I have a use for you Tom Hardy. Keep being James Keziah Delaney forever.
I meant to get into this review much earlier but time got away from me and now the first season of Taboo has ended. The good news is that a second season has been confirmed. The bad news is that the first season was too damn short for me. It has been a long time since I have had difficulty pulling myself away from a show and allowing my DVR to record it for later. A lonnnngggggg time...
Part of the appeal of this show for me is cinematic style. It is often dark (literally), the filming has a certain grit to it and the background of the landscape is perfectly gloomy, oppressive and often a reminder of just the kind of guts and slime we all came from. It takes place in the early 1800s and it is a little bit period drama, a little bit espionage, a little bit creepy in more than one way, all of which are also big draws for me when checking out new shows. It is unsettling, mysterious, and yes, full of forbidden troubles of one sort or another. There is also a cast of characters that I grew very fond of for various reasons, most notably that they were believable to me in that none of them were what could be defined as "good people" but most of them were at least "real" and complete in the sense of multi-dimensional personalities.
James Dulaney (Tom Hardy's character) returns to his native England upon his father's death to inherit what could possibly be a fortune of sorts. A fortune that a lot of other people want. And that begins this story that unfolds rather slowly, which I truly enjoyed, although others criticized it for not "moving faster" during the first couple of episodes. I think we've all become so used to 140 characters or less and five minutes to the action that we can't just take a breath and allow a plot to evolve. The plot evolution was part of the pull for me though. I just love entertainment with hints and flashes of things that leave you thinking and figuring till the next week, wondering what this or that meant, contemplating the realness or the possibility of some sort of hidden agenda, the character origin, the whether or not said character(s) can be trusted or what their real deal is. I am big in "real life" on figuring out people's motivations. Friends actually come to me for this "service" lol, although the only payment I require is good conversation over something strong to drink. So, I think it is only natural for me to enjoy the same sort of thinking in my entertainment choices...
But, for those wondering about the slow evolution of the story, rest assured that Taboo evolves for sure. Sometimes in unexpected, uncomfortable ways, but there is a certain unapologetic nature about James Dulaney that makes him appealing to the people around him as well as the people enjoying this story. There is also a mysterious air that makes the other characters afraid to NOT be around him. Who IS James Dulaney? What is his power? What kind of magic does he possess or does he possess magic at all? Is he possessed himself? What of his past? Was his mother a prisoner or a wicked, mentally ill individual? Was his father a good man or an abusive lot? What were his sins? Why is he tortured inside? Some questions get answered by the end of season one, sort of, while others will have to wait.
Tom Hardy talks in interviews about the evolution of this specific character and what he envisioned him to be when the idea first came about in comparison to what he is now. There are a ton of different personas that have made up James in Hardy's head but I think the result is a sort of anti-hero that appeals to people like myself. A leader of outcasts with nothing to lose. People who are judged by societal norms and those "better" than them willing to gamble with love and death and fate because...why the hell not? I like that. I like the simplistic nature of it and the underlying complexity of those choices.
Besides, this show has, of course, many of my other "great entertainment" requirements, including horses, swords, adventure. And while Hardy lacks the long hair portion of my leading male necessities in Delaney, he does have tattoos. And scars. Oh....them scars...
You can check out FXNow for the first full season of:
Escaping reality - one movie, book, fantasy at a time :)