Saturday, March 10, 2018

Pilot Review: Hard Sun

Hard Sun (Hulu)
Premiered March 7

How a show introduces its characters and its plotlines is a big part of any pilot and selling any show. Usually, if some grand government conspiracy or impending doomed world state is being featured, the background of what’s happening precedes the appearance of the protagonists who are going to spend their lives doing their best to stop it or at least warn the public before it happens. In this case, that strategy isn’t all that effective. The first half of this show is dense and full of many scenes that feature throwaway characters and events that are beyond explanation since we don’t yet have the context for what is going on, while the second half took a much more interesting turn once DI Renko and DI Hicks realized what they had stumbled onto and did their best to try to stay alive long enough to be able to protect their families. Hicks setting off car alarms and loudly shouting their names while declaring that they were police officers made for a very intense scene reminiscent of the “Red Riding” films trilogy and “’71,” British productions about law enforcement officials on the run from a powerful corporate enemy who wants nothing more than to see them dead. Overall, this pilot wasn’t nearly as well-rounded, and it didn’t intrigue me enough to stick around for more. The big name here is Jim Sturgess, best known for “Across the Universe” and other films like “21” and “One Day,” playing Hicks, who isn’t easy to like, opposite the talented Agyness Deyn, whose Renko is more concerned with doing good but doesn’t even bother to try to get others to like her. There’s clearly a lot going on here, but this pilot wasn’t particularly balanced or narratively intriguing.

How will it work as a series? Somehow, their belief that, if they spread the information before they get killed, it means that they and their families are safe isn’t going to hold up all that well, and they’re likely to experience irreversible casualties. Getting there could be interesting, though I think too much of the focus may be on this world-ending inevitability.
How long will it last? All six episodes of the first season premiered on BBC One in the UK back in January, and its status as a coproduction means that this Hulu run was always planned. The reviews seem to be fine if not overwhelmingly positive, but the ratings in the UK plummeted as it went on, and therefore I think it’s going to have to really win over American audiences to continue as its creator Neil Cross would like it to.

Pilot grade: C+