This review contains spoilers.
Property developers have featured heavily on Hustle over the years, as they’re always knocking down people’s architectural memories, it appears. But that wasn’t enough motivation here, so they decided to make the nemesis of this week’s hustle a twisted TV performer whose shining star ended up in the skip.
The key to the success of this idea entirely pivoted on who they got to play Dale Ridley, and Mark Williams pulled it off quite brilliantly. I can say this with some authority, as in my youth I pulled pints in a pub frequented by an embittered alcoholic actor who’d been hugely successful in the 60s, and the parallels to Dale Didley were striking. It’s the utter contempt he has for anyone who doesn’t remember him, and oddly, equally despising those who did, that sold it to me.
This element of the story worked well, as did the series of steps needed to reel Dale into the Hustle team’s property scam. The scene where they actually used a meeting room in the building occupied by the real organisation accepting bids for old TV studios was classic Hustle.
They’ve done it so many times before, but it’s marvellous fun to watch.It speaks volumes about the etiquette of business people and how speaking in an authoritarian fashion can get you almost anything.The fly in this particular ointment for me was the subplot that introduced Ash’s 11-year-old godson Alfie into the equation. This reminded me of so many abysmal 60s and 70s TV shows, where they’d always have a kid story at some point, and it was always a story about learning a lesson. Except obviously, in this environment, Alfie is supposed to hang around, not mess up their cons.
That said, Sammy Williams, who played Alfie, was actually a rather good actor, although I did have some trouble accepting that he was 11. I think it was just how confidently he presented the Alfie character that was my issue, because my information suggests that Sammy is indeed just 11-years-old. I guess some children are implausibly brash, and that’s how Sammy delivered him.
The final part of the scam, where they separate nasty ol’ Dale from his cash, was probably too convoluted to have actually worked in reality. The swapping of key cards, for example, could have easily been railroaded, because most hotels will provide at least two cards for any room, so Dale’s minion might have easily had one. And the way that they change the room numbering suggests that a hotel would attach them to the wall with easily removable adhesive, which they patently wouldn’t. Anyone else getting into the lift with them, such as a hotel employee, would have blown the exercise, too. In short, there were just too many ways for it to go wrong, and sods law would have inevitably come into play.
I’d put this episode in the entertaining but flawed category, in the greater scheme of Hustle productions, because it was far from boring.The small side story I did enjoy was where they go to borrow money from The Reg. This had a lovely counterpoint, where poor Emma ends up ballroom dancing with him, if you could call it that.
But it’s with a heavy heart that I must now drive nails into those who’ve tried to ignore the impending reality of this show’s end. Next week is the final story, where Mickey and the gang try to make the big score that will allow them to retire from the long con.
As the entire series has been an homage to 60s heist movies, my money is on an Italian Job-style ending, and I’m talking about the one with Michael Caine, and not the cookie-cutter remake with Mark Wahlberg. But I’m sure the final hour of Hustle is going to great, when the perfectly poised Stacie Monroe returns. I can’t wait.
Read our review of Hustle season eight episode four here.