British espionage isn’t all fun, games and gadgets.
Sometimes it’s just “Restless.”
The Sundance Channel’s two-part miniseries stars Michelle Dockery (“Downton Abbey”) as Ruth Gilmartin, a bell-bottomed Cambridge intellectual in 1976 who’s shocked to learn that staid, serious mom Sally (Charlotte Rampling) was a spy during World War II.
Paranoid that her past is catching up with her (she’s convinced the woods are full of spies), Sally spills her secrets to Ruth and draws her into some shady unfinished business.
Based on William Boyd’s 2006 novel, “Restless” jumps between 1976 and World War II, when Sally was Eva Delectorskaya (Hayley Atwell), a Russian-born British beauty recruited to go undercover (and, if need be, under covers) for England.
Eva teams with handsome spook Lucas Romer (Rufus Sewell) and his cadre of agents working to draw the U.S. into the war. (Not coincidentally, Sundance is airing the first episode on Dec. 7).
Things go bad, of course, and agents begin dying. Eva slips off to idle away the next few decades as a country gentlewoman, her binoculars and a shotgun at the ready.
A coproduction of Sundance and Endor Productions for BBC 1, “Restless” has the earmarks of British TV drama: fine attention to period detail, a literate script nicely spoken (especially Michael Gambon as the aged 1976 Romer) and a pace that can slow to a crawl.
Except for the brittle interplay between Rampling and Dockery, the wartime flashbacks lack bite and the espionage feels generic.
With “Restless,” the spy game is more cloak than dagger.
“Restless” airs Fridays (December 7 and 14) on the Sundance Channel at 9 p.m. New York time. Rating: **1/2
Fashion, says Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour in yet another documentary about her magazine, “can tell you everything going on in the world.”
HBO’s “In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye” is content on telling everything about a very small part of the world.
The hourlong documentary, directed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”) is a greatest hits compendium of the magazine’s most iconic photo shoots and the fashion directors who made them happen.
Coming three years after the feature-length documentary “The September Issue,” “In Vogue” can’t help but seem a bit second rung as it strains to pump up excitement for the magazine’s 120th anniversary.
“It was magical, completely magical,” says former fashion editor Polly Allen Mellen, rhapsodizing over the time a boa constrictor “kissed” the ear of a nude model, a moment captured in Richard Avedon’s striking 1981 photograph.
Even the film’s climax -- a shoot of the magazine’s past and present fashion directors -- arrives four months after a similar device concluded HBO’s “About Face: Supermodels Then and Now.”
Still, Vogue’s fashionistas are fine company -- caustic, witty and wonderfully unapologetic in their self-regard and grandiosity.
“It was the worst day of my life!” wails Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, fashion director and editor at large from 1985-95.
The catastrophe? Grunge arrived in Vogue’s pages.
“In Vogue: The Editor’s Eye” airs Thursday [DEC 6] on HBO at 9 p.m. New York time. Rating: ***
What the Stars Mean: ***** Fantastic **** Excellent *** Good ** So-So * Poor (No stars) Avoid
(Greg Evans is a critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Jason Harper on cars and Katya Kazakina on art.