James Delingpole James Delingpole

The Recruit might be the worst show on Netflix

(Photo: Getty)

The Top Gun series received generous support from the US Navy because it was such an effective recruitment tool. I wonder if something similar went on between the CIA and Netflix’s new series The Recruit, this time as an exercise in reputation management.

‘There’s nothing sinister or threatening about the Company,’ this bizarre, horribly ill-judged and tasteless comedy/thriller series squeals at every turn. ‘We’re just a bunch of lovable, kooky misfits doing our bit to defend your freedoms.’

If you think I’m exaggerating, consider that one of the biggest baddies in the series – right up there with the evil Russians – is the Senate oversight committee responsible for holding the CIA to account. R-i-g-h-t. So in The Recruit’s perfect world, the CIA would just be allowed to do whatever the hell it wanted, unimpeded by pesky scrutiny on behalf of the taxpayers who fund it?

But perhaps I’m prejudiced. I’ve hated the comedy/thriller genre since the days of the A-Team. I’m not saying it can’t work: I think the Kingsman series got the balance between mirth and violent death more or less right. But the danger with splicing these two disparate genres, as here, is that you end up with grisly mishmash where the serious bits undermine the supposedly funny ones and vice versa.

The hero Owen Hendricks (Noah Centineo) is a twentysomething lawyer who, for some unaccountable reason, and apparently with no vetting, has landed a job at the CIA. Despite being a total rookie, he is given astonishing freedom by his enigmatic boss to do whatever he wants, on one occasion jetting off at the drop of a hat to the Yemen to visit a remote, special ops base in the desert. Because he looks so clueless and goofy he is suspected of being a spy and has one of his fingernails pulled out with a pair of pliers.

Instead of ending the series there and then, we will now be forced – probably worse than waterboarding, I fear – to endure the full eight episodes

This agonisingly horrible form of torture seems not to bother Hendrix overmuch.

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