I’m just gonna go ahead and say it. This is not going to be objective. This first season of Sundance Channel’s Hap and Leonard adapts the novel Savage Season, and is a Southern Noir story of two best friends who get in over their heads while trying to make some quick and easy money. And there’s a woman involved. Isn’t there always? While crime shows are kind of a dime a dozen these days, with more and more of them actually being of fairly high quality, this show has what none of those others have. It’s got Joe R. Lansdale, Jim Mickle, Nick Damici, James Purefoy, and Michael Kenneth Williams. Jesus, that’s a lineup of talent that could have just been plucked from my deepest fantasies. I’ve been a fan of Mickle and Damici ever since seeing their sophomore feature Stake Land back in the day. Since then, they’ve made the extremely interesting horror remake We Are What We Are, and then in 2014 they teamed up with Joe R. Lansdale to adapt his novel Cold in July (which ranked highly in our Top Ten Favorite Crime Thrillers of 2014). Lansdale is what I like to demurely call a goddamned American treasure. He is the quintessential American author, effortlessly producing works of the most mind-bending and guts-turning surreal existential horror like The Drive-In (I wonder where we found some inspiration for the name of this site? Hmmmm), hyper-imaginative steampunk madness like Flaming Zeppelins: The Adventures of Ned the Seal, the story of elderly Elvis battling a Mummy in Bubba Ho-Tep (which was adapted into a brilliant feature film by another goddamned American treasure, Don Coscarelli), award-winning mysteries like The Bottoms, historical novels like The Thicket, as well as the straight up Southern Noir of the Hap and Leonard series (which currently stands at nine novels and three novellas). Seriously. You can dip your toe anywhere in the river of prose that is Lansdale’s work and find something amazing. Add to this already heady mix of creative talent the acting skills of two of my most serious man-crushes, James Purefoy (Resident Evil, Rome, Solomon Kane, Ironclad, Camelot, John Carter, The Following) and Michael Kenneth Williams (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, The Purge: Anarchy), and you get a show that I would be watching in pure pleasure regardless of how it actually turned out. It’s also got Christina Hendricks, Jimmi Simpson, and Pollyanna McIntosh as supporting characters. Luckily for my reputation as a critic, it’s pretty damn good so far. The pilot does everything it needs to do to establish the characters, their relationships, their histories, and the central conflict of the six-episode series without boring info-dumps, forced dialogue, or awkward stylistic blips. This is fine craftsmanship on display with every scene. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with the story, Hap is a forty-year-old Texan, down on his luck in 1988. In his early 20s, he was drafted for Viet Nam, refused, and went to prison as a martyr for his liberal wife, Trudy. She left him while he was in jail. Leonard is a sarcastic, violent, short-tempered gay black Viet Nam vet and Hap’s best friend. He can’t stand Trudy because he knows Hap is helpless when she comes around. Together, they are barely making ends meet and are let go from their Rose picking job when cheaper Mexican labor is trucked in. With no money and no prospects, the surprise arrival of Trudy with a job offer for Hap that involves a lost car full of money, an area of swamp that Hap knew like the back of his hand as a kid, and a group of half-baked radicals with one last wish to stick it to the man, seems like a no-brainer. Hap lets Leonard in on the job, and against his better judgment, he agrees to go along too; much to Trudy’s chagrin. And with that we are off to the races. Hap and Leonard is exactly the sort of show that could run for years. There’s plenty of material to work with, it’s all innovative and entertaining, and the actors have a natural chemistry that makes you really feel like Hap and Leonard have known each other since they were kids. They have diametrically opposed temperaments, but they’ve always got each other’s backs. The show’s essentially about unconditional friendship. And trying to get paid. Who wouldn’t enjoy that? Hap and Leonard 1.01 "Savage Season"Paul's Rating4.5Overall ScoreReader Rating: (1 Vote)Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.