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Irish author Ken Bruen's novels are the basis for the three made-for-television full length films featuring the stormy and rebellious Jack Taylor, played by Edinburgh born Iain Glen. Set in Jack's home town of Galway with its scenic background, it also embraces its darker underside. Jack is a maverick with his own eccentric ways of taking on matters of life. Dismissed from the Garda police ranks for violent conduct he becomes a private investigator. A heavy drinker who resides in a B&B when not in a bar or patrolling the backstreets of Galway , unshaven in his hallmark great coat, Jack takes on thankless cases usually from desperate women who get no joy from the police. What he starts he finishes, no matter his methods or consequences. These inevitably involve conflicts with the law, violence, deaths and plenty of action. Plot summaries are readily available and won't be explored further here.

Iain Glen plays Jack Taylor as a rugged mournful man who despite seemingly knowing half of the people in Galway, has few true trustworthy friends and is very much a loner. Those who know the oft-hidden charitable side of him show him respect and help in his investigations (even within the Garda from Kate, played by Nora-Jane Noone, also hinting at a romantic connection). Iain Glen's accent is one for the Irish to comment on but voice-overs were used in the pilot 'The Guards'. He brings a presence and charisma to his role and although it could be construed as cliched, I found his performance convincing. The supporting cast are of police, clergy, homeless and assorted rogues and villains adding to the series make-up.

The crime dramas are 'The Guards' (2010), 'The Pikemen' (2011) and 'Magdalene Martyrs' (2011). 'The Dramatist' and 'The Priest' have been filmed and broadcast in Ireland with Glen, Noone and young side-kick Cody (Killan Scott). A sixth is due to be filmed and all committed to Channel 5. Largely a German production, the interior bar, B&B, Garda station and the hospital ward were filmed in Bremen (about 30% of each installment). I enjoyed this for its pace and action, the rapid changes of settings and plot direction and the grit and determination of the lead actor with an excellent cast. Looking forward to the next series.
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on 28 September 2013
When Jack Taylor (Iain Glen) puts on his stolen regulation double-breasted Garda coat with the brass buttons, watch out! Jack Taylor is Ken Bruen's fictional detective/private eye/finder. He has been dismissed from the Garda Síochána (Irish police) and is now finding things for people in Galway, Ireland. The Irish call their gumshoes "finders" since "private eye" sounds too much like "informer"...

Three 90-minute films are in this first collection: they were filmed in 2010-2011 and directed by Stuart Orme.

"The Guards" introduces Jack Taylor and is based on the debut series novel by Ken Bruen. After his dismissal from the Garda, Taylor finds refuge in a local boarding house and frequents a nearby pub. A worried mother hires him to find her missing 18-year-old daughter after a series of apparent suicides have left four young girls drugged and drowned in Galway Bay. Taylor receives some assistance from a fellow Garda named Kate Noonan and Superintendent Clancy (Frank O'Sullivan).

"The Pikemen" is a yarn written in Bruen's Hibernian noir style and characterization. It is a typical vigilante story about eight men who wear black hoods, kill with pikes, and have a twisted sense of who deserves to live and who deserves to die. The story includes a naïve young man Cody Farraher who sees Jack as a hero, the best "finder" in western Ireland. Taylor is arrested on suspicion of murdering a local businessman and is forced to rely on Cody to help clear his name.

"The Magdalen Martyrs" returns to Bruen's gritty and brutal storytelling and is adapted from his novel of the same name. Taylor (with Cody's help) is hired to look into past abuses at the infamous Magdalen laundry, the city's home for "wayward girls." The daughter of a former inmate wants him to track down a woman called "Lucifer"...a particularly brutal nun who worked there in the 1960s. Jack discovers a 50-year-old family secret that leads him to the nun's identity and an unexpected connection to the recent deaths of two brothers.

Jack Taylor in the Bruen books is a loner...just an alcoholic Galway gumshoe who finds tinkers and Mary Magdalen's and flops often in his room at a local boarding house. Iain Glen, although a Scotsman, gets his t'inks and t'anks pronounced in good Irish fashion and, thanks to other surrounding cast members, portrays Taylor well. The addition of young Cody Farraher (Killian Scott) and beautiful wide-eyed Garda Kate Noonan (Nora-Jane Noone) as regulars in the series is very nice. Even Mrs. Bailey, the owner of the boarding house and an example of the "old school of Galway charm," softens our intrepid ex-Garda loner.

