with Yvonne Lai
There's no such thing as easy money - just ask any Hong Kong youngster. As the Lunar New Year celebrations recede, lai see packets are opened and banknotes counted and deposited in piggy banks, our young citizens will agree that chirping 'kung hei fat choi, sun neen fai lok' countless times for rarely seen relatives constitutes hard graft.
The same rule applies in the world of the long con - you've got to Hustle (BBC Entertainment; Tuesdays at 9.50pm) for the cash. The slick comedy drama series about a gang of cool grifters (right) returns for its fourth, and probably final, season this week. The premiere gives every indication it will be business as usual - greedy 'marks' (or victims), breathtaking plot twists, dialogue that packs a punch - but fans will notice changes.
Adrian Lester, who played 'inside man' Michael 'Mickey Bricks' Stone, is no longer with the series - we're told he's gone to Australia to pull off a major con. Good on ya, mate.
Due to the show's success in the United States, AXN became co-producer at the beginning of the third season, which could explain why the first episode of this series takes place in Los Angeles instead of London, the gang's home turf.
With their former leader conspicuously absent, Danny Blue (Marc Warren, Band of Brothers), Ash Morgan (Robert Glenister, Prime Suspect), Stacie Monroe (Jaime Murray) and Albert Stroller (Robert Vaughn, The Magnificent Seven) find themselves hungry for a 'job'.
Blue cooks up a scheme to sell the iconic Hollywood sign. The ad hoc con unfolds with the unwitting participation of unscrupulous tycoon Anthony Westley (Robert Wagner, No 2 in Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery), members of the Los Angeles Police Department and a Hollywood sign commissioner hungry for publicity. Things get interesting after the mark tries to play the gang at their own game. Find out if Blue manages to pass the test; the show certainly does - with awesome sound design to boot.
A show with more brawn, Bionic Woman (Star World; Wednesdays at 10pm), is ready to kick down doors this week after an all-out upgrade. Producer David Eick has retrofitted the original 1970s show about a tennis pro turned bionic heroine by toning down the dramatics and blurring the lines between good and evil.
The action-packed premiere introduces Jaime Sommers (Michelle Ryan), a 24-year-old San Franciscan bartender struggling to raise her bratty teenage sister, Becca (Lucy Hale), on her own. Her otherwise unremarkable life finds some colour in her relationship with dashing university professor and surgeon Will Anthros (Chris Bowers).
As Sommers' life hangs by a thread after a gruesome car crash, Anthros makes a split-second decision in the ER that completely changes their lives.
As it turns out, Anthros works for the Berkut Group, a company that specialises in cybernetic implants (bionics) for combat - creating cyborgs from humans, giving them enhanced strength, sight and hearing.
Sommers wakes to find herself irreversibly altered but she must come to terms with her condition, and quickly. Ruthless Berkut head Jonas Bledsoe (Miguel Ferrer) is eager to see some return on his US$50 million investment in Sommers' new limbs and organs. Anthros helps her escape back to a 'normal' life.
All this happens within the first half of the episode, so don't blink if you want to stay on top of the intrigue. As expected, the second half is as densely jammed with action as the first, but I won't give the story away, except to say there is an electrifying girl fight in the rain - involving possibly the coolest bad girl since Elle Driver in Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill.
May your TV viewing in the Year of the Rat be profitable and full of adventure.