Since Pick TV is handing over Thursday evenings to Sky programming, two comedies are currently being shown to Freeview audiences for the first time. One of these is Spy, a pre-watershed sitcom starring Darren Boyd.
For those who haven't seen the past two seasons, Boyd plays Tim, a divorced man working in an electronic store, who just wants to please his precocious son Marcus (Jude Wright). Tim decides to get himself a new job, but due to a mix up he ends up being recruited into MI5. And due to the Official Secrets Act, he can't tell Marcus about his exciting work...
The opening episode had a fair few laughs in it, mostly visual. It has to be said that some scenes, especially the one in which Tim takes an exam and covers his desk in stationary and good luck items, reminds me somewhat of the opening episode of Mr Bean which features a similar scene, albeit with the absence of studio laughter (which some would argue to be an improvement).
The characters, however, are the key. Tim's MI5 boss, "The Examiner" (Robert Lindsey), is a fun creation and from what I understand is very good. However, Marcus was totally unbearable; I just didn't like him at all. It's a pity that Tim didn't have an actual licence to kill and do away with the annoying little monster.
I'd like to think I'd keep watching Spy, but to be honest Marcus is so off-putting I'm not sure if I would...Ian Wolf, Giggle Beats, 4th February 2013
The stringently funny comedy ends its second series with an episode that, in proper Christmas-special tradition, is twice the usual length and 40 per cent sillier. Ten-year-old Marcus (the freakishly good Jude Wright) auditions fellow pupils for a seasonal musical, with customary ruthlessness: "There are prisoners in Guantánamo being waterboarded who sound better than you..." Even his dad Tim fails to win a part, despite Darren Boyd unleashing a stunning singing voice.
When MI5 agent Tim's office affair with Caitlin (Rebekah Staton) is discovered, there are guns drawn and truths told. Back at school, a talent shortage on the big night means desperate time-filling, à la gourmet night at Fawlty Towers.Jack Seale, Radio Times, 26th December 2012
As the MI5 comedy ends its series with a Christmas special, we meet the stars behind the show's screen romance.Isobel Finbow, Radio Times, 26th December 2012
A Bafta winner and nominated for (but didn't win) an International Emmy last month, this espionage comedy caper certainly has its admirers even if some may find it overly silly. That said, the cast cannot be faulted, chief among them are the excellent Darren Boyd as the hapless, accidental spy Tim, and Robert Lindsay as his maniac boss, "The Examiner". In tonight's episode Tim gets just the required push needed to try to rekindle his romance with fellow spook Caitlin (Rebekah Staton) after he discovers he's on an assassin's hit list. Meanwhile, the precocious Marcus (the often scene-stealing Jude Wright), finds the perfect moment to humiliate a rival at school as he again seeks the affections of Justine (Ellie Hopkins).Simon Horsford, The Telegraph, 20th December 2012
Tim is invited to the summer ball at Marcus's school but his ongoing datelessness prompts cruel taunts from Portis and the other spies in the office. Meanwhile, Phillip is ousted from the school in Mrs Godfrey's own night of the long knives while her daughter Bernice coldly swats away the boyish advances of Chris. Mathew Baynton as Chris steals this episode when he fashions his feelings of rejection into an impressive musical missile and aims it straight at Bernice's head. Silly and brilliant. Silliant.John Robinson, The Guardian, 3rd December 2012
Nope, they still haven't done a weak episode. This week, insane MI5 chief the Examiner (Robert Lindsay) has made an unbroadcastable recruitment video, so Tim and Caitlin step in. But they can't act until they assume ludicrous, sexed-up B-movie personas.
The role-playing reignites the spark between them and takes Tim out of his normal, footling self. He sticks with the stubble, blond wig and leather jacket even after filming. He's a new man, and Darren Boyd is a new variety of hilarious.
Meanwhile, Marcus is on a father-and-son TV quiz. Naturally, he's got a ringer in to replace his embarrassing dad, but the laws of sitcom say the two storylines must meet.Jack Seale, Radio Times, 9th November 2012
Spy has invested in a top-notch ensemble, but the star is still Bafta-winner Darren Boyd as rubbish spy Tim. All Boyd's strengths are in evidence this week: rising irritation as Tim tries to give a talk at his son Marcus's school; pratfalling as he tries to conceal that he's taken Marcus with him to the office, which isn't really feasible at MI5; and a glimmer of lovable warmth and vulnerability as the fiasco brings father and child closer.
Meanwhile, suddenly putting a character on drugs might normally be an unacceptable short cut, but when it's Robert Lindsay, trouserless and rattling with amphetamines, it's more than forgivable. He keeps thinking he's seen a demonic boy in the corridor, which of course he has.Jack Seale, Radio Times, 2nd November 2012