Premiered January 10 at 10pm
I’m trying to do better about giving every pilot a chance since I made the unfortunate decision not to watch or finish watching two of the biggest new shows of the year. Technically, this is a miniseries, but I also know that it’s one of the buzzier things on TV and therefore didn’t want to miss it, I could immediately tell that the tone and density of this show wasn’t going to appeal to me just a few minutes into the pilot, and I’m not so sure that the plot does either. After watching the entire hour, I did a bit of research and found out that this miniseries was created by Steven Knight. I heard him speak at a Q and A following a public screening of “Locke,” a film starring none other than Tom Hardy, at the Sundance Film Festival in 2015. That was a particularly great movie and a superb pairing between Knight and Hardy, and therefore I can understand why anyone would be clamoring for them to work together again. Unfortunately, this show, which feels like a less fantastical version of “Penny Dreadful,” doesn’t have much to offer in the way of enticements for me. It’s Hardy at his gruffest, and only Jonathan Pryce, recently of “Game of Thrones,” stands out in the supporting cast. This show will be airing eight episodes over the course of the next two months, and I think this one deep dive into period England was more than enough for me.
How will it work as a series? James is not at all interested in giving up this land that his father bequeathed him, and he’s going to be fighting for his life as well as defending himself from the likes of his brother-in-law and plenty of others who will come at him. He doesn’t seem scared at all, and that should make this show heavy and potentially thrilling, though I don’t think it’s quite fast-paced enough to be truly invigorating.
How long will it last? The show is a coproduction of BBC One and FX, which is definitely a plus since both networks are going to be gung-ho about it. The ratings in the U.S. on FX were pretty good, and even though it’s meant to be a self-contained miniseries, I suspect that, like so many other shows, it’s going to end up being renewed for at least another round.
Pilot grade: C+