By Tim Riley

The Hulu network has done a masterful job with some of its original programming, but the British import of “Hard Sun” leaves something to be desired on many fronts, not the least being the grim picture of the planet facing extinction. The premise of “Hard Sun” is solid in the sense that two London police detectives stumble upon information on a flash drive that reveals a government conspiracy to cover up the fact that planet Earth has five years to survive until the sun blows up or something.

It appears that the show’s apocalyptic vision was inspired by the David Bowie song “Five Years.”  Maybe the British singer-songwriter envisioned this dystopian TV series about four decades ago when penning the bleak lyrics about the earth really dying. Whatever the case may be, “Hard Sun” paints an ugly picture straight out of the box even before the opening credits roll.  A woman is violently attacked and beaten in her own apartment by an assailant that douses her with gasoline before setting a match to the premises.

Talk about starting off with a huge punch to the gut.  It turns out the victim is police detective Elaine Renko (Agyness Deyn), who miraculously survives the assault and escapes just in time before her place blows up. At the London police department she becomes the new partner to notorious loner Charlie Hicks (Jim Sturgess), an inspector with a shady past who may or may not have been involved with the murder of his former partner.

Suspicion about whether Hicks is corrupt causes Officer Renko to be uneasy with her assignment to keep tabs on his actions.  Of course, the fact that Hicks, supposedly a good family man, is having an affair with his dead partner’s wife is troubling, to say the least. Meanwhile, when Renko and Hicks come to possess the flash drive with the timeline for Earth’s demise, they not only have to deal with nefarious individuals (are they government spies or mercenaries?) chasing them, but also have to track vicious serial killers. In the first two episodes, there are enough brutal murder scenes that are really disturbing that the thought of continuing to watch “Hard Sun” proved to be a bridge too far.