Summer of Rockets (TV Mini-Series 2019– ) Poster

(2019– )

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Gorgeous production, confused & sometimes laborious plot and an unsatisfactory conclusion.
ToneBalone601 June 2019
I loved this, mostly for the fabulous production, perfect period setting, faultless acting and just dreamy comfortable escapism. Cleverly positioned humour dampened somewhat by weak satire.

However if you focus too much on the plot then it becomes a bit of a drag, bouncing back and forward and not necessarily going anywhere. It achieves its goal to instill a feeling of paranoia and mistrust, which worked well until the slightly daft ending. A deftly psychological thriller that ended up like an episode of Dad's army or last of the summer wine.

The Anthony story made no sense and wasn't entirely explained.

That aside, I still wouldn't have missed a sparkling performance by Keeley Hawes (Awards Long overdue) the epitome of the English Wife and a masterclass in received pronunciation. Toby Stevens brings an outstanding depth to the lead character Petrukhin as does his hilarious family ensemble.

Definitely recommended for the polished production; a cracking yarn mingled with the menace of espionage and subterfuge.
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Awful ending
jasbir41327 May 2019
Without wishing to spoil the story for those that haven't seen this yet I shall just say that this was a great drama up until the last 20 mins. The ending is utterly ridiculous and unbelievable which is such a shame as the acting is superb as one would expect with such a cast. I'm actually baffled how Poliakoff managed to write such an appalling ending. it really is quite an achievement.
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ozjosh0323 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Summer of Rockets offers up an intriguing premise, a classy cast, gorgeous locations and costumes and, best of all - or so one might have thought - another intelligent and provocative story and script from Stephen Poliakoff. And over the first few episodes it seems to deliver. One assumes the unsettling questions raised are planted deliberately to engage and intrigue. And, if you're feeling generous, one might also assume the stilted, stagey dialogue is also a conscious ploy to lend the proceedings an unreal, unsettling edge. But it all-too-quickly becomes apparent that Summer of Rockets amounts to considerably less than the sum of its parts, and the biggest problem is Poliakoff's cartoonish approach to 1950s British politics and espionage, and a view of British class and culture that has all the intelligence and sophistication of Enid Blyton. By the final episode Rockets degenerates into bizarre self-parody, with plot developments that defy credulity. I will mention just one (spoiler!). In the midst of a highly-secret meeting to plan the overthrow of the government one of the key conspirators turns on a TV comedy show that just happens to be broadcasting a satire of the insurgents' clandestine military games, and the exposure scuttles their plans. This one plot development contains so much that is illogical, inconsistent and implausible that it positively boggles the mind. Why on earth would enemy agents in the midst of planning a military coup bother to interrupt proceedings for a spot of TV comedy? Why would a TV comedy show broadcast a satire of something so secret that the general public will have no idea who the targets are or what it's all about? And why would a comic sledging on TV cause a well-funded, well-organised and highly-motivated group to abandon already advanced plans for the coup? None of it makes any sense at all, and the more you think about it the more ludicrous it all seems. If there's any reason to keep watching, then it's Toby Stephens, who gives an entrancing performance as Samuel Petrukhin, a Russian emigre who is, or would like to think he is, more English than the English. Stephens is both bold and subtle, and recognisably human even when hardly any of the characters surrounding him are. He really does a sterling job of rising above the material. As for the rest of the leading players - Keeley Hawes, Linus Roache, Timothy Spall - they also deserve plaudits, if only for keeping straight faces.
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A captivating and decadent character driven series.
Sleepin_Dragon13 August 2019
Arguably the drama series of 2019, Summer of Rockets is captivating from the start. Poliakoff is a tremendous writer, and even he manages to surprise with this one. Set against a background of cold war paranoia and corruption at the highest level, he manages to give us some enchanting characters. As always it's the characters and their stories that drive the series, more so then the plot. Every character has so much to offer, with stories big and small. Even the dog was fascinating.

Unusual, in the way that the story all hangs around the origins of the pager. At times Poliakoff seemed to crank up the drama more then ever before, with showdowns, and a reenactment scene of a nuclear destination device, that was eerie and chilling. Plenty of plot threads, but all linked well, I never lost it, or felt the least bored.

It's hard to get away from the acting, arguably the show's biggest asset, loaded with dazzling performances, everyone was spellbinding, in some cases, the likes of Stephens and Bases, playing characters similar to ones they've previously done. I must therefore highlight two, Timothy Spall, and Mark Bonnar, both giving us characters, I've not seen from them before, they were both, equally outstanding, showing true versatility.

