We take a look at the first of the Fleming mini series, all about the man who would be Bond
This four part BBC America mini-series, or four week event depending on which side of the Atlantic you’re on, stars Dominic Cooper stars as James Bond author Ian Fleming and Lara Pulver as his would be love interest. The series centres not on the creation of Bond, but rather the war time experiences of Ian Fleming, who then went on to write the series of popular books that would inspire one of the largest movie franchises in history.
The show suffers from a couple of problems, for a start it is too clean in the same way as the AMC series Mad Men, with a character that wakes up from a three day bender with designer stubble and perfect hair. Just so clean that it is off putting. The make up seems more theatrical than necessary, with the majority of the actors coming across as stage players rather than screen actors, with the notable exception of Samuel West’s Second Admiral John Godfrey, and most of the sets look like there are a pair of stage curtains hanging somewhere just out of shot.
Domnic Cooper is a capable actor (see The Devils Double for an example of this), but here he is working with a character that has been denied access to emotional expression of any sort which doesn’t help. The main thing the show reveals is that before the war Mr Fleming was a posh, globe trotting playboy living off his families money and was generally a waste of good oxygen, he lives in the shadow of his brother, novelist Peter Fleming and clearly resents his success.
When his stock brokerage loses it’s last client his mother pulls some strings to get him a job in the war office. Not exactly awe inspiring is it? Bonds trademark misogyny didn’t come out of thin air either, if anything it appears Fleming was worse. This makes learning he had been summarily discharged from Sandhurst Military Academy due to contracting gonorrhoea less of a surprise.
Ultimately that is the real problem with the show, you learn a lot of things about Fleming and none of them are good. He apparently had no redeeming qualities at all, not even a decent sense of humour. Maybe the real Bond nerds will find the trivia revealed fascinating but I can’t see much of an audience for this besides that group.
Normally I’d give a show the benefit of the doubt but there are only four parts to this and the first one has made me dislike Fleming so much I couldn’t take much more.
They say you should never meet your heroes, in Mr Flemings case this is entirely true.
2 out of 5 Nerds
Fleming is currently due to air in the UK on Sky Atlantic on 12th February at 9.00 pm (subject to change).