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MCM BUZZ – Movies, TV, Comics, Gaming, Anime, Cosplay News & Reviews » Stan Lee’s Lucky Man S01E07 “The Charm Offensive” REVIEW
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Stan Lee’s Lucky Man S01E07 “The Charm Offensive” REVIEW

Stan Lee’s Lucky Man S01E07 “The Charm Offensive” REVIEW

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_hannibal

stars 3.5

Airing in the UK on Sky 1, Fridays, 9pm
Writer: Stephen Gallagher
Director: Jon East

 

Essential Plot Points:

  • After a ranting, half-naked man bursts into flames when he’s Tasered on a London bridge (he was covered in petrol) he’s taken to hospital. Harry and Suri try to interview him, but the only thing he says before dying is “Golding”.
  • Harry and Suri discover that the guy was one of two scam artists who preyed on rich foreign students.
  • Unfortunately one of their “victims”, Sasha, has a powerful, dangerous Russian daddy with connections to a man in London. Guess who? Yep – the mysterious Golding.
  • Golding’s men are now after the other scam artist, Jed, who is on the run with his latest victim as a hostage.
  • Harry and Suri interview the hostile Sasha, who later tells her English bodyguard she wants Harry dead. He says he’ll deal with it his way (ie, subtly) rather than the Russian way (ie, not very subtly).
  • But his attempt to engineer a seemingly accidental car crash to kill Harry is defeated by the magic luck bracelet. In fact, Harry is using his magic luck bracelet loads this week as his confidence in its power grows…
  • …And Suri is beginning to notice how oddly he’s behaving.
  • Jed tries to escape the country in a boat, but it’s a set-up. Golding’s men have left a gun in the boat and they want Jed to shoot Harry so he gets the blame for the cop’s murder. But lucky old Harry dodges all the bullets.
  • Suri doesn’t witness this because she received a nasty blow to the head earlier in the episode, and despite going into a fit, refuses to go to hospital. But Harry does insist she rest and not come with him.
  • Before Harry can arrest Jed, Golding’s men whisk him away.
  • Jed’s body is later found along with a security guard’s in what’s been made to look like a double suicide pact.
  • Meanwhile in other plotlines: Winter begins to suspect that deputy mayor Frierson was once an even dodgier cop than Harry.
  • Deputy Mayor Frierson senses that Winter’s holier-than-thou witch hunt could cause trouble for him, so he attempts to lure Orwell to his side.
  • Anna tries to make daughter Daisy like Nikhail Julian, but her hatred of pretzels is non-negotiable. (We’ve never really warmed to Daisy before but this makes her go up in our estimation – as regards her dislike for both Nikhail and pretzels.)

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_suri_knocked_down

Review:

Scriptwriter Stephen Gallagher is an old hand at telefantasy. He’s been writing the stuff for decades now. Which is probably why “The Charm Offensive” is the first episode of Stan Lee’s Lucky Man that feels totally confident with its supernatural elements. Of course, this could also simply be because Harry is growing more confident with this powers but you can’t help thinking someone like Gallagher is the right man for the job at this point in the show’s run. Whereas some of the other writers are clearly happier with crime elements than the fantasy ones, Gallagher embraces the more bizarre side of the show and runs with it. He has Harry pushing his luck over and over; he guesses passwords, he heads straight for the vital evidence at a crime scene, he leaves a car to park itself and he dodges bullets.

There’s a sense of fun and spectacle here that’s often missing from the show, but that doesn’t mean the episode sacrifices its usual Luther-lite hard-boiled detective vibe. If anything it steps it up, with burning men, Stanley-knife wielding Russian vamps and faked suicide pacts. This is probably the most gripping and satisfying crime-of-the-week the show has delivered so far, helped by the fact that Jed is a wonderfully loathsome opportunistic villain. By the time he gives Suri a Glasgow kiss you’re ready for him to die horribly. In a TV landscape where the villains are often more interesting than the heroes, it’s always refreshing to have a baddie with no redeeming features at all. He even dresses like a banker.

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_winter_suri

More good moments came in the form of Winter, who has has a surprising but totally logical and consistent shift of priorities. He may loathe Harry, but if his motivation is weeding out dangerous and bent cops, then turning his attention to Frierson makes total sense. It’s weird to feel yourself inwardly cheering, “Go Winter!” when he slaps an internal complaints form in front of Frierson and tells him, “Surprise me with one of these.” In retaliation, Frierson decides to tempt Orwell to the Dark Side. All of which is an unexpected and immensely satisfying turn of events.

