Sky’s new action adventure series has been hyped to the max as good old-fashioned fun. It’s an eight part series co-created by EastEnders’ Tony Jordan of all people. But we know he’s keen to branch out since Dickensian enraged/ amused fans of Charles Dickens at Christmas. This is no soap opera, but the characters are familiar and you may feel you’ve seen it before.
Meet maverick rogue thief Hooten (just one name, because he’s cool, like Coolio) and clever posh totty Lady Alexandra Hyphenated-Surname. They team up in extremely unlikely circumstances to rescue treasures for the British Museum and earn pots of cash and flirt with each other in exotic locations. Sounds familiar?
It could have been fun I guess, but this whole episode is agonisingly dull and flat as a pancake, with miserably poor performances from all involved. It’s especially sad to see comedy star Jessica Hynes briefly involved (you can do so much better Jess!). And we know that Ophelia Lovibond has acting chops – she was funny, complicated and adorable in short-lived Sky comedy Mr Sloane.
Maybe it’s the writers who have to shoulder most of the blame here? The script has all the pizazz and sparkle of a sub-par Bond flick caked in layers of archeological artifact dust and Amazonian mud. The flirty but antagonistic ‘will-they-won’t-they’ nonsense is as old as time (they will) and just plain irritating to watch. None of the characters are believable in anyway, and their motivations beyond nonsensical especially the villain – he’s angry because he’s French and the British have been employing him for three years. Vous putain quoi?!
It’s difficult to work out if it’s culturally insensitive and sexist and stupid, or just plain stupid. The Amazonian tribesmen were uncomfortably drawn caricatures (bones through the nose savages who were going to rape and eat their captives) and the title itself is an odd one. Yes I know they want to push the posh/rough odd couple dynamic, but The Lady doesn’t even get her name in the title, just her… title. I know this is meant to be a silly escapist romp, but it’s 2016 – we don’t need to conform to all the worst stereotypes of 80’s action movies.
Despite the jungle journey, there’s little real jeopardy – it turns out the mysterious lost city of El Dorado is as easy to find as falling off a log. With such killer lines as “You’re not going to get away with this!” I’m surprised the leads could keep a straight face. And then both protagonists take turns dangling from a helicopter that then explodes. But of course.
It’s like they’ve spent so much time, effort and money on getting every set and every situation completely wrong. Hooten’s pad is not in the Brazilian favelas, whatever the text on the screen might say – it’s somewhere between medieval Madrid and neon Tokyo. And as a point of interest, how could the British Museum recreate an improbable missing explorers camp, right down to the finest details in the time it takes for Hooten to get back to civilisation with his wound still bleeding? Boy those eggheads work fast! Also I’m pretty sure that the administrators of the British Museum don’t work anywhere that could double as an evil scientist’s lair.
Next week the pair are off to Rome, so swapping ripping off Indiana Jones/ Lara Croft/ Romancing the Stone adventures for ripping off Dan Brown guff. I’ll be sure to miss it. I suggest you leave them to it as well.
If you’re headstrong and willful and going to ignore my advice completely then Hooten and The Lady is on Sky One Fridays at 9pm