Galwegian Ken Bruen sets his Jack Taylor books smack in the middle of Galway, Ireland. The television productions purport to be Ireland but are filmed a goodly bit in Bremen, Germany. Jack cannot sober up and wander down to the Great Southern Hotel (now the Meyrick House) near Eyre Square. But many of the scenes are filmed in Galway's Claddagh area where the Corrib River runs into Galway Bay and are spectacular.

Fortunately, the third film in this collection is pure Bruen...and the dialogue is sharp, swift, and blackly comic. Too bad one has to sit through three hours of introduction and a boring vigilante tale to discover the "real" Bruen. But fans of Ken Bruen and Iain Glen can watch both collections, the first set and the episodes of THE DRAMATIST and THE PRIEST on Collection Two...Jack Taylor - Complete Collection One & Two.
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on 28 March 2013
I love this new series!! it goes on the shelf along with my other favorites; Lewis, Foyles War, Vera, Midsomer Murders, Zen, Montalbano, etc. Great job!! The down and out ex-police cop is really a depressing caracter one you take pity on and he takes you along for a ride on the though, rough, seedy side of life. except this if Ireland. a good change that.
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Very average by the numbers police-PI type program. There simply isn't any meat on the bones as it were and the stories tend to meander without any great goal or focus. The main character comes across as being weak and ineffectual without much purpose and I personally found little to care about in him.

Overall this is a straight 2.5 start program and no more. Easy enough to watch if you want to while away an hour or so in the evening, but not much beyond that.
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on 30 March 2014
Believable characters, interesting story lines and Iain Glen is very watchable in this Galway based crime drama. I would definitely recommend.
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on 23 January 2014
Although this is the well worn track of a Policeman under the cloud of the bottle - it's done so differently that it's fresh and acceptable. Jack cares enough for the right people and barely for himself. The stories have surprises all along the way and when I saw the series on t.v., I couldn't wait to buy the DVD's to watch it all again and again and have my friends enjoy them too. He's rough and ready if you like your heroes that way and I always like to see somewhere that I haven't been to but might like to go one day.
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on 14 June 2014
A real gritty no holds bard set of DVDs, filmed in Gallway this series from TV has some of the best acting and story lines I have seen for a long time. Not affraid to tackel "touchy" subjects. One you can watch again & again!
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Jack Taylor, (2011). This television series of noir mysteries is set in the current day, in and around Galway on Ireland's rugged western coast. It features, obviously, Jack Taylor, who has been kicked off the Guarda, Ireland's police force, for booze-related infractions. He is now working as a "finder" (private eye) in Galway City, and, seated, drink in hand, in his favorite bar, he takes on cases the cops won't touch. As based on the crime fiction of Ken Bruen, this acclaimed Irish series, recommended for mature audiences, stars Iain Glen as Taylor: battered, disheveled, hard-boiled. Set includes three feature-length mysteries on three DVDs: The Guards, The Pikemen, and The Magdalen Martyrs, runs 4 ½ hours, and, thank you Acorn, with all the Irish brogue, has subtitles. (Apparently, two more of this feature length series that were made will be released shortly.)

Taylor is ably played by Iaian Glen, a charismatic Scottish-born actor who plays Sir Richard Carlyle in Downton Abbey - Series 1-3 / Christmas at Downton Abbey 2011 , and Mormont in Game of Thrones - Season 1-2 Complete . He has also played in The Iron Lady ,Lara Croft - Tomb Raider, and Harry Brown. In THE GUARDS, Anne Henderson hires him to look for her missing teenage daughter, who she fears was the latest in a series of suspicious local 'suicides', of young girls. Taylor traces the `suicides' to a sleazy factory, its sleazy manager Ford, and finds illegal sex recordings. In THE MAGDALEN MARTYRS, Jack is hired by the daughter of a survivor of the infamous Magdalen laundries - a true blight on the nation of Ireland for many years, see The Magdalene Sisters , to find the nun the girls called Lucifer who was particularly sadistic. THE PIKEMEN opens with a scene in which an unknown man is brutally murdered by an unknown assailant, with a weapon that will be unknown to most of us: A steel spearhead with a scythe-like hook on the side, mounted on a shaft. Some days later we will discover that it is a pike, weapon of choice for earlier Irish revolutionaries known as the pikemen that is now being used by a secret sadistic vigilante group.

