Monday, August 21, 2017

Wish Me Luck: Series 1

May 25, 2010 by · 5 Comments 

Seen on public television Civilians turn heroines in this compelling British WWII series At the height of World War II, France is occupied and all of England is in peril. Col. James “Cad” Cadogan (Julian Glover, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) will use any means necessary to get the intelligence he needs–even sending civilians to work undercover behind enemy lines. Based on the real-life stories of women recruited by Britain’s Special Operations Executive, this suspenseful drama series follows wife and mother Liz Grainger (Kate Buffery, Trial & Retribution) and half-Jewish factory girl Matty Firman (Suzanna Hamilton, 1984) from training in England through the terror of their daily lives in Nazi-occupied France… More >>

Wish Me Luck: Series 1


5 Responses to “Wish Me Luck: Series 1”
  1. Scotty says:

    Unless you are fond of something that look like a stage presentation you will be disappointed. I would not recommend buying it.
    Rating: 1 / 5

  2. Anthony Hand says:

    “Wish Me Luck” was one of those quality British WWII dramas that turned up every now and then and resulted in an entertainment that is rarely found from other country’s. The type of drama that the British have forgotten how to make as they look more and more to the US for indication of how to film drama.

    It’s narrative focuses primarily on two women SOE agents, Liz Granger (Kate Buffery) and Matty Firman (Suzanna Hamilton), drawn from different backgrounds and thrown into the mix of wartime occupied France. They join up for various reasons, to “do their part”, but both are unsatisfied with their lives up to that point and feel they can be doing more. Liz eventually ‘graduates’ as a general agent and Matty as a radio operator (or a pianist) and they’re dropped onto the Continent to play out the first series.

    Once in France the first series develops into an episodic venture, with the plot played out over 8 parts. “Wish Me Luck” series one features fairly realistic characters in fairly realistic wartime situations. There’s little ‘action’ in the traditional sense, but this in itself is real as the very nature of SOE ops called for quiet easy movement and information passing, rather than blowing things up. Sabotage was usually left to the various indigenous resistance groups, whose inter-rivalry is hinted at successfully throughout the series and continues into the later seasons.

    “Wish Me Luck” relies more on driving characters than showing fancy gunfights and whiz-bang pyrotechnics, but one of the ways it chooses to develop character is one of the shows problems. The main writer, Jill Hyem, has seen fit to include hackneyed “mills’n’Boon” love interests to fill in the non-wartime bits and their troubled relationships are further complicated by their commitments back home. It’s all a bit obvious and a little tiresome.

    Also somewhat tiresome is another of the show’s angles. The character of Matty Firman. There’s nothing really that bad with her character except that she carry’s on with English colloquialisms all the way through France and the writing for her character seems hell bent on emphasising her working class contrast to Liz’s more upper class ‘jolly hockeysticks’ upbringing. Another tedious and obvious ‘twist’ is to make her Jewish. I swear, it’s becoming very hard to view a Second World War film or TV series without Jewish characters in it or the mention of Jews at some point. Not that it’s inherently bad to have Jewish characters or a nod to Jews in wartime dramas at all, but when they are put obligingly into every piece that’s produced about the period, it’s hard to a)not be cynical about it or b)not to grow tired of it. If we are to believe film and TV’s recent treatment of WWII, you think it impossible to move in Europe for the number of Jews there. There’s little progression on Matty’s racial/religious background and little reference to it as the series unfolds, it’s just a clichéd, un-necessary and awkward insertion. But it seems to be obligatory nowadays. On the plus side, in general, she’s one of the more plucky gals and Matty’s story is one of the more interesting paths in the first series, even if the conclusion of her characters escapades is a little silly, if exciting enough.

    A more major downfall of the first series is the music used. It’s never fitting and always somewhat overbearing. It seems that the music was written without the music director actually scoring the music to the film. It quickly becomes very irritating and it’s a reason that the final star is knocked off. The music in the second series has changed and is a little better though, so it’s obvious that the producers knew that it was a weak point in the production.

    Also somewhat out of place is Warren Clarke as Colonel Werner Krieger, the head of the Abwehr in the area. His affected German accent is a little cartoonish and caused a couple of unintentional chuckles. He’s not bad in the role, he (and all of the Germans) just should have spoken in his natural English accent, like the ‘French’ characters in the series.

    The first series of “Wish Me Luck” is a worthy attempt to show a side of the war that doesn’t get much of an airing, but it’s leisurely pace may be off-putting to those with little or no interest in the period.
    Rating: 4 / 5

  3. J. Faulk says:

    I am an enthusiast of British tv drama series and miniseries. This Series 1 (8 episodes) of 3, however, is misconceived and earns no compliments.

