Monday, 20 March 2017

So ... what did you think? SS-GB has ended

The gravelly voiced Douglas Archer
Well, blog readers: Whaddya think?

Yesterday's episode certainly introduced the action and tension which some viewers seem to have felt was missing earlier on.

After "mumble-gate" and a drop-off in viewing figures after episode one, the five-part adaption of Len Deighton's SS-GB finished with the final episode last night introducing some radical departures from the source novel ... opening up a second series, potentially.

[The Radio Times has a useful guide on the differences between the TV series and the book, here.]

I would give the series four out of five stars, mostly because I found pacing issues in the middle, perhaps as a result of it being stretched out over five weeks (it may not feel different, for example, if binge-watched on DVD).

Critical response has been mixed. Seems to have been a marmite series: Those who want to bash the BBC hate it; it also became a meme linked to Brexit, with some drawing parallels between the Nazis in the 'thirties and the modern EU (face-palm!). Other critics have lauded the quality of the acting, the quality of the direction and the 'noir' element.

The world of Twitter has been its usual, crazy, bubble, with little or anything approaching effective commentary being possible!

What did Deighton Dossier readers think of the series - do share your thoughts.


  1. I liked the casting, but I was a little unsure about the changes the screenwriters made to Deighton's plot, plus a couple of well-remembered scenes from the book had been altered, perhaps for cost reasons: when Archer meets Huth & Springer aboard Himmler's special train, then immediately afterwards when Huth takes Archer to his old house by motorcycle.

    Otherwise a very nice production!

  2. I'd have to say I'm a little disappointed. The TV version seems to loose one of the key strengths of the novel - namely that we the readers know how significant an atomic bomb and what it could mean if the Nazis got their hands on it, while the protagonists just see it as a 'McGuffin'.

    The TV version also looses much of the tension. In particular the journey in the troublesome ambulance is a nail biter in the book and that's lost in the TV show.

    There also seems a frequent recourse to 'telling not showing' of various plot points. With 5 episodes one might have expected less of this particular 'shortcut' device. And then we get, for no particular reason several minutes of Huth polishing his boots!

    Regarding the casting, we all have pictures in our heads when we read books and Sam Riley, with his long boyish haircut just didn't sit right for me. Kate Bosworth is suitably beautiful but rather too skinny for a 1940s female lead. Although much of the interior design is beautiful and not anachronistic the two leads don't look like right to me they seem too 21st century. Sylvia, however, works pretty well.

    The Germans look better. Kellerman and Huth work pretty well although at times Huth goes over the top.

    Interestingly the TV series gets into the topic of Entartete Kunst (abstract art and jazz) which the novel doesn't touch on. This post, from my blog, is regularly my most popular section.

    I'd love it if they'd gone for full-on film noir and shot the entire thing in black and white with maybe just that splendid opening animation in colour!

    And please, can you ask Len how he thinks, in SS-GB, we might have lost the BoB?