A lot happens in the first 30 minutes of Hunted – fist fights, gunfights, kidnapping, betrayal, sex, flashbacks, flash forwards, disguises, assassinations and a dash of foreign travel. About the only things missing are a pause for breath and any explanation for all the mayhem.
Infuriating and intriguing in equal parts, it is a conceit that certainly grabs the attention. It is also breathtakingly well done, an adrenalin rush of excitement the likes of which I can’t remember seeing in a British TV drama before. The show’s producers have clearly been studying their DVD box sets of the Bourne movies.
At the centre of this whirlwind is kick-ass female operative Sam Hunter, played by Melissa George – the estimable star of In Treatment, The Slap and, lest we forget, Home and Away. Not just a fine actor and a pretty face, George is also wholly convincing when it comes to a scrap, which she does frequently and impressively.
Yes, the first 30 minutes of Hunted were very promising. However, as soon as the show takes its foot off the pedal and begins the onerous task of putting characters and events into a conventional dramatic context, it becomes very ordinary indeed.
Our heroine, we discover, works for one of those shadowy organisations offering specialist services to the highest bidder – a free enterprise version of the Mission Impossible team, as it were. First on the agenda was some nonsense regarding Patrick Malahide’s East End gangster and a multimillion dollar contract for a hydroelectric dam in Pakistan.
Throughout, George is great as the rogue operative coming in from the cold, all wrapped up in suspicion, resentment and understandably paranoid tendencies. I’ll probably keep watching the series for her alone.
But two thirds of the way into episode one, Hunted began to annoy me. I didn’t like Hunter’s miserable head of operations and his idiotic verbosity, didn’t buy her colleagues or their contrived banter, and found the ease with which she infiltrated the home of their first ‘mark’ totally implausible.
I was none too fond of seeing a character stabbed in the eye with a hypodermic needle, either. But that’s just me being feeble.
Best Possible Taste – The Kenny Everett Story opens with a pair of false teeth in a glass of water gurgling a variation on the standard biopic warning: “It’s based on a true story, but some of the scenes have been ‘scrungled’. It also contains… naughty bits.”
Dropped into Kenny’s weird and wonderful world, we are immediately reacquainted with several of its celebrated inhabitants, including Cupid Stunt, Sid Snot, Brother Lee Love, Angry of Mayfair and Marcel Wave. They are on hand to help recount the life and career of the consistently self-destructive, frequently self-loathing and sometimes self-centred radio and TV maverick.
Oliver Lansley perfectly captures Everett and his multiple incarnations. Katherine Kelly plays his wife, Lee, and Simon Callow puts in a suitably luvvie turn as Dickie Attenborough, who rescues the much-sacked Cuddly Ken from the broadcasting wilderness of producing jingles for a carpet warehouse.
Hunted, BBC1, Thursday, October 4, 9pm
Best Possible Taste – The Kenny Everett Story, Wednesday, October 3, 9pm