Hustle: Old Acquaintance
CSI: Las Vegas: Revenge is Best Served Cold
Luck: Both Hands on the Wheel
Hustle: Old Acquaintance
CSI: Las Vegas: Revenge is Best Served Cold
Luck: Both Hands on the Wheel
|Kelly Adams, Robert Vaughn, Adrian Lester, Robert Glenister and Matt Di Angelo (pics: BBC)|
BBC1, Friday, 7 January, 9pm
With child murder and serial killers now a staple on many cop shows, it’s hard to begrudge the return of this light-hearted – as well as light-fingered – conman-caper series.
Like the grandaddy of con-man films, The Sting, this series from writer Tony Jordan relies on the wit and charm of its grifters, along with beautifully played-out cons that relieve the corrupt and nasty of their ill-gotten lucre.
|Anna Chancellor, right, as crooked Wendy Stanton|
While the cast still misses original member Marc Warren as Danny Blue (series one can be seen online at SeeSaw), the current players are a watchable bunch. For series seven there are no changes, so Adrian Lester returns as Mickey Stone, the gang’s leader, with Robert Glenister (‘fixer’ Ash Morgan), the ever-suave Robert Vaughn (‘roper’ Albert Stroller), Kelly Adams (Emma Kennedy) and Matt Di Angelo (Emma’s brother, Sean).
Anna Chancellor is the mark
The opening episode is the usual impossibly convoluted affair in which the scamsters pull off four intricate cons at the same time (Tony Jordan must have fun working out these plots).
But before an arrogant viscount, a shady judge and a bent MP get their comeuppance, Mickey and the gang decide to help the niece of their favourite barman, Eddie (Rob Jarvis), who’s been ripped off by the owner of a modelling agency.
Anna Chancellor plays the Cruella De Vil-like Wendy Stanton, who routinely fleeces young wannabe models. Can the gang get the tight-fisted Wendy, who twitches whenever large sums are mentioned, to invest a huge amount of cash in their bogus fashion line?
Robert Vaughn’s still having fun
With its cool jazzy music, slick locations and witty grifters, Hustle makes it seem plausible and fun. Like a pickpocket’s diversionary tactic, it’s all an illusion and can leave us feeling short-changed if we unpick the story.
The formula will need to move on if the new series is to avoid becoming routine and dull, and so we will be meeting Albert’s daughter from the US soon. But perhaps the ante could be upped for the characters if a little more danger and risk were introduced at the expense of all the larkiness.
But Hollywood legend Robert Vaughn (The Magnificent Seven,The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and his co-stars seem to enjoy showing us the tricks of the trade. And for a shallow bit of old-fashioned entertainment, the series usually provides a few good laughs and is a cheerful break from watching corpses being sawn open on Silent Witness.
• OK, I admit it. I wasn’t a fan of DCI Banks: Aftermath on ITV1. It didn’t do Peter Robinson’s book justice, and its lead player, Mr Everyman Stephen Tompkinson, was too manic and just plain wrong in the part. Banks is pretty hot with the ladies in the novel, whereas on screen Tompkinson was forever ranting and looking psychotic. He seems to be in the Robson Green-Martin Clunes knee-jerk favourite zone at ITV – every part that comes along, no matter how unsuitable, being put his way. The newspaper reviews were also lukewarm, many saying it was a bit too routine a procedural. The great British viewership, however, switched on to it. Banks got higher ratings (5.6m) on its opening night than Spooks, which is impressive bearing in mind the latter’s huge fanbase and eight-year headstart. And now Left Bank Pictures has announced that there will be three new further Banks adaptations in 2011 – Playing with Fire, Friend of the Devil and Cold as the Grave (six hour-long episodes, two per story).
• The ludicrously brief series of Garrow’s Law – just four episodes – was short but compelling, and ended with a terrific finale on Sunday. Andrew Buchan wrung tears and snot in a highly charged story as Garrow faced ruin and disgrace along with the woman he loves, Lady Sarah (Lyndsey Marshal). Apart from the central drama and Garrow’s brilliant performances in the old Old Bailey, the series has reflected on the grotesque legal system of the late 18th century – with a 12-year-old boy being hung for theft in this episode. Alun Armstrong as Garrow’s solicitor and mentor, Southouse, gave a grandstanding speech at Garrow’s trial for Criminal Conversation (adultery to us), and Sir Arthur (made very loathsome by Rupert Graves) got his humiliating comeuppance. Anyone intrigued by these stories, based on the records of the Old Bailey, may be interested in knowing more about the real cases behind the series’ dramas from its legal consultant on historical matter, Mark Pallis, who has a blog. And the Beeb has a round-up of all the buzz created by Garrow’s Law here.
|Emilia Fox in Silent Witness (BBC)|
• In addition to Zen with Rufus Sewell coming along on BBC1 in the first week of January, a new series of Hustle and the 14th of Silent Witness are also lined up (though no dates and times have been announced yet). Silent Witness opens with a two part story called A Guilty Mind, in which three patients die unexpectedly in the same ward of a London hospital. Emilia Fox, who plays Dr Nikki Alexander, says, ‘The case affects Nikki deeply and personally and looks at the less tangible part of pathology, which is the mind. We are used to the team finding things out through the organs and the body, but of course when it comes to the mind it’s a lot harder to deal with.’ Previews will follow on crimetimepreview.
