Top quality items at affordable prices!

Tom Hardy and ‘Taboo’ a perfectly moody fit for FX


FX has handily established itself as the prestige basic cable network with such acclaimed shows as “Atlanta,” “The Americans,” “Fargo” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

It’s a reliable creative risk taker, so “Taboo” — an atmospheric period melodrama with heavy Gothic overtones — fits right in. The network likely wanted to be pals with co-creator Steven Knight, whose “Peaky Blinders” is a streaming cult hit on Amazon, and his fellow creator (and series star) Tom Hardy, a Best Supporting Oscar nominee last year for “The Revenant.”

Hardy, barely recognizable under a black top hat, beard and many tattoos, plays James Delaney, the presumed-dead heir to an island off the coast of America that is of keen interest to the East India Company, which would like to establish a trade route to China there. The reason Delaney is thought not to be among the living is that he’s been in Africa for a decade. His return, at his father’s funeral, sends shock waves through the tiny church. Delaney’s half-sister, Zilpha (Oona Chaplin), is a circumspect Christian whose husband, the financially strapped insurance broker Thorne, has been trying to sell the island to East India chairman Sir Stuart Strange (Jonathan Pryce, the memorable High Sparrow of “Game of Thrones”). With Zil left out of the will, though, Strange must negotiate with Delaney, but he won’t even look inside the cash-thick envelope tossed his way. He wants to be the negotiator with America.

Oona Chaplin as ZilphaRobert Viglasky/FX

Not surprisingly, Delaney has few confidantes. Once news of his return and inheritance gets around, everyone has their hand out. One woman appears at his door claiming to be his father’s wife. A strange man approaches him on the shores of the Thames demanding money for having raised his father’s secret son. To keep his enemies at bay Delaney makes a lot of fast deals.

Knight uses Delaney’s re-entry as a way of reflecting the high and low aspects of Victorian society, whether it’s the posh corridors of the elite or the squalid corners where the elite go to find their pleasures. Like Thomas Shelby, the handsome loner played by Cillian Murphy on “Peaky Blinders,” Delaney always knows how to find people to suit his purpose. When he needs a spy inside the walls of the East India Company, he locates an old school chum (Edward Hogg) who just happens to be working in drag at the local whorehouse. Delaney hires him as a mole.

“Taboo” is a BBC import and the first few hours are big on atmosphere and setting, but the story is a little too plodding and murky for its own good. Casting is good all around, including Michael Kelly (Doug Stamper on “House of Cards”) showing up in another quietly creepy role. As Delaney, Hardy readily conveys the character’s enigmatic nature but could do more to suggest his inner life.

Presumably, the missing pieces will fall into place as the eight-episode series crests toward its midpoint.

Read More

50% off the Men's Summer Tour 2 Eye Slip Boat Shoe during the End Of Season Sale, now only $54.99 at Rockport.com.

Share this post