It was the merest happenchance that I stumbled across the listing for a show called Hap and Leonard on the Sundance Channel. I don't watch that station very much, but there was something about the description of this show which intrigued me. I set it up to record and was exceedingly surprised and exceedingly pleased by what I discovered.
|Hap (James Purefoy) and Leonard (Michael Kenneth Willams)|
Turns out this six-episode series is an adaptation of the work of Joe Lansdale, an author I first became aware of many years ago now when he finished the last original Edgar Rice Burroughs manuscript for Tarzan: The Lost Adventure.
Later still I became an unabashed fan of the movie Bubba Ho-Tep which is an adaptation of Lansdale's novella of the same title. I've not read very deeply in the Lansdale canon, a few stories here and there, but I know he's prolific.
The duo of Hap Collins and Leonard Pine debuted in Lansdale's award-winning Savage Season and he's written many stories starring the duo since. In this tale which adapts the debut novel, we are introduced to the pair who work in the Rose fields of Texas and who are suddenly without work. Hap is an aging bachelor who once upon a time refused to go to Vietnam and spent some time in jail as a result. Leonard is a black gay man who is a Vietnam vet and who is filled with rage. Both have an absolute trust for one another, though Leonard has no regard for Trudy, the love of Hap's life who drives up and offers the two a chance for big money because they might be able to find a bundle of stolen cash which has been at the bottom of a river for a few decades. They accept the offer but it's more than they realize when we meet Trudy's new beau Howard and his amigos Chub and Paco. They are leftist radicals who want to use the money to fund their revolution, though Hap and Leonard have no interest in that. Also circling around are a couple of ruthless murderers name Soldier and Angel who end up becoming key to the affair.
|Trudy (Christina Hendricks)|
James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Willaims who play Hap and Leonard respectively do remarkable jobs in a story which demands a lot of acting both with words and without. There's a profound patina of regret and sadness, a stark statement about the fundamental nature of life itself that grounds this story and both actors as well as Christina Hendricks as Trudy tap into that with a gusto which makes the narrative shine as the unpredictable story unfolds.
With the high-profile of his new TV series, which I hope gets picked up for more episodes as it ends on an intriguing mystery; I suspect we've not seen the last of these oddly charming anti-heroes.