TABOO is the new TV series to hit BBC One in 2017 (and FX in the United States) and after Christmas and New Year, which is always such a busy time of the year, Steven Knight’s show couldn’t have come at a better time. As we kick back and relax with some fantastic entertainment (whilst munching on our left over chocolates and biscuits), it is nice to watch something that is definitely not festive…
TABOO is a new eight-part mini-series that is debuting on the small screen and it is a historical drama set in early 19th-Century London starring Tom Hardy. His name alone is enough to draw in the audience for this one – and how refreshing it is to see the acclaimed actor step aside from Hollywood movies to appear in a TV series. Hardy does have a vested interest in this series, he is on double duty in this one – aside from starring as the main character, he helped to create the show with his father Chips Hardy, alongside Knight and he is also on producing duties for it too through his production company Hardy Son & Baker alongside the fantastic Ridley Scott.
Hardy has previously teamed up with Steven Knight, who created PEAKY BLINDERS, which the British star also appeared in and it was with high hopes that their new collaboration would bring something interesting to Saturday night TV, especially as there are so many reality shows on the screen at the moment. This, it certainly achieved. For those of you who are fans of period dramas such as DOWNTON ABBEY and VICTORIA, well TABOO is definitely not that! It is darker, more suspenseful and we have a feeling it is going to keep on getting better and better.
Tom Hardy is playing an adventurer, James Delaney, who has returned from Africa after the death of his father and his entry at the funeral came as somewhat of a surprise, as many presumed him to be dead and we quickly discover that many wished he was dead. Discovering his father’s death was not of natural causes and was in fact murder, Delaney is seeking revenge whilst he stands to also inherit his shipping empire.
His surprise appearance at the late Mr. Delaney’s funeral throws a wrench in the plans of his estranged half sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin) and her husband Thorne Geary (Jefferson Hall), as well as the machinations of the East India Trading Company, led by Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce).
From the outset, it is clear that the production is beautifully constructed, as we are convincingly swept back to this period and immediately, we are trying to work out the type of character Delaney is. He doesn’t say much to begin with, but he has bags of swagger when he walks and possesses a brooding face with stern eyes. At first, he appears aggressive, troubled and no doubt as the episodes unfold, we will learn more about his secrets and why he is so motivated for revenge.
Throughout the opening hour, he makes it clear to his adversaries – and the audience – that they should be cautious of him. Delaney has flashbacks and some disturbing visions, which prey on his mind in times of solitude signalling trouble he has encountered whilst in Africa and he appears fearless of both the British and American government. Now that is a role that is perfect for Hardy! Over the years during his fantastic career, he has relished playing those kind of roles, so we can expect him to throw himself into Delaney’s character wholeheartedly.
In the director’s chair for the first episode was Danish director Kristoffer Nyholm, who has helmed the first half of the series, followed on by Swedish director Anders Engström, who has called the shots on the final four episodes.
There is no denying that the set looks fantastic, the darkness in some scenes suit the mood and the acting from all the members of the cast is fantastic. However, perhaps the only sticking bone with the series opener is that occasionally it was a bit hard to follow the narrative, which is understandable given that the secrets do not need to be unveiled in the first hour. Therefore, it is essential that the audience stick with it and tune in to the future episodes and watch as the mysteries are revealed as the narrative unfolds.
Overall, TABOO offers a solid, mysterious opening to the series, but with perseverance and time, no doubt the series will hit full throttle and command the captivation of the audience. Either way, there’s no denying that Tom Hardy makes being bad look very, very good…
TABOO continues on BBC One on Saturday at 9:15pm.