There is nothing more depressing than watching a movie/series that thinks it's funny when in reality, it isn't. Time Hustler, created by Halder Gomes, is precisely that series. It's like that kid who keeps on cracking terrible jokes and laughs at them, all the while being oblivious to the fact that no one else in the room is enjoying his jokes. You can handle such humor to an extent before pulling your hair in madness. The good news is that each episode of Time Hustler lasts for not more than 30–40 minutes. The bad news is that the seven episodes are still too much to bear. To paraphrase the words of the great Roger Ebert, "No good series is too long. No bad series is too short."
Time Hustler opens with Virguley (Edmilson Filho), a food delivery guy, driving his bike recklessly to complete his deliveries. The series moves at the same speed as that bike. The images are thrown at us at such a high speed that we don't register their feelings. Time Hustler is labeled as a comedy, but most of its portions are edited with a breathless rhythm. As a result, you see the gags like the one with a priest confessing to a criminal, but they don't land. Time Hustler is one of those shows that considers loud noises to be a sign of hilarity. This means the background music underlines every jest, and the characters babble at a high pitch. All in all, keep paracetamol handy.
Time Hustler is built using the "anything goes" model. Absurdity is the name of the game, so don't for a second expect logic. I don't mind putting my mind in a freezer before watching such comedies. But they should be, well, funny! This is the kind of series that wants the audience to accept everything, but the issue is that we are never able to fully surrender to it. Consider how Virguley is transported to the year 1927. A "travel agent" slaps him forcefully, sending him into the sky, and when he lands, he finds himself in the 1920s. It's just impossible to suspend disbelief and embrace this method of time traveling. You keep asking, "How the hell did that happen?" throughout the series.
In the 1927 timeline, Virguley is mistaken for Lampião, a notorious bandit leader (they both look similar). Virguley, after realizing his situation, goes with the flow and falls in love with Mariá (Chandelly Braz), a seamstress. Soon, they both form their own group by hiring some misfits as bandits. Those misfits are nothing but props for comedy. However, Time Hustlers assigns them a purpose for existence through that scene where Virguley goes to each member and tells them what he learned from their peculiarities. Lines like, "You taught me to see from all my senses," ring false because Virguley doesn't have a meaningful interaction with the gang. It's one of the many missteps in the series.
Virguley not only forms his own gang but also introduces social change into the setting. He modernizes the village by presenting new ideas (home delivery system) and open-minded viewpoints (women empowerment and gender fluidity). However, these elements merely exist on the surface and end up being fodder for "comedy." Because no matter how progressive Time Hustler wants to be, ultimately, it's a show where something as childish as the sight of a character spitting food on someone's face while talking is served to us as hilarious slapstick. The truth is simply this: Time Hustler is pointless and has no real reason for existing. Someone should have slapped this series and sent it to a time when cameras and televisions didn't exist. We would have been saved from watching this baloney.
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