The little scene between Eve and Letmontov Jr is dripping with hidden meaning too. Very intriguing.

Harry, meanwhile, is going through that patch every new superhero goes through; flexing his newfound powers and thinking they make him invincible. This is also known as “pride before a fall”, you mark our words.

The Anna/creepy prisoner Governor plot is just weird (we’re still hoping she’s pretending to be interested in him) and a little dull, but presumably it’s heading somewhere. So all in all a great little episode, yes?

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Well, nearly. There are a few problems that severely let thinsg down. And they’re unusual problems in that they’re sloppy production problems rather than concerns about the characters or plot. Gallagher has written some set-pieces that should be highlights but suffer badly in translation to screen. The almost-car-crash is ruined when Harry takes his hands off the wheel and trusts to luck… but you can clearly see someone is still steering the car in the long shot. And it’s a long shot in both senses of the word. This isn’t a case where you need to freeze-frame the action and zoom in to spot the blooper; it’s really bloody obvious!

Similarly, he opening scene with the guy bursting into flames is so badly edited it’s not immediately clear what’s happened. And when you do cotton on, you still have the nagging feeling that the director has wimped out on something that was far more graphic in the script.

In fact, there are odd little directorial choices throughout, such as when Suri and Harry enter the posh student flat for the second time and Suri fiddles with something on a shelf, while Harry vanishes off-screen and shout, “Fire escape”. It’s like they filmed the covering shot but ran out of time for close-ups.

It’s a shame that such a well-written episode is let down by poor production choices. Must be a case of Yin and Yang…

 

The Good:

  • Interesting, quirky, unpredictable plot of the week.
  • Snappier dialogue than usual
  • Winter proving that while he might be an irritating git, he’s a principled irritating git.

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_bullet

  • Harry finally making the most of his luck skills. The bullet-dodging scene is exactly the kind of ludicrous but entertaining set-piece the show needs to give us more often.
  • The Golding mystery is deepening in all kinds of intriguing ways.
  • The burnt man was suitable icky.
  • The very abrupt end with the reveal of the carefully-composed “suicide statue” had a disturbingly Hannibal vibe to it.
  • Talking of disturbing, how creepy was Sasha in this shot? Make her an on-going villain!

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_freaky_sasha

  • A solid, well-crafted, well-paced script.
  • In fact this could easily have been a four/four-and-a-half star episode if not for the cringingly poor production howlers.

 

The Bad:

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_car_spin_2

  • Normally we’d put bloopers in the “Random” section, but the the out-of-control car sequence is so piss poor it entirely ruins what should have been a highlight of the episode. It’s not just that you can clearly see someone with their hands on the wheel, it’s the fact that the car handles like it has someone at the wheel. It’s just very, very shoddy.

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_spot_the_explosion

  • The opening scene with the man bursting into flames when Tasered is another bungled set-piece that could have been great. The explosion is so tiny in the distance it’s not immediately clear what’s happened. In fact, it looks suspiciously like something has been cut, possibly for reasons of tastes? Whatever the case, the final result very disappointing.

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_fish_eye

  • What was it with all the weird angles and the fish-eye lens during the nervy security guard scenes? It looked like we’d entered the Twilight Zone. Or Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse Of The Heart” video.
  • No Josie or Rich or Burn Gorman’s delightfully freaky pathologist again.

 

And The Random:

  • Writer Stephen Gallagher wrote two Doctor Who stories in the ’80s (the brilliant “Warriors’ Gate” and the okay-if-you-can-ignore-the-teddy-bear-monster “Terminus”), and was one of the main writers on the silly but amusing Bugs. Other telefantasies he’s penned include Eleventh Hour, Oktober and Chimera.
  • Why does Anna scoff at the suggestion that she’s going out with Nikhail when she quite clearly is? She virtuallty presenting him as “new dad” to Daisy.

Stan_Lees_lucky_man_1.07_the_charm_offensive_portrait

  • This week’s signs and portents: Eve says that Paul Letmontov’s mother was very beautiful. He says her’s was too. This had the feel of an exchange dripping with hidden meaning. Draw your own conclusions, and then wonder how she lost her leg…

 

Review by Dave Golder


Read our other Lucky Man reviews

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