Main cast: Michael Landes (Hooten), Ophelia Lovibond (Lady Alexandra Lindo-Parker), Jessica Hynes (Ella Bond), Shaun Parkes (Clive Stephenson), Jérémie Covillault (Pascal), and Kierston Wareing (Mrs T)
Director: Colin Teague
Hooten & the Lady is clearly modeled after Romancing the Stone, as it revolves around two polar opposites thrown together in a hunt for historical artifacts. In fact, this very first episode takes place in the Amazon jungles, hence its title, to drive home the comparison. Only, our intrepid American explorer Hooten and the very British and very proper Lady Alex Lindo-Parker aren’t very good at what they are supposed to do, heh.
The Amazon begins with Alex persuading the board of the British Museum to allow her, a curator, to venture out on the museum-funded expedition to locate the camp of the missing explorer Percy Fawcett, a 20th century explorer who vanished while searching for the fabled city of El Dorado. Mind you, they aren’t impressed with her grand speech about wanting to channel the spirit of the explorers of yore – she convinces them that, should she find any sparkly old things in the process, the publicity she brings in will bring the museum back into the limelight and stall the Chancellor’s determination to slash public funding.
Meanwhile, Hooten is a man who is clearly escaping a past he doesn’t want to talk much about; he is being bested and literally tossed around by both fellow expatriates and the natives until he finds himself all trussed up in one of the villages dotting the landscape… right beside Alex, who isn’t doing a better job acclimatizing to her new environment. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and said some wrong things, so these folks want to give her death by fire ants, while Hooten would be buggered by the chief (don’t ask) for being a thief. She gets him to fight with their strongest warriors as a way to negotiate their release, and needless to say, she isn’t impressed by his not-so-awesome fighting prowess. And it’s all downhill from there…
You know, I’m torn about this one. Michael Landes – whom I confess I’ve always had a crush on, ever since Special Unit 2 (oh, be quiet) – certainly looks the part, and Ophelia Lovibond plays her role well without making Alex come off as too dumb or annoying. Both characters are equally annoying here, actually, and I find that quite quaint for some reason.
There are some genuinely amusing moments, such as when Alex enquires whether a bar has a “telephone” only to be told that they have Skype too. Hooten being the furthest from a perfect, all-capable hero who can beat anyone and anything also adds to the charm of this episode. Also quite charming is how Alex doesn’t seem enamored of him at all in this episode. These two are thrown together by an unlucky turn of event, and they really don’t want much to do with the other person… at least until they find a good reason to stick together, of course.
But on the whole, there is a lack of comedy that feels adult or sophisticated. For the most part, the dialogues seem to be written for kids, containing humor that is for the most part dumbed down to appeal to those young kids, although some not-so-clean one-liners suggest that this just-for-kiddies vibe is accidental rather than by design. Some scenes seem designed as a homage to that you-know-what movie, which only drives home how this one is not so great in comparison.
I can go on about how the lost-for-centuries things seem way too easily located here, but come on, who watches this show for logic? We want adventure, humorous zingers, fun chemistry between the leads, and such, right? I get some of that chemistry, I get some of the humor, but there are enough misses here as there are hits. I’m tentatively on board for more – and besides, Michael Landes is so pretty to look at – but I hope the fun ramps up soon.
Oh, and Michael Landes gets naked here – rear end in full display. Can’t really argue with that decision.