More please Mr Poliakoff. 10/10
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Disappointing and odd plot
jacktiggermilner28 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I was a huge Poliakoff fan. Shooting the Past is one of my all time favourite TV dramas! I have found the quality of the plot of his BBC dramas has been deteriorating since then. I couldn't even watch Close to the Enemy (but that was mainly due to the dreadful acting!). I did enjoy the first 2-3 episodes of Summer of Rockets, the cast is outstanding (especially young Sasha!), the locations are stunning (especially some of the party locations and the Shaw house) and the direction and production are very good. However...... Toby Stephens occasional Russian accent amongst his plum English accent is ridiculous (I didn't even notice it until about episode 3?!). The whole thing with the people locator/bleeper/pager brought out the pedant in me, especially the test at the hospital and when Sasha went missing when people said he needed one of the people locators so that they couldn't lose him. Even if Sasha was in possession of one he couldn't have been found unless he wanted to, surely?! It's not a GPS, at least that's not how it was presented in the plot, it is merely a paging device! And the whole veggie-going-missing Anthony plot line was a bit of a nonsense just to keep Mrs Shaw busy! Also the terribly Englishness of it all wore on me after a while. In summary, it looks glorious, and the cast are excellent (massive shout out to the wonderful Timothy Spall) but the plot won't fool anyone, there are some hideous American-style stating the obvious moments, and the script needed a lot more polishing before it went into production.
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I'm Shocked!
quickclean-9797131 May 2019
Big fan of UK dramas , but this was lacking big time. Not much of a plot or point for that matter and I got sooo sick of hearing "Mr Petrukhin". Actors were great ,cinematography was great , just a poor story.
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I must have been bonkers to watch this to the end
alanpuzey7 June 2019
Yes, it started well with fine cinematography and a wealth of fine actors.

About half way through I was getting fed up with superfluous subplots that made no sense.

The final 2 episodes drove me mad, but I had to view to the end to see how Mr P ended it. What a disaster.

I was a very early fan of Mr P. Not any more .... for sure.
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Poliakoff pulls it off, mostly
pawebster24 May 2019
Mr P has toned down his usual artificiality, created a time and place that more or less convinces and put together an exciting plot with a real dénouement. He deserves kudos for managing all this after many years of not doing so. Perhaps all the BBC money they have thrown in his direction has started to pay off at last. Toby Stephens is excellent, as is Keeley Hawes (as usual). Everyone else is good too and little Toby Woolf is a delight. There are faults. Yes, there is a coherent dénouement but it's not without clichés (one particularly egregious one involving guns) and some sickly sweetness. Adrian Edmondson's TV shows are embarrassingly unfunny. The subplots, while interesting, are in fact superfluous. There is the one about the missing son, which is included, I guess,to give Keeley Hawes and Clare Bloom things to do. The daughter's daft scenes at Buckingham Palace and the expensive ball with hordes of debs are also of only tangential relevance.
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Once more BBC conned out of shed loads of money by Poliakoff.
mikekisil8 July 2019
When will the BBC learn to not indulge Poliakoff in his fantasies. Actors of quality make the most of dialogue of sub-Coward quality in a 6-hour production that,at best, creates a Mr Bean adventure as if it written by Ian Fleming. Serious money has been thrown at this supposed recreation of life in London in the late 1950s tacked onto some serious delusions about his family being tied up with the spying game. It feels like Poliakoff has asked Wikipedia what happened in 1958 and then picked the juiciest bits and stuck them together in the presentation to the bods at the BBC, who saw a host of potential awards and then gave him a blank cheque . I always seem to fall for the flannel that accompanies one of his "works" as the public relations drive to advertise it can be major. But now I have come to realise that there is a direct link between the size of the advertising campaign and the size of the "turkey" created. With "Summer of Rockets", there was not a big enough oven.
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Summer of sausages
paulspencer-9039410 June 2019
Worth watching for the cinematography and the lighting. The sets are luscious; such a shame the actors keep getting in the way. Its not their fault; the story is one of those committee by the numbers sort of thing. White Christian men - bad. Diversity either by way of race, gender, disability, good good good. So out goes the realism for a round of applause from the well paid executives at the BBC. They should have just filmed a cooking show on the sets.
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for me 10/10
tomormiston3 June 2019
Are you after a typical spy drama, a Harry Palmer or 007? Well if so this isn't for you. But if you want an unusual plot with heaps of period settings and a family centric dynamic that's intertwined with a spy plot then its worth watching.

