If you’ve seen any of Jack Whitehall’s material before, there really isn’t anything particularly surprising about the format and style of comedy on display in his latest comedic adventure on Sky One, Bounty Hunters. What is surprising though, is the way Bounty Hunters barely finds its feet and even when it does, it all feels very pedestrian and lackadaisical. The flamboyant slapstick style of Whitehall spills over to the script but the strange blend with the much more sinister and serious storyline is jarring and poorly implemented for much of the run time.
The show opens with Barnaby Walker (Jack Whitehall) who finds himself unwillingly involved in a massive heist scam with high valued statues and dodgy characters. After making a deal with a shady dealer and finding himself £50,000 lighter, Barnaby and his sister Leah (Charity Wakefield) enlist the help of American bounty hunter Nina Morales (Rosie Perez) to track down the money and get it back to them. Unbeknownst to them, Nina is currently fleeing from America for her own personal reasons after getting on the wrong side of the Mexican cartel. What follows is a cat and mouse game to try and find the money and the statues whilst Nina dodges the cartel. There are fleeting moments in Bounty Hunters where it all comes together; the drama and the comedy works in sync and some of the later episodes do have a few genuinely funny moments. Barnaby panicking and slapping a mob goon in an elevator and the ensuing chaos this causes is one of the shining examples of when the comedy blends with the serious tone of the show perfectly but these moments are few and far between. Its such a shame that the contrived comedy and recycled jokes ruin what should be a good show.
The pilot episode is particularly rough in this respect. 3 minutes of the run time are dedicated to hearing characters chew gum. A further 8 are dedicated to the same on-running joke around Barnaby’s two-seat car. Even the dialogue, which should be quick witted and full of laughs (considering Jack is a comedian) lack flair and enthusiasm. “That isn’t a car,” Nina sneers while chewing gum noisily, “It’s a clown car!”. Its so bad at times its painfully unfunny but had there been a good variety of jokes throughout or the violence less bloody then Bounty Hunters could fall into a specific niche but the lack of direction around what sort of show this should be, hurts the overall appeal of this adventure comedy series.
Considering the run time of 30 minutes per episode, its disappointing to see recurring jokes crop up in every single one – Barnaby’s two seat car being a prime example. The repetitive side-on camera angle depicting how small the car is and the incessant need to keep reminding us of some of these quips toward the end of the series makes it a bit tiresome and repetitive as the show draws to a close. Bounty Hunters is lazier than it should be which is a shame because there’s certainly redeeming features here but the lack of care and attention to the script and the recycled jokes make it a tough sell. Maybe if you go into this one with low expectations then Bounty Hunters may well deliver for you but with so much TV on at the moment and better comedy (and drama) options elsewhere, its tough to recommend Bounty Hunters to anyone but those dedicated to viewing all of Jack Whitehall’s material.