Review of The Assets

60 minutes

“The Assets” is an eight-part limited series based on the real life events of CIA counter-intelligence officer Sandy Grimes (Jodie Whittaker). The year 1985 serves as the backdrop to the final showdown of the Cold War when Sandy and her partner Jeanne Vertefeuille (Harriet Walter) vowed to find the mole who would turn out to be the most notorious traitor in US History, Aldrich Ames (Paul Rhys). Sandy is in a race against time to save the Soviet intelligence officers from being caught and killed. Living her own double life at home, this beautiful wife and mother vowed to stop at nothing until she uncovered the truth. “The Assets” will look inside the true, personal stories of the conclusion of the Cold War as told by the keepers of the nation’s secrets: the CIA. “The Assets” stars Paul Rhys (“Borgia”) as Aldrich Ames, Jodie Whittaker (“Venus”) as Sandy Grimes, Harriet Walter (“Babel”) as Jeanne Vertefeuile, Stuart Milligan (“Jonathan Creek”) as Paul Redmond, Julian Ovenden (“Downton Abbey”) as Gary Grimes, Christina Cole (“Casino Royale”) as Louisa, and Ralph Brown (“Withnail and I”) as Lawrence Winston. “The Assets” is based on the book “Circle of Treason: A CIA Account of Traitor Aldrich Ames and the Men He Betrayed” by Sandy Grimes and Jeanne Vertefeuile. Morgan Hertzan, Rudy Bednar and Andrew Chapman executive produce the series. “The Assets” is produced by Lincoln Square Productions.
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May 2, 2016 10:16PM EDT

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You can't watch series based or inspired on true events -- as true as we can get from our extremely-unreliable main-stream media -- without letting yourself be transported by the fictional aspects of the production. This series does just that. Once you get over the "did he really do that" and the "did she actually say the other," when you fully immerse yourself in the story you're being presented regardless of how much of it is fiction or not, "The Assets" is an incredibly well-crafted story. It grows on you, and it gets much better towards the last episodes. This truly is one the best spy serials I've seen, although it's no match to Homeland and The Americans. Forgiving Sandy's relationship with her husband which gets a tad mushy at times, she's the wonderfully complex type of woman you can't help cheering and rooting for in her quest to find "the mole." The mole himself also plays an incredible character -- extremely believable in his devil-guided workings and sleepless nights.

Getting back to my initial thoughts above, if we think that our soup-letter institutions are only as inept, blind, evil, bureaucratic, and corrupt as the glorious CIA is in "The Assets," we might be in for a large surprise. In the real world of secretive military institutions and evil politicians, things are probably much, much uglier.


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