    In World War II, Special Operations recruits blonde willowy Liz Grainger as an agent, though she has a 5-year-old daughter and a husband in non-combat military service. A social class or two below her is Matty Firman, a determined scrappy kinda cockney Jewish girl who volunteers. Their training in cryptography, self defense, and physical fitness is quickly run through, and they are flown into France.

    Now the script writers can come up with little of dramatic event to fashion a worthy story. Liz seeks out an old French acquaintance, Claudine de Valois, to put her up and provide some assistance. Matty, as a wireless telegrapher, has to stay on the move. Liz carries a few messages back and forth, and leans toward an involvement with agent Kit Varston, a relentless fount of security warnings. Matty transmits a few messages, carelessly leaving her code book lying around. Finally she’s hauled into Col. Werner Krieger, who’s rather nice, not the standard Nazi bastard. Claudine is the Colonel’s mistress, and he soon coerces her to become a double agent, and into betraying Matty. In the meantime Liz has returned to England (after perhaps no more than 6 weeks in France), but finds her daughter alienated and her returned husband condemnatory of her military service. Matty is tortured in an out-of-sight kind of way, so as not to offend all those female viewers who have the estrogen to stick with this limp adventure. Liz returns to France, and assists in an Underground rescue attempt to save Matty, contrary to orders from on high. On the homefront, orange-haired Faith Ashley, as Spec Ops liaison for the female agents, is repeatedly on screen, bringing personal messages, little gifts, and limited explanations to family members. All in all, hardly enough dramatic structure to sustain 8 episodes.

    Matty twice takes off her dress to stymie inrushing Germans. The second time she even has recreational sex with a male agent (Jeremy Northam, the only name likely to be familiar to today’s viewers). The two clinch-and-kiss moments between Liz and agent Kit are just awkward. The only one who cries in this series is Liz’s husband (“I just can’t cope”). Just remembered, Matty’s mum, well on her way to a nervous breakdown, cries too.

    The series touches on male undervaluation of females, class snobbishness, anti-Semitism, anti-Commies, anti-English sentiments in the French Underground. The music, 1940s lounge muzak, is distracting and non-supportive. Budget seems limited. Dialogue, direction, and acting attain a workaday level. Everything and everybody succumbs to the mediocre script. Series 2 and 3, I’ve read, carry over some of the characters, but each series introduces two new female agents to lead the story, and a better-fitting music score. Still, I am not tempted to pedal down this bicycle path in the French countryside any farther. Bonne chance to you feminists who do.
    Rating: 2 / 5

  4. WISH ME LUCK, a British telly miniseries that aired in the late 1980s, revolves around the perils facing English agents working with the Resistance in WWII occupied France.

    Female viewers are the target audience for this melodrama. Real Men need not tune in. The shtick to draw in the gels is the fact that the two main protagonists are women. Liz Grainger (Kate Buffery), a young English housewife and mother, whose husband is serving with the Royal Army in Egypt and whose brother has been killed flying for the RAF, volunteers for clandestine duty as a courier in Normandy while leaving her pre-pubescent daughter with Mum. Half-French, half-English Matty Firman (Suzanna Hamilton), who escaped the German invasion with her French mother to live with her English grandfather in Stepney, is teamed with Liz as a radio operator, even though she has a tendency to leave mission-sensitive material lying about. A third member of the team is Colin Beale, played by an adolescent Jeremy Northam. Women in the audience will think him cute.

    While there are tense moments as our heroines find themselves in dodgy spots, the plot focuses mostly on emotional relationships: Matty with Liz, Matty with Colin, Liz with her husband, Liz with her daughter, and Liz with her control behind the lines.

    Beyond the touchy-feeliness, which may leave male eyes glazed over, this is too obviously a low budget production – except for the rather striking period hairstyles on several of the female characters. The cheesiness is in the details. The Teutonic invaders are less Aryan and more out of UK central casting. And when they speak Deutsch among themselves, the awkward tone and overly careful pronunciation is reminiscent of memorized speech drills in first year German. Moreover, though Liz and Matty are exhorted in spy school to act like Frenchwomen when on assignment, the latter in particular, once in enemy territory, punctuates loud conversations with Bloody This, Bloody That, and Sod This – all potentially within the hearing of any leather-coated Gestapo ape skulking on the nearest street corner.

    A decidedly more clever and much better spy series from the UK is THE SANDBAGGERS, broadcast in the late 70s and featuring an MI6 covert operations team. And if you want to see a truly excellent WWII period piece enjoyable by both sexes, I recommend FOYLE’S WAR, currently in it’s third season, the first two of which are available on DVD.
    Rating: 3 / 5

  5. C. Dillon says:

    I just loved this mini series that shows the women durning the war doing their part. Alot of women got caught and paid the price in the end. Some were sucessful but they did their part for the war. The series is very enlighting. You will surely enjoy watching it.
    Rating: 5 / 5

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