These fine films are dark of subject matter, and contain violence: true crime noirs. The scripts are tight and tension-filled; the dialog, spoken in brogue, reflects the storied wit of the Irish, lots of `crac.' I am not familiar with the underlying Bruen novels, so cannot speak to the episodes' accuracy as adaptations, but at least one other reviewer, I see, is, and speaks highly of them. The Galway settings look accurate. Although my husband, son of a mother born in Mayo, adjoining county to Galway, and I, who have, separately and together, enjoyed some memorable times in Eyre Square, Galway's most elegant and famous, were puzzled. The Square's famous statue, a poet, who looks like a leprechaun in his countrified cap, never once appeared onscreen. The entertainment is made by a German company; some reviewers believe that some of it is filmed in Germany. At any rate, the productions are filled with the miserable weather for which Ireland is famous, though there is a sunny day or two. There's a funny running joke about Taylor's illegally hanging on to his warm Guarda coat, which I'm sure he needs, given the weather.

We enjoyed this entertainment in our house. We seldom see Irish-set movies, let alone Galway-set movies, and considered this a treat.
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on 26 June 2013
a bit boring at the beginning the films were getting better towards the end.
the character of Jack Taylor seems a bit artificial to me, the stories are a bit boring at the beginning, the last one about crimes of the church in the 60ies is very good.
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Twenty years or so ago in Stratford, I saw Iain Glen in Shakespeare's "Henry V" (as Henry) and in an affecting and unusual production of the rarely-performed "The Broken Heart" by John Ford, a younger contemporary of Shakespeare. I've kept an eye out for him ever since, and perhaps for sentimental reasons, I thoroughly enjoyed his work in these three television dramas, based on novels by Ken Bruen that I haven't read -- so I have no opinion on the question of whether or not they are well-adapted. To me, they work well on their own terms. I have to admit that I'm a sucker for the Jack Taylor kind of character -- a bit like Ian Rankin's John Rebus, except that Taylor is no longer working as a policeman but as a PI, though he still has contacts in the Galway force -- some who trust him, and some who don't. His relation with a young woman officer, Kate Noonan (Nora-Jane Noone) is consistent across the episodes, and, despite a considerable age difference, there's a nice vibe between them that is part-romantic and part pedagogic, without ever resolving itself simply into one or the other. In Episodes 2 and 3, Taylor acquires, initially reluctantly, an idealistic young male helper, Cody Farraher (Killian Scott), who, like Noonan, turns out to be more resourceful and capable than Jack initially is willing to admit.

Taylor is to Galway as Rebus is to Edinburgh -- and the camerawork is nice throughout -- but the problems and the action are more rooted in the Irish culture than Rebus's are in the Scots culture. The Catholic Church is a presence especially in Episode 3, "The Magdalen Martyrs," which is the most compelling of this first series and which touches Jack more deeply than even "The Pikemen," in which he also turns out to have a personal stake. There's an almost Gothic quality to the plots, and while procedurally the plotting is solid, the creation of atmosphere -- of repression, guilt, escapes into alcohol, and the weight of the past (both personal and cultural) -- is clearly important to the filmmakers. Glen is splendid as Taylor -- the edge of despair doesn't overwhelm his basic decency and idealism, and by the end of the third episode, we have acquired a pretty good understanding of how he came to be who he is. Also, he's not Superman -- he's not young any more and sometimes bites off more than he can chew and pays a price. The supporting actors are very good too. You'll notice that I'm saying nothing about the details of the plots. They all involve people treating others with degrees of cruelty that go beyond what they might or might not deserve, and Taylor, not wanting to create more damage than necessary, is delicately conscious of being reluctant to explain too much to some of his clients as he wraps up his investigations. So . . . there are familiar elements here: the humane but damaged and troubled hero, this time with an Irish twist. Recommended.
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