Hard Sun Spoiler-Free Review
"A swing and a miss for Hulu's new British drama"
I wanted to like Hard Sun
, I really did. After all, I'm usually a sucker for any sort of apocalyptic fare, and Hard Sun
certainly fits in that category. Unfortunately, the series also hangs its hat as the story of whether or not a cop had a hand in the untimely murder of his former partner (whose widow he is currently having an affair with), whether or not two distinctly different cops can get along (especially since one is being forced to secretly investigate the other for the above murder), and, just to add even more to the story, it's also the tale of a mother and her mentally disturbed son (who tried to murder her several years prior). Oh, and the two cops discover a government conspiracy to hide that the world is going to end in five years due to an inescapable extinction event, and have to figure out how to let the world know while also evading shady MI-5 agents.
That's a hell of a lot for several seasons worth of storytelling. Here, all of that plot has been shoehorned into six episodes (all of which were made available for critics, however I only made it through three before the insane amount of plot drove me to abandon it). The series, which began airing earlier this year on BBC One in the UK and makes its way to the States on March 7 through Hulu, has a lot going for it. Its cast, led by Agyness Deyn and Jim Sturgess as the show's central detective pairing, are strong actors. Deyn, in particular, is asked to give a complex performance, not letting the audience fully into the character's psyche until well into the season. But despite two enjoyable leads, the series cannot escape a story that is far too overloaded.
I would watch a series about the coming end of the world and two individuals trying to get the word out to the masses despite governmental interference starring Deyn and Sturgess. I would watch a series about two recently partnered detectives dancing around the possible involvement of one in the murder of his former partner starring these two. I would watch a show about Deyn's character dealing with her son's mental illness and his attempted murder of her. But I can't watch a show that tries to unsuccessfully juggle these plot points (plus the affair and the home life of the detectives). And that's the biggest disappointment of this whole enterprise. Hard Sun
could have been a great show (and, seeing as the series has a set five year timer on it, perhaps the show will narrow its focus more in future years and get to a higher level), but instead its is just the latest series that bit off way more than it could chew and torpedoed itself from the get-go.
An emerging problem in the current climate of Peak TV is that shows are attempting to carve out a niche in the crowded television landscape by creating the biggest event. Sometimes it works. Lots of film stars making the move to TV? No problem! HBO has a miniseries (now a continuing series) in Big Little Lies
that has a whole bunch of movie stars! Love comic books but want the chance to see something super trippy and comic book-y in the form of a TV show? FX has Legion
! But, without a clear vision (the novel that was adapted for Big Little Lies
) or a truly visionary director shepherding the project (Noah Hawley with Legion
), going for more over telling a simple, well-structured story, leads to something like Hard Sun
. And that's a shame.