Peaky Blinders: Yup, this is definitely a hooker

Network: BBC Two

Originally Aired: September 12th, 2013

Creator: Steven Knight

Grace: You think I am a whore?

Tommy: Everyone’s a whore, Grace. We just sell different parts of ourselves.

Background: Peaky Blinders? Yes, that’s right, but don’t rule it out for its quirky title. This historic crime drama set in 1919 Birmingham gets its unique title from an actual gang that sewed razors blades on the fringes of their caps. Whether or not the original Peaky Blinders were a single gang or a title for rowdy, violent youth is debatable. The show, however, settles on shadowing the lives of a single gang family: the Shelby Family.

Overview: Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), the bookie and brains behind the Peaky Blinders, is a cool, clever man with eyes as chilling and morbid as death. After returning from the war, like many men, he is changed. Tommy takes up the business that his aunt Polly (Helen McCrory) ran for four years while he was away at war. Despite the past that dogs him and the enemies that swarm him, Tommy slaves to bring power and legitimacy to his family name. His plans are tested by Inspector Campbell (Sam Neill), a ruthless man sent from Belfast by Winston Churchill to retrieve stolen weapons.

What’s New?: While watching the show I had to rewind at many places; the shots and settings amazed me (though admittedly I also rewound a lot to catch the words of the characters, one probably led to the other). The shots are stunning, and the scene transitions are seamless, effortlessly merging different plots into dynamic montages.

It is hard to define something because the moment that we do we limit what it can be. Peaky Blinders is more than its drama, dazzling shots, striking characters and dynamic plot. It offers a new take on period dramas by changing the dialogue. The conversations in this show are fresh and new, not relying on the typical quick exchanges of overused clichés found in most gangster-cop dramas. The writers and editors put time into crafting the utterances of every character. For this, the characters seem authentic, so many of Tommy and Campbell’s lines can stand alone as iconic quotes. We can believe that Tommy is cold, fragmented, sincere, conflicted and intelligent and not feel conflicted by this knowledge. Inspector Campbell is creepy, terrifying, and menacing all at once, with his overbearing stalk. Campbell cannot be summed up as good, nor Tommy as bad; these characters and their motives are too complex to be described in a single word.

Aunt Pol is a provocative female character, but not in the expected sense. She is neither the hard-ass woman nor the needy woman, she is simply herself. Strong female characters are sometimes defined by their ability to be like men and shake off “female tendencies”, but in her actions, Aunt Pol works against this convention. She cunningly uses her sex to advantage herself (her scene with Campbell is brilliant). Those who demand respect from others, often receive fear instead; Aunt Pol doesn’t demand it yet is respected and feared nonetheless.

And then there is Grace (Annabelle Wallis), not to be ignored with her angelic, sad voice. She is beautiful, and seemingly out of place in the dirty, rough slums of Birmingham. But there is more to her than her controlled, calculated actions let on (that’s all I will say).

Final Thoughts: There is no doubt in my mind that period dramas will continue to be conceived, developed and birthed by major networks; bastard drama offspring produced from a single mother plot. But Peaky Blinders varies from the main stream current, daring to give audiences a new take on historic dramas, conventional characters and character dialogue.

What makes you hooked on Peaky Blinders? Why do you think modern audiences have such a preoccupation with historic dramas?

Advertisements

13 thoughts on “Peaky Blinders: Yup, this is definitely a hooker

    • I can’t wait for season two! I watched season one in one day and finished at four in the morning. Peaky Blinders is one of the best shows I’ve watched in a while. BBC knows there stuff.

  1. I really, really liked the description of the characters and your analysis of how complex they are compared to their counterparts in other cop dramas. Definitely a lot of fun to read and I look forward to the next post !!

    • Thanks, the characters make it so easy to write. You always here people say show don’t tell and that’s what I felt like they did. There were no overly obvious clues to tell you what the characters feel. I hate it when shows undermine the intelligence of their audience.

      I look forward to hearing your opinions.

  2. WHERE IS THE LOVE FOR CHIEF INSPECTOR CHESTER CAMPBELL? (Sam Neill is a god among men; check out his stint on The Tudors if you’re interested in his other stuff.)

    If nothing else, having preacher Jeremiah, well, preach about imminent judgment, and then moving to a shot of Campbell hunched over in the coach, staring out at Birmingham with naked disgust, was a great introduction to the character. There’s no moment when this imperious man wasn’t awesome onscreen. He and Murphy are craaaaazy good.

    Also, love that the show had strong female characters. All my admiration to Aunt Pol and Grace.

    Here’s to hoping for a second season! (And this was a pleasant write-up of the show, too!)

    • Hahaha, I find it hard to love something that I fear. Inspector Campbell is menacing, his stalk would make a lion jealous. The cast overall was spot on. BBC knows what they are doing. I have to check out the Tudors now, thanks for the recommendation.

      • What? No, no, no. 😡

        I am not, under any circumstances, recommending The Tudors. I’m just saying, if you wanna see more of the ever-excellent Sam Neill, then check out The Tudors; otherwise, stay away from that headache inducing show. Blech!

      • That s fair. I will fast forward to the parts involving him and squeeze my eyes shut whenever another character comes into the shot;). Still, I’ll check it out one day, just to make sure, through painful firsthand experiences, that the show actually is a headache.

  3. Oops. Forgot to answer the questions.

    I’m hooked on Peaky Blinders because British people know how to do drama right. The acting, writing and cinematography were phenomenal. The music (original scoring and artist contributions) was also a great draw. It’s surprising how well how having modern music play against this past setting was a smart, complementary choice.

    (See? This show is almost perfect. Almost. It does have its flaws; however, I’m willing to kick them under the rug and out of sight.

    Well, there is one complaint of the show I’d like to address: the accents. A couple of the sites I looked during my first viewing of the show mentioned the accents being off. Which is strange. I mean, I guess if you’re really a Brummie, then you’d be able to spot differences in the way the dialogue was approached. Honestly, though, I didn’t notice anything wrong.)

    And people have a preoccupation of historic dramas because WHY WOULD YOU NOT HAVE A PREOCCUPATION WITH HISTORIC DRAMAS? (Seriously.)

      • I agree. The music worked perfectly with the show. At first, when I heard the low grumble I was a little unsure, but it works. The accents through me off, I thought after Misfits I could handle any accent, but BBC shattered that expectation.

        But why are people so fixated on the English? The accents, the clothes, the royals — why are we still fascinated by this in 2014? I’m not criticizing this fascination, I’m just curious on a psychological level as to why period dramas, specifically ones involving Brits, are so popular.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s