Seriously, have criminals ever been this cool or this much fun to watch? Since Ocean’s Eleven, I mean. For those that don’t know, Hu$tle is a BBC drama that follows the exploits of a team of five con artists as they “earn” their keep. For the sake of keeping the charaters interesting, the majority of the jobs they pull target people who deserve to be conned. Sort of a modern day band of Merry Men, so to speak. If you are a fan of Spooks (known as MI-5 here in the states), you will probably…be drawn to this show, as the same creator is behind both programs.
It is really fun to see how the characters are able to manipulate people to get what they want. The five members of the team each have their own special areas of expertise, and they way they work together is amazingly synchronized. I was afraid that with a plot as specific as this one, it would be easy to fall into the same trap that American shows such as Without a Trace have fallen into. There is only so much that can change each week, and before long, viewers are left to watch the same basic story episode after episode. Brilliantly, this show only has six episodes per season. This allows the shows producers to keep the quality high and not over-saturate the viewership. The show is currently enjoying its fourth season on the air, so it appears that the plan is working. I know I’m hooked in.
You can’t talk about the audio on these discs without talking about the fantastic music used in this show. The whole thing feels like this great mix of Sammy Davis, Jr., Tommy Dorsey and Moby. The essence of cool. If you are a fan of Guy Ritchie films, then you’re on the right track. However, imagine my surprise when I discovered that the audio track is presented in standard stereo. This is a fins stereo track, but if ever there were a show that was screaming for a full 5.1 treatment, this is it.
I really don’t think this show would be anywhere near as fun as it is if it were presented in regular ‘ol fullscreen. The BBC is really doing their best to present these stories as little one-hour movies, and the widescreen display is essential to that feeling. Also essential is the fact that the images are so sharp and clear. Colors simply pop off the screen, and the show is shot in such as way as to be very visually pleasing instead of merely just illustrating the stories. The producers of this show clearly understand that television is a visual medium, and this belief comes across loud and clear in the excellent camera work that carries so much of the story in these shows.
There is just one extra feature here, but it is presented in a very interesting way. The Big Finish – an in-depth documentary on the making of the final episode is just what it sounds like. Viewers will be happy to note that unlike many TV-on-DVD extras, however, this documentary is presented in the same snappy widescreen presentation as the shows themselves. That makes for a very pleasant transition from feature to extras for widescreen TV owners. It is interesting, however, that the segment is broken up into two parts; one part on disc one, and the conclusion on disc two. This allows for the episodes to spread themselves out over these two discs, which raises the overall quality of the entire product. Plus, no matter what disc is in the payer, viewers are always just a few button pushes away from the supplemental material. There may just be one extra here, but it’s a good one.
This is such a fun show. I enjoyed season one of the program, and I really think season two is even better. Now that the intros and character development is out of the way, the show creators can concentrate more on engaging storytelling right from the start. A fantastic visual style just makes me want to watch the show all the more. It is a shame that the audio is presented in mere stereo, however. A 5.1 mix could have added so much to these stories. Hopefully this is an issue that will be remedied in future seasons. I could also go for a bit more in the special features department, but there are just six episodes, so I shouldn’t expect too much. A commentary track would have been nice, though. As an overall purchase, though, I would have no problems recommending this title, especially to fans of MI-5. If you are looking for a slick crime series, this one delivers.
Special Features List
- The Big Finish – An in-depth documentary on the making of the final episode