‘The Curse’ Is a Pulpy and Self-Aware Heist Series


“Some of this might have happened,” “The Curse” declares at the top of each episode. The show is loosely inspired by the 1983 Brink’s-Mat robbery in London, when robbers stole a mountain of gold bullion from a vault and largely evaded capture. As with many plundered caches, though, those bricks came at a cost, and where money led, misery followed.

But veracity claims feel beside the point for “The Curse” — a British show that debuted in 2022, not to be confused with the unrelated 2023 Showtime series starring Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone — which shines bright enough on its specifics, its self-aware pulp and especially its antsy momentum.

Our doomed squad centers on the calculating cafe owner Natasha (Emer Kenny), her bumbling husband, Albert (Allan Mustafa), and her even more bumbling brother, Sidney (Steve Stamp, who also created the show). Mick (Tom Davis) is the muscle, but definitely not the brains, and Phil (Hugo Chegwin) is convinced he is the group’s leader — which the others dispute.

In the best ways, the show feels as if “Breaking Bad” were happening to “Bob’s Burgers.” Anxious wannabe-tough guys argue over inane minutiae while fumbling their way through the criminal underworld. After Phil gives a grandiose pronouncement, Mick asks if he is quoting the Bible. “It’s our new Bible,” Phil says. “‘Scarface.’”

The Brink’s-Mat robbery was recently the basis for the also terrific 2023 mini-series “The Gold,” which is witty but takes a more grounded approach. “The Curse” is more cartoonish, blending sitcom one-liners with flashes of abrupt violence — neurotic, endearing infighting in the foreground, international crime rings in the background. The plotting is brisk approaching breakneck, which highlights just how much its ding-a-ling characters are struggling to keep up, getting both luckier and unluckier at every turn.

Episodes of “The Curse” are a half-hour, and most end on cliffhangers, so the show is practically begging to be binged. Season 1, available on Amazon Prime Video and BritBox, starts with the heist and ends with a great escape; Season 2, available on BritBox only, is set in Spain, where characters are avoiding extradition, building a water park and trying to break into the cocaine industry.



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