Hooten & The Lady: 1.01 The Amazon
Pulp tales of two-fisted adventure have been with us since the 1930's and never quite left us. The early days of Doc Savage gave way to Indiana Jones, Romancing the Stone and The Mummy, which paved the way for games and movies like Tomb Raider and Uncharted. The tropes of the genre are so well known, they may as well be etched on our psyches, barely in need of any subversion. Which is a good thing for Sky's new adventure show Hooten & The Lady.
The show was created by writer Tony Jordan, best known for his work on Eastenders, Dickensian and Life on Mars. Speaking about the show he said:
"A lot of television drama has become pretty dark over the past few years, with serial killers and murder investigations filling our television schedules. Our aim was to make a show that was still smart, and funny, but was also something that lifted the spirits of the viewer. We wanted to give the Sky 1 audience a movie of the week on the small screen, real appointment-to-view television with great characters and a rip-roaring grown-up adventure."
British Museum curator Lady Alexandra Lindo-Parker (Ophelia Lovibond of W1A and Guardians of The Galaxy) is not happy with her lot, pushing paper. She wants to be an adventurer, walking in the footsteps of her heroes. Adventurers like Livingston and Percy Fawcett, who's last camp she wants to find. Percy was in the Amazon looking for Eldorado.
Hooten (Michael Landes) is an American adventurer, treasure hunter and rogue. In an another world he might be a smuggler and nerf herder, your standard two-fisted hero archetype. They meet each other captured by natives in the Amazon, a strange meet-cute in any other genre.
From there the pace is brisk, ripping through the genre's fastidiously followed tropes. Obviously there's betrayal and treasure, and plenty references to the inspiration for the show; all those mentioned above are at least nodded at.
Overall, this show would not have been out of place, utterly unchanged, in the 1980s. It's cartoonish and a little silly and jingoistic; this is not the show for deep Skandi gritty introspection. Jessica Hynes of W1A back in the British museum seems to be on the verge of letting loose her considerable comedic talents any minute. And yet, it's an enjoyable romp.
From the looks of the previews for next week, each of the eight episodes will include a search for a new treasure, in a new country, facing a new antagonist. Only time will tell where Lady Alex's mother, played by Jane Seymour, fits into that world.