Hand of God

Amazon.com does more than simply sell everything.They noticed what Netflix has done, and joined in to not only distribute films and TV shows via their streaming service, but they also create their own content in the form of TV shows that they’ve labeled Amazon Original Series. Among the five new pilots now available to see, today I watched Hand of God which starred Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) and Dana Delaney (Body of Proof and Desperate Housewives).

From the Amazon site for this pilot we get this description: A psychological drama about a morally corrupt judge who suffers a breakdown and believes God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice.

Actually, I have no gripes about that as a description. Ron Perlman, who just wrapped the still unseen final season of Sons of Anarchy, plays a criminal court judge named Pernell Harris. Dana Delaney is his wife Crystal Harris. When we meet Judge Harris he is naked in the fountain in the town square of the fictional town named San Vicente, CA. He’s chanting in what can only be called ‘tongues’.

Judge Harris thinks he is undergoing a baptism, and on or off the record, he calls himself ‘born again’. From our perspective, the Judge looks like he’s run off the tracks. But there’s a reason. His family has had a very recent and very dark event befall them. Judge Harris’s daughter-in-law had recently been repeatedly raped right in front of her husband, the Judge’s son. The son, in despair, attempted to take his own life, but he survived his own gunshot into his head, and now lies comatose in a hospital.

Mrs. Harris is seen telling it to the judge

Mrs. Harris is seen telling it to the judge

Somehow the Judge thinks he is being spoken to by God through his comatose son. He hears the voice of God, and has hallucinations in which he is told to follow the trail of blood, which he sees but no one else does.

So the judge is against turning off the machines which keep his son alive, and arrives at the hospital with a last-minute court order to prevent the hospital from following the instructions by next of kin the wife.

And there’s Part One of your set up.

Perlman is corrupt up to his eyeballs, and we see him in a lengthy hot and heavy session with a high-end call girl who services him right in his judicial chambers at $1500 per ‘date’. He says he can’t do this any more but it remains to be seen if this ‘vow’ holds up. There’s also a bit of shady business with an equally corrupt mayor,. Let’s not leave out a former soap opera TV star who is now an evangelical minister,

and there’s a violent criminal (Garret Diiahunt) who the judge lets off based on a ‘born again’ defense for the sole purpose of using this thug to do the ‘wet-work’ the judge needs in his chosen path of vigilante justice and revenge.

And that is Part Two of the set up.

As you can imagine, Perlman as the lucid judge connotes power, authority, and wisdom. But the flip side of him is some one who if you cross him, he would or could become your worst nightmare.

Delaney has a brash and brassy attitude to her as well. She’s wise to her husband’s peccadilloes, and has an in-your face manner to her as well.

The Director is Marc Foster (World War Z, Quantum of Solace, and Monster’s Ball), so this pilot has an experienced and highly thought of guy at the helm. Yet, I wasn’t all that impressed. I think the subject is quite adult and at the same time quite dark and troublesome.

Vigilante justice is bad enough on its own merits, but when one seasons it with a revenge factor, it becomes a highly combustible ingredient. Perlman is usually effective but there were times when I couldn’t hear him as he spoke into his chest in a low-key manner. But don’t be fooled. When he roars, you will take heed.

Mrs. Harris and The Mayor

Mrs. Harris and The Mayor

The daughter in law is played by Alona Tal, and she has a terrific scene with Perlman.You may also choose to watch this show as the San Vicente Mayor is played by Andre Royo who has been seen on the well liked and classic TV series The Wire.

I think I am in the minority as this pilot has garnered plenty of  kudos and high praise from viewers. I understand that pilots are necessary for the introductions and establishing of the base story and the characters, and undoubtedly this pilot attracted some people with great reputations. But since these Amazon pilots ask for the viewers to help them decide whether or not the series will go into production. See it for yourself, and submit a vote.

The link below will take you the pilot.