It is dark, like Batman it is brooding, like Angel. It is something we’ve seen before but it is very new. It is Taboo, there are many subjects which are taboo and yet you can’t not watch it. You know much of this series is true and has utilised the worst parts of history. We know this because the truth is always crazier than fiction. This 8 part TV series released in the UK in early 2017 has screened in Australia on SBS TV and SBS On Demand. Each episode is around the hour mark and right up front, I will say it is worth the eight hours of viewing. Good luck binge watching this series.
There are many reasons to enjoy this TV series, if you are after something light and relaxing, then avoid this series. It is dark, grim, gritty and challenging. This story is easy to follow, in essence, it is a revenge film. There are dozens of subplots, unravelling a family history, love interests, corruption, politics, poverty, a war between the classes, fight for freedom, civil war, new hope. It is not all dark, well it is mostly but for me, I did enjoy much of the subtext for hope, redemption and love. It is there I promise.
I am sure there are people who say this series is crap. I can see some points, it is a Tom Hardy ego trip. It can be slow and seemly pointless. Violence seems to occur for no reason. The character of James wants to be this John Wayne like a character that wants to save the world on his own. Yet he needs a cast, a crew, a posse of faulty people in order to get the job done. His recruits are damaged goods and it is made clear that’s why he recruits them. For me, this is where the elements of hope & redemption come in. By aligning himself with people who are not perfect he offers them a chance to redeem themselves, hope for a new life in a new world.
The story starts with James Delaney (Tom Hardy) returning home after the death of his father. James was assumed dead, lost in Africa, drowned 12 years earlier. His sister isn’t too pleased to see him or is she? And the intrigue as to his return starts immediately, why is he burying treasure? The evil empire is the East India company, it is like James is Luke with his rebellion fighting Darth Vader’s empire, aka Sir Stuart Strange chairman of the East India Company. Add some politics with King George IV or the Senate. Wait a sec there is a lot of familiar themes here, but that could be the end of the Star Wars references. Or is it, the mysterious father figure looms over Jame Delaney, his mother had issues, mental issues or did she?
At times during the series, we get glimpses of James’ life in Africa. During the 12 years did he learn the African ways and become a savage or was he captive or just a thug like he is now. His upbringing in London was definitely upper class from a good family. He was educated, intelligent and had a dark side with dark secrets which are key to the entire series. The storyline of this series sways around like a drunkard sailor, I wouldn’t say there were massive plot twists. There is a certain element of predictability to the storyline however it is enjoyable how the Director gets us there.
This is my kind of series, dark. 3.5 stars. Plus some good news, a series two has been commissioned.