It used to be that you’d watch a great series on TV and when it was finished, that was it, you could never watch it again, except occasionally it would be repeated some years in the future when you might or might not catch up with it. That was also another thing, if you missed an episode in the series there was no way of catching up with it. These days we are so fortunate, we can record programmes, we can watch them again on various channels as well as the original place it was broadcast. If you particularly enjoyed an episode, or missed the point of some part of it, or you were interrupted while watching, you could never recapture it, now you can, as many times as you want. There’s also the possibility of buying DVDs – we really are lucky. It also happens that series from years ago are shown again, and I am just re-watching such a series, Hustle, first broadcast in 2004 and running through eight series until 2012.
It is slick, it is flashy, it stars a team of excellent actors, it’s fast-paced, clever and full of unexpected twists. The premise of the show is a team of ‘grifters’ or con-men practice a deception on someone to steal money from them; however in Hustle the team are in effect a band of Robin Hoods who only move in on ‘marks’ who in some way deserve to be conned because of the way they have behaved towards others. These grifters carry out a ‘long con’ which takes much complicated planning and may involve other players brought in for a particular job. In some cases the team come to the aid of victims of other cons, innocents who don’t deserve to have had money or items what in effect is stolen from them. Of course this is all a fiction and what the hustlers are doing is stealing, lying and cheating, but in the imaginary and impossibly glamorous world of Hustle, it becomes an exciting, gripping, and often amusing, always satisfying escapade. In the episode I watched last night, the unpleasant and arrogant owner of an art gallery who had cheated artists and people selling art works had a come-uppance, when she was conned into buying a forged Mondrian. In this case, the hustle team gave their gains to a deserving company which was on the verge of bankruptcy.
The original team consisted of:
- Michael “Mickey Bricks” Stone – Adrian Lester
- Albert Stroller – Robert Vaughn
- Ash “Three Socks” Morgan – Robert Glenister
- Stacie Monroe – Jaime Murray
- Danny Blue – Marc Warren
After the first four series, various actors were replaced, only the excellent Robert Glenister was in all eight series. The others reappeared in various other series or episodes, and in the last ever episode of series eight, some of the original team reappear. As well as the stellar team of main characters, a roll call of great TV and film actors also appeared in various episodes as guests, including James Laurenson, Orla Brady, Tamzin Outhwaite, David Haig, Mel Smith, Robert Wagner, Patricia Hodge, Frances Barber, Tim McInnerny, Anna Chancellor, Angela Griffin, Michael Brandon, Paterson Joseph, Peter Polycarpou, Martin Kemp, Sheila Hancock and John Barrowman – and many more!
The series isn’t just well-scripted, well-acted, well-produced, etc, it has various aspects not normally found in other similar series. For example, characters break ‘the fourth wall’ and look at, nod at, gesture to, even speak out of the TV to us the audience. Sometimes the action is stopped except for one character who may walk about the others standing frozen mid-action, commenting and addressing them. In an earlier episode I watched, the main characters are suddenly suited in white and do a short dance routine under spotlights, while everyone else is frozen – it sounds bizarre, and to be honest it seems a little dated now, but it was brilliantly different at the time!
I’d forgotten about the series, and forgotten how much I enjoyed it, and now I’m delighted to be enjoying it all over again.