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September 22, 2014

Hustle: Premiere

by Annie Wu, posted Jan 17th 2006 10:27AM
HustleSaturday marked the American premiere of the BBC drama, Hustle, on AMC. The show revolves around the secret, underground world of grifters -- or con artists -- and, more specifically, a close-knit team of five. As someone that really enjoyed Matchstick Men (both the Eric Garcia book and the movie starring Nicolas Cage and Sam Rockwell), I was excited to see a series all about conning. To put it simply, Hustle does not disappoint. Although some of the activity borders on far-fetch, it's all intriguing enough to make you wonder if con artists really do have to go through that much magic just to make something work.

Although I had seen ads run on AMC for a while, I had forgotten that Saturday was the premiere. When the show came on, I thought it was some car commercial. It just... had that car commercial "look". Y'know, the camera moves smoothly, swooping through the city streets to show just how easy the car drives, and then the camera pauses on some random car-owner, looking bad-ass and fully confident because they've got the coolest car in the world. Eh, it's probably just me, but really, I thought it was a car commercial. Then the people onscreen started doing weird stuff... like, getting hit by cars and seducing old men with fuzzy handcuffs. "Ohh... This is Hustle".

The first episode introduced Mickey Stone, a well-seasoned grifter, who is keen to get his old group of con-buddies together for one last go before he retires. The group includes Ash (whose favorite con is 'The Flop': he takes advantage of his old skull fracture by getting into accidents and cheating insurance companies into thinking the fracture is new), Albert (the sophisticated American that picks out marks, or victims, for cons), and Stacie (who uses her smats and sexiness to distract the mark while the boys work the con). They come together to let Mickey leave with one last hurrah. The group targets a greedy businessman, Peter Williams, and seduce him with illegal shares. It goes off brilliantly but a newbie, Danny Blue (a younger, less-experienced grifter), pops up and tells Mickey that he wants to join the group. He won't shut up until he gets his way so, finally, Mickey says yes.

The con goes really well... or so it seems. When the final moment draws near, the police burst in and stop it. No one seems to know what the hell is going on and emotions run high. When Mickey pulls a gun on one of the policemen, he gets shot through the head. Ash, Stacie, and Albert are dragged away while Danny is pulled aside. The policeman that shot Mickey tells Danny that he knows that he hasn't been around as long as the others, so he's going to cut him a break: he can either go to jail with the rest of them or he can blab and be spared. He stands by his new friends, disgusted by the policeman's offer.

Whoo! Break out the bubbly! Ash, Stacie, Albert, and Mickey (yeah, Mickey) come out, laughing and cheering. Danny has passed his test and is now truly accepted as one of the gang. Turns out the policeman was a fellow conman that went straight into the belly of the beast to keep the police as clueless about the gang as possible (he pretended to be a real policeman that was supposed to transfer to a new station). What happened to the real policeman that he replaced? Well, he's currently handcuffed to a bed in a mysterious bedroom, thanks to Stacie (jump back to the last line of the second paragraph). Mickey also reveals another secret: he's not going into retirement. He only lied so that he could get the group back together. No one seems to mind because spirits are definitely high. After all, they're all free and the police are pissed. All in all, a good day.

Okay, the twist wasn't as mind-blowing as Matchstick Men's but it was still fun. There were some moments where the pacing dragged but that almost always happens in a premiere episode where all the characters have to be introduced. The suspense kept me happy, though, and I felt well-acquainted with the characters very quickly. I think this is going to be a great season of lying, cheating, and stealing. Boys and girls, the con is on.

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dries

I'm european who also likes this show. (it has been here on television for two years now) 2 seasons of 6 episodes and thirth coming up soon.
Always a nice story, with a twist at the end. Little handy tricks to learn also, especially in Eddie's bar: 'Have to try it yourself!!!'. But the twists get a little predictable after a while and you feel the writers have a problem finding new stuff to tell.
One tip: try not to fall assleep (here it's broadcasted at midnight) cause the twist isn't always easy to understand.

January 18 2006 at 12:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
janet

One fantastic series! We're lucky that AMC had the foresight to pick this up - and shame on BBCA for missing the boat all together. What were they thinking?!

AMC aired episode one and two, back to back on Saturday nite (to be repeated later in the week as well) and next Saturday they will air episode 3. There are 6 episodes per season. Fortunate viewers in the States will see not only series one and two in succession, but the brand new third season, which finished filming in late fall of 2005. I don`t know when the UK will see series three for certain, but I think they may air it at the same time in both countries.

I totally agree with the writer that mentioned the chemistry amongst the actors. You get the sense they really *do* go out for drinks at Eddie's Bar on a daily basis. And from what I understand, there is alot of comraderie within the group, with Marc Warren (Danny Blue) often entertaining them all with his real-life card trickery skills. Not to mention his quick witted ad libbing on scripts.

On screen Mickey may be their leader, with Albert taking the Patient And Wise Mentor/Father role to the gang, but off camera Robert Vaughn is "The Legend", and the storied sage of the group - as is fitting for Mr.Vaughn!

I hope this series catches on as well in the US as it has in the UK - it is a truely lighthearted and fun piece of eye-catching entertainment. Something that seems to be sorely lacking in television today.

January 17 2006 at 5:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
vince

I cant wait for the third season to star on the BBC, I just love this show

January 17 2006 at 3:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Toby OB

Because of a programming conflict on my part, I set the tape for the second showing only, as my cable company info bar just described the basic premise for all three.

So I definitely missed the first one, and think I probably missed a third as well. (Even though the ads kept saying the next new one would be next Saturday, and the clips showed scenes from the next one in the BBC episode guide.)

January 17 2006 at 3:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jason

I'm SOOOOO HAPPY that this show is going to air in the US now! I've watched (and archived) all the episodes of the first 2 seasons of this show (that reminds me... they need to have a third season start up!) and I've been wondering since day one why this didn't get passed on to BBC America to air. It's such a great show! Granted, the pilot isn't totally balanced, but Annie's right, that's just how pilots often are. The pacing for most of the other episodes is tight and fluid, and a majority have twists that really do seem to genuinely surprise you. The one thing that I really feel this show has always had going, even in the pilot episode, is the chemistry of the lead actors. The whole ensemble really does play well off of each other and it only improves with each episode. So anyone who watched the pilot (or didn't but is at least curious about the show), keep watching!!!

Now I'm just going to hope that BBC will put out Region 1 NTSC DVDs of this so I don't have to make my own... or buy a multi-region/multi-format DVD player and the UK releases. Cause I don't really want to do either.

January 17 2006 at 2:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Eric

I'm very intriqued about this show. It looks promising.

Can someone answer a question for me though?

I have been out of town. I noticed that this show would be airing 3 times Saturday night. I set up the DVR to series record because the episode descriptions were all different, and the online guide listed all three episodes as "new".

Were there actually 3 different episodes on, or was it just repeats of the first episode?

January 17 2006 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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