TABOO, 1.4 (TV Review)

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.

… Keep Scuttling!

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TABOO, 1.3 (TV Review)

BBC One – Saturday 21st January 2017 – 9:15pm

Created by: Tom Hardy, Edward “Chips” Hardy, Steven Knight

Written by: Steven Knight

Directed by: Kristoffer Nyholm


A PINCER MOVEMENT

After a fortnight of moaning that episodes 1.1 and 1.2 of the BBC’s Ridley Scott-produced historical miniseries were more concerned with entrenching us in grimy atmosphere than propelling the story forward, with Saturday’s third instalment opening with cunning comeback kid James Delaney (Tom Hardy) weak and wobbly after being stitched up from the knife wound he sustained at the hands of a bonneted assassin, I feared we would be in for another hour of slow burn consternation as our enigmatic protagonist recovered from the thrust of a blade.

… Keep Scuttling!

TABOO, 1.2 (TV Review)

Image result for taboo bbc episode 2

BBC One – Saturday 14th January 2017 – 9:15pm

Created by: Tom Hardy, Edward “Chips” Hardy, Steven Knight

Written by: Stephen Knight

Directed by: Kristoffer Nyholm


LEAGUE OF THE DAMNED

“The King and Company are after your head…”

Now more adamant than ever that his inherited piece of land on the Canadian-American border is not for sale, in this sophomore instalment of the eight part BBC/FX mini-series, troubled rogue James Delaney (co-creator Tom Hardy) is a man on a mission: to recruit a team of trustworthy allies to aid him in reclaiming his poisoned father’s legacy, the Nootka Sound… and stop any number of his myriad enemies from striking him down to take it. And there was me thinking he was a superhuman one-man band?

… Keep Scuttling!

TABOO, 1.1 (TV Review)

Image result for taboo bbc

BBC One – 7th January 2017 – 9:15pm

Written by: Steven Knight

Directed by: Kristoffer Nyholm


RUMOURS, WOE AND RESURRECTION

In a bold show of supreme confidence in the broader-than-usual appeal of their first major new drama of 2017, the BBC scheduled this dark period piece for a prime time Saturday evening slot. With Hollywood hunk Tom Hardy in the lead role and with Ridley Scott as an Executive producer, such star pedigree and lofty production values make it hard to question their decision. But did last night’s debut instalment of Taboo make me desperate to return next weekend?

… Keep Scuttling!

Burnt (DVD Review)

15 – 96mins – 2015


DISASTERCHEF

“It’s going to be a long, hard road, but slowly… I hope to gain everyone’s respect.”

Amiable Bradley Cooper dominates an impressive – but largely underused – supporting cast in this foodie drama about a 2 Michelin-starred chef who returns to the London restaurant scene after a wild sojourn in Paris which nearly ruined him as well as his career.

As “ogre in the kitchen” Adam Jones, Cooper occupies the well-worn cliché of the troubled genius (think Steve Jobs’ less than shining personality) who has made a lot of enemies and struggles to move on from the mistakes which haunt his every service – no matter how many oysters he has shucked in penance.

“I fucked it up a long time ago.”

From the very beginning I admired Adam’s determined search for perfection (“We need to be dealing in culinary orgasms.”), even if his darker edges made him less easy to associate with. However, in keeping his murky drug past at arms length, Steven Knight’s screenplay fails to endow Adam’s struggle with adequate ballast, leaving a lot of his moping and incendiary tantrums to come across as merely overly-sentimental.

That being said, his meltdown following a spicy sabotage did hit hard, and I do think that Burnt eventually succeeds in winning the audience over due to Bradley Cooper’s vulnerable portrayal of an honest and redemptive man.

Finally, as shameful as it was to waste A-listers Uma Thurman and Emma Thompson in minor roles (the former is little more than a cameo), it was a pleasant surprise to see Alicia Ex_Machina Vikander give a brief but tender performance as an unwelcome but well-meaning blast from Adam’s past.

CR@B Verdict: 3 stars