Hunted Episode 1: Review

HUNTED: Thursday 4th October, BBC ONE, 9pm

In a moodily-lit room in Amsterdam, a doctor of chemical engineering sits with his assistant discussing his flight to London for a business deal. They speak in Dutch, subtitled. In an unbroken shot, the doctor walks out the door, and is accosted by a worried-looking man who tells him there’s been an accident. “An accident?â€? queries the Doctor, whose name by the way is Doctor Goebel, “is it my son?â€? “Noâ€? replies the man, Asian, and therefore an assassin, “it is you!â€?

There, in a nutshell, you have Hunted, the new B.B.C. One spy drama from the X-Files and Strike Back writer Frank Spotniz. It veers wildly between wanting to challenge you and wanting to spoon feed you everything, like a frustrated Dad who’s been told not to do the aeroplane thing but just wants his bloody toddler to eat his mush. Consequently, arty scenes like the above sit next to genuinely-hilarious lines like, “But I’m your best operative!â€? and “What did you expect? I’m a spy!â€?

Even better is the sign-posting, which is close to parody. “So you want to find out who wants to kill you, and why?â€? asks spook Aidan Marsh, like a walking Cliff Notes with designer stubble. He’s directed the question to fellow assassin and spy Sam Hunter (geddit?), who everyone had taken for dead after she was betrayed in France. In case you didn’t get this, mid-recovery she steps over a paving stone with the legend ‘Morton’ on it and her foot covers the O and the N, leaving just the word mort. That’s means dead! In French!

Honestly, this script wouldn’t recognise subtlety if it hit it round the typeface with a brick, which it wouldn’t do, because it’s subtlety.

Cliché-wise this first episode has absolutely everything: the baddies wear suit jackets over turtle necks, there’s a shady corporation called Byzantium Corp, presumably cause OmniKill Ltd. and ÜberGlobe Inc. were already taken, and just when you feel there’s something missing, a vaguely-sinister Guy Richie Cockney in a bad suit and accent turns up and everything feels right again. And how do we know he’s the evil boss? Because he stares out the window with his back to you! How else would we know he was the evil boss?

Anyway, I will call this vaguely-sinister Guy Richie Cockney in a bad suit and accent Jack ‘wants to take over a Pakistani hydroelectric dam for some reason’ Turner. Why? Well, Avi, it’s because his name’s Jack and he wants to take over a Pakistani hydroelectric dam for some reason.

Sam Hunter, newly back on the spy team she thought she’d retired from (‘cause she’s too old for this shit Riggs!), is out to stop him, and she’s pissed off. In fact, she’s so pissed off, she spends the entire second half of the episode looking like she’s got either a lemon, a stick or both inserted in her, which in any other case would probably make her a cocktail, but in this case makes her a totally original feisty but vulnerable, sexy but deadly, super-toned super-secret agent!

Tune in if you fancy a laugh. If not, avoid.