The Little Drummer Girl
The Little Drummer Girl titlecard.JPG
Genre
Based onThe Little Drummer Girl
by John le Carré
Written by
  • Michael Lesslie
  • Claire Wilson
Directed byPark Chan-wook
Starring
Music byJo Yeong-wook
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languageEnglish
No. of series1
No. of episodes6
Production
Executive producers
  • Stephen Cornwell
  • Simon Cornwell
  • Joseph Tsai
  • Park Chan-wook
  • Michael Lesslie
  • John le Carré
  • Arthur Wang
  • Wonjo Jeong
ProducerLaura Hastings-Smith
Production locations
  • London
  • Athens
  • Prague
CinematographyKim Woo-hyung
Editors
  • Fiona DeSouza
  • Michael Harrowes
  • Justine Wright
Production companies
Release
Original networkBBC One
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Audio formatStereo
Original release28 October (2018-10-28) –
2 December 2018 (2018-12-02)

The Little Drummer Girl is a British television drama based on the 1983 novel of the same name by John le Carré and first aired on BBC One in the United Kingdom on 28 October 2018 and on AMC in the United States during November 2018.[1]

Premise

In 1979, an aspiring English actress is recruited by Mossad to infiltrate a Palestinian group plotting terrorism in Europe.[2]

Cast

Episodes

No.TitleDirected by [11]Written byOriginal air date [12]US air date [13]UK viewers
(millions)
US viewers
(millions)
1"Episode 1"Park Chan-wookMichael Lesslie28 October 2018 (2018-10-28)19 November 20188.17[14]0.40[15]
In 1979 West Germany,[2] the Palestinian terrorist Michel and his Swedish accomplice and girlfriend Anna Witgen kill the eight-year-old son of an Israeli diplomat with a semtex bomb. Senior Mossad spy Martin Kurtz is dispatched to Europe to hunt down and eliminate the Palestinian terror cell, which is led by Michel's wily older brother Khalil. Through interviews with the German police and eyewitnesses, Kurtz decides that Michel romantically entices idealistic but vulnerable young European women whom he grooms to help carry out attacks. He decides to play Michel at his own game by recruiting a girl of their own in order to get to Khalil. Under Kurtz's orders, a Mossad team led by Rachel posing as a tourist manage to kidnap Michel on the Greek-Turkish border while he is smuggling semtex in his red Mercedes-Benz W123. Meanwhile, left-wing English stage actress Charmian "Charlie" Ross and her troupe tour Greece as part of a corporate "charity job." While Charlie and her fellow actors are visiting a beach, she takes an interest in a mysterious handsome man, who is actually an undercover Mossad agent called Gadi Becker. Gadi has earmarked Charlie for Kurtz's plan. After treating Charlie to a date at the Parthenon, Gadi introduces Charlie to his Mossad team including Martin.
2"Episode 2"Park Chan-wookMichael Lesslie4 November 2018 (2018-11-04)19 November 20185.82[14]0.40[15]
In Athens, Martin subjects Charlie to an "audition", asking her questions about her past. When Charlie convincingly lies about her family background, Martin decides that they can use her acting talents to infiltrate and eliminate Khalil's terror network. He reveals that they know she had attended a talk given by Michel and meetings held by radical political groups proscribed by the British government. Meanwhile, the captive Michel is held at a Mossad safehouse in Munich where he is tricked by his Mossad captors led by Martin's lieutenant Shimon into believing he is in an Israeli prison. Using a combination of drugs and psychological pressure including a faked letter from Michel's sister Fatmeh and a faked photo of a captive Khalil, Shimon's team discover that Michel was supposed to deliver the semtex shipment to Salzburg in Austria. Back in Greece, Gadi coaches Charlie into posing as one of Michel's girlfriends. As part of the training, Gadi role-plays as Michel to create a convincing backstory of Charlie's fake relationship with him. Charlie exacts a promise from Gadi to tell her more about himself in return for her work as a spy.
3"Episode 3"Park Chan-wookClaire Wilson[16]11 November 2018 (2018-11-11)20 November 2018N/A0.23[17]
