Hit or Miss: 'Gunpowder'
What is it about?: The series is set during the early 1600s, when England is at war with Spain and King James I is ramping up his persecution of Catholics back home. At this time, British activists Guy Fawkes and Robert Catesby wrangle together a group of Catholics for the Gunpowder Plot, which involved blowing up the House of Lords and kill the King. The series will also follow how Catesby’s refusal to abandon his religion forces him to become a societal outcast.
Why this might be good: This true life story is likely one American audiences are unfamiliar with and who doesn’t love a fun…scratch that, this show does not look fun. Let’s say, entertaining! Yes, who does not love an entertaining history lesson. However, the biggest draw here is likely to be ‘Game of Thrones’ star Kit Harington in the title role as Catesby. Fans of the HBO fantasy series are sadly going to have to wait a while before getting the final season of the show. Yet, ‘Gunpowder’ could manage to succeed in a culture where ‘Thrones’ is the most talked about show on TV. If you think about it, there are several other similarities; murderous plotting, a medieval setting, gruesome violence, one religion trying to wipe out another (very Lord of Light like). Really, the only things missing are the dragons and ice zombies. Yet, if anything, the mini-series is likely to give us a clue into what Harington’s career is going to look like after ‘Thrones’ ends. Thus far, he has not managed to take many other outside roles. This one seems to be working within his ‘Thrones’ persona but we really need to see him take other kinds of roles in order to determine his career path after. I haven’t seen the tennis mockumentary ‘7 Days in Hell’, that he also starred in, but something tells me that is a better judge of his stardom going forward.
Why this might not be good: Remember ‘Taboo’? No? It’s ok, the experience of watching it is absolutely excruciating. The series was another British import from earlier this year, only premiering on FX here in the states instead of HBO. Despite being set in England some 200 plus years after Gunpowder, and being based entirely on one man’s vanity project instead of real-life history, there are some scary similarities between the programs in both of their trailers. Gloomy, gothic interiors? Check. Characters plotting against the crown? Double check. What looks like a taste for rather grisly violence and torture? Let’s put a big, bold check next to that one! So yes, if you suffered through the grotesque slog that was ‘Taboo’ earlier this year, ‘Gunpowder’ is likely brining up some traumatic memories. However, there still might be a way this show can break through these fears. For one, ‘Gunpowder’ is only three episodes, which means you don’t have to worry about it clogging up your DVR or realize you still got eight more hours of British mumbling and torture to get through. It’s also safe to say that, as mentioned earlier, ‘Gunpowder’ does not appear to be the strange vanity project ‘Taboo’ was. Kit Harington has not crafted this series simply to play weird dress up, as Tom Hardy did with the other series. However, really as long as Harington doesn’t rip a man’s throat out with his bare teeth or have telepathic voodoo sex with a relative, we should be good. And yes, before you ask, those are all things that happen in ‘Taboo’.
Hit or Miss?: I’m still a little skeptical but it is hard to doubt the appeal Harington’s presence has on ‘Thrones’ fans, so a hit is possible.