Wednesday, March 1, 2017

TV Show Review: Taboo

Tom Hardy stars in this period piece about an adventurer conspiring against the English crown and practicing in black magic. James Delaney (Hardy) returns from presumably being dead to claim his inheritance of his dead father including a crucial island to the East India Trading Company. The leaders of the East India Company conspire to steal James's inheritance through any means necessary. Left with no inheritance is James's half-sister Zilpha Geary (Oona Chaplin) whose husband Thorne (Jefferson Hall) is set on killing James for the slight. 

James begins to take back his father's property but finds a brothel set up on one of the shoreside properties run by the madam Helga (Franka Potente) who decides to work with. A lot of strange visions plague Delaney, specifically the memory of his mother trying to drown him in a river. Delaney is supported by his father's servant Brace (David Hayman) who knows his father's secrets and tries to stop James from going down the same path. His antagonists are the leaders of the East India Company including Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce) and Benjamin Wilton (Leo Bill). 

James recruits other men to build his army as he conspires to commit treason against the crown to help the rebelling Americans on the colonies. He hires the tattooed Atticus (Stephen Graham) to watch his back and root out the men who attempt to assassinate him. The spy for the American is Dumbarton (Michael Kelly) who works to create dyes for flags as he hires Delaney to make gunpowder to assist the war effort. James uses the chemist Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander) and his young bastard to cook up the explosive powder. Also claiming the inheritance is Lorna Bow (Jessie Buckley) who claims to have married Delaney's father before he passed. 

I was only half paying attention during a lot of these episodes since the show tended to drag on and I couldn't always fully understand the thick accents. I wasn't very interested in Delaney's struggles and never found characters I much liked beyond amused by Atticus mostly because I like Stephe Graham. I am a fan of Tom Hardy and have sat through some pretty bizarre performances, and this is up there with the funny hat and growling voice. The season did speed up near the end and there were shocking moments of violence. The period piece felt similar to the creators other entertaining work of the Peaky Blinders. I like the scrappy underworld of England no matter the time.  

One of the most interesting parts of the show was the investigation of dead slaves who were drowned after the hatch on a ship was nailed down during a storm led by George Chichester (Lucian Msamati). It turns out that Delaney was responsible but only under orders from the ship captain. He has guilt for his actions and shares in the discrimination because of the race of his mother. The show never delves too deep into these issues and vengeance is somewhat served by the finale. 

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