Still, this is rich historical material with many potentially fascinating (and swashbuckling) stories to tell. In an odd scheduling coincidence, Frontier arrives on Netflix just as Tom Hardy's Taboo, set in 1814, explores similar personal conflicts, business deals, and political maneuvering. (Apparently Canadian geo-political trade conflicts are hot right now -- who knew?) Where the FX show paints a grimy, shit-covered portrait of Victorian-era London during the War of 1812, Frontier imagines a vision of the past with more romance, laughter, and adventure. San Andreas director Brad Peyton, who helmed the first two episodes and has a co-creator credit, brings a light touch to what must have been a grueling, punishing way of life.
Similarly, writers Rob Blackie and Peter Blackie pepper their scripts with seemingly anachronistic profanity, such as when Declan Harp calls another character a "fuckhead." That same irreverence extends to the quotes that begin certain episodes, which include wise sayings from modern writers like Nelson Mandela, Elie Wiesel, and Ice Cube. It's bizarre, but at least they're trying something. In fact, the show could use more of Ice Cube's mischievous, button-pushing spirit. A little less steady boating, a little more steady mobbin'.