Netflix are cashing in on Peaky Blinders

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by | Dec 20, 2023 | Film & TV

The streaming Giant looks set to ruin Peaky Blinders by cashing in and creating some thinly connected spin offs

Prequels, sequels and spin-offs

Netflix seems intent on turning their successful content into franchises, one supposes that they have been watching Disney and Warner Bros and want a slice of the ‘cinematic universe’ pie. Streaming is all about instant consumption, and the beast needs feeding.

Yet they haven’t been great at it so far, witness the spin off from The Witcher, ‘Blood Origin’, which was dreadful in so many ways. It was an unnecessary and poorly written cash in that only served to damage the original that it was supposed to enhance.

Now the streaming behemoth has announced some potential spin-offs from Peaky Blinders, details are a bit minimal, so far it’s just that one will be set in the USA (Boston) in the mid 20th century, the other is centred around the caharacter Polly Gray. So let’s look at what’s possible and how they will inevitably fumble it. Yes I know, I’m a pessimist.

Peaky Blinders spin off in Boston in the 1950’s

Peaky Blinders worked best when set in Birmingham and the stakes were more local and immediate. In the later seasons the writer Steven Knight had made Tommy a member of parliament and intimately involved with British Fascists and American Mobsters. Whilst these episodes ratcheted up the stakes, the drama could only go so far as it was tied in to actual historical figures – for example we knew that Mosley wasn’t assassinated so the entire plot around that had no real weight as we knew it wouldn’t come off. Casting real life figures in fictional stories is always limiting.

The American connection was only tangential, as suppliers and would-be collaborators. The series excelled when set in the inter-war years, something set in another country decades later would have literally no connection with the core characters of Tommy, Arthur and Polly. Let’s face it the younger characters who might feature such as Finn were incompetents compared to those main ringleaders.

Let’s face it, it will be an American crime series set in the 1950’s where the main characters wear flat caps and shout ‘By order of the blah blah…’

Peaky Blinders spin off centred on Polly Gray

Tragically Helen McRory who played Polly died before the final season, a brilliant actor and a huge loss to the dynamic of the drama. So presumably a spin off will be ‘Polly; The Early Years’, maybe set in WWI when the men were fighting in France. Maybe polly is the instigator of the Peaky gang? But again the brilliance of the original series was in that dynamic between the main characters, the tension of damaged men returning from the horrors of the trenches. Dial it back before that and just not Peaky Blinders any more. Plus as with any prequel we know what’s coming down the road.

If these spin-offs do make it to the screen doubtless they will have good casts and budgets, but they are not stories that are crying out to be told, it’s a cash in that will ultimately devalue the whole Peaky brand.

Written by Iain Hazlewood

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