As part of her rookie mission, Charlie is tasked with smuggling the semtex inside Michel's red Mercedes through Yugoslavia and into Austria. Gadi and the rest of the team monitor Charlie's movements from a safe distance. Meanwhile, Shimon's Munich team discovers that Michel has lied about the drop-off point. Shimon breaks Michel by revealing that his imprisonment was a set-up and secures the true drop-off zone: an Austrian town called Kleinalm. After being informed by Gadi about the change in destination, Charlie arrives in Kleinalm where she parks the car in the town square. Michel's girlfriend Anna drives the vehicle but is intercepted and captured by Mossad agents. At first, Charlie enjoys the thrill of the mission but after arriving at the Munich safe house, is horrified by the treatment of the drugged-up Michel. Nevertheless, she continues with the mission after Gadi shows her the memorial of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and writes fake love letters to Michel to perpetuate the ruse that she is one of his many lovers. After a one-night stand with Gadi, Charlie returns to London to await contact with Khalil's local associates. Back in Munich, the Mossad team eliminate Michel and Anna in a staged motor accident.
4"Episode 4"Park Chan-wookMichael Lesslie18 November 2018 (2018-11-18)20 November 2018N/A0.23[17]
Back in London, Charlie continues her spy training under the tutelage of Gadi, who outfits her with a transmitter. Charlie is eventually contacted by Michel's associates including lawyer Anton (Jeff Wilbusch) and Helga (Katharina Schüttler). While meeting with them in a caravan, she first learns of the deaths of Michel and Anna. Her grief-stricken and angry reaction to Michel's death convinces Anton and Helga that she was in love with Michel and is also sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. While initially shocked about Michel's killing, Charlie develops romantic feelings for Gadi. Later, Helga and her associates kidnap Charlie and smuggle her to Lebanon where she meets Michel's sister Fatmeh and Tayeh, the commander of a Palestinian militant camp. Charlie manages to convince Fatmeh that she was romantically involved with her brother. While Martin is pleased with the progress of the mission, Gadi is concerned about Charlie's well-being due to his feelings for her.
5"Episode 5"Park Chan-wookClaire Wilson25 November 2018 (2018-11-25)21 November 2018N/A0.30[18]
In Lebanon, Charlie is taken to the Palestinian militant camp with other foreign volunteers where she is trained to become a bomber. A disillusioned American trainee named Arthur accuses her of spying but she turns the tables on him, and he's shot to death by guards trying to flee. Charlie also becomes closer to Fatmeh who introduces her to more friends outside of the camp. After an Israeli journalist and his family are assassinated by Palestinian terrorists in Lyon, the Israeli Air Force bombs the Palestinian camps in Lebanon and the blast is witnessed by Charlie. Back in London, Martin's Mossad team discover that Khalil and his team are planning to assassinate liberal Israeli academic Irene Minkel, who is visiting London Polytechnic to give a lecture. Having gained Fatmeh and the militants' trust, Charlie is given the mission of assassinating Minkel. Returning to London, Charlie passes the suitcase carrying the bomb to the Mossad team only to discover that it's a decoy. Later, Charlie is taken to meet Khalil, the cell's mastermind.
6"Episode 6"Park Chan-wookMichael Lesslie2 December 2018 (2018-12-02)21 November 2018N/A0.30[18]
Charlie romantically ingratiates herself with Khalil, gaining his trust; and Martin realises that there is a better way – to leave Khalil unharmed, but to let him rise in the Palestinian hierarchy, having access to his thinking and plans all the time through Charlie. She delivers the suitcase bomb to her Mossad handlers who are working with British intelligence led by Commander Picton. The Israeli and British police services stage a fake explosion and spread disinformation that Professor Minkel was killed. Under orders from her Mossad handlers, Charlie returns to Khalil, claiming the mission was a success. The two make love and share a bed. The next morning, Khalil becomes suspicious and interrogates Charlie into confessing her deception. He inadvertently releases a distress code that Mossad had given to Charlie, prompting Gadi to intervene and shoot Khalil dead, leaving Charlie distraught over her feelings for Khalil. Mossad operatives track down and kill Khalil’s European associates including Anton and Helga, eliminating the remains of the cell, while Tayeh's camp is destroyed in an airstrike. Though conflicted about her role in Martin's plan, Charlie is rehabilitated in an Israeli hospital and then meets up with Gadi in Germany to begin a new life.

