The tensions mount in the fifth instalment of Partners in Crime, as our plucky mister and missus find themselves descending further into a dangerous investigation indeed.
Oh dear. If Thomas and Tuppence Beresford really were Britain’s last hope, I despair for us all.
The thing is, there’s no reason a bumbling amateur sleuth story is in itself a bad thing; however, it’s at its best when played for laughs. Partners in Crime is certainly a light-hearted romp, as murder-filled Cold War MI5 stories go, but that isn’t by any stretch the same thing as being funny. It’s simply too much of a suspension of disbelief that these two, and not anybody (anybody!) with some measure of experience and qualifications, would be called upon to stop a Soviet agent from detonating a bomb that could take out a sizeable chunk of England.
A chunk of England is a pretty big ask from a gentleman who doesn’t know one warbler from another and a woman who gives up her real name and just about all the details of her top-secret mission the moment somebody points a gun at her. It’s nepotism gone mad, I tell you.
Not to mention the fact that one of the major tensions in the story so far has centred around the pair’s mutual jealousy at having to pretend to be strangers while flirting at – or being flirted at by – other residents of the Sans Souci. If your investigations are so easily hampered by who you think is good looking, and who in turn you think thinks your spouse is good looking, you really ought not to be investigating at all.
Granted, there are legitimate reasons to be suspicious of both the handsome Karl Denim and the lovely Mrs. Sprott, but to have such massive blinders about someone’s potential for being a Soviet agent because they’re just so jolly nice is a bit ludicrous, frankly.
It isn’t that this story doesn’t have all the trappings of a classic unlikely-gaggle-of -individuals-with-an-array-of-secrets-are-all-suspects-in-an-undercover-investigation story: here we have secret identities and secret love affairs, someone who may have been helpful (had Tommy not horribly stuffed things up) is conveniently murdered, detectives bluffing their way into various shady characters’ confidences, and so forth.
As we find ourselves hurdling towards the thrilling conclusion, I find that it remains the kind of gently entertaining show that works best if you’re not thinking too hard about it. The sets and costumes are perfectly gorgeous and the cast are all doing a lovely job considering, in spite of the continuing lack of discernible chemistry between Mr. and Mrs. Beresford (almost exacerbated by the jealous-undercover-spouse subplot going on here), but I still can’t help fearing for the safety of the nation with these two in charge of saving it.
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 23 August July 2015 on BBC One.
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