‘If you want ‘James Bond’
go to your library.’
The series begins with a middle-aged gentleman taking public
transportation to work in the busy metropolis of London. He reacts
to something off camera, then continues to his office. Upon his
arrival at work, we learn he’s the Director of Operations
His name is Neil Burnside.
It is revealed that the fledgling Norwegian
secret service is trailing British spies for practice. The head
of their secret service asks for Burnside's help when a spy
is forced down inside the USSR after a bird strike. Against
his better judgment, Burnside is made to mount a rescue into
part of Northern
Europe--the Kola Peninsula.
This is the first episode, and the dialogue of some early scenes
is forgivably expository as characters are introduced, along with
the power relationships between them. A viewer who saw only this
episode would have quite a different impression of Burnside from
that which emerges.
There's nothing in First Principles to suggest Burnside's ruthlessness
and duplicity. Here he just comes across as put upon, frustrated
and somewhat mouthy.
The episode really imparts only one of the main themes of The
Sandbaggers, but it's an important one: that special agents aren't
at all like James Bond. The Sandbaggers spend most of their time
'moving papers from in tray to out tray' and 'don't have magical
Forget James Bond, the Sandbaggers are human enough to get scared
and even sick to their stomachs with fear when they realize they
may end up in Lubyanka if they are caught inside the Soviet Union.
Lars Torvig seems to prefer tweed hats that have been stepped
on. Ross has a garish tartan tie that re-appears in a future episode,
Always Glad to Help except that then, he’s also wearing
white socks, a hideous no-no with a dark suit.
This episode contains the one single explosion in the series.
The entire first season cast is introduced with the exceptions
of Landy and Laura. The show also benefits from Mackintosh's love
and knowledge of airplanes.
What happens when a bird hits a plane? See
for yourself (WMV).