Hustle series 7 episode 1 review: As Good As It Gets

Hustle is back for another six episodes, but can the BBC be accused of playing the long con on its viewers?

This review contains spoilers.

7.1 As Good As It Gets

Is it me or is this show now starting to feel tired and mechanical? Perhaps.

The first story of season 7, As Good As It Gets, wasn’t classic Hustle, but it was generally entertaining in a very light entertainment manner. But then, I guess that’s what most of the audience tune in to see. So, there’s a paradox to it returning, but without contributing anything especially new.

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The story is stand-alone, in that it doesn’t really brush any of the story arc points that have previously been used, and, in fact, longer plot elements have all but been erased from the narrative entirely since season 5.

The barman Eddie asks the team to help solve a family issue when his niece is ripped off by a devil-in-Prada modelling agency diva, Wendy Stanton, played consummately by TV and film veteran, Anna Chancellor. In terms of my personal enjoyment, it was Anna’s performance that actually brought me the most glee here, because her facial twitches that accompanied any money discussions were downright hilarious. She was so good as a comic actress that I’d definitely go see her in farce, if she took that option.

On the other end of my enjoyment scale was the way they tied in the original three marks at the end, which was horribly contrived and obvious from the outset. There also wasn’t enough Robert Vaughn’s Albert Stroller for my liking, as I find him also endlessly watchable. Adrian Lester seemed to be enjoying his opportunity to be camp as fashion guru, Hilary King, although with Louie Spence occupying so much TV time these days, he did seem rather subdued in comparison.

What did impress me was the Liverpudlian accent that Kelly Adams produced, which considering she’s from Lincolnshire (and I’m from the latter region), wasn’t half bad.

Overall, this episode was rather too by the numbers, which concerns me that the whole of season 7 is likely to be relatively surprise-free.

I’d also like to mention a very obvious gaff that appeared in the later part of the show, which caught my eye only because usually Hustle is created to a very high standard. There’s a scene where Mickey is trying to convince Wendy that she should part with some money, and she’s been primed to respond to spilt milk, which is something he does by knocking over a small jug of it. Except when we come back to the wide shot, the milk jug was upright and the milk unspilled. Oops.

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As much as I generally enjoy Hustle, perhaps it’s time that either they mix things up more than they did in this story, or retire this format after this season. I’d miss it, but those behind the scenes appear to be treading water compulsively, from this reviewer’s perspective.

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