The new 6 part BBC series Hard Sun seems to have confused the general viewing public, it’s been pitched as a sci-fi thriller and the first episode certainly seems to fit the bill. Writer and director Neil Cross of Luthor fame, reels us in with an incredibly fast paced, and very violent, first episode.
We are introduced to the main cast and the initial premise of the show. A hacked government information program reveals that life on Earth has 5 years to go before we are all burned to death by our very own sun. The stolen info is viewed by troubled police folk Hicks and Renko, who can’t believe what they have stumbled upon, and decide that people need to know. Of course shady government agents have to shut our coppers down and retrieve the flash drive that the stolen info is on. Pretty straight forward so far, but of course we still have to contend with the convoluted back stories of our protagonists.
Renko is being used to find evidence against her new partner Hicks, who is suspected of murdering another Bobby on the beat, while dealing with her mentally ill son who tries to murder her in the opening sequence. Icing on the cake is the mixed up private life of Hicks, who has more plot lines than most of the cast of Eastenders put together. It’s fair to say that there’s a lot going on in the first installment.
It’s in the subsequent episodes though that things get slightly de railed…The initial plot is sidelined as we find ourselves leaving the sci-fi tropes behind, and entering a world that Cross is much more comfortable in. Serial killers and maniacs pollute the following story lines, mostly stemming from the triggering news that the world is going to end in 5 years, despite that news being dismissed as a conspiracy theory by the aforementioned shady government officials.
So we are then back in the world of police procedure drama, and as gripping as it is, the initial premise is put on the back burner. Sure it’s mentioned on and off but the mix is distracting, and I did spend a lot of time wishing they would get on with the story that I had got invested on in the superior first episode. On the plus side though, the action sequences are gripping, although often very, very violent, but everything is directed and shot very well.
The actors are credible and deliver their lines with great conviction, although there are some rather clunky moments of exposition where I wondered if they could really quite believe what they were saying.
The series finale felt just a little too packed, there was a lot to get through in its 57 minutes, and of course we were left with a cliff hanger that didn’t feel right.
I knew what they felt they had to do to keep us on track, and to prepare a second series, but a countdown at the end of each episode,reminding us we still had 4 years 10 months or whatever it eventually was at the end, was just silly and redundant, 5 years is too long for a countdown and at the end of episode 6 it didn’t seem to matter anyway.
This was an awkward series that tried very hard to be different but in the end, it fell into a catalogue of cliches and stereotypes. Morally ambiguous police people, menacing shadowy government agents, cartoon character villains complete with masks, disillusioned sons, daughters and spouses and of course the end of the world.
On the plus side though, it’s great to see something at least try to be different on prime time main stream TV, and I did enjoy it when it stuck to its premise. I really hope we get a second series as I’m pretty sure Cross has an ending planned that will steer us more into the realm of sci-fi and away from his Luthor style of storytelling. All the episodes are up iPlayer and it’s worth a view if you get the time, and by the way, the whole thing is based on an old David Bowie song, how can you go wrong?