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Taboo

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1814: James Keziah Delaney returns to London from Africa and is encircled by conspiracy, murder and betrayal.

 
Status: Running
TV Channel: BBC One
  • Verne Gay

    Hardy and cast are first-rate, but the story lumbers.

    Newsday Full Review
  • Jeff Korbelik

    Taboo, like “Fargo” before it, is an original, highly imaginative series from FX. Here, the Hardys and Knight blend a tale of intrigue set against the supernatural. The drama is eerie, even haunting.

    The Lincoln Journal Star Full Review
  • Vicki Hyman

    The metaphorical gloom and doom of Taboo is likewise dense and relentless but so enveloping you can't help but be sucked in.

    Newark Star-Ledger Full Review
  • Darren Franich

    Much of Taboo's fun derives from watching Hardy's charisma explode onto a small-screen costume drama. His Delaney is infused with bull-in-a-china-shop paranoia; he looks trapped, and the only way out is to chew all the gorgeous scenery. [13 Jan 2017, p.54]

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Ben Travers

    While Taboo may prioritize style over depth, the result is an addictive, slow-burn story, and a damn entertaining journey.

    Indiewire Full Review
  • Ken Tucker

    I thought I was heartily sick of gloomy, gritty TV shows, but engaging ones can’t help but pull me in. After watching three episodes of Taboo, I think I’m officially in.

    Yahoo TV Full Review
  • Lorraine Ali

    Like “Peaky Blinders,” Taboo is not easy watching. It requires intense focus to keep track of historical references, multiple characters and the complex storylines of his scheming enemies (or are they the good guys?). ... But it’s worth the effort. ... Hardy gives us such a magnetic central character with Delaney that he alone could carry the drama.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Matthew Gilbert

    I was fascinated by the first three episodes of Taboo. Some of the storytelling is muddled, which may well be intentional, and the hints of the supernatural are at times distracting. But still, if you like your historical fiction grim and your cobblestones dirt-caked, if you don’t mind looking into some of humanity’s bleaker facets, this one’s for you.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Allison Keene

    The show is smart, but not beyond comprehension, and it layers a foundation of adventure, mystery, and solid drama that is ambitious but never boring.

    Collider Full Review
  • Chris Cabin

    Hardy's showmanship is nearly matched by many of his costars, particularly Jonathan Pryce as the head of the villainous East India Company, a prototype for the corporatization currently eating this world alive. ... Yet, there's something conventionally nagging about Taboo: The series never entirely tumbles down the rabbit hole with its characters into the mouth of chaos and madness, as the best expressionist TV shows do.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Mark A. Perigard

    Hardy rocks the period clothing, strutting around in an open overcoat practically down to his ankles and a commanding stovepipe hat. With anyone else, this show would not be half as engrossing.

    Boston Herald Full Review
  • Tom Long

    It’s a rich mix of intrigues with the occasional bout of brutal violence as Delaney tries to build his own empire and assumedly reclaim his one true illicit love.

    The Detroit News Full Review
  • David Wiegand

    At heart, Taboo is a melodrama, but a melodrama with superior attention to character detail and finely nuanced performances. It is filled with darkness, danger and mystery, and has a level of quality and import not often seen in television miniseries.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Rob Lowman

    While it struts and frets and boasts some top-notch actors, I’m not sure it has anything in mind other than being weirdly entertaining.

    Los Angeles Daily News Full Review
  • Sophie Gilbert

    Taboo is infinitely gruesomer than most of the 19th-century dramas that arrive by way of the BBC, but it’s respectably ambitious, and studded with luminaries from both sides of the Atlantic. Hardy, though, does the lion’s share of keeping the audience intrigued

    The Atlantic Full Review
  • Brian Lowry

    FX dramas are invariably gritty, but the mood here seems organic to the story, in the way it did, say, on "Deadwood." Whether Taboo can rise to that level remains to be seen, but based on first impressions, Hardy's TV return is pretty hardy indeed.

