FYI: You Should Watch Hustle This Weekend
This Sunday night at 11pm, WETA's beginning the first series of Hustle, a super intelligent, exceptionally charming caper from the producers of MI-5 about a team of expert con men that stage elaborate setups or “long cons”. It’s very similar in tone to films like Ocean’s 11 or Catch Me If You Can, and if you’ve enjoyed any of the recent slate of American con-man style series – Leverage, White Collar, and their ilk – you’ll love Hustle. It's also one of those shows I'm endlessly recommending to people who say they're tired of all the police procedurals in America. (I feel like Hustle didn't get enough love when it first aired in America ages ago on AMC, and it's such a gem of awesome Britishness that everyone should really see it if they haven't yet.)
The preview below doesn’t explain the cons so much, but it introduces you to all our major players, including the always excellent Robert Vaughn (Albert), fairly adorable Marc Warren (Danny) and Philip Glennister’s brother Robert (Ash, and the family resemblance is uncanny).
The basic premise is simple – in the first episode Michael “Mickey Bricks” Stone is, for the lack of a better phrase, “putting the band back together” after a recent stint in prison. Every member of their crew of grifters – including new addition Danny – has a specific job to do, as the inside man, the pickpocket, the tech expert, the roper, the bait, and so forth. Their crew targets immoral, ne’er do well types of the corporate persuasion and takes advantage of their greed. It’s a bit high-end Robin Hood, in a way, but, as the gang will tell you in the very first episode, “You can’t cheat an honest man.” You won’t feel too guilty about cheering for the “bad guys” here.
Plus, the “bad guys” are extremely appealing. As the series goes on, we learn more about each member of Mickey’s crew, what makes them tick, and how they relate to each other. The great relationships and character development are almost more appealing than the clever criminal tricks. (Almost.)
Hustle has a great cast, sharp writing, and more often than not, will con the audience right along with everyone else. (Full disclosure: the ending “twist” of the pilot episode surprised the heck out of me. I apparently am what the experts would call an “easy mark” because I fell for everything. Maybe you’ll do better.)