Hello George, how's Anne?
February 18, 2015 7:10 PM - Subscribe

Who wants to patiently and deliberately discuss the original BBC productions of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy & Smiley's People?

Fans of Alec Guinness who haven't seen these are missing out! The focus of the series is his character, one George Smiley, a nominally retired head honcho for "The Circus," the fictitious British cold war spy ministry from John le Carré's series of low-key thrillers. Tinker, Tailor... sees Smiley called back into service several years after being ignominiously dismissed to root out a mole in the top brass of The Circus. In Smiley's People he's resurrected again after an old agent of his is brutally murdered on Hampstead Heath, giving him one last opportunity to beat his elusive Russian ultra-spy arch-nemesis, Karla.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is in 7 parts, each under an hour, and Smiley's People is 6 hour-long episodes so there's a total time commitment of about 13 hours. Perhaps one or two episodes per week? They aren't available anywhere for streaming presently, but they're cheap on Region 2 DVD and your local library might have them too.

Please do offer your opinion on whether or not we should watch anew or Re-watch, and then if the book should be included or not considered. I personally haven't read the books, but if the consensus were to include them in the discussion then I would be sure to read them before we started.
posted by carsonb (12 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Oh dang, apparently they (as in, 'History') actually called that part of SIS 'The Circus'. Huh!
posted by carsonb at 7:14 PM on February 18, 2015

I've never watched this before and would like a "new watch". (Although I have seen the recent movie adaptation, so... I guess not totally spoiler-free for me.)

Once a week sounds manageable, two a week is too much with other TV and time commitments.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:17 PM on February 18, 2015

absolutely, either way.

I've been thinking of a 'stale beer' watch. MI;5, Danger Man, Spy Game, Three Days Of The Condor, Sandbaggers, Ronin...
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:41 PM on February 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I remember watching these on Netflix ages ago. Good stuff.
posted by Ik ben afgesneden at 7:43 PM on February 18, 2015

I've been thinking of a 'stale beer' watch.

Three Days of the Condor would cross over nicely with my slow-going Retiring Spy review.
posted by carsonb at 10:12 PM on February 18, 2015

I have had the film version of TTSS on my netflix watch list. Any opinions on how it compares to the series? I'm interested in giving the first disc a try anyway. Love Alec Guinness.
posted by isthmus at 10:00 PM on February 19, 2015

I've been thinking of a 'stale beer' watch.

I always (perhaps repetitively) try to drop Callan in when this topic comes up, partly because it's easily forgotten. Many of the early episodes (in black and white) are lost, but the last two seasons (Callan gets promoted, demoted again in shame and has to track down a defector) are gripping. If you like this sort of thing and can track it down I'd recommend it very highly.
posted by Grangousier at 4:22 PM on February 20, 2015 [1 favorite]

Just in case anyone here missed it, the post for Part 1 is up. I'll put new episodes up on Thursdays, but in the spirit of George Smiley I don't expect there to be much fast-moving discussion and will be happy to follow any slow burn comments that come along in due time. Please, though, we'll have strict adherence to Moscow Rules!
posted by carsonb at 11:11 AM on February 23, 2015

Posting a little early this week. I'm going to Disneyland tomorrow!
posted by carsonb at 10:14 PM on March 4, 2015

OK! Thank you to all who participated in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, that was easily the most gratifying discussion of the show I've ever had. Usually any conversation I have about it is just me crowing to someone who hasn't seen it about how great it is so it has been wonderful to hear everyone's ideas and theories about What! Is! Going! On?!

Now let's do Smiley's People! Having done a tiny bit of 'research' beforehand this time, I'll note right now that the Acorn Media Region 1 DVD collection is not the version broadcast by BBC and PBS—it is reportedly cut short about 40 minutes and insanely difficult to follow plot-wise. It is more difficult to find that version though, I believe, so if you find yourself wondering where the rooftop scene is with Enderby and Smiley or what happened to Villem? you know to go looking again for the original production. It is 6 hour-long episodes. Posts go up Thursdays.
posted by carsonb at 8:06 AM on April 4, 2015

...I put “Tinker Tailor” back into the DVD player. There may be more to pull out of this, I told myself. It’s hard to think of any other sustained fiction in which knowledge, so centrally, is the highest form of pleasure.

Thank you, that article very nicely encapsulated my fascination with these series.
posted by carsonb at 12:58 PM on April 4, 2015

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