Hustle: The Complete Season 1 (Dbl DVD)
The art of the con is not dead. You merely can not see it. If you do see it, then it is inevitably always too late. It is an invisible crime built on the premise of finding someone who wants something for nothing and then giving them nothing for something. Choose the mark, reel them in, play on their desires and set them up. It does not matter whether they are black or white, male of female but they must be strictly major league. There are no quick fixes. Patience is truly a virtue in this game. All you have to do is make them believe.
An elaborate con game has a built-in dramatic structure--so it's almost effortless for Hustle
to turn a band of con artists into a stylish, charming BBC series. The key to the show is that it's realistic enough to get the audience engaged in the psychology of the swindle, but preposterous enough to be completely entertaining. A team of five--Mickey "Bricks", the charismatic leader (Adrian Lester, Primary Colors
); Albert, Mickey's old mentor (Robert Vaughn, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
); Ash, who rigs things up (Robert Glenister, Prime Suspect 4
); the drop-dead gorgeous Stacie (Jaime Murray, The Taming of the Shrew
); and newcomer Danny (Marc Warren, The Revenger's Tragedy
--are cunning crooks with hearts of gold, who routinely turn their skill at fraud to help needy friends. Despite this implausible sentimentality, the show's great pleasure lies in the fallibility of human nature, as mark after mark is led awry by his or her worst impulses, ranging from a brutal casino owner to a predatory art dealer to a vicious ex-cop. The best episodes have double twists that turn the con on its head; the weakest ones rely on devices already made familiar by movies like The Sting
. But consistent throughout are entertaining performances by the core cast and delightful freeze-frame sequences in which the details of the cons receive a swift and lucid explanation. All in all, thoroughly fun stuff. --Bret Fetzer