A TV Review by Tim Riley

“SPY CITY” ON AMC Daniel Craig’s stretch as James Bond may come to end with “No Time to Die,” and my new top candidate for his replacement is English actor Dominic Cooper, for reasons readily apparent for his role as an intelligence agent in the new AMC+ limited series “Spy City.”  Cooper’s Fielding Scott, a British secret agent, finds himself embroiled in the messy espionage business in the dangerous city of Berlin circa 1961 when it was divided into four sectors controlled by the Americans, Brits, French, and Russians.

Posted to the British Sector headquarters, Fielding barely survives the first episode when the handoff of an envelope in a men’s room results in having to slay an assailant who turns out inconveniently to be holding a British passport. The killing of a fellow citizen casts suspicion on Fielding from his superior, who seems motivated primarily by personal animosity rather than the affairs of the state. Berlin, as treacherous any place in the world, is rife with corruption, assassinations, and intrigue that makes life perilous for anyone sleuthing around, because the bathroom assault may not be the last attempt on Fielding’s life. Even romance carries a sense of palpable menace.  Fielding has an affair with French spy Severine Bloch (Romane Portail), who is preoccupied with tracking down the Nazi hiding in Berlin who killed her husband in Paris during World War II. Plenty of subplots run through “Spy City,” one involving Fielding’s secretary Eliza (Leonie Benesch), who lives in East Berlin and has been forced by a Russian general to spy on her boss as the price for keeping her boyfriend Reinhart (Ben Munchow) out of prison.

Another assignment for Fielding, of which there are many, is helping an East German scientist with the code name Beethoven to defect to the West and bring with him a missile guidance weapons device that the Soviets are eager to conceal. Bonding with photographer Ulrike (Johanna Wokalek), Fielding employs her services for surveillance photos of friends and foes alike in a quest to unearth the traitor within the ranks of any of the Western allies. The red herrings that abound in “Spy City” are just a part of the engrossing appeal of this Cold War espionage tale leading up to the Soviets building the infamous Berlin Wall.  Everyone seems to be trapped in some sense of betrayal.


According to the FOX network, summer is just around the corner at the end of May and they want us to know that things are cooking with four nights of original entertainment programming. Hosted by Rob Lowe, “Mental Samurai,” which kicks off on May 25th, is a combination of the game show, sporting event, and thrill ride, in which contestants mentally battle each other – and a ticking clock – as they attempt to stay focused and answer a variety of interactive questions. On May 26th, the all-new baking competition “Crime Scene Kitchen,” hosted by actor and comedian Joel McHale, is a culinary guessing game in which bakers are tasked with deciding what type of dessert was made and then recreating the recipe for celebrity judges.

Following soon thereafter, a new twist to Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen” is a culinary competition for 18 aspiring chefs all aged 23 years old or younger.  Staged in Las Vegas, “Hell’s Kitchen: Young Guns” results in high stakes gastronomic challenges for the competitors. Actor Will Arnett hosts season two of “Lego Masters,” where teams of LEGO enthusiasts go head-to-head with creative design ideas and an unlimited supply of LEGO bricks for ambitious brick-building challenges where the top teams face off for a $100,000 cash prize. An even bigger cash grand size to the tune of $250,000 is at stake in Gordon Ramsay’s “Masterchef: Legends,” where culinary legends that include Morimoto and Emeril Lagasse must be impressed by only 15 of the best home cooks that will receive the coveted white apron.

Entering its fourth season on June 3rd, “Beat Shazam,” hosted by comedian Jamie Foxx, is an interactive game show that pits three teams against the clock and each other as they attempt to identify the biggest hits songs of all time. “Beat Shazam” will feature a special episode during which contestants can play to win 2 million dollars, as well as a celebrity episode in which talent will play for charity.  Viewers can also play along with the show’s play-at-home game available exclusively on the Shazam app.

 This August, FOX travels to “Fantasy Island” with an all-new version of the classic show.  “Fantasy Island” takes place at a luxury resort, where literally any fantasy requested by guests is fulfilled, although they rarely turn out as expected. Delving into the “what if” questions – both big and small – that keep us awake at night, each episode will tell emotional, provocative stories about people who arrive with dreams and desires and depart enlightened and transformed through the magical realism of Fantasy Island. Sadly, we won’t have Herve Villechaize’s Tattoo shouting “the plane, the plane” and pointing to the aircraft bringing guests to Fantasy Island.