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Jack Taylor - Set 1

Jack Taylor

On DVD: 
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Jack Taylor in Print

Author Ken Bruen has released nine Jack Taylor novels so far with the tenth scheduled to be released by the end of 2013.

The Irish investigative television series Jack Taylor will soon be making the trip across the pond for a Stateside release after airing in its native Ireland, Belgium, and, most recently, the UK.  Based on the popular novels by Ken Bruen, the show borrows heavily from noir films of Hollywood past, but establishes itself nicely with snappy dialogue and a magnetizing performance by its lead actor.

Each episode of Jack Taylor is feature length and this DVD set contains the first three installments.  In "The Guards," we meet Taylor (Iain Glen, HBO's Game of Thrones) just as he is fired from the Guards after a traffic-stop confrontation with a politician.  Already a down-and-out drunk, Taylor reluctantly becomes a private investigator after being contacted by Anne Henderson (Tara Breathnach, Showtime's The Tudors).  Anne's daughter is missing and she tasks Taylor with finding her.  Meanwhile, a series of odd suicides are occuring in Galway and it's up to Taylor to figure out if the occurences are connected.  Along the way, Taylor is aided by rookie Guard Kate Noonan (Nora-Jane Noone, The Descent), his only viable connection in the law enforcement community.

Following a year of absence from Galway, Taylor returns in "The Pikemen."  While investigating a mysterious death, Taylor uncovers a local myth about a vigilante group handing out justice as they deem appropriate.  Characters Anne Henderson and Kate Noonan return as well as the debuting Cody Farraher (Killian Scott, Irish TV series Love/Hate), a young man who has idolized Taylor for the majority of his life.  Taylor quickly finds himself caught in a precarious position between the Guards and the vigilante group.

The set concludes with "The Magdalen Martyrs" where Taylor is hired to look at the history of a Magdalen laundry in Galway.  Delinquent young girls sent there for punishment in the 1960's were harassed by a nun nicknamed Lucifer.  Taylor comes into posession of a diary written by an inmate of the laundry containing vital information.  For unknown reasons, local drug boss Bill Cassell (Liam Carney, Braveheart) desperately wants that very diary.  Once again, Taylor is aided by Kate Noonan and his "partner" Cody.
After watching Set 1, it's hard to imagine anyone but Iain Glen as Jack Taylor.  Glen is able to play a functioning drunk whom doesn't always make the best decisions, yet the audience will root for nonetheless.  Parts of Taylor's character seem stereotypical (for example, his love of classic novels), but Glen's acting acumen rises above it all.  The writing on the program suits Taylor's character perfectly with an emphasis on dry humor that never becomes stale.  Galway is a dreary looking place where colors are muted and lifeless, as they should be in a homage to classic noir.  In a way, Galway is a character itself which has trapped its inhabitants in an uncertain future.

The special features on this set are extremely disappointing.  Each disc contains one episode along with a photo gallery for each mystery.  Let me translate: each disc has a montage of still shots taken directly from the episode.  I enjoyed the show, but who would ever want to watch a montage of stills?  A behind-the-scenes feature or an interview with author Ken Bruen would have been a vast improvement.  Special features aside, Jack Taylor is worth a look for viewers who enjoy a good raw detective drama not limited by censors here in the States.  The Irish banter and slang could be a bit overwhelming to some, so I suggest turning on the subtitles for maximum enjoyment.

Cody Endres
Review by Cody Endres
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