on 28 October 2014
Hustle is a winner, simple as that.
I would call it the most intelligent series on tv, in its time at the very least, with very high production values, characterful acting out, imaginative backstories, sly banter, solid entertainment, savvy tackling of all themes and superb, but superb, scripting.
Wish I had thought up this series, so hats off to Tony Jordan for his research, foresight, trickery, humour, timing, far-left-field ideas, clever people, nasty people, clever interplay, confounding story lines, clever dialogue and, well, just lotsa lotsa clever. Everywhere.
Each character gets to shine, be human, get real, pretend monstrously, wear swish outfits, do local accents, con the baddies, con us, turn the tables, stick to values, hurt and triumph, lie wickedly and all that before lunch on the first day . . .
Not to mention, this product is well packaged, comprehensive, arrives quickly and plays for tens and tens of hours. I'm in.
And . . . final episode of series eight is worth the price of the whole set. Cheers.
And, um, never be a mark.
on 5 November 2014
I'm so pleased this show has a near five star rating on Amazon, because there is really nothing not to like about it.* Unabashedly capitalising on the success of movies like the 2001 remake of Ocean's Eleven, 'Hustle' is a smart, slick production with genuine warmth and a cast of universally likeable characters and appealing actors. Each self-contained hour-long episode feels like a movie. The plots, while formulaic, are original and surprisingly plausible. (Well, maybe not plausible - but I find it easy to suspend my disbelief. I would make a great mark). Every episode features a complex long con which always appears to go catastrophically awry. Finally, in the last few minutes, we realise that Mickey and his crew knew what they were doing all along. While I can predict a positive outcome, it's often harder to predict the actual twist.
There's something really comforting about this no-fail brand of TV viewing. The bad guys are always very bad, and we can rest assured knowing they deserve whatever they get. The crew's 'honour amongst thieves' policy, and their tendency to rush to the aid of the little guy, means there are no serious ethical considerations to contend with. Everything is always squared off neatly at the end of each hour, so there are no loose threads. The stories are ingenious and compelling. There's a minimum of sex, violence and profanity, but enough authentic emotion to be satisfying.
The characters are magnetic, and they draw us in by repeatedly breaking the fourth wall. The trick of turning to the camera and giving us a knowing wink or a twitch of an eyebrow at the right moment never gets old, and I love it when they freeze the action to explicate the con. They treat their audience like a smart audience - it's their best and longest con.
The relationships - not the cons - form the core of the show. The bond between the characters is tangible; they really are like a family. It's refreshing to see such a random blend of characters of varying class, nationality, age, gender and race gelling so naturally. Robert Vaughan's ageing Albert Stroller is both fragile and paternal - a team player, but wiser than all of them; vulnerable but invincible. Jaime Murray's character is sophisticated but accessible and affectionate, and Marc Warren is the fast-talking, streetwise, Artful Dodger of the crew. The immensely likeable Robert Glenister plays Ash with such warmth and humanity that he quickly became one of my favourites. His working-class accent is so convincing that I'm always taken aback when he effortlessly slips into a plummy Queen's English. He sounds right posh!
Adrian Lester, however, is my number one. Lester brings his Shakespearean acting skills to bear on Hustle's "Mickey Bricks," and the payoff is really something. More than any of the others, he knows how to broach the distance between stage and audience - one smile or twinkle of the eye from that sympathetic puppy-dog face and I would happily turn over my life savings. Or, you know, just elope with him or something.
The show stumbled briefly when Lester left for the entire fourth season. Ashley Walters never really filled the breach, and while I did warm to season four eventually, it didn't feel quite the same. Danny Blue was a great sidekick, but he didn't have the genius to fill Mickey's shoes as team captain, and the stories suffered as a result. The exception would be episode five, "Conning the Artists," which is one of my favourites. The deadly Japanese blowfish plot device was a winner, and Will Yun Lee made a worthy opponent - I wish he had become a regular cast member. Or, you know, just eloped with me or something.
I was worried, too, when Stacey and Danny left at the end of season four. I wasn't sure how I felt about Kelly Adams and Matt Di Angelo at first. But with Mickey back at the helm, things were soon back on track, and I did grow attached to the ensemble cast of seasons 5 to 8. The brother/sister dynamic worked well within the existing crew.
The production values are pretty stellar, and there are some great guest performances (notwithstanding a few unbelievably shoddy accents here and there - like Raquel Cassidy's forced American twang in "Eat Yourself Slender"). The creators make the most of their London base, with an abundance of glossy panoramic shots of the capital - the Thames, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, the Gherkin, and more red phoneboxes and double deckers than you could poke a stick at - along with plenty of outdoor shots of city streets, rooftops and public squares. The sets are excellent, and if there were any budget constraints, it's not obvious. The costumes are sleek and appropriately stylish, the soundtrack is upbeat, and the attention to detail generally is commendable.
