I’ve been in love with Peaky Blinders since it started; it’s the swagger, the postmodernism, the defiantly wrong music, the idea that someone awoke one day with the idea of mashing up Bugsy Malone and The Brothers, then stealing a shedload of tricks from Tarantino to paper over the cracks. But I’ve fallen out of love and it’s not for the reasons that others have cited regarding the just-finished fourth series (Arthur coming back from the dead, Alfie not coming back from the dead, Adrien Brody chewing the scenery almost as much as he chews that toothpick), but something else. The buggers have insulted my intelligence.
Here’s what went wrong. The Peaky Blinders, represented by cool-as-ice anti-hero Tommy Shelby and Brummie Boudicca Aunt Pol, are confronted by the Sicilian-American gangster Luca Changretta, who declares that if they don’t sign over all their assets, he will kill them. But the Blinders turn the tables, advising Changretta that other forces have been working against him while his back was turned:
Aunt Pol: We also contacted a businessman in Chicago. He’s also interested in moving into the liquor business in New York.Which is fine as it stands. Peaky Blinders is a fiction with one toe in reality; Winston Churchill and other historical figures have made fleeting appearances. A little nod to historical gangsterism, a reference even to the US box set with which the show has most in common, Boardwalk Empire, does no harm at all. But we could’t leave it there, could we?
Tommy: His name is Alphonse Capone.CLANG! Listen, anyone who watches an exchange between three dodgy dealers in the mid-1920s referring to a fourth person of equally dubious repute and doesn’t think “probably Capone”, probably doesn’t know who Capone is. It’s like a Hollywood version of Victorian Britain, with people saying things like, “Good Lord, that’s Mr Dickens (1812-1870), the celebrated author who wrote that book about an orphan, what was it called again?” “Oh, Oliver Twist, wasn’t it?” but worse because this is 2017 and we should be smarter than that by now, shouldn’t we? Tommy’s line is trying to be a clever nod/wink but in fact it’s a prompt to the mouth-breathers in the back row, the ones who go on Pointless and complain that “it was before my time” when any subject other than Premiership football comes up. I’m out.
The clothes are still nice, though. And Cyril’s a sound name for a dog.