Direct Beam Comms #58
Taboo – Grade: B+
FX has been promoting the new series Taboo for months now and I think that’s because of one thing and one thing alone; its star Tom Hardy. Hardy is most well known for movies like Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant but has done some TV like Peaky Blinders. But just a recognizable face does not make a compelling TV series, fortunately Hardy is excellent in Taboo and even more fortunately, the story of Taboo is interesting as well. Taboo is a bit like if writer Alan Moore decided to retell the story of Tarzan but put his own unique spin on things. There isn’t anything like a boy being raised by apes in Taboo, but there is a young man being raised in the wilds of Africa and returning to an England and wealth they’re not accustomed to.
In Taboo it’s 1814 and Hardy stars as Englishman James Keziah Delaney who’s returned home mysteriously from Africa after his father’s death. Everyone, including Delaney’s sister Zilpha (Oona Chaplin), thought he was dead since the ship he traveling on to Africa sunk and he was missing the last 12 years. But Delaney didn’t die, he spent that time “living in the jungles” with the natives learning their ways. And now he’s returned home a rich man with a satchel of precious stones he buries in a rainy field in the opening scene of the series. But Delaney’s return has caused all sorts of problems when land that his father owned in North America was going to be sold to the East India Company now belong’s to Delaney as does his other father’s holdings which throws all sorts of deals into question. And when it turns out that the father was murdered, poisoned over a long period of time, it’s a question of whether or not the murderer will strike Delaney next, or if Delaney and his explosive anger that’s simmering just under the surface will destroy the conspirators.
I think that’s part of what makes Taboo work — Tom Hardy. He plays the Delaney role to perfection, allowing the other characters around him to move the plot forward while he says little but does much. The overall story of Taboo, of this primal force in Delaney coming up against this gigantic, monolithic corporation in the East India Company has some interesting angles and story elements as well. I think the visuals of the series are top-notch too, with Taboo presenting an 19th century England as this sort of wet, fog shrouded and haunted nightmare. Which is in stark contrast to other UK period series like The Crown and Downton Abbey.
In fact, the biggest concern I would have had with this show is that it might be a little too much for audiences to sit through season after season of the Delaney character grunting more than talking, and when he does talk mumbling that verges on unintelligible with his English accent to my American ears. Except Taboo is being presented as an eight episode limited series which just might be perfect for a series like this.
Looking forward throughout 2017 and the longer articles I have set to write at certain times of the year, this year I’m planning on writing about 14 new movies. Which is a lot for me. Usually I write about just a few new films that interest me each year. Like last year I write about just four new movies. I think we’re living in this weird time when movies like sci-fi, horror and comic book films are now the biggest kinds of movies out there so all the studios are now in on the game of trying to create their own franchises and make their own billions like Marvel has done with their comics. And those are exactly the kinds of genera movies I like the most.
Here’s what I’m planning on writing about new-movie wise in 2017:
- Skull Island
- Power Rangers
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
- Alien: Covenant
- Wonder Woman
- The Mummy
- Spider-Man: Homecoming
- War for the Planet of the Apes
- The Dark Tower
- Blade Runner 2049
- Thor: Ragnarok
- Justice League
This week in pop-culture history
- 1920: DeForrest Kelley, ‘Bones’ McCoy of Star Trek is born
- 1948: John Carpenter, director of The Thing, Escape from New York and Halloween, to name a few, is born
- 1974: The TV series The Six Million Dollar Man premiers
- 1995: Star Trek: Voyager premiers
- 2008: Cloverfield premiers in theaters