* HAND OF GOD. Today,


IF THERE'S one great thing about the streaming revolution, it's that if I tell you a series gets better in the second (or third, or fourth) episode, you no longer have to wait weeks to see if I'm nuts or not.

If only it were that simple to gauge the sanity of Judge Pernell Harris (Ron Perlman, "Sons of Anarchy").

The central character in Amazon's new drama "Hand of God," whose first 10-episode season goes online today for Amazon Prime subscribers, Pernell appears to be at least two-thirds into a nervous breakdown when we meet him in the pilot, naked in a fountain and speaking in tongues.

Or is he in the grip of religious ecstasy?

The judge's only son, PJ, lies in a coma following a suicide attempt triggered by the rape of PJ's wife, Jocelyn (Alona Tal). Believing himself to be hearing PJ's voice, instructing him to fulfill a promise, Pernell, who's not exactly a Boy Scout, decides he's on a mission from God. As one does.

Written by series creator Ben Watkins ("Burn Notice") and directed by Marc Foster ("World War Z"), the pilot introduces the judge's skeptical wife, Crystal (Dana Delany); his friend, Mayor Robert "Bobo" Boston (Andre Royo, "The Wire"); Keith "KD" Dennison (Garret Dillahunt), a thug who uses religion to excuse violence; and the Rev. Paul Curtis (Julian Harris), a con artist in a collar.

Four episodes in, I can't say I've warmed to Watkins' dark and not always coherent vision. But there's a crackling electricity between his characters that's kept me watching.

- Ellen Gray