Tag Archives: Sugar (2024)

Sugar (2024) a (right on time) review

Released through the Apple TV+ streaming service, Sugar is a 8 part series focusing on Private Detective John Sugar (Colin Farrell) who is investigating a missing person in sunny L.A. Here’s the trailer:

When I first heard about this series, it struck me as something very much in my wheelhouse. I’m a total sucker for Private Detective stories set in L.A. When I read reviews which stated the series was a good updating on the Raymond Chandler novels, I was there.

The show started rather …odd. In Japan of all places, before moving to L.A. We are introduced to Sugar, who is presented as an earnest, dedicated detective who has some kind of vague tragedy in his recent past and which makes his desire to find missing people a mission.

After arriving in L.A., Sugar meets up with Ruby (played by Kirby), his contact there, and she is preoccupied. Sugar, we’ve seen, has some weird hand/muscle twitch/reaction and seems to be hiding some kind of health issues. Ruby tells him he needs to see their doctor and that proves to be something Sugar is reluctant to do.

In the meantime, Sugar is contacted by a big time “old school” movie maker named Jonathan Siegel (James Cromwell) whose granddaughter -a woman who had been a history of heavy drug use but who has supposedly cleaned up her act- has disappeared.

Sugar is instantly connected to the job and, again, we get vague implied personal reasons (ie, he lost someone himself) which draw him into the job.

I won’t get into too many other details but instead offer the following: In the course of the case we find Sugar and Ruby are part of a larger group of mysterious people, Sugar meets and is often rebuffed by the other Siegel family members who hide their own skeletons, and we meet other odd and dangerous personalities while investigating the case.

The series, as I mentioned, goes eight episodes. Each episode is approximately 30 minutes long (give or take) for a total of about 4 hours of material. I generally enjoyed what I saw so if you’re into this sort of stuff and have the time, give it a go.

But be forewarned, this series gets really strange toward its end and, when all is said and done, it sure did feel like a wonky pilot to a series which I don’t know we’ll ever have. Or maybe we’ll get another 8 episode series.

The bad: I know A.I. is a big thing nowadays and viewed really negatively when used in the arts. And I have no way of verifying any of this but I get this weird feeling that the story was put together by some form of A.I.

I mean, it gets so weird and there is this weird internal logic to the story that doesn’t feel as smooth as it should be. It feels, frankly, like at times we’re seeing an A.I. story unfold before us.

If this is not the case, my deepest apologies to those involved.

To get into that, I’ll have to get into some really, REALLY big SPOILERS so for those interested, the bottom line is this: Sugar is worth checking out even if there are some bumpy moments.

Otherwise…

SPOILERS FOLLOW…!

Still there?

You’ve been warned!

So I mentioned it before but Sugar, we find as the series goes along, is tied in with an odd group of characters, including Ruby, his L.A. contact. They have this weird party and Sugar touches base with Henry (Jason Butler Harner) who seems to be a kindred soul.

But as viewers, we keep wondering what’s up with Sugar and these people. They act kinda weird and almost in a cultish manner, even if they don’t seem like evil/bad people.

Further, we find that there may be crosscurrents going on here, where Ruby and the group Sugar belongs to don’t necessarily want him to take on this case, much less solve it.

Then we get to the big, BIG reveal later in the show where we find that Sugar, and the group he’s with are… BIG TIME SPOILERS FOLLOW… are freaking aliens. Like, from outer space. Like, people from another freaking planet. And they’re here on Earth to observe us. There’s no greater explanation. They seem to be peaceful enough and they take on “real” jobs but their primary goal is to watch us and make reports on us. Why? It’s never really revealed beyond this and that’s part of the reason it feels like this is a pilot to a longer series.

The other part is that we end with certain discoveries. There’s a powerful politician/person who knows the aliens are there and, by the end of the series, is hunting them down. There’s also the fact that humanity is bleeding into the peaceful aliens, including Sugar himself. Are they being corrupted? That is answered by the end which, again, promises a longer story to come.

Now, the A.I. thing I mentioned.

I felt at times I was watching a story unfold without the usual smoothness of a “regular” storyteller. It’s like a program took elements from private investigator literature, then threw them into a blender, and added “surprise” elements. Things simply didn’t always go smoothly. We had a subplot involving human traffickers which… went pretty much nowhere. We get the alien stuff as a surprise near the end and, while decently done, it’s very much a “what the fuck?!” moment that needed perhaps a better build up. Again: it’s the little things which lead to the bigger things. So many story elements are introduced but many of them don’t necessarily lead to anything big. Some are outright dropped and the very big ones are introduced in the final three episodes.

It is what it is.

I still enjoyed the series, mind you, but I sure do wish there had been a little more thought in the story transitions.