Hooten and The Lady - Episode One recap

It seems that a lot of TV shows today seem to go out and try and tell adventure/fantasy stories in one of two ways. Either they are ultra-serious, focusing on the imminent dangers that face our protagonists around every corner, or they are ultra-silly, playing up the slapstick for cheap laughs. Hooten & The Lady attempts to traverse the middle ground between these two story forms grasping for the feel of an Indiana Jones film, or Nathan Drake game, in a one hour Friday night scheduling slot. And there is a lot to like about the show. It's a fun romp through an adventure with characters who can be developed into decent protagonists. Add in a few wise cracks, and fewer attempts at being Indiana Jones 2.0, and it makes for some fun Friday night entertainment that doesn't require too much effort to follow.

Turn away now if you want to avoid spoilers.

Episode one sees our two leads on the trail of Percy Fawcett, a late British archaeologist and South American explorer from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Ophelia Lovibond's Alex is working for the British Museum and believes she can track down Fawcett's camp and final resting place somewhere deep in the Amazonian rainforest. Most of the first episode we are lead to believe that Alex is just your everyday British Museum curator with an added thirst for adventure but in the final third of the episode we find out that she is actually "Lady Alex" although she prefers not to use the title. Which leads to one of the better jokes in the first episode "have you met the queen?" a question I heard a number of times while working in the States and to which the person asking the question always seemed somewhat surprised by my answer of no.

In stark contrast Hooten appears to be your stereotypical, cardboard cutout, roguish hero. It felt like the producers were stretching a bit too much to create their Indiana/Drake character and fell back on too many cliches. He's streetwise and more willing to solve problems with his fists than work out a more amicable solution and it is this attitude that leads to the protagonists introductions.

Alex is negotiating details of Fawcett's last known route through the jungle when Hooten, literally, comes crashing into town and inadvertently picking up a sacred gold monkey skull. This misunderstanding leads to the two of them being strung up with Alex facing death by fire ants and Hooten the main course in a meal later. Their only hope for escape? Hooten has to fight the village champion and win... Which he does. As they get ready to leave in Alex's boat Hooten decides to take the gold skull he was originally accused of stealing, well if you do the time why not do the crime, and they have to make a swift getaway much like the opening scenes of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The two of them come to an uneasy agreement that sees Hooten helping Alex track down Fawcett's camp in exchange for taking him back to the nearest supply stop on the river. Of course finding the camp is only the start of the adventure as they find Fawcett's skeleton holding onto a map to El Dorado. Enter the antagonist for episode one, Pascal, a French archaeologist for hire who is supposed to be finding Alex after she disappeared in the jungle. When Alex checks in with details of El Dorado Pascal decides it better to go and claim the gold for himself rather than tell everyone that Alex is safe.

A fall down the mountainside later and Hooten and Alex have found the lost city of Z (Zed, not Zee) but not far behind is Pascal in his helicopter. Hooten is shot in the shoulder by Pascal, as he was coming out of the city with treasure, and our two protagonists are tied up while Pascal goes to claim his prize. Pascal kills the other camp member who accompanied him on the trip and plans to leave Hooten in the jungle to die. He decides that he can be the returning hero by bringing Lady Alex back with him, but surely she would tell everyone what he has done? As they are leaving in the helicopter Hooten makes a miraculous recovery and is able to jump on, and hold onto, the flying helicopter. Not bad for a man with a gunshot wound.

Hooten and Pascal battle it out in the helicopter before Alex falls into the river below and Hooten jumps out after her, just in time for Pascal to crash into a cliff face.

As the episode closes out we find Alex back at the museum with her exhibition on Fawcett a roaring success, while Hooten is in a run down apartment and dropping off most of the money from his adventure at a convent, hinting that there may be more to him than first meets the eye.

Ophelia Lovibond was definitely the star of the show this week. Her character was the stronger of the two and seemed to be less "paint by numbers" female TV show lead. Michael Landes was decent, and I hope that the end of the episode is more of a hint of what is to come from his character, otherwise he could get quite tiring very quickly.


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