Review of "Taboo" on FX From The TV MegaSite

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"Taboo" review by Suzanne 1/13/17
Airs Tuesdays 10pm on FX

This is kind of a weird show. I won't say it's bad, but it may not be to everyone's taste. In early 1800's Britain, an old rich guy dies, and the town is shocked to see his son James (Tom Hardy) return (he was thought dead when he ran off to Africa).  His face is scarred, and he acts strangely, plus there are many bizarre stories that follow him from his earlier life.  He has a married half-sister, Zilpha (Oona Chaplin), and it's clear that they had some sort of romantic relationship in the past. He's determined to rekindle that relationship. Her husband is kind of a jerk, but he's not a fan of James.

It turns out that James' father, who was thought to be a little mad, left everything to James. That mostly includes a little piece of land out in the U.S.  The powerful East India Company wants that land, because of profit and because of the war between the U.S. and Britain.  James doesn't like them and wants revenge on his enemies, so he refuses to sell. He finds out that his father was poisoned.

This would all be a very good story by itself, but there's another layer. James' father married James mother, an Indian woman, when he bought the land (basically, he bought her with the land).  James does some strange things that may or may not involve raising the dead. He may have some strange Indians powers, or something he learned in Africa. I don't pretend to understand that part, but it is fun.

Other than the mystical stuff, the show is very realistic and gritty. It's sometimes violent, but not as much as many shows are, especially on cable.  Jonathan Pryce is outstanding (as always) as the head of the East India Company, Sir Stuart Strange.  Strange used to be James' commander back when he was a boy, so there is some very bad blood between them. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue, and more. It's compelling, and well worth watching.

Lead actor Tom Hardy developed the story with his dad, Chip. There was a real East India Company from the 1600's to the 180''s that dealt in shipping, trading, and many other things. This story paints them as a villainous, mafia-type group.  They did rule India with their own private army....

I think the show is worth watching; check it out and see for yourself.


Set in 1814, Taboo follows James Keziah Delaney, a man who has been to the ends of the earth and comes back irrevocably changed. Believed to be long dead, he returns home to London from Africa to inherit what is left of his father's shipping empire and rebuild a life for himself. But his father's legacy is a poisoned chalice, and with enemies lurking in every dark corner, James must navigate increasingly complex territories to avoid his own death sentence. Encircled by conspiracy, murder and betrayal, a dark family mystery unfolds in a combustible tale of love and treachery.

Taboo is created by Steven Knight with Tom Hardy and Chips Hardy, who is also the show’s consulting producer. Executive producers are Ridley Scott and Kate Crowe for Scott Free, Tom Hardy and Dean Baker for Hardy Son & Baker, and Steven Knight, with Timothy Bricknell producing. Taboo is directed by Kristoffer Nyholm (Eps. 1-4) and Anders Engström (Eps. 5-8), and reunites Hardy and Knight for their third collaboration following Locke and Peaky Blinders.

Taboo airs January 2017 and is produced by Scott Free London and Hardy Son & Baker for FX Networks. 

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