After their Roman holiday, this week’s escapade begins with our heroes working together from the beginning, with Hooten (Michael Landes) ostensibly on the British Museum payroll as Lady Alex (Ophelia Lovibond) attempts to uncover the tomb of Alexander the Great.
While she is making a presentation to the authorities in Alexandria, seeking permission to dig for a shrine which promised to reveal a vital clue, Hooten makes ample progress with the direct approach using dynamite and a JCB.
Successful though his methods are, his celebratory antics of drinking, gambling and waving a significant relic about attract the attention of the glamorous Melina (Angel Coulby) who is a whole heap of heavily accented trouble.
Fun at it was, we made the mistake of thinking the story was a little one-note to begin with. However, as it developed, co-creator Richard Zajdlic’s script held back a few reveals and employed some clever mis-direction, developing into a tale with the suggestion of a much wider political context.
Directed by Justin Molotnikov (Merlin, Doctor Who), the tomb scenes were pleasantly claustrophobic, the bar fight scenes well-handled and the story maintained a fair pace, making good use of the locations. Plus there was a scuba diving finale which screamed James Bond!
Oh, and Angel Coulby, giving us a femme fatale who is about as far from Gwen in Merlin as we ever have seen her, the guest cast also included Blake Ritson (Upstairs Downstairs, Da Vinci’s Demons) as the unscrupulous rival archaeologist, Dr Yannaras.
We were pleased to see the return of Shaun Parkes as Alex’s boss Clive Stephenson this week, with his attitude of plausible deniability towards Hooten’s shenanigans. Clive makes a neat companion for Jessica Hynes’ Ella, together forming Alex’s back office team and saving Ella from talking to herself, but we are itching to see them in the thick of the action at some point. To be honest, both smell like rather high profile casting for such minor roles.
With no great revelations between the leads this week, save what a glorious pain in the rear Hooten can be, some fun was poked at the expense of Alex’s assumed jealousy of Melina, as well as her rather sensible pyjamas. It was not all gags though, with a tender scene when Hooten saved her from entombment… before he spoiled the moment.
We also particularly enjoyed the final reveal of Melina’s sexuality and Hooten setting the pair up as final gag. Fun and feisty, we do hope Melina will return.
Three episodes in and we are thoroughly enjoying Hooten and the Lady, while it might not be reinventing the wheel each week, its combination of two charismatic stars and pacey, ambitious action is happily keeping us coming back for more.
Airs at 9pm on Friday 30 September 2016 on Sky1.
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