‘Underneath the Banner of Heaven’ flies excessive, whereas ‘Shining Ladies’ does not

Taking part in like a cross between “True Detective” and “Huge Love,” “Underneath the Banner of Heaven” begins with the grotesque homicide of a girl (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her youngster, exposing the type of darkish secrets and techniques that small communities elevated to true-crime standing invariably appear to comprise.
Tailored from Jon Krakauer’s e book by Dustin Lance Black (“Milk”), the seven-episode collection stars Andrew Garfield — coming off “Spider-Man: No Approach House” and his Oscar nod for “Tick, Tick … Growth!” — as Jeb Pyre, the detective who catches the case, which leaves widowed husband Allen Lafferty (Billy Howle) because the prime suspect. However the investigation finds extra insidious roots that trace at a bigger conspiracy, one which entails the sprawling Lafferty household’s embrace of fundamentalist rules and the sordid practices associated to them.

Pyre, in the meantime, is a household man and member of the church, whose religion is examined by the grim nature of the crime and defensive response from native officers. His scenario is balanced by his grizzled accomplice (Gil Birmingham), an outsider greater than keen to play dangerous cop if that’s what’s required.

The framing is somewhat flabby, because the flashbacks slowly putty in how the outspoken lady might need turn into a homicide goal. Nor does it assist that the narrative flashes approach again to the story of church founder Joseph Smith and people origins — a component of the e book that, as offered on this format, considerably distracts from the extra up to date plot, as if the story has taken an abrupt detour right into a Historical past channel docudrama.

Nonetheless, the central thriller supplies a strong hook, and the fabric is elevated by an inordinately good solid, with Sam Worthington, Wyatt Russell and Rory Culkin as Allen’s older siblings, with Allen chillingly saying, “I could not hear the holy spirit in the identical approach my brothers might” after telling Pyre, “You won’t be nearly as good a Mormon as you assume.”

“Underneath the Banner of Heaven” is not fairly an ideal present, however it’s a solidly good one, which is greater than will be mentioned for “Shining Ladies,” which largely squanders a solid headlined by Elisabeth Moss, who doubles as its producer.

Primarily based on Lauren Beukes’ novel, the undertaking options Moss as Kirby, a newspaper archivist who survived a brutal assault however finds that her personal actuality retains altering, as if the taking part in subject is being reset. Her seek for solutions prompts her to staff up with a reporter (“Narcos” star Wagner Moura, underemployed), in search of to by some means join a path of victims scattered throughout many years.

Jamie Bell co-stars because the mysterious time-traveler, whereas Phillipa Soo (“Hamilton”) is one other potential sufferer. But the reason for this science-fiction-style spin on a serial-killer story is left quite imprecise regardless of the compulsory flashbacks — it is unclear what the foundations are — not that these particulars make an entire lot of distinction because the undertaking kicks into thriller mode down the stretch.

Moss is clearly a draw, however even she will solely accomplish that a lot with skinny and complicated materials. Whereas “Shining Ladies” appears doubtlessly intriguing at first look, by the point one has watched to the top of its disappointing eight episodes its gentle is flickering, and for viewers, it’s going to be too late to hit the reset button.

“Underneath the Banner of Heaven” premieres April 28 on Hulu.

“Shining Ladies” premieres April 29 on Apple TV+. (Disclosure: My spouse works for a division of Apple.)

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