TV on DVD: Wish Me Luck -- Series 1 (1987)

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Although one of the strongest aspects of co-creators Jill Hyem and Lavinia Warner's World War II female spy drama Wish Me Luck is its impressive authenticity, something tells me that in the midst of a Gestapo jail break where Nazi torturers abound, one wouldn't naturally find themselves in the mood to declare their love for another in quite possibly the most unromantic setting imaginable.

Yet, despite the laughable loveless love scene with the sight of swastikas instead of candles and the sound of Germans barking orders instead of mood music, Wish Me Luck is another pulse-pounding, brilliantly executed British production released onto DVD from Acorn Media.

Following their outstanding releases of the Foyle's War mega-set and Wartime Britain, which much like Luck showcases very different aspects of life during wartime, Luck is of particular interest. Since instead of driving around Mr. Foyle or volunteering locally, this time around the female British citizens journey to France as fully fledged spies.

Recruited for their impeccable accents and trained in everything from combat fighting to wireless transmission, the show's two main characters, the married mother of a five year old girl Liz Grainger (Kate Buffery) and Matty Firman (Suzanna Hamilton) a factory worker who is half French and half Jewish are flown into occupied France in the dead of night along with Colin Beale (Jeremy Northam) to join the resistance.

With Colin aka “Cyrano” (pronounced Serrano) focusing on sabotage and misinformation, Liz – code name Celeste-- becomes an active messenger riding a bicycle around the countryside with a doctored identity card to collect, memorize and destroy information which she passes along to wireless operator Matty aka “Amy.”

Opening the series with an intense sequence of interrogation to illustrate the demands of training let alone the real operation of their line of work, Wish Me Luck is ambitious in its format, filming in both countries and cutting back and forth in time to alternate between the recruits prepping for the journey to when Liz and Matty were initially approached by a British government that's desperately trying to stop the spread of Hitler's march towards European domination.

Along with bonus features that offer more information regarding the accuracy of the story-lines and a photo gallery, the two-disc slim-packaged box set contains all eight episodes from the first of Luck's three year run. Of course, due to its age, the static camera and dated video of Luck keep us at arm's length from the drama, which is further challenged by the Hamilton's sometimes overwhelmingly histrionic filled portrayal of Matty that's better suited to the stage.

Yet overall I couldn't help but get pulled right into the compelling series which is based on true accounts of women who went undercover, going above and beyond the call of duty by venturing into occupied foreign territory at a time of gender double standards which is most evident in Liz's decision to go in spite of being a mother.

In fact, it's Buffery's turn as Liz which draws us in and relishes in the many layers of Liz which she brings vividly to life, adding a sense of immediacy and humanity to some of the series' most emotionally potent and structurally crucial scenes as she goes from every day British housewife to a quick-thinking spy.

Moreover, the series, which also works in enough close calls and double crosses to make you eagerly devour it in a marathon run benefits considerably from its unique take on the war via a point-of-view often overlooked in favor of women's efforts on the home front.

Riveting drama that still captivates today, all video quality technical flaws and some slight logic gaps aside, Luck which will no doubt slip your mind in terms of its rather unmemorable title will all the same provide the spark to ignite much more curiosity about women's roles in WWII whether it's through the three seasons of this recommended series or by using this set as the impetus to begin reading more about the "Band of Sisters" for yourself.

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FTC Disclosure:
Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.