Sunday, January 27, 2013


The following is a rerun of a blog I wrote a few years ago about the TV show "Hustle". I have seen many more episodes since first posting this. 

I’ve discovered a hot new show. Actually it’s been around for awhile but I hadn’t seen it until recently, since our local PBS station just began running it. Called “Hustle”, it is a BBC drama series that premiered in 2004 and is still in production. It follows a group of confidence tricksters who specialize in “long cons”—complicated deceptions that usually involve a series of “short cons” to accomplish. In other words, they swindle people—and rather unlikable ones. But, as we learn in the first episode, it’s not always about the money. Their credo is, “You can’t cheat an honest man.”

And actually, this group of five is a rather lovable bunch—almost like a family—despite their blatant disregard for the law. The leader, a young black man named Michael Stone, also known as Mickey Bricks, is a long-con player who has never been convicted. Then there’s Albert, played by Robert Vaughn of my old favorite show from the 60’s, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (and who prompted me to tune in, after seeing a promo). Vaughn plays a sort of grandfatherly role, and is responsible for bringing in “marks” or potential unsuspecting victims.  And then there’s Ash, “the fixer”, beautiful Stacie, “the lure”, and Danny, the new kid.

In the opening sequence of the first episode we are introduced to each character while they walk the street, getting a taste of just what dishonesty they specialize in, as each one in turn glances at the camera to give us a knowing smile, like they’re letting us in on their little secrets. You almost find yourself rooting for them. This “breaking the fourth wall” apparently is a fairly common characteristic of the series. They’ll even talk and move around a character seemingly frozen in time, like on Bewitched. Only the victims on this show have a lot more to lose than one of Darrin’s clients.

As the police woman in charge of investigating them says, “This crew is not about conning little old ladies out of their pension. They’re strictly major league. And remember, Mickey Bricks thinks he’s cleverer than us, that there’s no way we can catch him. Let’s prove him wrong.” Boy is she in for a surprise.

That opening street sequence from episode one is well worth checking out. I just love the catchy background music and how the whole thing moves. Every scene blends into the next and holds your interest. There are no commercials in this hour-long show, so make sure you’ve gone to the bathroom and gotten a snack before sitting down to watch it on TV. Luckily it’s on YouTube if you miss something or want to see it again.

I’ve viewed the first episode numerous times and always pick up something new. But then, I can be a little dense. (“What just happened there?” “Who is that guy?”) Also, sometimes it’s hard to understand when they mumble in their thick British accents so I have to go back and listen again. Thankfully, the end of the program wraps up all the loose ends and explains such things as why he said that, why she did what she did, who wasn’t as he seemed, and what the melons were for.

All-in-all, this is my type of program, even though the characters are naughty. But at least they don’t beat up people, one of my main prerequisites. I hate violence. I’ve only seen a couple of episodes, but I read that sometimes they even use their skills to do good things for other people—someone who has been kind to them, for example. How nice. However, they do drink alcohol. Relaxing with wine, gambling with a martini, raising a toast with champagne; just once I’d like to see them munching on a tray of broccoli and dip. Here they are breaking laws right and left, and I’m fuming about their drinking. (“They should be ashamed of themselves!”)

But like I said, you can’t help but be on their side, criminal activity, booze and all. As long as you remember it’s a TV show. Of course most of us would not support con artists in real life. But catch this episode when you get a chance. If you see nothing else, just watch this first part, link below. Learn about each character and groove to the music. They also repeat that music later in the episode (Hustle 1x1 Part 3 of 6) where they’re all performing more short cons on the street (rigging ATM machines, picking pockets, etc.) to raise money for their long con. And don’t miss part 4 with Danny and the receptionist—really cute. The ending music in part 6 is great, too, where they wrap things up and run the credits—but don’t look at that until you’ve seen the rest of the episode, or you’ll spoil it for yourself. So just watch the whole thing.

And remember, it’s not always about the money!

EpisodeHustle1x1 Part 1 of 6 (posted by Hustleseasons)

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