By Taylor Finke
I really wanted to like ‘Spies of Warsaw’, and I tried hard. But at the end of it all, I came away with mixed feelings. The two-part miniseries caught my eye when I saw that it starred David Tennant (of ‘Doctor Who’ and ‘Harry Potter’ fame), who just happens to be one of my favorite actors. However, less than a quarter of the way through the first episode, I decided he was hopelessly miscast.
As Jean François Mercier, a military attaché of the French embassy in Warsaw, Tennant spends the length of the series sulking as scowling. The part of the solemn Mercier does not utilize any of Tennant’s natural eccentricity or brilliant range of acting.
The year is 1937, and tensions are running high as the Nazi party grows and prepares for conquest. Mercier is in charge of managing informants, gather intel on Nazi plans and protecting informants. No one at the embassy believes Mercier’s predictions of an impending war. While stationed in Poland, Mercier meets Anna Skarbek (Janet Montgomery), the mistress of a dull-as-brick Russian journalist. Mercier instantly falls for her, but it takes her forever to fall in love with him. In fact, it takes forever for anything to happen in this series, and even when stuff does happen it’s just not that exciting.
The love triangle was not an assist to this series; the Tennant and Montgomery had no chemistry whatsoever. The only part where I went, ‘Oh yeah, he really loves her’ was went he confronted the Russian for letting her think he was dead. Other than that, their love was totally uninspiring.
There were precious few action-filled moments in the series, and they weren’t too bad. The first real sign of action happens at the end of the first episode, and at that point I actually wanted to see what happens next. The second episode was much more engaging, with some Nazis getting off for the worst in every fight.
The plot was complicated and very difficult to follow or even keep the characters straight. Again, the second episode was much better than the first with this, with a little more action and a better look at Mercier as an unforgiving, unrelenting protector of both his informants and Anna.
One thing, a pro and a con to the series, was the attention to historical detail. The settings were fantastic and beautiful, as well as convincing. However, the minute details helped bog down plot to the point it seemed to flow like molasses.
If you like historical dramas with little action and very complicated character relationships, ‘Spies of Warsaw’ would be a decent show. However, if you’re looking for the spy thriller I was seeking, you need to look elsewhere. As for me, I think I’ll just re-watch a few more of Tennant’s ‘Doctor Who’ episodes and be infinitely more amused.
Taylor Finke is a freshman. You may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org