More frequently we in the States see British television series via either Masterpiece on public television or BBC America. The new eight-part TV series Taboo is being featured on cable channel FX, no doubt for its level of R-rated language, nudity, and violence. The historical drama airs Tuesdays and stars Tom Hardy as James Delaney, a son believed by everyone but his father to be dead who returns to England from Africa. But he arrives too late–his father is dead, and he sets about discovering who murdered him. Along the way his path is interwoven with an underworld of the strange and supernatural, and the intrigue of a vile early 19th century England, a dark, dirty, loathsome world where powerful leaders of the East India Company are in conflict with the shipping company Delaney is now inheriting. The unexpected arrival of Delaney circumvents the inheritance by a sister, played by Oona Chaplin, who the East India Company had been negotiating with for the ownership of a segment of land in Canada. In the first episode we learn that she and Delaney have their own dark secret.
Where is the series heading, and what is the nature of the “taboo” of the series’ title? What is Delaney and his sister hiding? And what did Delaney bury upon returning to England? The first episode, airing this week, leaves too many hints and clues to be able to speculate just yet where the series is heading.
The brainchild of Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and his father Edward Hardy, Taboo is also produced by Ridley Scott. What stands out most of all in the series is the talent of the actors. Hardy, known best for his lead action roles in Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Trek: Nemesis, Inception, and The Dark Knight Returns, is equally known for the quality of his work in The Revenant, Layer Cake, Black Hawk Down, and Band of Brothers. He was also the best actor in what was an all-star cast in the remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Co-star Oona Chaplin, raised in the dramatic world of mother Geraldine Chaplin, grandfather Charlie Chaplin, and great-grandfather Eugene O’Neill, is a brilliant actress in her own right, owning every scene she appears in no matter the production. Her work includes The Hour, Quantum of Solace, Sherlock, and Game of Thrones.
Here is a preview of the series Taboo:
The impressive supporting cast is also worth watching, including Jonathan Pryce (Pirates of the Caribbean, Tomorrow Never Dies, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, Wolf Hall, Game of Thrones, Jumpin’ Jack Flash), Leo Bill (Alice in Wonderland, Doctor Who, Gosford Park, 28 Days Later, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), Edward Fox (Never Say Never Again, Force 10 from Navarone, A Bridge Too Far), Ethan Hawke ringer, and sci-fi staple Christopher Fairbank (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Fifth Element, Alien 3, Pirates of the Caribbean, Doctor Who, Ashes to Ashes, Batman), and Mark Gatiss (Sherlock, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Shaun of the Dead, Wolf Hall).
Dark, with good production values and acting, a bit slow in its first episode but still a promising new series, watch Taboo on BBC One in the UK, and in the States on FX Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. Central. You can watch the first episode for a limited time now here at the FX website.