A mysterious private detective struggles with personal demons as he investigates the disappearance of a Hollywood producer’s beloved granddaughter. That is the story behind ‘Sugar,’ a stylish throwback to the film noir detectives of the past with a terrific lead performance by Colin Farrell and my recommendation for this month.

John Sugar lives in L.A., drives a vintage Corvette, and loves old movies. Right from the opening credits, with the moody music and voiceover, ‘Sugar’ resembles many classics of the genre, especially the stories featuring Raymond Chandler’s iconic hard-boiled Los Angeles PI, Philip Marlowe, or Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade.

Sugar doesn’t have the typical wisecracking secretary. Instead, he has Ruby (Kirby Howell-Baptiste), a British woman who lives in a gorgeous Silver Lake cottage and seems to be in charge of him in some way.

Is she his manager?


And if so, who does Ruby work for?

As the story unfolds, Sugar, who specializes in finding missing people, is summoned to the mansion of a wealthy old man who wants him to find his granddaughter Olivia. Sugar is supposed to be taking a break, but he can’t resist the call because the old man is Jonathan Siegel (James Cromwell, perfectly cast), a movie producer whose films are some of Sugar’s favorites.

As he attempts to uncover her mysterious disappearance, the private investigator begins unearthing family secrets that were never meant to be uncovered, propelling him and the Siegel family into a downward spiral.

Along the way, Sugar finds a corpse in the trunk of a car, encounters a very scary gang leader, and meets Melanie (Amy Ryan), a former rock star and former member of the Siegel family.
The chemistry between Sugar and Melanie forms the heart of ‘Sugar’.

Melanie has been sober but recently fell off the wagon, which may have some connection to Olivia’s disappearance and the death of another young woman. The questions keep piling up, but the way the mystery unfolds is smooth and masterfully executed.

Sugar’s outlook on the world is sweet and sad, he frets over all the dark things his work turns up and wishing everyone could act a little nicer. “I don’t like hurting people,” he says in the show’s very first scene. The fact that he has to resort to violence sometimes doesn’t make this any less true. Why he feels this way, and a lot more about John Sugar, becomes clearer at the end of episode 6 when a bombshell of a twist is revealed and shows us that ‘Sugar’ is much more than a detective show.

Farrell is the best and strongest asset of ‘Sugar.’ His portrayal of the detective just oozes cool. He’s able to exude his natural charisma while simultaneously being able to portray such an enigmatic character. Although the supporting cast is excellent and all turn in solid work, make no mistake, this is Farrell’s show.

There’s no word yet on a second season but hopefully Farrell will get to play this character for years to come and we’ll see more John Sugar.

‘Sugar’ is another show in a long line of interesting and quality content from AppleTV+ and is available to stream now.

If you have any questions about TV, you can email me at BillsTVTalk@gmail.com. I will answer all of your questions and will feature some of the questions I receive in a future Mailbag column. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @BillsTVTalk and on Facebook at BillsTVTalk for daily up-to-the-minute TV news and discussion.◊