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Jack Taylor: Series One [DVD]
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Made-for-TV dramas based on the novels by Ken Bruen and starring Iain Glen as an Irish ex-cop who now works as a private investigator. 'The Pikemen' (2011) sees Jack return to Galway, newly sober and determined to stay out of trouble. Will he succeed? In 'The Magdalen Martyrs' (2011) Jack is asked to track down an ex-nun who is said to have tortured girls in her care but soon finds himself subject to intimidation. Finally, 'The Guards' (2010) finds Jack in his early days as a private investigator. Needless to say, it doesn't take him long to get involved in a dangerous case. *Please note that the DVDs are now referred to as Series as opposed to Collections. The contents of the collections are exactly the same as the series.*
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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.
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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I hope they quickly release episodes 4 and 5.
Badly acted, plot holes the size of Galway, what looked like some ridiculous...Read more