At first when the STARZ network announced it would be bringing swashbucklers to TV, I was concerned. Unfortunately, so often now when we hear ‘pirates’ we immediately go to the Keith Richards inspired Jerry Bruckheimer Disney flicks, right? I went into the special viewing of the show at San Diego Comic Con 2013 without any expectations, only because I would possibly enjoy it better that way. The executive producer Michael Bay might also cause a knee jerk reaction after what happened at CES, but think of his involvement as an investor, and you’ll enjoy it. Due to the positive response from fans at the 2013 SDCC showing, the series was automatically picked up for a second season that began filming in tandem to the airing of the first season’s premiere.
There were pirates roaming the crowd gathered on the sidewalk waiting for the house to open (also, one side of the theater was closed off for a red carpet event featuring Sylvester Stallone and former CA Governator Arnold Schwarzenegger with their upcoming film Escape Plan, which made things interesting), piratical bandannas and buttons being handed out as….sorry I can’t help myself….BOOTY. For those lucky enough to make it into the showing of Black Sails, a four song concert featuring series composer Emmy winner Bear McCreary and a fantastic live band made up of studio musicians and the amazing Raya Yarbrough. I had the pleasure of sitting in front of Captain Vain (played by Zach McGowan from Shameless) and Mr. Scott (played by Hakeem Kae-Kazim) during the SDCC event, they were gentlemen and hilarious all night. Ronald D. Moore attended the event as well, and I had to do a double take because in profile he and the composer looked strikingly similar.
But lets get into the meat and pota- I mean the grog and gruel of the show. The official description of the show is “during the Golden Age of Piracy, the feared Captain Flint brings on a younger crew member as they fight for the survival of New Providence Island.” Does that name sound familiar to you? Captain Flint? It should if you know your Treasure Island lore. You’ll catch many familiar names during the run of the show.
The basic gist of the first season (the finale airs on Saturday March 15th) is understanding how precarious Flint’s situation is with his crew aboard the Walrus, and the power struggle for control of the Guthrie’s smuggling business. Times have been hard, treasures and tempers are thin, leading up to a challenge for the position of Captain at the end of the first episode. This is the primary reason the ship and crew are first seen attacking an English ship in the hopes of plunder. There are explosions a plenty, black powder and cannon smoke, scary war chants and a demon snaggle toothed swashbuckler all before the credits start.
AND HOW ABOUT THAT OPENING SEQUENCE, YOU GUYS. It’s amazing. And if you enjoy it, make sure to check out the behind the scenes from the studio video.
I will skip ahead a bit to talk about the Island. No, not the Dharma place, not Dr. Moreau, not even Gilligan’s Island. I’m talking about Nassau Island. A settlement built by the privateers to trade, sell, build, and carry on their lives when not on the seas. It has everything a man (or woman) could want; inns, taverns, whores, and Blackbeard (but not the one you’re thinking of, he doesn’t appear until LATER in the series, and even then, isn’t named). It also seems the show wants to fill their quota of boobs and uses of the word fuck within a five minute period while introducing the character of Eleanor Guthrie, and her no nonsense running of her father’s business. (I liked it)
And boy do I feel bad for Billy “Who’s Billy?” Bones and his repeatedly babysitting Flint experiences. He really does try to do his best, making sure all hell doesn’t break loose while meeting with Mr. Guthrie….and how bout Guthrie!! Holding it together like a proper Englishman. ”No, I am fine, I haven’t been stabbed, I’m not sitting here bleeding all over my beautiful rug.” Also, Captain Vain, Jack Rackham, and Anne Bonny running around causing mischief. (I’m almost wondering if Mary Reed will also make an appearance in the show’s run, and how cool is it that my name is two of the most notorious women pirates put together?)
Without too many spoilers, I will say my favorite episode of the show thus far has been “V”. (You’ll notice all the episodes are titled with Roman numerals, so it’s easy to keep track at least) There is a MASSIVE ship-to-ship battle, and the meek and mild bookkeeper of the Walrus Dufresne (played by Jannes Eiselen who is a South African native) has a transformation of sorts that will leave you….surprised.
It has already inspired numerous pieces of Amazing Art, my current favorite being the pieces of Xander Kent from RedGrimRune. If you enjoy historical ‘period’ pieces and pirates, then walk the plank and dive right in to Black Sails.
(And I’m totally waiting for Outlander so the pirates on Black Sails can capture Jamie and Claire Fraser, because STARZ.)