Ugh. That’s what my eloquent gut reaction is to Hand of God, the new Amazon Prime series whose 10-episode run starts Friday. Ron Perlman as an arrogant, corrupt judge who starts having visions he interprets as signs from God? Perlman bellowing and bullying everyone from the Good Lord Above to Dana Delany, who plays his much-too-long-suffering wife, and on whom he cheats with a prostitute? Ugh. (This is Dana Delany, for pete’s sake: He should thank God and be smiling every day of his life.)
Alright, the plot: Perlman’s Judge Pernell Harris is a man in crisis, agonized over the suicide attempt of his son PJ (Johnny Ferro) who tried to kill himself after being forced to witness the rape of his wife (Alona Tal). The judge gets mixed up with a young priest (Julian Morris) whose phony evangelical conversion rap wouldn’t fool anyone who’s ever seen a TV show or movie about itinerant preachers. (May I suggest The Night of the Hunter?)
Yet, this minister not only fools the supposedly intelligent judge, but also quickly acquires a hallelujah-yelling flock of parishioners who include his all-too-stereotypcally hotsy wife and a thug played by the always-excellent Garret Dillahunt. He, Delany, and a wily politician played by Andre Royo (The Wire; Fringe) — they deserve better. Perlman? This is likely the star vehicle he wants.
Created by writer Ben Watkins, Hand of God has the pace of a pulp novel anxious to keep an audience watching, heedless of believability or motivation. I freely admit I couldn’t bring myself to watch more than four episodes, which was enough to form an opinion about whether I was going to be caught up in these characters’ lives. In fact, I think the show has things backwards: I’d much rather watch a series about Delany’s Crystal character — how and why she puts up with all of her husband’s bluster and immoral behavior to get what she wants. A series about a woman taking on the sort of man who is routinely the glorified anti-hero of countless other TV series: Now that would have been a palpable miracle.
Hand of God streams on Amazon Prime starting Friday. God be with you.