The BBC have decided to dig deep into the TV licence pot and dip their feet in the deep-end with Taboo – bringing post-watershed viewers a taste of the ever popular, “Hollywood star-studded mini-series”. Drawing in on the talent and experience of directors Engström and Nyholm, Taboo has gained the attention of the masses.
The mini-series follows James Keziah Delaney, played by Tom Hardy, upon his return from Africa in the early 19th century London. Delaney returns home after the death of his father and inherits the remainder of his peculiar fortune. Unfortunately for James, this fortune comes grimly packaged with the vengeance of his father’s enemies – or rather the other way around. We quickly learn that James was able to survive his time in Africa by developing some quite dark and savage skills.
Of course, as the series unfolds we witness James engaging in various “taboo” activities, including but not limited to cannibalism, wizardry and incest. The series remains very dark and mysterious and I can’t recall any truly humorous or light-hearted scenes.
It is clear from the production quality throughout the series that no penny has been spared on intricately creating Delaney’s world. But this might be one of the main problems with the show – it’s Delaney’s world. And so much so that I had no fear for the safety of his character. I feel the plot had been skewed too far in Delaney’s favour, and this stripped away an element of emotional rigmaroles that TV series’ need to survive the long-haul.
Another problem that this series faces is a common one, there are simply too many unanswered questions and complications. And instead of giving us answers we simply get more questions. Sometimes creators of a tv series give away too much information and make the audience feel force-fed. Then the other end of the spectrum is where Taboo lies. I found that Taboo was very hard to follow because the creators seem to assume that we all have A*s in British History – or that we have the powers of Delaney himself. I found myself rewinding a lot because a missed sentence or glance can throw you off as if you had missed an entire episode.
Aside from this, I thought that Tom Hardy did a good job of carrying the show forward. His character had the potential to be very flat and one dimensional, but his talent prevailed once again. I do feel like this character was just a mash-up of Bane (The Dark Knight Rises) and Bondurant (Lawless) – but who am I to judge, it worked!
Overall I think Taboo is worth watching, however, I do not see it competing with the likes of Game of Thrones and Vikings. The show does have great potential, but the creases need to be quickly ironed out if season two is going to be more successful than this one.
Director: Anders Engström and Kristofer Nyholm
Starring: Tom Hardy, Oona Chaplin, Jonathan Pryor and David Hahman.