Pre-apocalypse crime drama Hard Sun is so much of its time its quite fascinating. To manage budget etc the series is a co-production between the BBC and Hulu in the United States, and while it is being aired weekly as tradition, when the first episode aired the full series was put up on iplayer so that viewers could binge-watch it if they wished- not the first nod by the BBC towards how people seem to be accessing content theses days.
So while I’ve just watched the full six episodes I’m also fully aware that some may be waiting for the weekly episodes to air, so will keep this review spoiler-free. Suffice to say after a rocky start the series found its footing with episode three and to my surprise actually delivered a really good ending, leaving me hopeful that we’ll see series two. Writer/producer Neil Cross has stated he hopes the show will run for five series (a number that will seem obvious/fitting for those that watch the show) so with a little luck, who knows?
(On the one hand I enjoy these ‘long’ sagas but on the other, I’m a little contemptuous that I’m expected to wait several years to witness any ‘full’ story to its conclusion- JMS and his Babylon 5 have such a lot to answer for, sometimes).
Another aspect in which Hard Sun reflects the current time it is made in, and negatively in my eyes, is the current post-Game of Thrones trend for shock -for-shock’s sake and sudden twists in plot and character behaviour which is intended to keep viewers on their toes but which also can undermine credibility. In just the same way as foreign crime dramas like The Bridge or Cardinal have done, events and circumstances are just pushed too far into the sensationalist realm for real credibility, if only to keep viewers attention away from the remote. For instance, during the second episode our heroine is sitting in a car with a fairly minor character, chatting, when she suddenly jumps on him for casual sex. It’s so out of leftfield, and has no impact on anything that follows, that it’s surely just a sudden twist of spice to shock/entertain/wake up the viewer.
Restraint, in my eyes, should have been the order of the day. The basic premise -in which government intelligence agencies are murdering/disappearing/ruining whoever stumbles upon the shocking truth that the world is doomed- is fantastic and Orwellian enough without graphic violence/murders and complicated protagonists with bizarre life histories. But of course, that’s all so very 1970s and this is the wild 2010s and our tv is edgy and shocking and fast-paced.
So I may seem rather disparaging- it’s perfectly fine for what it is, but yes, the Game of Thrones dynamic seems to be infecting everything these days and I think it’s a pity. A calmer, more level-headed, down-to-Earth series may have seemed less exciting for today’s audiences but it would have been more effective, for me anyway. What’s wrong with normal characters, normal relationships, why spice it all up with bad cops/murderers/rape victims etc? Isn’t the End Of The World enough?
Still. I do hope we get another series.