LONDON WAS the setting for the launch of Amazon Prime’s new original series Hand of God last night. The venue, suitably enough for a drama about a judge who fancies himself as the Lord’s instrument of vengeance, was in a deconsecrated church on Euston Road.
The stars –Ron Perlman, Dana Delaney and Alona Tal – glammed up for the occasion (well, the ladies did), and they were joined by the director Marc Forster, who’s known for World War Z and Quantum of Solace, along with writer/creator Ben Watkins, whose credits include Burn Notice.
The trailer above makes the show look a little off-kilter, and the screened episode lived up to its potent promise. The tale follows a corrupt judge, Pernell Harris, played by Perlman, whose son tries to shoot himself to death following the rape of his wife. The son, PJ, ends up on a life support machine and Pernell’s life spirals into a strange path of visions and his belief in messages from his son, whom he believes can be resurrected – despite medical opinion – if Pernell carries out God’s work.
It’s a story that might upset some religious viewpoints, but Hand of God is a serious attempt to probe questions of belief and convictions. Ben Watkins spoke after the screening about what inspired him to write it: ‘I’ve always been fascinated by zealotry and fanaticism. Through history there have been people who became fanatics, and there is a certain power that comes with that.’
Ron Perlman said his stint in the recently finished Sons of Anarchy made him realise how ‘charged’ cable television had become in recent years, allowing networks such as FX in the States to produce shows that were a ‘little bit dangerous, controversial’.
Dana Delaney, star of ABC’s mainstream crime show Body of Proof, also welcomed the gear change of subscription TV’s output. ‘It’s exciting,’ she said. ‘You can swear, smoke pot, get naked – all the things actors like to do. But it all comes down to the storytelling.’
Which brought the panel to Perlman’s eye-popping scene in the pilot when he dances naked in a fountain speaking in tongues. ‘My shaking was not controlled,’ he said. ‘It was a reaction to hypothermia.’
Hand of God starts streaming on Amazon Prime on Friday, 4 September.