Critical Condition: The Bastard Executioner

Sons of Anarchy meets Game of Thrones in Kurt Sutter's ferocious new drama, The Bastard Executioner (SoHo, 8.30 Wednesday).

Sons of Anarchy meets Game of Thrones in Kurt Sutter’s ferocious new drama, The Bastard Executioner (SoHo, 8.30 Wednesday).

“Kurt Sutter creates an intriguing and vast medieval epic that surprises and entertains on a number of fronts … There’s a lot more going on in the series, which is why it kicks off with that two-hour premiere. The ensemble cast is large and strong and littered with enough character intricacies to fuel long-tailed story arcs. And while there’s much to set up, the series moves briskly enough (and with enough action to liven up the detailed story setups) that everything gains clarity by the end of the second episode.”

Washington Post“Sutter and his players have certainly thrown themselves headlong into this highly imaginative story set in the wake of the Edwardian Conquest of Wales … The double-episode premiere drags like it has all the time in the world, leaving a viewer to wonder if he or she has much room left for another show with swords, beheadings and rapey pillagings. But Sutter is skilled at balancing emotion and gore, and it isn’t long before you start to believe in this place and these people.”

Entertainment_Weekly-1.svg_Bastard Executioner has all the sensationalistic blood and guts, breasts and butts, egregious beards and existential bleakness you’d expect from the genre. But as the latest expression of Epic TV, it’s a lightweight Game of Thrones, and sluggish one at that. There’s promise, but for now, the rewards are few, and even then, I worry … Bastard has some cutting themes, but it needs more inspired execution. It’ll take a leap of faith on your part to see if Sutter and company can get there.”

Variety“Given Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter’s let’s-get-medieval sensibilities, the wedding of his knack for dark and violent material with an early 14-century setting sounds like a match made in a hellacious Heaven. Yet the collision proves a trifle jarring in his latest FX series, which proves too uneven to be satisfying — flitting from grisly violence to elaborate dream sequences to the occasional flourish seemingly plucked from Mel Brooks’ History of the World. Watching the first three hours isn’t torture, but nor is it as compelling as the series to which it will be inevitably compared.”

nyt-logoThe Bastard Executioner has some of the best assets of Sons of Anarchy, including the veteran director Paris Barclay. But it uses them in ways that recall that series’ biggest flaws: both its reveling in garish misery — I imagine Mr. Sutter binge-watching Game of Thrones, chuckling, and cracking his knuckles — and its undisciplined storytelling … The characters are many but thin, and compared with the lavishly imagined societies of Thrones, its 14th-century Britain is one turkey leg away from a Renaissance Faire.”

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One Response to “Critical Condition: The Bastard Executioner”

  1. Will definitely be watching this show tonight.

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