Tuesday, 21 June 2016
Secret Army, Season 2 (1978)
The second season of Secret Army feels a little bit more upbeat than the first. Which may seem a strange thing to say, given that it continues to be more than willing to kill off sympathetic characters, but there is definitely a lighter overall tone here. Bad things do happen, but Lifeline's successes are now more numerous than its failures. That definitely was not the case in the previous year.
And heck, the Christmas-themed episode they slipped into this series is almost cheerful. Which is not something I expected to say about any episode of this show.
Now partly I think the more upbeat tone can be ascribed to the general progress of World War II itself. This season begins in late 1942 and continues through to mid-1944. The early stages thus correspond with the Allied invasion of North Africa, while the very last episode takes place on D-Day itself. The fortunes of war are thus clearly turning more and more against Nazi Germany as the series progresses: to the point where some of the German characters begin muttering about the need to depose the Fuhrer and make 'an honourable peace' with the British and Americans. Which probably would never have happened, but there were certainly many members of the Wehrmacht who thought it would.
So on the whole series two offers more of the same kind of thing as series one, though as I noted with a slightly more optimistic tone overall. Lifeline continues to assist downed Allied airmen to evade capture and escape to neutral territory (from which they can return to the UK and the war effort), and the German authorities continue to attempt to find and capture them.
While the broad strokes are the same though, the details do change. Lifeline re-locates its operations from a working class pub to an upscale restaurant, which brings them into more frequent, closer contact with the Germans. They also go through some personnel changes, and must face a new challenge in the form of a rival (Communist) resistance organisation.
Overall, I think the slightly less grim tone of this season is to the benefit of the show as a whole. It continues to feel mostly authentic, and to offer a far from black-and-white divide between good guys and bad, but it is a little less draining to watch.