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TV REVIEW: ‘Hustle’ Returns with Finely Nuanced ‘Episode 16’: This is Really Must-See TV

Posted by kinchendavid on July 20, 2006


TV REVIEW: ‘Hustle’ Returns with Finally Nuanced ‘Episode 16’: This is Really Must-See TV

By David M. Kinchen
Editor, Huntington News Network

Hinton, WV (HNN) — It was serendipity: On arriving home from a vacation trip – via Amtrak, of course – to Chicago, I caught a promo for “Hustle” on AMC. At 10 p.m. Wednesday, July 19 (repeated at 1 a.m.) I watched “Episode 16”, where the gang of British grifters – plus American actor Robert Vaughn – put the con on an Indian (from India) tycoon.

Albert’s (Vaughn) old friend Harold, from the subcontinent himself, tells him the story of Kulvina Samar, a greedy sweatshop owner who’s caused pain and suffering to Harold’s sisters — and London’s Asian community in general — for many years. Samar is an ardent fan of Bollywood films – actually he wanted to be an actor himself — making him a perfect target for a classic movie investor con.

Mickey “Bricks” Stone (Adrian Lester) plays Gerard Bruce, a producer making a Bollywood film. Film investor Harry Kaplan (Vaughn) is out of his depth and knows nothing about Bollywood; he suggests that Samar take his place and invest in the movie instead. Thrilled by the prospect of turning his dreams into reality, Samar agrees to the investment–with the condition that he visit the set and meet the lead actress (Stacie, played by Jaime Murray) and director (Ash Morgan, played by Robert Glenister). As perfectionist Samar mulls over this amazing offer, he realizes it’s too good to be true–he announces that it’s a con, and the revelation surprises his chauffeur (Danny Blue, played by Marc Warren) so much that he crashes his limo. At the hospital, Danny explains that the con is off–that is, until Albert discovers that Samar has amnesia.

The crew decides that such a vulgar character deserves to be conned again, but with a little less perfection. As they replay the con, they’re baffled by Samar’s apparent change in nature; he’s no longer cruel or arrogant. Their grifter sense tells them to walk away, but is Samar just playing them at their own game? “Hustle” is outstanding television; it uses nuance superbly, so Samar could or couldn’t be conning the con gang.

“Episode 16” will be repeated at 2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 20 and 10 p.m. Friday, July 21 on AMC. Check the schedule for more repeats: This is a show you will want to see again!

Jan. 16, 2006

TV REVIEW: ‘Hustle’ Combines ‘The Sting’ with ‘Cool Britannia’ Sophisticated Humor, Action, Cinematography

By David M. Kinchen

I was about to shut the door on the American Movie Classics (AMC) cable channel when it picked up the BBC grifter series “Hustle,” featuring an excellent British cast and veteran American character actor Robert Vaughn.

AMC once showed movies uncut and uninterrupted – like TCM, at Channel 63 just a channel below AMC’s 64 on my Charter lineup. But – in an apparent attempt to ramp up revenue — commercials were added and the movies on AMC were edited for language, etc. “Hustle,” created by veteran British TV writer Tony Jordan, premiered Saturday, Jan. 14 on AMC and will be shown for the next 18 weeks on Saturdays.

If you loved “The Sting,” “The Thomas Crown Affair,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “The Grifters,” “Ocean’s Eleven” and “Ocean’s Twelve”, you’ll love “Hustle.” The mastermind of the band of London grifters is Mickey “Bricks” Stone, played with just the right touch by Adrian Lester. You might remember him as the handsome and idealistic black campaign worker for the John Travolta Bill Clinton-esque character in the 1998 Mike Nichols-helmed film “Primary Colors”

Robert Vaughn plays Mickey’s mentor Albert Stroller, who snares the marks – all bad guys who can afford to lose to the “Hustlers.” Seventy-something Vaughn is perhaps most famous for his role of Napoleon Solo in “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”, but I liked him as much or more as the venal politician – wonder of wonders, they had them in the 1960s, too! — opposite Steve McQueen in “Bullit.” Jaime Murray plays the requisite beautiful, smart con woman Stacie Monroe. Marc Warren is Danny Blue, a small-time grifter who wants to move up in class and has to be brought into line from time to time by Mickey. Robert Glenister is Ash Morgan, a veteran grifter who can carry off a number of roles in the sting operations. The guest casts draw from the remarkable talent pool of U.K. actors and actresses – the best in the world, in my opinion. Working in TV is par for the course for Brits; it doesn’t have the stigma that seems to afflict many American actors and actresses of the big screen. Boston Legal” is one

This is the kind of TV that rarely comes out of Hollywood. Among the current lineup, I might make an exception for “Boston Legal”, with the delightful team of politically incorrect lawyers James Spader and William Shatner. The original 1974-5 “Nightstalker” series, starring Darren McGavin, was another one. The TV “Mission Impossible” series is another one that had the right touch, unlike the leaden, gimmick-laden movies starring Tom Cruise. I liked Cruise better as a villain in “Collateral.” Adrian Lester also had a small part in the 2004 flick “The Day After Tomorrow.”

But wait, there’s more: This just in: According to The Hollywood Reporter, June 22, 2006, “the BBC television series Hustle, which was televised in America on AMC, will be turned into a Hollywood feature film for Fox 2000.

 

Tony Jordan, who worked on the TV series, will write the script for producer Bharat Nalluri, also a veteran of the show. Also producing are Paul Webster Jane Featherstone and Simon Crawford-Collins, all of whom worked with Nalluri on the BBC series “Spooks” (a.k.a. MI-5).

 

No word yet on who will direct or whether the show’s cast, which included Adrian Lester and Robert Vaughn, will reprise their roles for the movie.”

 

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