'Peaky Blinders - Season 1'
(Joe Cole, Cillian Murphy, Sam Neill, et al / 2-Disc DVD / NR / 2015 / BBC America)
Overview: An all-star cast, including Cillian Murphy (The Dark Knight, Inception), Helen McCrory (Skyfall, Harry Potter films), and Paul Anderson (Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows), head up this gangster family epic set in 1919 Birmingham. Peaky Blinders follows the notorious gang, who got their name from sewing razor blades into the peaks of their caps, and their fierce boss Tommy Shelby, a man dead set on moving up in the world, no matter the cost.
DVD Verdict: Simply put, 'Peaky Blinders' is one of the most unique British dramas ever made. I would even go as far as to say TV history in the making. Negative critics of the show seem to have overlooked the fact that this is the first time ever that this side of British gangster-lore has been documented. Off hand, the only thing that comes close to this style of gangland depiction is the first half of Once Upon A Time in America, were we see the heroes struggling to escape the deprivation of ghetto life.
This is where 'Peaky Blinders' stands out from the typical run-of- the-mill crime show. There is nothing glamorous about being a gangster in this world. As far from LA Confidential glitz as you can get, the viewer is forced to get down and dirty in the horseshite-ridden streets of post WW1, working-class Birmingham.
The attention to detail, the costumes, the sets, particularly the Lee family dwellings, have all been created to the highest standard. As is the quality of acting, which is undeniably as good as you'll find in any prime-time British drama.
Even though some other people who have watched some of this series with me have not had such a positive outcry towards it, believe me, the connoisseurs of this genre have been very impressed thus far. Furthermore, the show seems to be building up to climatic ending rather than simply documenting a day in the life of a Peaky Blinder. The more observant viewers will see subtle 'tie-ins' between each situation and be able to follow the flow of events without obvious prediction. This is what the drama audience thrives on to stimulate analytical debate after each episode.
In closing, I would encourage anyone who enjoys a great drama, especially a period piece like this, to run out and purchase this incredible TV show now. Word has it that the show has already been renewed for a second season (in the UK), so its release here, eventually, cannot be that far of, luckily. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.