BBC One – Saturday 28th January 2017 – 9.15pm
Created by: Tom Hardy, Edward “Chips” Hardy, Steven Knight
Written by: Steven Knight and Emily Ballou
Directed by: Kristoffer Nyholm
THE JOINT IN THE SEE-SAW
“Delaney is turning London into his own private bear pit!”
Just when I didn’t think Taboo could bring any more grit and gore to primetime Saturday night television, the BBC’s decency-touting new mini-series descended to shocking new lows (or highs, depending on your tolerance for the controversial) in its fourth week: there’s rapey jail cell harassment from figures of authority, throat slittings, prostitutes give blow jobs, doctor’s lick cow shit, brothers use voodoo to have intercourse with their half-sisters from afar… and in an eye-poppingly visceral visual, intestines spill from a eviscerated stomach after a long-winded slug-fest turns bloody.
Lovely. In truth, I don’t mind gore and gratuity. Under the right circumstances it can be immensely effective (see my thoughts on Oscar-nominated war movie Hacksaw Ridge) it just feels somewhat soulless when you don’t care for the characters carrying out the depraved deeds. Sadly, try as it may over the past month, Taboo ‘s murky slow-burn approach has still yet to win me over to James Delaney’s (Tom Hardy) cause in his fight for justice against the corrupt Crown and East India Company.
Blacklisted in a villainous attempt to screw him out of the Nootka Sound, Delaney recruits adulterous Doctor Cholmondeley (Tom Hollander) to his crew of conspirators in the hope of creating gunpowder from manure and blowing his enemies’ plot wide open. Elsewhere, there is a promising shift in actress Lorna Bow’s (Jessie Buckley) allegiance, while enraged brother-in-law Thorne (Jefferson Hall) throws an eleventh hour spanner in the works by drunkenly calling James out of a high society ball to challenge him to a duel at dusk to the death…
After episode 3’s marked improvement, I was disappointed to find my attention lapse again this week – in spite of the manifold attempts (listed above) to grab my gaze with devilish debauchery. We are now halfway through so I have infested too much time to switch Taboo off now, I’m just struggling to think how any of the grubby rotters is going to inject a semblance of heart into this vile, contracted, but undeniably well-produced affair.
CR@B’s Claw Score: