Comfort viewing is one thing, but endless repetition can get boring pretty fast.
On Hooten and The Lady Season 1 Episode 4, we get pretty much what we've gotten every week since the jump: a highly formulaic ripoff (oh, excuse me, homage) of old action comedy adventure films.
If you watch TV series from back in the day, most had a very strict formula, with events happening almost the same every week: only the names and places changed.
My hope was we'd see some variations on the old action adventure tropes as the show went on, but sadly that's not the case.
As a result, my reviews going forward will also adhere to a formula until something changes, if it ever does. Here's the structure:
- The Setup: Lady Alex does an expository explanation of this week's McGuffin, as well as what exotic locale we'll be visiting.
- Hooten's Dilemma: The wacky situation Hooten finds himself in at the moment, usually half a world away, and how Lady Alex' call for help saves his bacon AGAIN.
- Meeting the Locals: Sets up the "artifact of the week" search, where we also learn about the bad guys, who want the same thing as Hooten and Lady Alex.
- The Journey: Hooten and Lady Alex make their way to where the McGuffin is, giving them lots of opportunity for witty banter. Sometimes they have a guest star in tow, sometimes not. Usually they have at least one encounter with the bad guys, so the audience can familiarize themselves with who our heroes are fighting against.
- Puzzle Solving Interlude: This usually involves a map, or a statue, or some ancient thingy that is absolutely essential to finding the McGuffin. Lady Alex usually takes the lead and solves this one, but occasionally Hooten beats her to it, promoting more witty banter.
- Finding, Then Losing The McGuffin: The puzzle solving leads to the McGuffin, only to have the bad guys swoop in and steal it. Variations include taking either Hooten, Lady Alex, or the aforementioned guest star hostage. Sometimes Hooten is shot, but that is entirely optional.
- Getting the McGuffin Back: Through either extreme cleverness or Hooten's idiotic bravery, our heroes get the McGuffin back and the bad guys are summarily punished.
- The Journey Home, With Character Revelations: Once the McGuffin is secured, Hooten and Lady Alex make their way back with the artifact, giving the writers time to add little nuggets about our heroes' backgrounds, hopefully giving us a reason to care about the lead characters.
OK folks, here goes:
I liked the idea of going to Bhutan in the Himalayan mountains, but it looked like really bad CGI for the most part.
And maybe I'm wrong, but Buddha never actually wrote anything down, did he?
Most of his teachings were orally passed down until monks decided to put it to parchment, right? So the whole search came across as a phony, made up mission.
The whole deal with Hooten being held at gunpoint in Bolivia by a Scarface wannabe was silly, but not as silly as Alex calling at just the exact moment to save his ass.
Yes, this is an adventure comedy, but have a little respect for the audience, please.
Having the huge, silent henchman Hidalgo trail Hooten was supposed to be funny, but it did nothing for me.
No mas shooty Hootey.Hooten [to Hidalgo]
A wasted opportunity for some really good sight gags. Oh well. This show has a huge villain problem.
For there to be any sense of true jeopardy for Hooten and Lady Alex, there has to be a bad guy who poses at least some sort of threat to them.
Unfortunately, it seldom happens. So there's a decided lack of real stakes involved.
Like all comfort shows similar to this, we know everything will be resolved in 42 minutes with our heroes intact. It is what it is.
Meeting The Locals
Penny was a pretty funny character, and her romantic, awkward advances to Hooten were cute.
Kalipa would have been interesting, but poisoning Hooten seemed very out of character for such a sweet old lady.
Penny: Kapila has made sure that Mr. Hooten will come back.
Lady Alex: I'm sorry, I don't understand.
Penny: She's poisoned his tea.
How does she expect Hooten to give her what she needs if she poisons him?
It makes no sense, but at least it injected some stakes into the proceedings since the bad guys are nonexistent.
The Journey/Puzzle Solving Interlude
Not much of a journey, but enough to slip in some witty banter:
Lady Alex: I was brought up to wash my hands after I used the lavatory.
Hooten: I was brought up not to pee on my hands.
Make no mistake, the main draw is the chemistry between the lead characters, and they do the best they can, giving the hackneyed material they're given.
Ophelia Lovibond is a favorite of mine, and her portrayal of Lady Alex is very good. Michael Landes' Hooten doesn't do much for me, but together they do have a good rapport.
Try not to break any more of the bridge. Other people need to use it.Hooten[to Lady Alex]
The parchment puzzle solving was very easy, making it very hard to believe why it took anyone this long to figure out where the temple was.
I know, I know, don't think too much: it's a silly summer action adventure comedy show.
Hooten going blind halfway into the search was manufactured, artificial drama, since the writers couldn't come up with a decent villain.
Finding, But NOT Losing The McGuffin
Holy variation, Batman!
Our heroes found the scroll, but the bad guys didn't steal it: instead, Silent Hidalgo found a random chest of booty and bolted, leaving a dying Hooten and Lady Alex trapped! Oh no!
Why Buddha would keep chests full of super valuable trinkets around is beyond me. Wasn't he all about love, not material things? Hmmm.
Anyway, Hooten is circling the drain, when Lady Alex pulls a remedy for the poison out of her ass: another poison called belladonna, which just happens to be in the temple with them. How convenient.
Now that he's all better, they read the scroll, which says:
Hooten: What does that thing say, anyway?
Lady Alex: Love, as Eternity, is nothing if we are alone. Together we shall live through Death, but each of us in our own lives can reach Nirvana by only first showing love.
Lady Alex is supposed to be the brainiac here, but it's Hooten who figures out the message.
They have to work together and press some part of two monkey statues at the same time to open the door to the outside.
So that's it? The big, legendary message from Buddha himself was just instructions on how to escape the temple? LAME.
The Journey Home, With Character Revelations
On the way back to Bhutan, Hooten and Lady Alex realize that Silent Hidalgo fell crossing the rope bridge, dying and losing the booty in the process.
A very comforting, Indiana Jones sense of justice, right?
Hidalgo didn't really deserve such a grisly fate: he didn't really do anything other than follow Hooten around. Sure, he took the chest, but did he deserve to die for it?
The two character nuggets presented were fairly routine: we finally met Alex's fiance, Edward, and he was as boring as was expected.
There will be hijinks galore as they move closer to their wedding, with Hooten making their lives more and more difficult.
On a decidedly somber note, more about Ulysses Hooten's past was revealed.
Lady Alex: May I ask you something?
Hooten: Can I stop you?
Lady Alex: Who's Ben?
Hooten: Where did you hear that name?
Lady Alex: In your fever, you called out his name.
Hooten: He was my son.
Lady Alex: What do you mean was?
Hooten: I lost him.
Lady Alex: I'm so sorry. What happened to his mother?
Hooten: I lost her, too.
My guess is we will eventually get flashbacks about what happened, which would frankly be welcomed. Anything to deviate from the formula can only improve the show.
Same old, same old. The show's structure is starting to wear on me.
What do you think? Do you want more, or is a silly, formulaic action adventure comedy just what you're looking for? Sound off in the comments section.
You can also watch Hooten and The Lady online on TV Fanatic, but don't expect much variation from episode to episode. Sigh.