I am not very skilled at TV binge watching. I rarely complete a TV series, even when all of the episodes are available and I enjoy it. I am not sure what TV did to me as a child, but I obviously have some sort of aversion to TV show commitment. That being said, I am currently on paternity leave. This means I have a lot of time to just sit and watch TV late at night while I care for our new son. My search eventually led me to Starz’s Black Sails – a nautical tale that serves as a precursor to Robert Louis Stephenson’s Treasure Island.
Official synopsis from Starz: “1715. The Golden Age of Piracy. New Providence Island is a lawless territory, controlled by history’s most notorious pirate captains. The most feared is Captain Flint.
As the British Navy returns to redeem their land and exterminate Flint and his crew, another side of him emerges. Captain Flint aligns himself with Eleanor Guthrie, daughter of the local kingpin, to hunt the ultimate prize and ensure their survival.
Many opponents stand in their way: rival captains, jealous of Flint’s power; Eleanor’s ambitious and intrusive father; and a young sailor recently recruited onto Flint’s crew, John Silver, who constantly undermines the captain’s agenda.”
The whole cast is solid, but Toby Stephens really shines as Captain Flint. Stephen’s Flint has the swashbuckling swagger we have come to associate with a pirate captain, but there is a malice underneath that is a far cry from other prominent ship captains that are affably crazy.
Luke Arnold and Hannah New also contribute convincing performances as John Silver and Eleanor Guthrie. Overall, I didn’t find any character that felt out of place or jarring. Everyone has a part and plays it well.
One thing that set Star Wars apart from other science-fiction films of the time was the “lived in” feeling of the sets. Tatooine, alongside the other locations and ships, felt like living, breathing locations with their own rhythm. The reason I mention this (outside of my unfortunate case of Star Wars Tourette’s) is that Black Sails does the exact same thing. A majority of the show takes place on the island of New Providence, and the set looks incredible. New Providence, however, pales in comparison to the beautiful naval battles. The production values on these battles are astounding and visceral.
As stated earlier, Black Sails is a prequel to Robert Louis Stephenson’s famous novel, Treasure Island (you might remember it as Muppet Treasure Island). Season One involves Captain Flint and his crew’s hunt for the Urca, a ship filled with Spanish treasure. Along the way John Silver and Eleanor Guthrie’s fates get intertwined with his as his search leads to possible mutiny and betrayal. This isn’t your standard PG pirate tale – the story involves murder, pillaging, and frequent bouts of coitus (it is Starz after all).
I really enjoyed Black Sails. The story was engaging, the production value was extremely high, and the cast was great. I am not a pirate fanatic by any means, as a kid I was much more fascinated by Cowboys and Space Rangers than pirates, but Starz hit it out of the park with this show. If you have Starz you can watch the first season in its entirety On Demand, if not you can pre-order the DVD’s here. They release January 6th. You’ll have plenty of time to catch up, as season two will premiere on January 24, 2015.