TV networks. There are so many of them! And they're constantly putting out new shows, faster than we can watch them, even! One such network is Starz, which has had a hard time breaking into the top-tier of premium cable channels despite giving it a B-plus effort. Also, in Starz's case, that "B" stands for "blood and boobies." The network's latest series is Black Sails, a new pirate drama which seems to perfectly fit its brand full of mayhem and mammaries. But is it good? I've seen the first episode, and I will help you figure out whether it's right for you in another edition of Hey TV.com, How Many Boobs Does Black Sails Have?
Black Sails, so is this Troy Barnes' Community spin-off?
Nope! This one's all about pirates. Set in the year 1715 amid the cerulean waters of the Caribbean, the big-budget Black Sails is being pitched as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, and indeed, many of the characters from that classic are present. Captain Flint is the centerpiece, and he and his crew of plunderers sail the seas booty-hunting, with the main prize being a famed five-million-piece haul of whatever currency they're using from a mysterious Spanish galleon. A pre-fish-sticks-master John Silver and first mate Billy Bones are both along for the ride, along with fair dame Eleanor Guthrie, the powerful daughter of the biggest black marketeer in the region. The action bounces between the high seas and New Providence Island, a hunk o'land that serves as a pirate sanctuary.
Who christened this series, and who are the players?
The show is frequently referred to as Michael Bay's Black Sails, as he's an executive producer, but it was created by Jonathan E. Steinberg (Jericho, Human Target). As for the cast, it's going to be a lot of people you're not really familiar with. Brit Toby Stephens plays Captain Flint, Brit Hannah New plays Eleanor, Aussie Luke Arnold plays John Silver, Smallville's Jessica Parker Kennedy plays the crafty prostitute Max, and Shameless's Zach McGowan plays the villainous Captain Vane. I'm meeting most of these people for the first time, too.
When does Black Sails set sail?
Black Sails premieres on Saturday, January 25 at 9pm on Starz. Starz has already renewed the show for a second season, I'm guessing because it already had the boats so why not? But also because Starz is crazy like that.
Who might enjoy Black Sails?
If you have a peg leg, an eye patch, and there's a bunch of parrot shit on your shoulder, then there's a good chance you will dig Black Sails. And if you're a fan of Starz's previous adventure series like Spartacus, you'll find a similar recipe here. Admittedly, I haven't seen everything Starz has put out over the last few years, but this appears to be one of the more polished series the network produced, and viewers looking for escapist fare with some impressive scenery will find plenty to like.
What's arrrrrrrright about Black Sails?
Boobs! Let's not kid ourselves, Starz has a reputation and Black Sails does nothing to tarnish it. You watch a Starz show because you expect boobs, and Black Sails has boobs. Sometimes gratuitously. But hey, this is a show about pirates—of course there will be boobs. Here's the thing, though: I'm also totally into the story! It's obviously using Game of Thrones as a model for the twisted alliances and motives, but it has enough interesting characters to support that. And at the center of everything is Captain Flint, who is instantly awesome. Well-spoken and consumed by the possibility of wealth, Flint hatches a few plans that are so crazy they may just work, and Stephens is great in the role. Also, Black Sails has lots of hot women who curse a lot, and I like that.
What elements of Black Sails should be thrown overboard?
It comes off as cartoonish at some points, which isn't too bad, but also doesn't help establish Black Sails as an entirely serious drama. And I can't see the show spending too much time on the high seas because of budgetary restrictions, so much of the action will be land-locked and strip away from of the pirate mystique. Oh and speaking of pirate mystique, don't expect these pirates to be the pock-marked, yellow-toothed, flea-ridden dirtbags of lore. Some of these guys are pretty. And the women? No wenches here, they've all been plucked out of a modeling agency. I know, BOO! And finally, this may sound a bit weird, but I would've appreciated a little more violence in the first episode. Would it have killed the effects crew to show us a cannonball crushing a guy's head or a sword slicing open someone's intestines? Black Sails is child's play compared to the ultra-violence of Spartacus.
So, should I watch it?
I'm just as surprised as you are that I'm excited about a Starz series, but I say, "Aye, matey." It's no award-winner, but it's a fun time. I'm eager to see Episode 2.
Yar, show me some trailer!
Aye aye, captain. But you can also see the full first episode for free right here. It it's an edited version, though, so why would you want to do that?
Black Sails premieres Saturday, January 25 at 9pm on Starz.