This review may contain spoilers.
Hustle is over again, come and gone like a seasonal change so brief it doesn’t warrant a title. I’ve no idea if this is the last we’ll see of Mickey and the gang, but if it comes to pass, then this final story of season 7 wasn’t a bad way to finish.
However, when it started out, I was slightly dubious, because the story’s basic idea of helping a grifter out, who’d got himself into trouble, had already been covered earlier in the season.
Except in some respect, this element, and the long con that Mickey plays to keep Cool Hand Cooper from swimming with the fishes (shouldn’t that just be just ‘fish’?) is actually more of a backdrop to a much more interesting narrative that’s entirely Albert’s (Robert Vaughn). A woman from Albert’s past turns up and drops the bombshell that he’s not only a father, but also a grandfather. News that he manages to handle reasonably well, considering.
What this is really about is the loneliness that a life of grifting can bring you, and in the case of Albert, how he managed to come to a fork in the road and choose it over a more conventional lifestyle and, unbeknown to him, a family.
Hannah Gordon turns up as Susan, and somewhat disturbingly doesn’t look any different to me than when she was queen of situational comedy in the early seventies (My Wife Next Door). She’s supported by the able Claire Goose (The Bill, Waking The Dead), as her and Albert’s daughter, Kathleen. They also manage to shoehorn the excellent Clive Swift in here as the gang’s poker playing pal, Yusef.
As the past he didn’t know he had is revealed to Albert, his reaction is both touching and revealing of the deeper character, and perhaps his intrinsic flaws. Robert Vaughn was quite superb in this, and I’m really glad they gave him this opportunity to deliver some real pathos here.
Because of this aspect, in particular, I wasn’t too concerned that the plot about the diamonds buried under what is now a police station canteen appeared to be entirely borrowed from the classic 1965 Sid James movie, The Big Job. This was Vaughn’s very personal take on the regrets of old age and he played it for all it was worth.
Looking back over the six stories that we get for each Hustle season, this wasn’t a classic, but it was entertaining. Viewing figures for the first four shows reveal that this was the most watched of any season so far, which would suggest that the BBC should at least consider an eighth.
In the meanwhile, the show’s creator, Tony Jordan, has been working in the US to get a major motion picture of Hustle off the ground, although I’ve not heard anything about 20th Century Fox’s plans, as it’s held the rights since 2006.
If it does come back, I’d like them at least to have a stab at explaining what happened to Billy Bond (Ashley Walters), who disappeared in season 4, but has never been referred to since. And, it might be nice to also bring back Jaime Murray as Stacie Monroe and Marc Warren as Danny Blue, who, as I recall, were left working long cons in Vegas together.
What I enjoy most about this show is that each of the characters gets their time in the limelight, and then they return to providing a supporting structure for others to shine. It all seems very democratic, and the concept of Mickey’s crew as a sort of family works well. There’s nothing exceptionally new or exciting in what’s been done here, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch. Long may Hustle go on.
Read our review of episode 5 here.
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