• The Beeb has also announced another new thriller series for 2011, Stolen starring Damian Lewis (Band of Brothers, The Forsyte Saga, Life). He plays Detective Inspector Anthony Carter, who’s trying to rescue some children from child slavery. It’s to be directed by Justin Chadwick, whose credits include The Other Boleyn Girl and Bleak House.
• Foyle’s War is thrashing all-comers in crimetimepreview‘s poll of 2010’s top crime series. Only Sherlock is putting up a fight, with the likes of Spooks and Poirot taking a pasting. Just 13 days of voting to go…
Welcome to CrimeTimePreview‘s series of interviews with authors about their TV and reading habits.
• PETER ROBINSON is the author of the Inspector Banks novels – the fourth series of which has just started on ITV (see the post below). A multi-award-winning novelist, he was born in Yorkshire and now divides his time between Toronto and Richmond, North Yorkshire. We brought him in for questioning, and here he makes a full and frank confession of his criminal viewing and reading habits…
• ADRIAN McKINTY is one of the most acclaimed new crime writers from across the Irish Sea, routinely mentioned alongside Ken Bruen, Declan Hughes and John Connolly. His series of edgy thrillers about Catholic detective Sean Duffy and the character’s exploits while working in the none-too-comfortable surroundings of the RUC during the Troubles, and later MI5, are developing a big following and have been hugely praised by reviewers. These include The Cold Cold Ground, In the Morning I’ll Be Gone and Gun Street Girl. Here, he reveals his favourite TV shows, characters and authors…
• WE’VE dragged one of Britain’s major crime practitioners in for questioning. Multi-award-winning IAN RANKIN is the creator of Edinburgh detective inspector John Rebus, the tenacious but chippy hero of bestsellers such as Black and Blue, Fleshmarket Close and Resurrection Men. The character was turned into a series by STV with first John Hannah and then Ken Stott portraying him. ITV filmed Rankin’s standalone novel Doors Open in 2012. After retiring Rebus in Exit Music, he introduced his readers to Malcolm Fox in The Complaints, before bringing Rebus back in 2012’s Standing in Another Man’s Grave.
• Manchester-based crime writer CATH STAINCLIFFE is interrogated below for evidence of her TV viewing and reading activities. She writes the novels based on the Scott & Bailey series, which stars Lesley Sharp and Suranne Jones and is soon to return to ITV – with her latest book about the female detectives being Bleed Like Me. Cath is also the author of the Sal Kilkenny private eye stories and creator and scriptwriter of Blue Murder, which was on ITV and starred Caroline Quentin.
• Hauled in for questioning is British crime writer and Guardian reviewer LAURA WILSON, who is currently working on her 10th novel. Laura, whose books include the DI Stratton series among other mysteries set in the recent past, talks about her TV and reading habits, from Cagney & Lacey to Agatha Christie…
• ZOE SHARP wrote her first novel when she was 15. It was not until 2001, however, after she had tried her hand at jobs ranging from van driver to newspaper ad sales to motoring correspondent, that she finally publisher her breakout Charlie Fox novel Killer Instinct. Fox, the self-defence instructor with a shady military background, has proved hugely popular with readers through nine novels and has been optioned by Twentieth Century Fox TV. We brought Zoë in for questioning to see who she would like to see playing Charlie on screen, and what TV shows tick the right boxes for her…
• CrimeTimePreview apprehended SIMON KERNICK, one of Britain’s most exciting thriller writers to grill him about his viewing proclivities. He arrived on the crime scene with his acclaimed novel The Business of Dying, a terrific story about a corrupt cop who moonlights as a hitman. His authentic thrillers are basedon research with members of Special Branch, the Anti-Terrorist Branch and the Organised Crime Agency. He has just finished writing his latest book, which will be called Siege.
• SOPHIE HANNAH, whose novel The Point of Rescue was recently turned into the drama Case Sensitive by ITV1, is the author of internationally bestselling psychological thrillers – Little Face, Hurting Distance, The Other Half Lives and A Room Swept White. CrimeTimePreview recently brought her in to be questioned about her addiction to Class A plotting on television…
• Scottish author TONY BLACK, creator of Gus Dury in stories such as Gutted and Long Time Dead.
• Belfast crime writer SAM MILLAR, author of books such as The Redemption and the award-winning memoir On the Brinks.
• Crime novelist PAULINE ROWSON, author of the Marine series of mysteries, is pulled into CrimeTimePreview headquarters for questioning.
• Texan crime novelist BILL CRIDER, author of the Sheriff Dan Rhodes mystery novels, talks about his favourite television and authors.
• Award-winning British novelist ANN CLEEVES is a serial crime writer, with her collections including amateur sleuths George & Molly, Inspector Ramsay, the soon-to-be-televised Vera Stanhope and the recent Shetland Island Quartet (now a BBC1 series with Douglas Henshall). CrimeTimePreview pulls her in for questioning about her TV habits…
• We brought thriller writer MATT HILTON into headquarters for questioning about his TV and reading activities.
• ALINE TEMPLETON is the author of the series of novels about DI Marjory Fleming, set in Scotland. Her stand-alone mysteries include Past Praying For, The Trumpet Shall Sound and Shades of Death. She lives in Edinburgh. She was brought into CrimeTimePreview HQ for questioning about her TV viewing habits…
• Award-winning crime author STEPHEN BOOTH has written 11 mysteries involving the detectives Ben Cooper and Diane Fry with a distinctive, sometimes menacing Peak District setting. He was a newspaper and magazine journalist for 25 years before publishing the first Cooper/Fry novel, Black Dog, in 2000. CrimeTimePreview quizzed him about his criminal viewing activities…