Made in 2018, which turned out to be the hottest ever summer in England, it was shot in some of the most grand locations including outside shots at Buckingham palace. Sets, costumes, cinematography, music and acting is superbly lush.

The story features an inventor with a Russian background; all based on the true story of the writers family and father Alexander Poliakoff OBE.

And what is it all about? well I'd say that's a secret! Or more accurately how many secrets, all interlinked, impact on each other with twists and turns along the way.
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Only watched the first episode so far but promises to be very good
KathleenK2224 May 2019
I was not sure what to expect from the title. Post war and people are still suspicious and coming into the Cold War period if not already in it. Space travel is new and so is nuclear weaponry. Women are still wives and pretty girls who do not have the power of men or any kind of equality. The boy of the family is treated differently and groomed for a different future from his sister. Invention would be highly prized at this time and a man who could make hearing aids could possibly be capable of making other things. The characters are interesting and politics play a part in this scenario of suspicion and technology. The actors inhabit their characters perfectly and it is interesting to watch their development. I always like children included in these stories because they bring a flavour of innocence and naivety that is charming. There is already a build up of mystery and hint of spying providing us with a taste of what is to come. One hour has been utilised well and different themes and plots have been introduced as well as an array of characters. Not long to wait for episode two thankfully!
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Waste of Talent
gregoryblanch889 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
After watching the first episode the production values are all that can recommend it. Otherwise highly disappointing for many reasons.
  • Lack of a coherent narrative
  • Contrived melodrama with overly intense music and painfully long camera holds
  • Stiff characterisations and meandering dialog
  • A one hour episode that should have been 25 minutes
A series of scenes with thin connective tissue, excruciating exposition, and little purpose, ending with a senseless confrontation.

Packed with recognisable faces, this effort will not go down as their finest hour. The emotional breakdown of Keely Hawes in the car ranks as one of the most awkward scenes of a tortured relationship seen outside a high school drama.

Perhaps the fact that I had just finished watching Chernobyl - likely the greatest miniseries ever made, caused it suffer by comparison, but by any standards Summer of Rockets first stage booster is a spectacular fizzle.
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Just plain dreary
grasswhisperer7 June 2019
I love British dramas but this is hopelessly boring and seems unreal. After 2 episodes, I don't think I can go for a third. I have seen many post war dramas but none were as dreary. Don't waste your time.
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Waste of time; what on earth do the BBC see in him?
laura_macleod31 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I'll never watch another work by this man again - I tried to get in to his previous series but dived out after hardly a first episode...found his style to be stilted and complicated. However, the cast in Summer of Rockets is absolutely faultless and it is with this in mind that one is drawn in to a promising storyline of intrigue and espionage. The first four episodes are certainly engaging. The last two episodes descend in to a ridiculous conclusion that is confusing and a total let down. What on earth is this all about? Poliakoff must be an incredibly vain man. Certainly celebrated by the elite and given poetic license to spin a story that appears to have so much meaning....but leaves one empty - drivel. What a waste. An example of the times we live in.
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Utterly absorbing from start to finish.
kagled16 August 2019
I am surprised that this enchanting and luxuriating series has been given several bad reviews: weak plot; convoluted; tiresome and distracting sub-plots, uninteresting; cheesy ending etc. etc. I feel that they have completely missed the many valid themes and issues it raises (most of which are equally relevant today). I am however edified that a significant number praised the almost faultless representation of selected sights and scenes of the period in which it is set. The acting is superb and fundamental human needs, fears, desires, and desperation of loss are sympathetically and sensitively explored. Filmography and non-diegetic sound all add to the very pleasurable experience. I found the leimotifs of 'secrets'and 'surprises' (a Poliakoff trade mark) - however seemingly trivial to some perhaps - a delight. Similarly, the writer's hallmark of using photographic and visual imagery to help define identity, sense of place and the relentless passage of time very poignant. I was immediately hooked and remained so throughout. A truly beautiful production and ultimately optimistic and uplifting. It was worth every penny of my licence fee! Those who gave the series bad reviews appear to have watched all six hours. I wonder why when they must have found it such a tedious chore?!
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Awful things are happening..
The awful things are the direction and writing, along with an apparently untrained child actor. I don't know exactly how something like this gets made by the BBC, but even the great talent of almost all the cast can't overcome the sheer banality of it. It's really terrible, ill conceived plot devices that are directed so poorly it's painful to watch. Horrifyingly bad supporting actors throughout. Even the main cast can't surge through and shine like they usually do. I don't know how the license payer can be expected to pay for things like this, shameful.
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Rockets of Summer
cherry_town30 May 2019
There could hardly been anything more disastrous this season than ABC Murders but Rockets of Summer, or sorry, Summer of Rockets hit the bottom from beneath. Under which circumstances did such a splendid constellation of actors agree to partake in such a boring and mediocre vaudeville, with private tanks, vanishing vegetarian and omnipresent but never located Russian spies? It takes stamina to sit these six episodes through. Radio Times, in its cover story on the piece, has been cautious enough to highlight the pinnacles of actors' careers but not to comment on the emptiness of the plot.
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Don't Waste Your Time on this Twaddle
fryer-860343 June 2019
Another Poliakoff disaster. Terrible writing, pointless plot, storyline disjointed and above all unlikeable characters. So many people put a lot of time and effort into this unworthy project. So many fine actors did their best with this very bad script but they were never going to make a 'silk purse out of a sow's ear'. I'm afraid I will not be staying the course, I cannot stand to hear "Mr Petrukhin" one more time!
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Politically correct nonsense - but fun
Faircomment31 May 2019
Anything starring Keeley Hawes is going to be worth watching and this little drama is no exception. It's a fun bit of nonsense - very reminiscent of an episode of The Avengers from the late sixties - but far more elaborate. As usual with the BBC, the sub-plots hammer every politically correct stereotype going. The villains are all white, middle-aged, middle class males, the heroes are all either from a minority group or disabled. Of course, the police are racist and the young white men (except for the gay man and the vegetarian) are violent boors. Even the poor little debutantes get a drubbing. All boringly predictable - but it was fun seeing Lily Sacofsky giving one of the nasty young men a taste of her knee! To be fair though, I did enjoy this drama and would recommend it as a lightweight bit of entertainment.
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Oh no
imdb-606591 June 2019
Like a car crash, you just can't stop watching. The plot is unbelievably bizarre and the dialogue laughable with everyone saying "ah, there you are". Let's hope the BBC keep it as one series as I don't want to lose another 6 hours.
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Entertaining period series despite a few flaws
narrator5613 June 2019
I enjoyed this series, mostly, the way it represented the 50s era, which doesn't end up being the setting of shows as much as the 40s and 60s. The acting was great, the writing mostly good. Every major character is given a subplot, which I usually found realistic and entertaining, unlike some other reviewers.