    CNN Full Review
  • Joseph Falcone

    Taboo doesn’t exactly knock your socks off. That being said, its promising start has certainly laid a solid foundation for what could eventually unfold.

    We Got This Covered Full Review
  • Brian Tallerico

    At first, it feels like little more than an exercise in period style, even with a great, charismatic performance at its center, but subsequent episodes hint at a complex, rewarding drama to come. It’s the kind of program that’s remarkably hard to review off only three episodes, but I’m certainly excited to see more.

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Tim Goodman

    Despite coming out of the gates slower than is ideal in a crowded landscape, the series shows signs in the early going of blossoming into something much bigger and better. Before committing, however, you should be all in on Hardy. If not, look elsewhere, because this is absolutely his show.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Ed Bark

    Three episodes deep, there’s an appetite for more, but not a ravenous one. Taboo could develop into a whale of a tale once Delaney is fully seen in his earlier element.

    Uncle Barky Full Review
  • Robert Rorke

    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.

    New York Post Full Review
  • Matt Zoller Seitz

    Unfortunately, Peak TV bloat saps much of the tale’s effectiveness. Taboo ambles along, drinking in the sooty urban vistas and foggy waterfronts and treating us to close-ups of decayed corpses, sick flesh, vermin, and filth.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Esther Zuckerman

    Every so often the wheels of the narrative churn to unveil a nugget of information that makes engaging with Taboo’s dense mystery rewarding, but whether that pays off is anyone’s guess.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Terry Terrones

    Taboo is a show with a lot of potential. An authentic-looking world with an intriguing lead character is sure to draw viewers in. But if it wants to maintain its audience, the series needs to do a better job of revealing itself.

    Colorado Springs Gazette Full Review
  • Todd VanDerWerff

    Taboo is essentially like its title. It teases and teases and teases something envelope-shattering and a little bit disturbing, but then it settles for the same old tropes you’ve seen before, albeit more handsomely delivered than usual.

    Vox.com Full Review
  • Robert Bianco

    A decidedly odd and generally unpleasant big swing that marks the network's attempt to enter the dark fantasy epic territory occupied by Thrones--with a little Thrones incest thrown in for good measure. What it lacks, unfortunately, is Thrones' sweep, moments of playfulness, and narrative drive--or any drive at all.

    USA Today Full Review
  • Mike Hale

    In addition to Mr. Pryce, a number of familiar British character actors acquit themselves well, including David Hayman as Delaney’s factotum, and Nicholas Woodeson as a slippery lawyer. But the focus on grim portentousness and rank atmosphere keeps bogging down the story, which needed more attention to achieve the balance it seeks among gothic bodice-ripper, “Heart of Darkness” social tract and corporate thriller.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Josh Bell

    Hardy and his collaborators have tapped into some of the atmosphere of Dickens, but at this point they fall short of his characterization and storytelling abilities.

    Las Vegas Weekly Full Review
  • Melanie McFarland

    Taboo seem to have aspired to explore a number of complex, uncomfortable issues in the three episodes made available to critics without concretely establishing a thesis about any of them. Provided the viewer isn’t utterly bored or bewildered by what she sees, the show thus far seems like it could go to interesting places. As to where that is exactly, who can say?

    Salon Full Review
  • Sonia Saraiya

    Taboo has far too much going on for its relatively thin material; it insinuates more than it says, and the first episodes only make sense if you are willing to believe that there is something intriguing about the “darkness” that James and sometimes Zilpha have at their core.

    Variety Full Review
  • Alan Sepinwall

    Taboo is slow, dark (visually as well as tonally) and unrelentingly humorless. Any of those three qualities on its own would be fine, but put together in service of what’s ultimately a trashy, if pretentious, revenge story, it’s an utter slog, and the biggest creative misstep FX has made in a while.

    UPROXX Full Review
Episode Guide For Show: Taboo
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