Appellate Judge James A. Stewart hopes he's not living in a world where everyone's dishonest.
"From now on, we're going to earn our money just like everyone else."
Fans of Rumpole of the Bailey must remember the Timson clan, a London criminal family which provided barrister Horace Rumpole with much of his business—and story material. Ever wonder what a Timson spinoff would have been like? In Honest, British TV has provided an answer.
The show, based on New Zealand's Outrageous Fortune (which also spawned the U.S. Scoundrels), puts Amanda Redman, tough copper Sandra Pullman on New Tricks, on the other side of the law. Not for long, though, since her Lindsay Carter is going to take a vow to be honest—for her entire family.
Facts of the Case
The police, especially DCI Ed Bain (Sean Pertwee, Mutant Chronicles), are very familiar visitors to Lindsay Carter (Amanda Redman). Even on the morning her husband Mack (Danny Webb, Valkyrie) is getting sentenced, Bain's looking for son Vin (Matthew McNulty, Misfits), who has been implicated in a theft at the home of a Triad boss (Bert Kwouk, The Return of the Pink Panther). The opener also introduces the rest of her family: lawyer son Taylor (also McNulty), who's dating his former school headmistress; daughter Kacey (Laura Haddock, Da Vinci's Demons), whose racy modeling shots are of interest to DI Henderson; daughter Lianna (Eleanor Wyld, Johnny English Reborn), who just hasn't been to school, since she knows how long Taylor has been dating his former school headmistress; and grandfather Norman (Michael Byrne, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) whose home was lost to fire. Almost part of the family are fence Donnie (Ewan Bailey, Rome) and Vin's pal Reza (Amit Shah, The Facility).
Honest has six episodes on two discs:
• Bain tells Lindsay there's been a heist at the garden center; maybe she shouldn't have told Mack about how easy it would be to rob a lorry. Lindsay's also in trouble for taking some napkins into the loo, which lacks toilet paper.
• A family friend who's also gone straight offers Lindsay a job. Mac asks Vin to help "a crack-loving arsonist." Vin has sex with Hong's wife—and his daughter Vicky (although, fortunately, not simultaneously). Lianna has a bootleg DVD scheme, which could get dangerous.
• Lindsay co-hosts a lingerie party, which finds Bain's soon-to-be-ex wife in attendance. When Chrissy loans the startup money to her boyfriend, Bain's worse half isn't happy about how her French maid outfit got delayed. Kacey dates a TV star.
• Vin and Reza steal a car which was used in a robbery, which could ruin Taylor's chances of freeing Mack on appeal. Chrissy's boyfriend is busted, and the criminal community thinks she grassed.
The target audience for Honest, which aired for one season in 2007, might be fans of New Tricks, in which Amanda Redman heads up the UCOS squad. At times, Lindsay Carter might sound like Sandra Pullman as she talks tough to her family—or other miscreants in her life—but plunging necklines and some steamy sex with her husband in the first episode hint that Lindsay isn't work-obsessed Sandra.
New Tricks fans may also be quite surprised by Honest's content, which is TV-MA in nature; the cop show has an occasional profanity that American broadcaster might reject, but it could otherwise lead off an evening on CBS. Honest has a lot of bedroom scenes and their attendant nudity (and kinky games, in the case of Taylor and his former headmistress), two women (Kasey and Vicky) whose dresses often find breasts nearly falling out, a blow job, and talk of every sexual activity you could possibly think of. It's also quite likely that you'll find Lindsay the only likable character, although Bert Kwouk as Hong and Michael Byrne as Norman put a lot of roguish charm into their often-nasty characters. Maye Choo as Vicky isn't likable—she's alternately threatening and teasing Taylor and Vin—but she is seductive.
It also is ruled by a basic irony: Lindsay thinks she's becoming honest, but finds her world isn't. True, her version of honesty finds her stealing a car at one point. It also has her discovering that the honest workplaces, including the garden center and the insurance company, have scams going on around every bend. Even straight copper Ed Bain isn't totally honest, although more often than not, he's suppressing evidence about a family member for Lindsay. Moreover, her family pretty much ignores her edict, including good son Taylor, whose bedroom activities also include posing as twin Vin to sleep with Vicky. At times, Lindsay finds herself doing investigation—to keep herself or her family out of trouble—that might put Sandra Pullman to the test.
Honest is slickly done, with montages and quick inserts and flashbacks to establish situations, plot points, and characters. Fast-moving and often funny, its fascination with lowlife characters reminds me of Justified, although I prefer that show, considering Honest's broader humor.
Extras include text production notes and cast interviews, along with a photo gallery.
Honest doesn't have a second season, but there's at least one loose end at the end of Episode Six.
If you're looking to be offended, Honest has something for everyone. That might not be for you, but if it is, Honest does it well. There are few people to like in Lindsay Carter's world, but that's the general idea running through the comedy.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: Acorn Media
• Text Features
Review content copyright © 2013 James A. Stewart; Site design and review layout copyright © 2013 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.