It has become highly fashionable to discuss current US television as a ‘golden age’. Certainly judging by my social media streams discussing various TV shows (usually American, but with the occasional British breakthrough and Doctor Who) is as, if not more prevalent that talking about movies. So it’s something of a mystery why Hap and Leonard seems to be flying under the radar. Possibly because it is on Amazon streaming in the UK, which generally gets a much lower profile when it comes to broadsheet and blogger coverage than the more established Netflix. Well here are a few words to hopefully persuade you to give this terrific series a look.
It took me a while to come round to watch Hap and Leonard. I tore through the Joe R. Lansdale novels upon which the show is based in my early twenties, and was frankly nervous about another TV version of something I loved so dearly two decades ago (the watered down TV version of John Constantine springs to mind). But prompted by a few positive mentions from people with some modicum of taste (podcaster MJ Smith take a bow, @you_total_cult on twitter), and the fact that show runners Jim Mickle and Nick Damici had already made a good stab at adapting Lansdale with the 2014 film Cold in July I decided to take the plunge.
Well now I just feel like a total fool, because Hap and Leonard is about as near perfect an adaptation of Lansdale’s work as I count possibly imagine. Each series of the show adapts one of the novels over six episodes. The pace is leisurely, but never saggy, and the added scope of the TV format allows for a deeper exploration of not only the two principal characters, but also Lansdale’s colourful and occasionally grotesque supporting players. The more constrained timing of a feature film would pare many of these characters back to mere sketches, but over six forty-odd minute episodes there is time to explore.
However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Who are Hap Collins and Leonard Pine? Review follows… Continue reading