Friday, January 8, 2016

Short take: Amazon's HAND OF GOD is better than you've heard -- but will it matter much....

...since Amazon may not be renewing the show? Very well cast, acted and directed (the writing is mostly serviceable), this series is dark and odd -- two adjectives that by themselves (or in tandem with other, more positive descriptive words) can prove popular, but when used together often have folk (critics especially) running for the hills.  HAND OF GOD, produced by Amazon Studios, while nowhere near as good as The Leftovers (one of the few dark and odd shows that critics have embraced and audiences are warming to slowly), is much better than you've probably heard.

It stars Ron Perlman (shown above: Hellboy, where art thou?!) and on poster, top, as a high-powered and very corrupt judge in a fictional town located in the environs of Northern California's tech industry, who, when his son (Johnny Ferro, below) tries to commit suicide but ends up in a coma, undergoes some sort of religious conversion and becomes hell-bent (or possibly god-driven) to find out why and who was responsible.

Largely the work of lead writer and co-producer Ben Watkins, the series boasts quite a cast of characters -- most of them greedy and nefarious, but acted juicily and savvily enough to keep us entertained. These include Dana Delany as the judge's wife (shown on poster, top), Emayatzy Corinealdi as his mistress, and Andre Royo (one of the treasures of The Wire) as the Mayor of the town (shown below, left).

Also in the mix are "fun couple," Julian Morris (below, right) and Elizabeth McLaughlin (below, left), playing respectively an ersatz "preacher" and his "moll," whose antics move the plot along in ways expected and not so, and a hunky Garret Dillahunt (shown at bottom), essaying the role of a felon who's found Jesus and is more than happy to murder again and again for the sake of his "redeemer."

I am not certain that Amazon is moving ahead with the series, so, even though it ended with multiple jolts and surprises, we may not be able to follow any further the antics of these greedy, money-guzzling creeps (who, from time to time, show us certain slightly redeeming characteristics underneath all the sleaze). While, at ten hours, the show did grow occasionally repetitive and even annoying, given the back-and-forth waffling of the Perlman character's "religion," still, I found these hours infinitely more interesting that those of the more popular but tiresomely paint-by-numbers, The Man in the High Castle.

That first-and-maybe-only season of Hand of God is available now via Amazon. Prime members can stream it free of charge.

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