After watching the 8-part ABC miniseries “The Assets”, which portrays absolutely heroic CIA dealing with the Aldrich Ames espionage case, I can only conclude that ABC itself is one of “the assets”.
“The Assets” is truly bad “entertainment”; it is obvious CIA propaganda, designed to enhance the image of the high profile “secret” agency based in Langley, Virginia.
Author Guy Richards, in his book, The Rescue of the Romanovs, compares the British Secret Service (MI-5 and MI-6) with the American CIA. In Britain, at least as of 1975 when Richards’ book was published, you could not find the British Secret Service anywhere in the London phone book. “If you were to ask a London bobby for directions to the Offices of the Secret Services’ two main components MI-6 and MI-5 (roughly comparable to our CIA and FBI, respectively), he would give you a blank stare.”  By contrast, the CIA at Langley is easy to find: just follow the flashing neon signs or at night there will be bright searchlights pointed up to the sky. The point is that the better outfit, Britain’s Secret Service, keeps a low profile.
The miniseries, “The Assets”, is now available on Netflix. We see how, for years, the CIA team tracking down the “mole” Aldrich Ames spent endless hours drawing connect-the-dots graphs on large easel sheets. That is most of the team’s job, apparently, to draw on easel sheets and argue with each other. One team member, Sandra Grimes (played by Jodie Whittaker), even works all night at CIA drawing yet more lines on easel sheets. After years of such easel sheet work, the obvious appears: the “mole” is Aldrich Ames. Even though Ames is driving a jaguar and paid $540,000 cash for a beautiful house, that had not fitted on the easel sheet. Only late in the years-long easel sheet sessions does the CIA team notice that Aldrich Ames had been making cash deposits to his bank account, always just below the $10,000 threshold, and that these deposits always followed meetings with Soviet embassy personnel.
Netflix lets you rate what you watch. I gave “The Assets” 2 stars (didn’t like), only slightly better than 1 star (hated it). The only reason I didn’t give it 1 star is because it shows how secret “drops” are done. Here is my explanation of a secret “drop”:
- You and your contact have a special location, an old hollow tree stump.
- You leave a message for your contact inside the old hollow tree stump: “Meet me at Rick’s Cafe on Saturday, at midnight. I have the letters of transit.”
- You go home and tape a large “X” on your window. Your contact drives by and sees the large “X”. He knows by this that there is a message waiting for him at the old hollow tree stump.
- Your contact goes to the old hollow tree stump and gets the message.
Also one of the very few positives about “The Assets” is acting by Paul Rhys as Aldrich Ames, who does a good job on making the “mole” unlikeable in various subtle ways. Harriet Walter as Jeanne Vertefeuille, portraying an extremely brainy member of the team, makes her character original and interesting.
On the old “Donna Reed” TV show, Donna had a husband: Dr. Alex Stone (played by Carl Betz). Donna’s husband was a vague character, who just sort of stood there and was the calm and wise prize-catch doctor husband. In other words, Dr. Stone was just sort of jewelry worn by Donna. It was all about Donna, with Dr. Stone just there to enhance Donna. In “The Assets” we have a version of “Donna Reed Goes to CIA.” The Sandra Grimes all-night easel sheet drawer is the Donna Reed here. Grimes has a husband who is the “Dr. Stone.” He is Gary Grimes (played by Julian Ovenden) and amounts to jewelry meant to enhance Sandra “Donna Reed” Grimes. Gary “Dr. Stone” Grimes is basically an unbelievably wise good and kind background, i.e., a non-entity, meant only to enhance Sandra “Donna Reed” Grimes.
Rushed into production concurrent with the 1993 siege and mass murder of the Branch Davidians near Waco, Texas was the television movie, “In The Line of Duty.” Tim Daly portrayed Davidian leader David Koresh as if Koresh was Rasputin drinking kool-aid with Jim Jones while playing with fire. This NBC anti-Davidian propaganda production comes to mind somehow after watching “The Assets”. If you enjoy seeing self-serving CIA propaganda, then don’t miss viewing this obvious and banal ABC miniseries.
——- Sources ——-
 The Rescue of the Romanovs, by Guy Richards. Devin-Adair, 1975