Spy Shows for Adults and Kids Alike Sneak onto Streaming Services
- Glória. Available now on Netflix.com
- Harriet the Spy. Available now on Apple TV .
Espionage is one of television’s earliest genres—the enticingly paranoid Cold War counterintelligence drama I Led 3 Lives (“Citizen. Communist. And counterspy.”) debuted in 1953 and lasted, in reruns and syndication, until approximately the end of time. Even after glam James Bond fantasies gave way to revelations about shellfish toxin, covert LSD dosing and other aspects of the seamy underbelly of intelligence work, spy shows retain an endless fascination for viewers.
The latest two additions to the stable come via premium streaming services and, at least superficially, couldn’t be more different. Glória is a Portuguese-made drama reeking of the kind of Cold War amorality that made John LeCarre’s novels wildly popular with both hawks and doves. (Don’t be scared off by the Portuguese; Netflix is offering a vast array of translation options, including a peculiar one in which the show is dubbed into British English and subtitled in American English, compelling evidence that we threw their language overboard with the tea.)
And over on Apple TV there’s Harriet the Spy, a cartoon adaptation of a very—very—odd 1964 children’s book about a sociopathic little rich girl who prefers burglary and surveillance to Barbie and Ken that, in its way, presaged Bart Simpson and the South Park kids. Some of its claws have been pulled for the show, but enough remain for a good session of “What were mom and dad thinking?”
Glória is set in 1968 in a jittery Portugal, where the right-wing Salazar dictatorship is besieged by communist guerrillas in its African colonies, Soviet militarism near its borders, and overbearing American allies at home. Ground zero of this political crossfire is the little town of Glória do Ribatejo, northeast of Lisbon, where a shortwave radio station known as RARET beams Radio Free Europe propaganda across the Iron Curtain.
When RARET plots to broadcast an interview with a Soviet general urging Russians troops to refuse orders to invade Czechoslovakia—a move that’s expected at any moment—the Cold War in Glória do Ribatejo turns hot. At least three intelligence agencies—Soviet, American and Portuguese—are operating covertly at the radio station, all of them riddled with moles who make their clandestine operations into a sort of masked (and armed) ball.
A few of those masks fall quickly, at least to viewers. The leading character is João Vidal (Miguel Nunes, like most of the cast, a Portuguese television regular), the son of a senior member of the Salazar government whose family connections have gotten him a job as a station engineer. (Bec
Article from Latest – Reason.com