ITV (ended 1957)
Swashbuckling UK Export Of The Mid-50s –
Robert Shaw stars in this well-made, rousing British adventure series of the mid-50s. Taking place in the early 18th century, in the British Caribbean colony of New Providence (The Bahamas), episodes revolved around ex-pirate raider Dan Tempest (Shaw), who has accepted a pardon from King George, and the job of defending the islands, in his trusty ship 'The Sultana', along with a rag-tag, but hearty Crew of reformed ex-buccaneers, also pardoned by The King.
For the first two thirds of the run of the series, Peter Hammond appears, as Lieutenant Edward Beamish, of The Royal Navy. Left in charge of New Providence, by original Colonial Governor Woodes Rogers, the young, efficient, but inexperienced Beamish works together with Tempest in the fight against not only the various pirate raiders who still plague the Caribbean, but against the Spaniards, with whom, the British are at war. Some episodes found Tempest, Beamish, and the Crew of the Sultana facing the infamous pirate known as Blackbeard, and at other times, outwitting the devious Van Brugh – A rich, greedy New Providence plantation owner who often consorted with the various shady characters who came to the island, from time to time. For the concluding third of it's run, the series assumed a slightly different format, with Tempest and Crew sailing off the Eastern seaboard of the continental Colonies, dealing with various sinister elements, sometimes returning to their old buccaneering ways, as they helped the Colonial Farmers and Merchants in a kind of Robin Hood-like fashion.
Produced by Weinstein Productions, and Sapphire Films, Ltd.., and filmed entirely at Twickenham Studios, in London, The Buccaneers was soon brought to the USA by CBS, who premiered it on the evening Saturday, September 22nd, 1956, at 7:30 PM, EST. Despite it's overall good quality, however, it didn't catch on with the viewing public. Scheduled opposite NBC's popular People Are Funny, it was cancelled after a single 39-episode season, and it's last prime time telecast was on September 14th, 1957. It was replaced, the following week, by the soon-to-be phenomenally popular Perry Mason.
With a dependable supporting cast – Which included a kind of repertory company of players, who appeared often, in various roles – Excellent sets, costumes, acceptable-for-the-time special effects, and plenty of action – Including expert swordplay – This well written and directed sea-going, swashbuckling adventure series is well worth a look.moreless