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Jack Taylor: Set 1

Release Year:         2010
Studio:         Acorn Media
Format:         Colour; NTSC
Rated:         Not Rated
# of Discs/Episodes:         3 / 3
Running Time:         273 Minutes
DVD Release Date:         June 25, 2013
Screenwriters:         Marteinn Thorisson, Tom Collins, Anne McCabe, Ralph Christians
Director:         Stuart Orme
Actors:         Iain Glen, Nora-Jane Noone, Killian Scott
DVD Features:         SDH subtitles
E:Top Picks Rating:         8/10

Acorn Media Write-up:
Self-destructive, pigheaded, and over fond of the bottle, Jack Taylor (Iain Glen, Games of Thrones, Downton Abbey) is a forty-something ex-cop trying to earn a living as a private detective in his native Galway. Taylor has burned a lot of bridges, but he still has a knack for uncovering ugly truths. In his new trade, Taylor finds evil at every turn; the serial murders of young female factory workers, a vicious vigilante group executing summary justice, and a sadistic nun dubbed “Lucifer” by her former charges.

Set against the rugged backdrop of western Ireland, this crime noir series depicts a country in transition, caught between the certainties of the past and the anxieties of a post-bubble future. Those same strains play out in the life of Jack Taylor, a man seeking to reinvent himself in a community with a long memory and an uneasy attitude towards change. Includes three feature-length mysteries: The Guards, The Pikemen, and The Magdalen Martyrs.

Jon Ted Wynne Review:
Jack Taylor is not unlike dozens of burnt-out-ex-cop-turned-private-detectives we’ve seen before in films and TV. Even the Irish setting (which does add a lot of colour and character) has been explored before (Single Handed). So what is it that distinguishes Taylor from so many other purveyors of law and order? To be honest, I’m not sure. This is the problem with JACK TAYLOR.

Aside from familiarity there is the added problem that Jack Taylor isn’t particularly likeable, especially when he makes sexually suggestive remarks to teenaged schoolgirls. The whole beaten-down-by-the-world, poetically tragic Irishman would get tiresome very quickly were it not for the lynchpin performance of Iain Glen (who is actually Scottish). Glen is a handsome man playing against his looks and for that alone he deserves considerable credit. It’s the character that counts, flawed though he may be.

The stories are good, with excellent production values and supporting performances. If there is a problem with JACK TAYLOR it is simply that there are an awful lot of policemen/detectives on TV and to stand out there needs to be something to distinguish the main actor and the premise of the show from all the others. I’m not sure I even LIKE Jack Taylor.

There is something interesting about the man and his tragic fall (he was a policeman who left the Guard under trying circumstances). He is certainly a flawed hero (if he is, in fact, heroic). About the only qualifications he has for heroism are his honesty and determination to find the truth.

Of the three feature-length episodes packaged here, the third, The Magdelen Murders, is by far the best and does the best job of developing Taylor’s character and explaining his motivations. It is this episode which promises there may be more than was initially on display with this series.

The verdict is still out on JACK TAYLOR, but while there may be enough interest to warrant spending more time with him in further episodes, he, and the program that bears his name, are light years away from being in the same league as a Tommy Murphy, George Gently or Tom (or even John) Barnaby.

Not all detective shows can be gold. The question then becomes how tarnished can the silver be before it pales too much in comparison?