I can't wrap this up without giving Eddie an honourable mention. He was just so gosh-darn loveable, and he stuck his neck out more than once for the crew. When everyone hung out at Eddie's Bar, you couldn't help but feel you were hanging out there with them. They didn't always treat Eddie as he deserved, and the show hit a rare sour note when they vacationed on a luxury yacht without him after letting him believe they were going to Bournemouth. That seemed uncharacteristically unkind, considering all he'd done for them. But I was glad they helped him get his bar back and avenged his swindled niece, not to mention hooking him up with curvacious con-artist Carol. I like to think they're happily running a tiki bar in the Bahamas or something.
When Adrian Lester departed (temporarily) at the end of season three, he said he was concerned the show was becoming "too light." In fact I think that explains the show's enduring appeal. In an era when TV (and perhaps life) is getting progressively darker and grittier, you can watch Hustle knowing nobody is going to die or have their face permanently rearranged, no vulnerable little old ladies will lose their nest eggs, the bankers, traders, and Bernie Madoffs of the world will get their comeuppance, and the underdog will have his day. Hustle is heartwarming but not mawkish, fantastic but not unbelievable, sophisticated but not alienating. Shows like this don't come along very often. The stars aligned; the chemistry was right. And when Eddie closed the door on his cozy little bar one last time, I just...
...excuse me, I think I have something in my eye.
Most of the negative reviews and comments here pertain to the qualities of the actual physical boxset, for some reason. One of the earliest good reviews of this item has attracted, so far, twenty-eight comments, in a thread which has devolved into the online equivalent of a football riot.
I'm happy to report that the packaging of this DVD boxset is made from heavy duty "paper," the end product of a process which flattens cellulose pulp derived from timber into flexible sheets which can then be cut, folded and glued to form three-dimensional "boxes." My understanding is that this is standard practice for DVD packaging, or indeed any packaging. While not likely to survive being strapped to train tracks, hurled from an aeroplane without a parachute or fed to a bear, paper is a material routinely utilised in the production of an assortment of useful items including books, art and legal documents.
The disks themselves are circular, which is ideal, because my DVD player is set up for circular disks. Any other shape would pose a problem for me. They are also very shiny. But the really marvellous thing about these disks is that if you place them in your DVD player, connect your DVD player to a viable power source, and then play your DVD's with your DVD player, the television program emanating from your television screen is so sufficiently engrossing as to almost totally transcend the limitations of the objects themselves. If the show is a good show, like this one, everybody then shuts up and just enjoys the damn show.
on 18 February 2012
In Britan's time it has had some simply extrodinary drama's... and this is one of them! Hustle is cunning, thought provoking, fun, glamarous and at the top of it's game and now the series has reached its final end this is a boxset that I can't wait to have in my collection. For the last decade, we have been entertained and provoked by Hustle, its twisted and turned our brains to try and think things in a way we would have never before. Its imaganative and sly, and simply very enjoyable. For the main part Hustle is split in to two different sections; Series 1-4 and Series 5-8.
Series 1-4 was one of the best things ever to hit British TV and had the original, and the best, hustle crew consisting of Jaime Murray (Stacey), Mark Warren (Danny), Robert Glenister (Ash), Robert Vaughn (Albert) and Adrian Lester (Mickey). This crew where sly and cool and would con anyone deserving out of their money. They steal from the rich and then line there pockets with there only rule being - "you never cheat an honest man". Every episode including a new and elaborate con makes you twist your mind while you try and work out how there not doing out; or how there going to get out of scrapes. Excellent writing and excellent acting maked these an arc de triumph. However a quick note, Series 4 did suffer slightly due to the departure of Adrian Lester as Mickey.
Series 5-8 where always going to be in with a hard time after the departure of Danny and Stacie at the end of Series 4 but to be honest I dont think the programme decreased in popularity, intrest and class. Series 5 saw the return of Mickey and two new additions to the team (after they try to con Mickey and Ash themselves). The two new arrivals to the crew Emma (played by Kelly Adams) and Sean (played by Matt Di Angelo) bought a breath of fresh air and then the series just kept growing is strength and strength. I dont want to give too much away but at the end of Series 8 the programme really does end in style - as the old and new join together.
This programme really was an arc de triumph, and even now after its end Im sure the Hustle legacy will live on for many years to come and as soon as this boxset is released I would reccomend buying it straight away. Top class, it really is :D
on 2 February 2016
I first got into Hustle during Series 5. I found it funny, charming and clever. The cast were all outstanding, from Adrian Lester, Robert Glenister and Robert Vaughn etc., namely some of the best actors i've ever seen on TV. The chemistry between all characters was brilliant. As soon as the show ended, I knew I had to buy the box set. I purchased this set over 3 years ago, and I still have it.
The set comes with a thin card outer box, and 8 thin DVD cases, with 2 discs in each case. Sometimes the discs come loose from the case, but this only happens every now and then. There is not much to say about this set, except that there is every episode in one DVD box set, and this show makes for very entertaining viewing. If you want to watch a show about a group of con artists, that are likeable and funny, then this box set is for you.