Fleming: The Man

Who Would Be Bond

 

To paraphrase the saying, men have wanted to be James Bond for decades. Apparently, that also applied to Ian Fleming -- who created the world's most famous spy -- even before Bond existed.

That's how the author is portrayed in BBC America's new miniseries "Fleming: The Man Who Would Be Bond." Over four episodes, the show depicts Fleming's life during World War II while working with naval intelligence.

Dominic Cooper ("Captain America: The First Avenger") portrays the title character as a brilliant, talented, womanizing runt from an upper-crust British family who loves women almost as much as himself. His life is without direction until he's recruited to serve king and country at the outbreak of war.

It's not all "For England, Ian," though. Fleming has his eyes on being a hero, and not just with his mind. He wants desperately to play the role of soldier, in part to match the accomplishments of brother Peter (Rupert Evans, "Hellboy") and, perhaps, impress his icy mother, Evelyn (Lesley Manville, "Another Year").

Fleming's military experience is only half the story. The rest tells of how Fleming and future wife Ann O'Neill (Lara Pulver, "Da Vinci's Demons") came to be together.

Their fiery romance is complicated by her marriage and a second affair, as well as his love of a bachelor's life and his mother's meddling. There's a clear connection between them, but they're each their own worst enemy.

As a bonus, Bond aficionados will enjoy the bevy of nods to the 007 films and novels (baccarat, gadgets, parallel characters).

The Bond-meets- "Boardwalk Empire" feel of "Fleming" works, but doesn't raise its game. Yet even at its worst, it's a short, entertaining ride that's worth your time.