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Category:    Home > Reviews > Espionage > Spies > Thriller > Television > British > Canadian > Germany > Mini-Series > Telefilms > The Encyclopedia Of TV Spies: 1951 - 2008 (Book Review)

The Encyclopedia Of TV Spies: 1951 - 2008


Wesley Britton/BearManor Media (Book Review)



Rating: B



Having survived the end of The Cold War, espionage stories are as popular as ever, even if they are not as smart or as well developed.  Feature films have been more successful than TV series since the genre rose again, but there are still key TV series that influenced the genre all the way to books and films, yet they do not get as much credit as they deserve.  Wesley Britton has written on the subject before and his latest offering is The Encyclopedia Of TV Spies: 1951 – 2008, a very well-researched, valuable volume and collection of these shows mostly; U.S. and U.K. productions.


It does not allow you to look up various characters, but does list all the TV shows and mini-series in the time period noted.  Britton’s love of such shows is evident in the detail and enthusiasm throughout this 520-page book, which includes the following shows, most of which are required viewing for anyone serious on the subject:


The Avengers

Adam Adamant Lives!

The Adventurer


Amos Burke: Secret Agent

Assignment: Vienna

The Baron

The Bionic Woman

The Bourne Identity mini-series (1988)

Burn Notice


The Champions



Coronet Blue

Corridor People

Cover Up

Danger Man/Secret Agent

Department S/Jason King


The Equalizer

Five Fingers

Get Smart!

Ghost Squad

The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.

Honey West

I Spy

It Takes A Thief

James Bond, Jr.

La Femme Nikita

A Man Called Sloane

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

Man In A Suitcase

Matt Helm

Mission: Impossible

Mr. & Mrs. Smith

The New Avengers


The Persuaders!

The Piglet Files

The Prisoner

The Protectors


Reilly – Ace Of Spies

The Saint/Return Of The Saint

The Sandbaggers

Scarecrow Of Romney Marsh

The Six Million Dollar Man

Smiley’s People

Spooks (aka MI:5/2002)

Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy


Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea

The Wild Wild West

Wonder Woman

The X-Files




There are many more as well, including some animated series (especially Secret Squirrel), some children’s shows (The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show qualifies as both and belongs in this book), documentary series and odd choices (A-Team, Hogan’s Heroes, Knight Rider, MacGyver) are also included to be completist about it, as well as some valuable appendix sections.  One covers the various novelizations and tie-in books that sometimes did adapt episodes and sometimes offered new stories not seen on TV.  When the show adapted a book, there would be special tie-in copies of those produced in more cases than you’d think, unless you are a fan or collector.


The second is a section on the various music score releases of music, including re-recordings and original tracks on vinyl and CD.  Some shows just have too many releases (like The Avengers) to list, but it is the most comprehensive list you are likely to find.  There is material here you will not find readily on the Internet and that includes two separate additional lists.  One is an actual Bibliography, but a section between the end of the book and appendix sections are notes on key shows.  That is some serious research (as the Index shows) and as a lifetime fan of this material, I was very impressed.  There were shows here even I did not know about.


However, I have a few minor complains.  There are a few key name (both actor and character) misspellings and though he was thorough on the shows that had been issued on DVD, he only notes whether the show has arrived in Region 1/U.S. or Region 2/U.K. form when there are also editions of note coming from other regions.  This includes Region 4 DVDs from Australia from Umbrella Entertainment.  We have covered most of the series above (sometimes more than once) in their DVD versions and will cover all future releases, which you can look up by title.  You can go to this link for Umbrella DVDs to see which we have covered from them:





However, those are minimal issues versus how good this book really is.  It is a great read and very much recommended!



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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