Yesterday evening, whilst Ronnie was at the China Open qualifiers, the first episode of the American Hustle was shown on HistoryUK and I must say, I love it! It’s informative, it’s interesting, it’s fun.
In fact just read this article , it tells you all you need to know.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle is much more than just a few games of pool… although the Rocket looks most at home with a table in front of him
- Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle sees him touring famous USA pool halls
- O’Sullivan is partnered by veteran sports broadcaster Matt Smith for the trip
- The first show offered interesting history alongside the game being played
PUBLISHED: 11:36 GMT, 27 January 2017 | UPDATED: 14:29 GMT, 27 January 2017
Last Sunday, not for the first time, Ronnie O’Sullivan was king of the hill. The sight of the Rocket lifting the Masters trophy in front of an adoring crowd at Alexandra Palace has become a familiar sight to telly audiences.
However, on Thursday evening, Ronnie wasn’t in Haringey any more. In fact, save for the fact he had occasion to have a cue in his hand and a tableful of balls in front of him, he was a man completely outside of his comfort zone.
The History Channel had sent one of snooker’s favourite sons on a tour of some of America’s most iconic pool halls to take on some celebrated heroes at their own game.
At least, that is the basic premise behind the new series Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle, which debuted with a trip to New York City.
The good news is, it is clearly so much more than just watching Ronnie play a few frames of pool. No, the big break for me is that American Hustle also does what it says on the channel and positively wallows in the history and culture that helped shape the game, and indeed its country of origin, over the decades.
Which is why, shall we say, borrowing the title of a recent blockbuster film hasn’t ended up looking like daylight robbery. Because this American Hustle is a full blown road movie. That’s bursting with Hollywood backdrops, and what’s more, it’s a buddy picture, to boot.
Along for the ride is Ronnie’s mate, and of course dab hand at the telly stuff, Matt Smith. Matt’s part in the proceedings is very important.
He not only uses his broadcasting chops to steer us through the various elements to the programme. He also makes sure that Ronnie remains unselfconscious on camera. Which can often be his nemesis when he’s asked to do anything other than simply set the green baize ablaze.
Which means that their trip up, under and around the city remained entertaining and easy going throughout – and with it, frequently enlightening.
There’s a trip to Ellis Island. Some street basketball under a bridge. A hot dog from the street. A ride to the top of the Empire State Building, where we learned that the Ally Pally is just about as high as Ronnie likes to go, and that the Rocket’s cure for a phobia of flying is ‘Flappy Birds.’
However, even though Ronnie certainly seemed a happy tourist, he did look most at home when there was an oblong table in front of him. As they rode around in a vintage yellow taxi, Ronnie told Matt he ‘grew up playing pool in a pub’. But that was cue chalk and cheese ‘n’ onion by comparison.
So it was fascinating watching him taking on board hustling tips from Kid Delicious. Then practising the subtle art of the ancient ancestor of pool and billiards, carom. While he was absolutely in his element visiting Blatt Billiards, with its hoards of antique tables and loving crafted new ones.
Of course, the end game for the programme is to watch Ronnie in the lion’s den. Which for this episode, was a match against Queens legend Earl ‘The Pearl’ Strickland.
Here, the whole thing became pure theatre. With Earl playing his role to perfection. While some stunning camerawork and editing gave the whole thing an appropriately filmic quality.
As I said, the Rocket winning or losing frames or dollars is why he and Matt went on their epic journey. That is clearly going to be a sight to see. But to watch O’Sullivan put the cue back in the bag and soak up a whole new world with his mate alongside him may just end up being this series’ ultimate winner.
Ronnie O’Sullivan’s American Hustle is on Thursdays at 10pm on HISTORY
If you missed it, here it is