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TV review: BBC's Hunted off to a lacklustre start
Melissa George in Hunted - Image. BBC
Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files) has been planning this British spy drama for nearly a decade. He's finally teamed-up with the people that brought us Spooks to deliver an action-thriller which delves into the murky world of private security. But can it fill the gap left by its much-feted predecessor?
Evil hitman Dr Horst Goebel (with a name like that, he was never going to be a good guy!) is a clichéd yet chilling villain. His ridiculously elaborate syringe murder was also a real eye-opener (boom boom).
Some of the dialogue was mind-numbingly clunky: "I put my neck on the block for you!" - "But I'm your best operative!" - "What do you expect? I'm a spy!" Jeez.
After a month of wall-to-wall period drama (from the excellent Parade's End to a rather befuddling The Paradise), it's good to swap elitism for espionage. Spooks wrapped nearly a year ago and there's definitely a chasm-like gap in the BBC's schedule for a decent spy caper.
"The result is something entertaining yet instantly forgettable."
Unfortunately Hunted isn't it. At least, not based on the first episode; there's much work to do before it falls into the category of essential viewing.
There is promise and polish, but this pilot is also cluttered with poor-scripting and lacklustre characterisation. The result is something entertaining yet instantly forgettable.
Producers know Spooks fans will probably give the show the benefit of any doubt at this stage, but they need to nail the central plot fast.
Not exactly Homeland
Melissa George (Home & Away, The Slap and a host of other things in between) stars as pouting beauty Sam Hunter (Hunter? Hunted? Such japes!) an operative who works for private intelligence firm Byzantium.
When someone tries to murder her on the job during an action-packed opening sequence, she realises a member of her team wants her out of the picture. But who?
Whoever it is better get their act together because Hunter is already flashbacking to a violent incident from her youth which will surely hold the key to everything.
However, these flashbacks failed in their main responsibility; making us viewers care about Hunter. Despite her tortured past being shoved in my face, I couldn't care less at the minute.
Anyway, after laying low for a year and putting together a training montage which would bring a tear to Rocky Balboa's eye, our lead returns to the colleagues who believed her dead and begins the process of working out which one of them betrayed her.
An old boyfriend is top of the list, but it's pretty clear that everyone's a suspect. Even the affable new guy who's "on his first assignment".
What did you think of Hunted?
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- It's good
- It's passable
- It's awful
With a paranoid, yet steely female spy as its focus, Hunted will inevitably draw comparisons with C4's Homeland (incidentally, Melissa George was close to getting the role of Carrie Mathison before it went to Claire Danes - but this is a different animal).
We may be seeing the picture through just one person, but Hunted is more unfocused than its American counterpart. Meanwhile, some of the sign-posting is hopelessly unsubtle ("So you want to find out who wants to kill you, and why?") and while Hunter ponders this question, she's also infiltrating the home of some dastardly cockney crime boss.
He's ear-marked as a villain, but in truth we can't be sure as Byzantium are a private agency and they do not report to a government. Their clients don't have to be good guys as long as they pay the bills - raising a theme which will hopefully open plenty of doors later on.
The writers are certainly playing the long game (there's talk of taking the show to a different European city in every series) but if that plan is to become a reality, Hunted needs to shape-up.
- Verdict: A great deal of hype, but a very generic drama.
What other reviews say
The Telegraph - "A daft romp rather than anything deep and meaningful. Hunted is no Homeland. It's not even a Spooks."
The Guardian - "If the inevitable comparison with Homeland is unfavourable, it's probably also unfair."
What Twitter said
@lilyrosecooper (Lily Allen) - "Melissa George's mouth/pout is outrageous. #hunted."
@markrwright - "Thoroughly enjoyed the ludicrous Hunted last night".
The views in this article are those of the author alone and not of MSN or Microsoft
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