I usually cruise one star reviews on this site, for they can be very revealing about the reviewers. Let's face it, for most of us, one star out of ten usually means something along the lines of an Ed Wood production. A sloppy, slapdash affair. For this series, several reviews trash it because it is politically correct, a code phrase, of course. One reviewer refreshingly points out he is unhappy that white men make up all the bad guys. One assumes that the black man kissing a white woman sent him into a rage he never recovered from.

But I will say that the final half-hour or so got away with a plot development it hadn't earned. I won't give it away, but our inventor's interaction in the final scenes, where he is suddenly trusted, seemed abrupt. It would have been more realistic if they had built up to it better. On the other hand, I liked the last second plot twist involving the Timothy Spall character.

Ultimately I liked it despite a few flaws in the plot. But then, I am not drawn to criticisms where code words are required.
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Could had been sunnier
rob-harvee28 May 2019
The plot didn't so much snake like a good bit of chilling cold war intrigue, but merely dip about, as if the the creator had to condenced each subplot to fit the whole story in. This accurate looking mini series needed to have loads more expansion to each episode or to be a black comedy, as it lacked, for the most part, real paraniod drama and suspence. The whole pace was slighly off, the intrigue was weak, the jeapardy was waifer thin and the actual endgame was very poor.

This all felt to me, more like 'tinker tailer soldier dud', then Summer Of Rockets.
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linshealy7 June 2019
Absolutely loved this, compulsive viewing from start to finish. Great cast and some brilliant characters.
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Product of an over-active imagination
Tricycle_Thief29 May 2019
Mr Poliakoff again takes us to the very edge of boredom and incredulity and prepars to tip us over. There are so many polt, factual, historical, logical and other inconsistencies that Summer of Rockets looks like it will be almost as bad as Sleeping With An Enema!

In episode 2 Petruhkin is sworn to secrecy about a possible business deal with the British government. At a demonstration of his pager to senior military staff he takes his whole family with him to a military airfield . . . . D'oh!

The rest of the episode is so full of cliches that almost every twist and turn is entirely predictable.

All may become clear in a later episode, but so far - for me - it is shaping up to be another Poliakoff travesty.
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