Peaky Blinders Season 1 (2013)


Peaky Blinders is one of the best things to come out of the BBC since Sherlock, and is Britain’s answer to Boardwalk Empire. Based on the story of the Shelby Family in post World War One Birmingham, this bold new series will draw the audience in and captivate them despite the exploits of the subject matter largley due to the casting choices of its all-star cast, bringing in the likes of Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Inception) as family leader Tommy Shelby, and Helen McCroy (Skyfall, Harry Potter) in the role of Aunt Pol. There’s also Annabelle Wallis (The Tudors, X-Men: First Class) as Irish-born double agent Grace, and the ruthless, formidable Inspector Campbell played by Sam Neill (Jurassic Park, Alcatraz) – who really bring some excellent performances to the table if you can get past the mostly-poor attempts at Birmingham accents.

Making use of its high production values, Peaky Blinders looks amazing. It gets the authentic feel spot on with some excellent lighting shots and rich scenery allowing for a good backdrop, with the music really working well – Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds’ Red Right Hand is the themetune and the soundtrack mainly compromises of both the previously mentioned band and the White Stripes – the decision of anachronistic music is pulled off well with the song choices really fitting the atmospheric tone of the show.

Rich full of history, Peaky Blinders never has any filler episodes, making use of six hour-long runs to tell a packed story detailing the Shelby Family’s struggles against the IRA, rival families such as the Lees, the empire of Billy Kimber (Charlie Creed-Miles), and Inspector Campbell’s Police, with no dull moments to be found. Opening when the Shelby Family – known as the Peaky Blinders due to their tactics – steal a crate of guns bound for Libya by mistake, they find themselves dealing with Inspector Campbell who has been sent by Winston Churchill to reclaim the guns. This is where Grace comes in as a double agent, sent to infiltrate the Shelby family by Campbell. The characters are all heavily affected by the decision to steal the guns and by the end of Season 1 are greatly developed – virtually unrecognizable from the opening episode, which plays to the writer’s strengths as they create unpredictable plots and good character depth.

Peaky Blinders is one of the best TV shows of 2013. The cinematography is stylish and due to the A-List cast there are some great charismatic performances delivered, but not all storylines work. For the most part, the Romeo & Juliet-esque storyline between Ada Shelby (Sophie Rundle) and Communist friend of Tommy, Freddie Thorne (Iddo Goldberg) is the only weak link of an otherwise brilliant show, but even this storyline improves in the last few episodes. The decision to end the show on a cliffhanger could have easily been regarded as a weakness, but with a Season Two on the way, the audience will not have long to wait to have their questions answered as it ends with a literal ‘bang.’

Don’t go in expecting any heroes in Peaky Blinders. It’s bad guys versus more bad guys yet you can’t help root for the Shelby family. The show itself is probably one of the most unique things to ever come out of the BBC, and as mentioned before, it’s the best since Sherlock. This show will appeal to fans of Boardwalk Empire, and even the likes of  Game of Thrones and other complex shows, with only two weaknesses to be highlighted, the accents and the Ada/Tommy subplot – allowing for some very entertaining televison that deserves much more attention than what it’s currently getting.

Highly Recommended.



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