I stumbled on this BBC series on Amazon Prime quite by accident and was hooked after the first episode. The premise is simple; a collection of seven anti-heroes who have all be sentenced to community service for various minor crimes bond while working off their time cleaning up a local community center.
A more unlikely group would be hard to find:
- Frank Sheldon (Christopher Walken of all people) is an American who is recently out of prison and wearing an ankle monitor while living with his daughter and grandchildren.
- Greg Dillard (Stephen Merchant who is also the series creator and directs and writes many of the episodes) is a nerdy, socially awkward unsuccessful lawyer.
- Rani Rekowski (Rhianne Barreto) is a very bright high school student with aspirations of attending Oxford University who suffers from kleptomania.
- Christian Taylor (Gamba Cole) is a young man who takes care of his young sister on his own and is being coerced by criminals into dangerous activities.
- John Halloran (Darren Boyd) is an entitled businessman who is struggling to keep his family company from going bankrupt.
- Myrna Okeke (Clare Perkins) is a militant Black activist with an old, dark secret.
- Lady Gabriella “Gabby” Penrose-Howe (Eleanor Tomlinson, who “Poldark” fans will recognize from her role as Demelza) is a wealthy, spoiled, fashionista, and social media influencer with dreams of putting on a music festival.
This collection of misfit ‘toys’ gather to pick up trash and paint walls under the supervision of police detective wannabe Diane Pemberley (Jessica Gunning) working off their time with little enthusiasm. As the season progresses we learn more and more about each flawed character and how they came to be in this situation. The writing is quite good with many comic, dramatic, and at times thrilling moments that keep the audience engaged and pulling for this motley crew. When three of the “outlaws” stumble on a duffel bag stuffed with cash the plot becomes more complicated with potentially fatal consequences for some of the group.
The performances are all very well done and believable. Clocking in at just 6 episodes that run around 50 minutes each “The Outlaws” is a quick watch that stands out in an ocean of dopey reality shows, repetitious game shows, tired reboots, and seemingly never ending scripted dramas (talking about you “NCIS” and “Grey’s Anatomy”. Disregard the 1-star reviews from people who feel any show with a diverse cast is trying to make some kind of “woke” or social justice statement; I didn’t get that vibe at all from “The Outlaws”. Obviously the series found an audience as it has been renewed for a second season which I will be delighted to see when it becomes available.