Reception

The series holds an approval rating of 95% based on 67 critics, and an average score of 7.77/10 on Rotten Tomatoes. The critics' consensus reads "The Little Drummer Girl marches to a steady beat of assured plotting, extraordinary art direction, and a uniformly terrific cast that makes the show's smolderingly slow burn pace bearable."[19] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 75 out of 100 based on 18 reviews, signifying "generally favorable reviews".[20]

Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair praised Florence Pugh's acting but criticized elements of the story.[21] Alan Sepinwell of Rolling Stone awarded The Little Drummer Girl 3.5 out of five stars, praising the acting and lush presentation but criticizing what he regarded as the show's "convoluted" story. He observed that it followed the formula of the critically acclaimed The Night Manager television series, an adaptation of another one of Le Carré's novels.[22] Judy Berman, reviewing for TIME, praised the TV series for its suspense, exploring moral dilemmas and the legacy of British foreign policy in the Middle East, and for having nuanced characters on both sides.[23]

Troy Patterson of The New Yorker described the series as a "subtly nutty geopolitical thriller distilled to an exercise in psychological suspense". He also praised Florence Pugh, Alexander Skarsgård, and Michael Shannon's performances as the main protagonists Charlie Ross, Gadi Becker, and Martin Kurtz.[24] Matt Zoller Seitz of Vulture described the series as "a lavishly produced, intelligent, tasteful mixed bag, more interesting to think about than to watch."[25] Jesse Schedeen of IGN awarded the series 8.2 out of 10, praising Pugh's "mesmerizing" performance and Park Chan-Wook's strong directorial vision for overcoming its storytelling flaws.[26]

References

  1. ^ Petski, Denise (21 August 2018). "John le Carré's 'The Little Drummer Girl' Miniseries Gets November Premiere Date on AMC".
  2. ^ a b Sulcas, Roslyn (19 November 2018). "Park Chan-wook Brings His Art-House Eye to 'The Little Drummer Girl'". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  3. ^ White, Peter (25 January 2018). "Michael Shannon To Star In 'The Little Drummer Girl' Miniseries For BBC/AMC".
  4. ^ a b "BBC – Production commences on The Little Drummer Girl – Media Centre". BBC.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "Meet the cast of The Little Drummer Girl". Radio Times.
  6. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (21 November 2017). "Alexander Skarsgard Joins 'The Little Drummer Girl' Opposite Florence Pugh".
  7. ^ Tartaglione, Nancy (9 November 2017). "'The Night Manager' Team Reunites For 'The Little Drummer Girl'; Florence Pugh To Star, Park Chan-Wook Directing – Update".
  8. ^ "When is The Little Drummer Girl on TV?". Radio Times.
  9. ^ "Rachel". AMC.
  10. ^ "Helga". AMC.
  11. ^ "The Little Drummer Girl: Why Park Chan-wook is a strange yet perfect fit for the BBC's new John Le Carré thriller". Independent. 28 October 2018. Archived from the original on 18 June 2022. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  12. ^ "The Little Drummer Girl – Episodes Guide and Summaries". Next Episode. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  13. ^ "The Little Drummer Girl – Listings". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Four-screen dashboard – BARB". barb.co.uk.
  15. ^ a b Metcalf, Mitch (20 November 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Monday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.19.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 21 November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  16. ^ "BBC One – The Little Drummer Girl, Series 1, Episode 3". BBC.
  17. ^ a b Metcalf, Mitch (21 November 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Tuesday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.20.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 22 November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  18. ^ a b Metcalf, Mitch (26 November 2018). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Wednesday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 11.21.2018". Showbuzz Daily. Archived from the original on 27 November 2018. Retrieved 11 December 2018.
  19. ^ "The Little Drummer Girl: Miniseries (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  20. ^ "The Little Drummer Girl Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 7 April 2019.
  21. ^ "Florence Pugh Proves Herself a Star in The Little Drummer Girl". Vanity Fair. 13 November 2018. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  22. ^ Sepinwall, Alan (16 November 2018). "'The Little Drummer Girl' Review: Ignore the Plot, Admire the Beauty of Le Carré Thriller". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  23. ^ Berman, Judy (14 November 2018). "Little Drummer Girl Is a Brisk Spy Thriller That's Worth Your Time". TIME. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  24. ^ Patterson, Troy (16 November 2018). ""The Little Drummer Girl," Reviewed: A Fever Dream of Glamorous Espionage". The New Yorker. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  25. ^ Seitz, Matt Zoller. "The Little Drummer Girl Is Dazzling, But Bloodless". Vulture. Retrieved 22 January 2019.
  26. ^ Schedeen, Jesse (22 November 2018). "AMC's The Little Drummer Girl Review". IGN. Retrieved 22 January 2019.