HAND OF GOD
Available on Amazon Prime Instant Video
Lying in a coma after shooting himself in the head, Judge Pernell Harris’ son PJ doesn’t look set to recover. All the doctors say there’s no real chance of him waking up from the coma and that he’s practically already dead if it wasn’t for the life-support machine. His distraught wife Jocelyn wants to pull the plug so she can say goodbye to the man she loves and move on with her life, but her father-in-law Pernell is unable to let him go. Convinced that PJ’s attempted suicide was to do with the rape of Jocelyn, which PJ was forced to watch, Pernell tries to hunt down the man responsible. Having found God and ‘reborn’ under new local Christian church ‘Hand of God’, Pernell hears PJ speaking to him and believes his voice is speaking the words of God and that if he follows them, his son will awaken from his coma. Acting upon these hallucinations, Pernell gets himself into bother though there seems to be more truth to his visions than other people imagine. Pernell’s erratic behaviour doesn’t go unnoticed though and his professional career as a judge is put into jeopardy when he lets off a guilty convict and turns up naked, standing in a fountain, speaking in tongues. With a new development deal under threat from Purnell’s unpredictability, best friend Mayor Robert ‘Bobo’ Boston and Pernell’s wife Crystal must set him on the right path whilst Pernell himself attempts to serve justice on behalf of his comatose son.
Amazon Originals Series HAND OF GOD Season One is a ten part drama series that deals with one man’s quest he believes has been bestowed upon him by God and the path of destruction and corruption that lies in his wake. Taking centre stage of the series is Judge Pernell Harris and he is not a likable character. Though it was Ron Perlman who drew me to the show initially and his performance as Harris is great, the character himself is a self-centred loon who has no thought for anyone but himself. Instead, it’s the people around him who garner more interest and likability such as Harris’ wife Crystal, played by Desperate Housewives‘ Dana Delany, and Bobo (The Wire‘s Andre Royo). Crystal runs her own PR firm and deals with her marital troubles by smoking weed with friend April. When Pernell goes off the rails, Crystal is forced to get him to his meetings on time to assure that a development deal goes ahead. Likewise, Bobo, Pernell’s best friend and Mayor of St Vincente, finds himself running around cleaning up Pernell’s mess as Brooks Development threaten to the pull the plug on their lucrative contract if Judge Harris looks the teeniest bit not capable of handling himself. In fact, the majority of the characters seem to spend most of their time keeping Pernell in check and making sure he doesn’t destroy or harm himself or the city that he is most certainly is a pillar of. If Pernell goes down, so does everyone else and they cannot let that happen.
As a drama, HAND OF GOD is quite repetitive and tiresome at times. There’s only so many times you can hear the word PJ without pulling your hair out. It seems like a constant back and forth of Pernell Harris changing his mind from wanting to follow the words of God then not at all. Pernell is full of contradictions and at times he comes across as a spoilt child. I’m just grateful that he’s not someone I have to look out for. The other characters though, such as Crystal, Bobo, Purnell’s call girl Tessie, criminal Keith Dennison (KD) and Hand of God’s Reverend Paul and Alicia, make the series that worthwhile and the humour and emotion they bring to their characters is what will draw you into the series. The plot of PJ and who was responsible for raping his wife becomes monotonous very quickly so it’s a good job they have the stellar acting chops filling the shoes of the aforementioned characters to beef up the story and present characters we can get involved with.
If a second season of HAND OF GOD is commissioned, I’d like to see the focus shift more to the corruption element and how these high fliers manage to keep the city afloat. The title of the series would no doubt see the church develop and that too would provide an interesting concept though the obsession Pernell has with the church and his visions proved to be a very tiresome exercise that I wouldn’t like to be repeated. I’m more interested in the lives of the people, the lies they tell and the secrets they keep to get what they want. That, I would think, would make a gripping drama to sink your teeth into.
With scenes of sex, violence and drug taking, HAND OF GOD is very much an adult watch. Surprisingly, it’s the therapist that Pernell sees that seems to do most of the cursing in the series but many of the characters realistically swear throughout the programme. Though it may be a series that deals with God and the Christian church, I wouldn’t say this is a preachy drama. It shows both sides and also explores the charlatan side of preaching too.
There’s some great scenes to enjoy in this series and the humour is top notch when it arrives in its short bursts but the story of the individuals seems to be more interesting and engaging than the main plot of PJ in a coma and his reasons for committing suicide. The performances from everyone involved in the series are fantastic and if it does come round for a second season, I look forward once again to watching it. I just hope it has a better, beefier main plot thread next time round.