Monday, February 13, 2006

Do The Hustle

Because I deal with DVD - what's good what's bad, what's mine - I point the finger to those shows, movies and the like that I think every writer can learn from (especially me) . In this case it's the fascinating, bubbly, slick, sophisticated and all-out fun that is...


This is a series from Kudos, the company that gave us MI-5 (Spooks) and Life on Mars, and comes to us courtesy of the BBC and is now showing on AMC here in the states.

What more can I say except that I am in love with this show. It's fun, different and has a momentum that I haven't seen on British TV in a long time. This show moves and takes you along for a wild ride.

(Ash, Albert, Mickey, Stacie and Danny)

Based on an idea by director Bharat Nalluri and brought to exquisite fruition by creator Tony Jordan (who is aided by his Life On Mars co-creators Mathew Graham and Ashley Pharoah here in staff writing roles), Hustle is a show for those of us that love movies like The Sting and Ocean's 11.

The show takes place in London and centers on Mickey Stone (Adrian Lester) and his crew of con artists who will lie, cheat and grift their way to the top of the "long con". Mickey is aided by Albert Stroller (Robert Vaughn who is a nice surprise) , Ash Morgan (Robert Glenister) and the gorgeous lady inside and out Stacie Monroe (Jaime Murray be still my heart). To these grifters, it's not just about the money, it's about taking their marks down with their own weaknesses. It's about being one step ahead of the cops. It's about the chess match that is every con game ever invented.

Add to this team the cocky Danny Blue (played by Marc Warren), a grifter who's only played the short con, but has potential to be as good as Mickey if only he would shut up and not try to think so much.

What's good:

1. The fact that cons are our heroes. They don't work for the police (ala' some sort of 70's tv show), but are in it for number one. They live and work by their own code, and anyone be damned if they cross them.
2. The dialogue is crisp, poetic and filled with the raw emotion that makes this pulp writer envious down to his gin-soaked marrow.
3. The look of the series is fast and fun. This is the pace that Life on Mars or Eleventh Hour ought to be edited at - crisp, with momentum even in the most static of scenes. There isn't a moment wasted in this first batch that I've watched.
4. When the series stops for a second and addresses the camera, I was fearful of a major disconnect there, but truly whenever the show freezes, we learn as much about the characters as we do the con they're playing.

What's Bad:

1. That I didn't write this. Aw hell, who am I kidding? I couldn't write this. It's (as Denis McGrath puts it) "the cream".
2. That it's going to take me awhile before I can get my hands on series two.



Anonymous said...

Ok, sold, I'm gettin' it now.

Bill Cunningham said...

Pay on your way out...

deepstructure said...

amc runs its quite often. we've caught every episode - just watched another tonight (gotta love the dvr). excellent show.

i do wonder if they're going to be able to keep it interesting tho...

Rogers said...

Wait, doesn't series two start this week, doubled right on the back of series one?

Lee said...

There were only 6 eps per season, so if you're seven episodes in, then yes.

Season Two is a good one, with some mad cons. Look out for the one where they try to flog a gold mine in the middle of London!

Christian Johnson said...

I agree that one of the "highlights" of this series is that the cons are the protagonists. I also like the lighthearted and fun tone of the show.

But what really hits me is that the tone is more of a vinear than reality. Mickey has been through a rough divorce, and was manipulated by the "Spiteful Divorcee" because of it.

The show doesn't often have the noir come-uppance, but it continually hints at the eventual necessary downfall. My favorite episode was where they pulled the Ocean's 11 with the bank vault.