malcolm, Tom, Danny, Zoe, Colin, Sam, and Ruth. [It is what I am calling T5 on the chart].
  • The largest groups had 9 characters. Units of 9 were assembled just twice, once for 2 episodes in Season 3 (all of the people just listed, plus Adam) [T6] and also in Season 3 (that same group of folks, minus Tom but with the addition of Fiona) [T8].
  • The smallest included just 5 spooks and they were together for 5 whole episodes in Season 8. They were Harry, Ruth, Ros, Lucas, and Tariq. [T24]
  • The character who was a part of the most teams was Harry who has been a part of every one of them. Malcolm is next with 21 squads he sat as part of. Ruth and Adam are tied for third, each a part of 13 different assemblages and Jo rounds out the top 5 with 12 crews she has been on.
  • The spook with the fewest teams appears to be Beth with just one [T25], though that mix was together throughout all of Season 9. The spook with the second fewest crews goes to Helen who, in Season 1 appeared for only 2 episodes, but oddly, this constituted two different groupings due to the addition of Colin in episode 2. Tessa and Fiona were also a part of very few -- each was a part of just 3 units. Tariq, too, has only been on 3 teams, however he is coming back in Season 10 so will pick up at least one more assemblage.
  • There was only one time when two new members joined at the same time: the beginning of Season 9 [T25] -- Dimitri and Beth. There was also only one time when two members' last appearance was at the same time -- Sam and Danny [T9] at the end of Season 3.
Now it is time for my rankings. Although it is tempting to include the brief moments when Adam and Lucas or Tom and Adam were together because those would have obviously made amazing pairings, I don't want to include such transitions. I am thinking of quintessential groups that were together for long enough to gel as a working group.

My top four squads:
  1. Harry, Ruth, Malcolm, Colin, Adam, Zaf and Jo. [T12] These 7 were together for 4 episodes in Season 4 and 5. Their interrelationships are excellent. First there is Harry/Ruth during the best part of their development together and separately. While Harry is always awesome, he is so much more interesting when Ruth is around. Then there is the Malcolm/Colin best friend IT geeks pairing. Spooks is so cool when its techies talk to each other & these two had a great energy. Zaf and Jo are also very appealing newbie friends. I like them and their rapport, willingness and energy. Both look up to Adam and that makes Adam seem so much in control -- even though he is falling apart. And that's another thing about this one...the absence of Fiona. I thought their relationship bogged down the show and that Fiona didn't really have chemistry with the other members. Adam is better alone because he is an amazing leader. Every one of these characters individually is on my all time favorite Spooks list. Some memorable episodes are: #31 The Book, #34 The Russian, and #35 The Sting. I couldn't find a picture of this team together, so I had to make one -- by pasting Malcolm and Colin's heads on top of Ros (who wasn't there yet). Come on, its funny. My fake photo of my favorite team -->

  2. Harry, Connie, Malcolm, Lucas, Ros, Jo, and Ben from Season 7, episodes 2 through 7. [T20] Absolutely loved Jo and Ros together. This is the only pairing that has two women out in the field kicking butt. They are phenomenal together and separately. By the time of this grouping they have hit their stride and trust /like each other. Having Ben and Lucas out there too, makes for one of the richest field forces the show has seen. The office is no slouch either, with the combined great acting of Gemma Jones, Peter Firth and Hugh Simon holding down the fort as Connie, Harry and Malcolm. This is a wonderful mix of characters -- but it ends when one of them kills another one, in a shocker that still brings chills. The final episode of Season 7 (#64 Nuclear Strike) is probably my all time favorite Spooks show. It has this cast assemblage, minus Ben. Here are Ros, Harry and Lucas from that team -->

  3. Harry, Ruth, Malcolm, Colin, Sam, Tom, Danny, Zoe are an 8-character force that took charge early on in the show, Season 2, episodes 2 through 10.  [T5] Tom is one of the best and most realized characters that the show has ever had. He is strong, sharp and cerebral, but he is also very inwardly directed and complete. Played by Mathew MacFadyen with beautiful depth, Tom is one of the most likeable and interesting. Furthermore, though neither Danny nor Zoe were my favorites, I always liked their relationship with each other and with Tom. The office staff feels fresh and fleshed out with Harry, Ruth, Malcolm, Colin and Sam. This may be the most complete office staff the show has had. The best episode from this grouping is #11, I Spy Apocalypse where a training exercise goes haywire. Here is half of that team (Danny, Zoe, Tom and Harry) -->

  4. The tight little group of Harry, Ruth, Tariq, Ros, and Lucas ruled the airwaves throughout most of Season 8. [T24] The only thing better would have been if Jo and Malcolm could have stuck around awhile longer. But these five have great chemistry.  They work together so seamlessly and seem to have the highest level of expertise and professionalism across the board.  Maybe that's why they only needed 5 of 'em. They just step up and get the job done. Period. Acerbic, witty, tough, and almost untouchable, Ros and Lucas have to be about the best one-two punch out in the field the show has ever known. Ros as section chief is a wonderful number one to Harry. Their relationship is perfect. Then, in the office, the calm analytical energy of Harry, Ruth and Tariq completes the picture so well, that really no one else is needed. Episode #70 (that doesn't have a name but involves cool scenes with Lucas planting a bug in a high-level bank office and Ros tormenting bad guys) is amazing. Episodes 71 and 72 are two of the best, with great banter between Ros and Lucas, a wonderful new home secretary, increasing tensions with the "Nightengale" theme, and a very very sad ending. Here's the fab 5 -->

If you are insane enough to like this one (trust me I mean that as a compliment), you might like my post: Ultimate Spooks'-Lovers Harry and Ruth Episode Guide


    1. Wow that chart is awesome! I'm so glad somebody put that together. Thanks for posting it. I always liked Tom, Zoey and Danny the best myself.

    2. This is amazing!! Thank you so much for doing this, and I agree with your Top Team!!

    3. Thank you Ruth! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. And am also really glad to hear to agree with the top team! That proves it must be true :)

    4. I love your dedication to the show and this blog! That is a real labour of love to put that together! I'd forgotten about some of the teams and how different characters crossover. It's cool to be able to look at the chart and remember all the different variations. I really want to go back to re watch some of the important episodes but annoyingly Amazon Prime have taken it down - devastated!!

      1. Thank you! So glad you like the chart! I agree that it stinks we can't watch Spooks anywhere for 'free' anymore. It used to be on Netflix too; but no more. I haven't quite been able to rationalize buying the whole series on dvd. Haha.

    5. All I can watch is series 10 as I downloaded it on iTunes as they didn't have it on Prime. I found 10.6 even harder to watch the second time round. *sigh*
      Did you watch the movie? I saw it in the cinema pre-watching the whole tv series - I'd seen a bit of spooks on telly, must've been late s7/early s8, so I didn't totally get the film first time round but I watched it again the other day. I'd be interested to know your thoughts on it!

      1. You know, I haven't watched the movie. Truth is, I just don't accept the way they ended the tv series and I can't quite get my head around picking it back up where they left things off. (I'm seriously stubborn about Ruth!). Anyway, maybe someday I'll watch it. Right now, I just don't want to. (In fact, I never even went back and re-watched season 10 at all. I skimmed bits of it in order to write intelligently about the series, but, again, just can't quite bear it :(