Posts tagged ‘Hustle’

I’ve seen that episode of Hustle


A young man who reminded me of a confidence trickster I knew (who is now serving time at His Majesty’s pleasure) approached me today on Lambton Quay.

‘I wonder if you could help me,’ he said. ‘I’ve just had my 25th birthday but woke up with all my stuff gone. I live in the Wairarapa and I’ve been walking around for eight and a half hours. I just want to go back and see my daughter.’

That’s a lot to hit someone in a few seconds, but my instinct was to find a way to help him, despite my wanting to meet my other half as I was holding some of her things, having dropped her off a few moments earlier while I looked for a car park.

I explained this to the young man—and wished him happy birthday—but said I could return this way. And I didn’t carry any cash. I offered to find a way to get him home.

‘The fare is $20 back to the Wairarapa.’

‘I’ll tell you what. I have to meet my missus but if you wait here, I’ll drive you to the station and buy you the ticket myself.’

‘Could you not get $20 out of an ATM? If you give me $20 and your account details, and I’ll give you $50 when I get back. I’ve got lots of money.’

This is when alarm bells ring, because I’ve seen those episodes of Hustle. And then everything else became implausible.

Obviously if he was out of town for his birthday, he would have friends. Real friends.

There’s no way that in Wellington you can wander around for eight hours with no one rendering you assistance.

Whomever is looking after his daughter would have already called the police. He could have just walked into a station and explained what happened.

And no, I wasn’t going to go to an ATM. ‘I don’t want $50. I’m old school, I’ve barely used those. Let me just get you the ticket and get you on the train.’

‘How will you pay for it if you don’t use ATMs?’

‘Credit card. I can get you the ticket. Let’s go to the station.’

‘Nah, I’ve troubled you enough.’
Couldn’t he do the flop instead? As far as short cons go, that wasn’t very good.

But also a sad indictment on all of us that we’ve let society come to this, where a young man falls through the cracks and feels he has to con.

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Forced to take prime-time nostalgia trips


‘There’s an old Polish proverb …’ I believe it’s ‘Reality television can’t stop the motorways in Warsaw from getting icy.’

I’ve always known what sort of telly I liked, and often that was at odds with what broadcasters put on. In the 1970s, my tastes weren’t too dissimilar from the general public’s, but as the years went on, they diverged from what New Zealand programmers believed we should watch.
   Shows I liked would prematurely disappear (Dempsey & Makepeace), only to return very late at night a decade later. Some only ever appeared late at night (Hustle), then vanish (in New Zealand, seasons 5 to 8 have never appeared on a terrestrial channel, and they have also never been released on DVD).
   We had a British expat visitor on Wednesday. He arrived here in 2008, and had no idea that TV1 had once been the home of British programming, and TV2 was where the Hollywood stuff went.
   By the late 2000s and early 2010s, I was watching either DVDs or finding a way to get to BBC Iplayer et al, because less and less of what was on offer had any appeal. We had boxed sets of Mission: Impossible, The Persuaders, and others.
   When the country switched to Freeview, I couldn’t be bothered getting a decoder. We were fine with online. Eventually, I did buy a TV set with Freeview, but only because the previous one conked out.
   On Thursday night, it became very apparent just how bad television had become here.
   Every English-language and Te Reo Māori terrestrial channel had unscripted drama, i.e. “reality” shows, or the occasional panel show or real-life event, other than Prime, showing the MacGyver remake.
   Who in the 1980s would have predicted that MacGyver would be the only scripted series on air during prime-time here between 7.30 and 8.30 p.m.?
   I realize the economics of television have changed, and there’s no such thing as a TVNZ drama department any more.
   Shows which might have had the whole country watching would be lucky to pull in a quarter of the audience today.
   But it is a sad reflection that the televised equivalent of the weekly gossip rag is what rates. The effort needed to produce quality drama is expensive, and not enough of us support it.
   I also imagine scripted Hollywood shows are cheaper than British ones, hence what we see on our screens is American—and why some kids these days now speak with American accents. Yet to some New Zealanders, Chinese-language signs on Auckland high streets are a bigger threat to the local culture. Really?
   In this household, we vote with our attention spans—and over the last month that has meant DVDs of Banacek and, in true 50 shades of Grade fashion, The Protectors. Sometimes, you feel it’s 1972 in this house—but at least the telly was better then.

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BBC drama, this autumn and winter


Don’t know how I could have missed this. Oh, yes I do: I was running for office.
   Now that I’m not, I want to give the BBC a bit of a push, because these dramas look awesome. Aurelio Zen, with Rufus Sewell, looks like my sort of drama, and begins the first week of January. Caterina Murino plays his girlfriend and was that John Shrapnel I saw as a villain? Ashes to Ashes fans: our Luigi, Joseph Long, is in this series, so it’s not just Keeley Hawes (Upstairs, Downstairs) you’ll see this season.
   Doctor Who fans will note that Eccleston, Tennant and Smith appear, though only Smith is the Doctor in these clips.
   No Hustle promoed here, but that will also start in early January.
   And the calibre of the actors here is amazing. See how many big names you can spot.

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Twenty-ten’s TV in eight paragraphs


BBC2’s Mongrels was probably the best thing on telly for me in 2010.
   Hustle suffered from being filmed in Brum and the scripts weren’t as good (the “Kylie Minogue” scene being one of the few highlights); Ashes to Ashes’ ending was disappointing and the whole series felt cheap; Luther had a few too many “angry black man” scenes for my liking, even if Idris Elba can act better than anyone on telly; and, over on ITV1, Identity was only good when Keeley Hawes was wearing that pencil skirt.
   The first bright spot other than Mongrels was the reinvigorated Doctor Who. I was not much of a fan of the Scotsman, though at the moment I know he has a multitude of fans. Three and Nine were my favourites, but the direction that Steven Moffat (Chalk, Jekyll) is taking the series appeals to me. Forget Eleven, who can resist the charms of K-Gill? Stuff the Union, Jack: I love Scotland after all.
   The second bright spot was, and I’m sure many of my BBC-watching friends will agree, Sherlock. I have read a lot of the Conan Doyle books and bringing Holmes into 2010 was always going to be a risky venture. Moffat has succeeded, and the first episode (of a short three last summer) was a nice adaptation and modernization of A Study in Scarlet, entitled ‘A Study in Pink’, but with enough twists to the tale to keep us guessing. It also didn’t fall into parody, which modifying Holmes can get you doing. (Anyone remember The Return of Sherlock Holmes with some Australian actor and Margaret Colin as Watson’s descendant in the 1980s, when Holmes is awakened from being cryogenically frozen? It was filmed mostly in the UK, so for the American scenes, they simply hired Shane Rimmer, who, oddly enough, is not American). Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are the best pairing since Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke, though it was still that first episode that pressed all the right buttons.
   Over in Germany, Alarm für Cobra 11 had a great season première in September, and subsequent episodes didn’t measure up. And these days, I’ve mostly given up on American television (still going through Venture Bros. episodes as one exception), while New Zealand terrestrial TV just seems to be filled with cooking shows and Gordon Ramsey appears far too often for my liking, regardless of channel.
   Please, please, can someone remove that foul-mouthed bastard from my screen?
   TV chefs should be like Martin Yan, or, as I told the audience at the St Mark’s leavers’ dinner last night, Des Britten.
   So, here’s a quickie from the series that gave me the most laughs this year, spoofing one of my favourite series of the 2000s. And of course Marion, the Persian cat, has an accent like Omid Djalili’s. Makes perfect sense to me.

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