Summer TV is usually a vast wasteland of crappy game shows, silly reality shows, and LOTS of reruns. Some broadcast networks try original programming, but the results are spotty.
In a bit of inspiration (read: cost savings), The CW has decided to bring us a British import adventure series. But is it any good?
The aim of Hooten and The Lady Season 1 Episode 1 is to be a throwback to the fun, action adventure movies of the past.
Nostalgia is a two edged sword – audiences like comfortable TV, especially with everything going on in the world these days, but it can be highly derivative and boring if not done well.
The influences are obvious: many of the scenes harken back to movies like Romancing the Stone, the Indiana Jones films, The African Queen, National Treasure, and countless others. It's almost as if the producers had a bullet point list when creating the series:
- Attractive, charming, but sketchy male lead? Check.
- Attractive, high strung, but plucky female lead? Check.
- Beautiful, but dangerous locales? Check.
- Scenery chewing bad guys? Check.
- A cool McGuffin for our heroes and bad guys to fight over? Double check.
You get the drift. It's something we've seen dozens of times. But like procedurals, mysteries, and sitcoms, the key to success is in the execution.
For something like this to work, it all comes down to the leads and the amount of chemistry they have. It's all about the witty banter.
Fortunately, the leads (plus the beautiful locations) are the best part of the show. Ophelia Lovibond's (Elementary, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, Guardians of the Galaxy) Lady Alexandra is a wonderful character: smart, funny, and beautiful.
I've never seen her do a bad job in anything she's done, so it's great to see her finally get a lead role.
Michael Landes is less effective as the scalawag Hooten, but he does have good chemistry with Lovibond.
I like the twist of having Lady Alex be the archeologist and the brains of the outfit because having a strong woman as the lead is a bit different from the norm in this type of story. It's about time.
Her refusal to blindly follow Hooten is refreshing, and I like the way she's being written so far.
The Romancing the Stone echoes are frequent, from falling down the mountain, only to end up in a compromising position, to them constantly being in danger.
I think they set a world record for characters in jeopardy, hanging from various things like cliffs, trees, and helicopters.
One thing did bother me: why did they have to kill Hooten's horse, Clara? Not cool. That beautiful horse was used for a cheap joke, but for me, it fell flat.
Lady Alexandra: What's that?
Hooten: I grabbed it before we left the camp. It seemed like a smart thing to do.
Lady Alexandra: It looks like meat.
Lady Alexandra: You're eating your horse?
Hooten: It's what she would have wanted.
I knew from the jump that the guide Pascal was going to be the bad guy. It was telegraphed early on, so they need to work on that in the future.
I know it's all about the two lead characters, but it would make the show better to have a compelling villain, rather than the cookie cutter, National Treasure type portrayed so far.
The situations the characters were put in were pretty derivative, which is also a problem. I don't know how much the interplay between Hooten and Lady Alex, as good as it is, can save a boring story.
I did like the Percy Fossett angle: it's timely, and the Lost City of Gold is always a fun mystery.
Alex: None of this would have happened if you hadn't have stolen the skull in the first place. And then we escape by the skin of our teeth, and you just go right ahead and steal it again.
Hooten: I didn't steal anything. Don't give me that, you grave robber.
Hooten: Wrenching that map from his cold, dead hand.
Alex: That is hardly the same thing.
Hooten: You're right-it's worse. You should be ashamed of yourself. And, you broke his arm off!
Alex: You know, everyone has the right to be stupid, Mr. Hooten, but you really abuse the privilege.
The native tribe was depicted in a pretty dismissive, colonial fashion, only played for laughs. That bothered me a bit, but stories like this aren't supposed to be PC, so there you go.
I have read the producers are not going to do the "will they/won't they" nonsense, which is good as far as I'm concerned.
Who says we can't have a male and female lead who have a grudging respect for each other without always ending up in bed?
I hope they grow as colleagues and possibly friends, without making it a whole soap opera. Alex does have a fiance, so I hope it's not going to be some rom-com silliness.
The end scene was intriguing, with Hooten donating almost all of his ill-gotten gains from the sale of the stolen diamond to an orphanage in Rio.
Is Hooten an orphan? Probably. Or is there a child in the mix? Character depth will help greatly, especially in Hooten's case. Right now he's basically one note. I'm much more interested in Alex than Hooten at this point.
And, not for nothing, but Hooten and the Lady has got to be one of the WORST show titles I've ever heard. It's not a title that draws you in, am I right?
All in all, I think there is potential going forward. The leads are attractive and get along well, the locations are top notch, and the adventure aspect really does play well in the lazy summer months.
Tell me what you think. Do you like the premise? Do the lead actors do it for you? Or is it far too derivative to keep your interest?
Sound off in the comments section.