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Hap and Leonard: A Southern Romp

Sundance TV’s “Hap and Leonard” is a television drama, with dark comedy tendencies, adapted from novels of the same name by Joe R. Lansdale. It stars James Purefoy (“Solomon Kane” and “The Following”) as Hap Collins and Michael Kenneth Williams (HBO’s “The Wire” and “Boardwalk Empire”) as Leonard Pine and is rounded out with a supporting cast of Christina Hendricks, Jimmi Simpson, Brian Dennehy and Louis Gossett Jr.

There is a southern charm about the series reminiscent of previously well received shows, like that of FX’s “Justified” starring Timothy Olyphant. It is a complete southern romp through a Texas town in the late ‘80s with Hap, who served time in a federal prison as a conscience objector to the Vietnam War, and Leonard, a gay black veteran with anger issues, meting out a living in rose fields. The two have grown up as best friends looking out for one another since their loss of family as children.

In the first season, what seems like a typical southern tale of unrequited love quickly takes a turn for the bizarre with a serial killer couple, Soldier (Jimmi Simpson) and his amazon girlfriend Angel (Pollyanna McIntosh). As the killers circle the Texas town, leaving a killing spree in their wake, they draw ever closer to Hap and Leonard, who are on a treasure hunt of their own with a band of out-of-place hippies.

Although the seasons are a short six episodes, they are truly engaging. Yes, there is a bit of in-your-face violence (and an explosive ending to Season 1), but it holds purpose to the story as opposed to a ratings draw. By the end of the first season, which follows the “Savage Season” storyline, what felt like a slow start ends with a blistering pace that finally finishes with a bit of a breather before launching into the second season.

Season 2 explores Hap and Leonard’s past and gives us answers to the friend’s origins that are inspired by the “Mucho Mojo” storyline that absorbs itself in child kidnappings, a mystery corpse and a bit of revenge. The final season, released earlier this year, is based on the story “The Two-Bear Mambo.”

It’s truly a shame that there will be no more episodes for this now canceled show, but it’s just a click away on streaming. Amazon, Netflix, iTunes and YouTube currently carry the first two seasons and individual episodes of Season 3 can be purchased on Amazon Prime and YouTube for a few dollars each.

To reach Brian Fitz-Gerald, e-mail him at bfitz-gerald@rosebudmedia.com.

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