There is more chaos and mayhem from the boys (and girl) at MI-5 in this second season of The Piglet Files. Similar to Get Smart (though more down to earth,) this comedic look at the inner workings of Britain's intelligence agency is silly, but fun to watch.
The second season consisted of the following episodes:
The Wright Stuff: An ex-intelligence officer is rumored to be writing a book that will "blow the lid off of MI-5." Piglet's wife, an editor at a publishing house, was just editing a book called "The Coldest War." When Drummond finds out, he orders Dexter and Piglet to steal the manuscript.
Red Spy at Night: A Soviet spy who wants to defect claims that Major Maxwell is on the Russian payroll. Could the information be correct? Drummond wants to find out. After all, if Maxwell is a spy, Drummond will be the logical one to replace him.
Piglet in a Trough: Piglet has changed. He's started to drink, he's been betting on the horses, and he's deeply in debt. What has caused this change, and what can his friends do to help him?
The Wrong Combination: When Dexter uses too much plastic explosive to blow a safe during a training exercise, Drummond and his counterpart from MI-6 make a bet. MI-5 will have to break into MI-6 and steal some documents from a safe there to win. Can they do it, and more importantly, should they?
Trouble With Reception: A middle-eastern country is opening diplomatic relations with Britain. The MI-5 group has been invited to a party at the new embassy, and plan to plant listening devices while there. But while Piglet and Dexter are off secreting the bugs, a militant faction of rebels takes the embassy hostage. Can Piglet and Lewis save the day?
The Hunt for Red Decoder: A top secret decoding machine has been stolen off a soviet submarine and MI-5 have it. The only problem is they can't get it to work. So before it is shipped off to the CIA, Piglet takes the device home to try and solve the puzzle. Unfortunately the Russians find out and ransack his house and steal the machine back. But are the Soviets any more competent than MI-5? Apparently not. This is the best episode of the season. It's predictable, but very funny.
Under Cover Activity: While Piglet is at a training session, a lovely young woman staying at the same hotel starts talking to him. They have dinner and agree to meet the next night. But when Drummond informs him that the woman is an East German spy who plans on blackmailing him, Piglet is astounded. He is even more astonished when Drummond orders him to be seduced so they can trail the woman to her associates. But when Piglet's wife shows up the night of the seduction, things don't go as smoothly as they were planned.
This was an enjoyable set of shows. I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn't get tired of the program or the humor in this second season, something I was fully expecting to happen after viewing the first series. There was a little bit of continuity, with the second and third episodes being part of the same story, and one or two references to past events. This helped hold the series together.
The writers seem more comfortable with the characters in these episodes. Piglet is not really an instructor anymore. In the first season they had to make up excuses to get him into the field, which often didn't work well. This time around they wisely dispensed with trying to explain his presence on covert missions. He was just there. Dexter has emerged as the major supporting character, but Lewis and Flint still have prominent roles.
Being a British show, there were some references I didn't get, mainly jokes involving political and television personalities that I've never heard of. There weren't a lot of these, and they didn't ruin my enjoyment of the show.
Fans of wacky British comedy should be sure to check this out.
The stereo English soundtrack was satisfactory. There wasn't any use of the soundstage to speak of, and the audio was not very dynamic. The dialog was clear and easy to hear, but there wasn't any punch to the music or the few audio effects. There was some distortion and cracking on a few of the louder laughs, but it happened rarely. It was an acceptable track, but not more than that.
The full-frame video was a little better than the first season, though still not of very high quality. The level of detail was acceptable, though not great. The colors had a sufficient intensity too, but there were a lot of encoding errors that hurt the presentation. The main problem was that the entire set had a problem with microphony. This creates a series of light horizontal lines that track across the screen. It is not a bad case, but it was noticeable in every episode. There was a lot of aliasing also, which was particularly bad when Venetian blinds were filmed. These take on a life of their own, dancing and moving about in strange patterns. This was very distracting. There were a lot of examples of cross coloration also.
The extras on this set are the same items included with the first season. All the extras included with this set are text based. There are some standard biographies of the actors along with filmographies of their work. Also included is a short history of MI-5. Nothing really exciting.
This was a good, if short, set of shows. Tthe writing was a little tighter, and the jokes a tad funnier in this season. Dexter is still incomprehensibly stupid, and provides many of the laughs, and Piglet is still confused but eager. There are a lot of laughs in each episode. While this set is a little pricey, especially for only seven episodes, it is a fun show. If you enjoyed the first season, or are a fan of British comedy, be sure to pick this one up. Recommended.