Hustle (BBC1, 9pm), The Last Detective (ITV1, 9pm)

TWO returning series, both concerned with criminal activities, but as different as chalk and cheese.

Hustle has always been all mouth and no trousers. All surface gloss and glitz without much soul. It's flashy, cool, hip, whatever the latest buzzword is.

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The Last Detective, fashioned from the books by Leslie Thomas, is determinedly old school, featuring at its heart a hard-working, if old-fashioned, copper doggedly pursuing wrongdoers.

You pays your licence money and takes your choice, although those with less time on their hands should settle for Hustle as it does its work faster in a slick 60 minutes, as opposed to The Last Detective's flabby, slow-moving 90.

Between series, Hustle has lost leader Mickey. The team of con men and women is down to four, at least until they recruit someone else next week. The BBC budget won't stretch to an extra person tonight as there's a trip to Los Angeles to finance.

Adrian Lester's Mickey has gone to Australia to con some poor soul into buying Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House or what-have-you. That leaves protege Danny (Marc Warren), for whom the word cocky might have been invented, raring to take over.

The others - Robert Vaughn, Jaime Murray and Robert Glenister - give him a trial run as top dog as they attempt to fleece Robert Wagner's wealthy Texan, a man obsessed with buying Hollywood memorabilia.

Finding something he wants is a job in itself. The original R2D2 is "old hat". The bike for ET doesn't interest him despite Danny's mention of the "lovely little basket on the front".

Desperate Danny finally offers to flog him the Hollywood sign. This strikes the others as being not very sensible. "Don't you think someone will notice it's gone - it's 50ft high letters on top of a hill," they point out.

Danny is undetered. "Think big, big things happen," is his philosophy. What he's reckoned without is that the Texan is as crooked as the grifters. "No one ever accused me of being nice," he tells the Hustle team as he puts one over on them.

The palm-tree lined streets of sunny Los Angeles seem a natural habitat for these sharp and shifty con artists, although no amount of Hollywood glamour can disguise that this isn't one of their best scams.

But the regulars are eminently watchable, especially the deliriously sexy Jaime Murray, who could charm the Y-fronts off a monk.

I'm unsure how much The Last Detective owes to Leslie Thomas's original. I'm told he didn't have a wife (as he does here) but did have a dog, not a downbeat friend (Sean Hughes).

What the opening episode has is a rollcall of familiar faces in supporting roles, including Anthony Valentine (who ends up floating face down in the swimming pool, shot through the head, in no time at all), The Who's Roger Daltrey and Camille Coduri (Rose's mum in Doctor Who).

None has much to do apart from getting us to think "ooh, I haven't seen him for ages" or "ooh, he's better at singing than accents".

Valentine is Jimmy the Gent - whose nom de crime indicates he comes from the old guard of hardened criminals - who's fresh out of prison and instantly linked with an armoured van robbery.

I liked associate Mike's new business, Gangland Tours, in which he shows paying customers around the sites of the city's notorious crimes.

He's an old-fashioned criminal, alarmed by modern villains. "Nowadays it's all guns and shooters. I blame rap music," he says, the words given an extra twist as they're spoken by Daltrey who sang about My G-G-Generation with The Who.