This review contains spoilers.Hustle is nothing but topical, and this week the team goes after a business that sells a miracle diet plan, after a friend of theirs falls seriously ill.
The friend, Carol, is played by Oliver! musical performer Jodie Prenger, though she doesn’t sing at any point for those expecting that. She’s in here to provide an odd romantic diversion for Eddie, which is the sort of unlikely pairing only the writers of Hustle could come up with. I’ll be honest, it wasn’t good.
Thankfully, that’s a minor subplot – the main course this week is a nicely convoluted hustle where they decide to exact revenge on the diet scammers Dean and Dana Deville. What the BBC had been pushing hard before the screening was that Dean is played by John ‘Captain Jack’ Barrowman, no less. His slightly exuberant acting style is perfect for Hustle, where the characters need to be substantially larger than life.
But I’m sorry to report to Barrowman fans, he’s out-matched, as his co-performer this week is the amazing Raquel Cassidy. The gurning that she delivers here makes Barrowman’s performance seem stilted, as her character appears to present the sum of all female hormonal issues since time began. She’s mesmerising, and poor old John tries to hang on to her coattails as she marches around with a permanently maniacal stare.
They weren’t the weakness here – the weak link was probably the somewhat predictable nature of proceedings, where you’re asked to think that they’ve made a mistake, when it was obvious for anyone who watches the show that they had not.
That moment was all wrapped up in a faux heist inspired by a dozen of those types of movies, where Sean and Emma steal a valuable artefact to order for the Devilles. My issues with this were, firstly, the ease at which they got in, and the other was a horrible MacGuffin they’d created, where the objects inside the exhibition were covered in a chemical that could be detected by infrared sensors at the exhibit exits.
The idea of a light-proof bag didn’t occur them or the writers, and under any sort of scrutiny this plot point made little or no sense whatsoever.A better but derivative idea was the switch with the Fabergé egg, which they appeared to steal, but actually left in the exhibition room. Okay, that was a borrowed idea from The Thomas Crown Affair, but it spawned a nice scene for Sean to walk from police custody, much to their chagrin.
What was also excellent was the prosthetic work that was done with Robert Glenister (Ash) to give the appearance that he’d gained and then lost six stone. What’s great about this show is they often take the time to show you the backroom work on a scam, and the sequence of film showing Ash going through different fat-suits was most enlightening and entertaining.
This wasn’t the best story of this season, but it did feature the most entertaining villains so far, I’d say.
That’s four down, and just a couple to go. Next week, in the penultimate Hustle, the team go up against Mark Williams, who isn’t playing anyone as remotely charming as Ron Weasely’s dad, or driving a steam train…
Read our review of Hustle episode three here.