I don’t think I’ve ever stated this on my blog before, but I’m a huge fan of all things pirate-related. Not the campy, Hollywood-envisioned pirates (I’m looking at you, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, even though I love those films, too), but real life, historically accurate marauders. As such, when I heard the fine folks at Starz were airing a series based on realistic buccaneers, I knew I had to give it a look. And I am so glad I did…BLACK SAILS is an amazing series, and it is an absolute epic masterpiece. With beautiful scenery and painstaking realism, this show is the perfect blend of lavish history and rowdy fiction.
If you are not familiar with BLACK SAILS, here is the plot synopsis courtesy of Starz:
The Walrus crew is stranded with an army of Spanish soldiers standing between them and their precious Urca gold. And with their crimes against their brethren no longer a secret, Flint and Silver must join forces in a desperate bid for survival. Meanwhile, Eleanor Guthrie struggles to maintain her grip on Nassau, as a new breed of pirate arrives in the form of Ned Low, a man for whom violence isn t just a tool...it's a pastime. As blood is spilled and tensions mount, Charles Vane must decide which he values more: Eleanor's life or the respect of his men. And unbeknownst to all of them, a prize of immeasurable value has already been smuggled onto the island...one whose discovery will alter the very landscape of their world and force everyone in Nassau toward the ultimate judgement: are they men, or monsters?
Make no mistake: this show does not have swashbuckling pretty-boys in loafers, swinging from the mast of a ship by ropes while dueling with a eye-oned bad guy. No, this is a gritty, day-to-day glimpse at how a pirate crew could have (and probably did) live back then. This stark realism is a big part of what makes this show so good.
BLACK SAILS is shot well and appears to have a high production budget. As I mentioned above, the attention to detail is excellent. No expense is spared when it comes to making each scene look authentic. The sole discrepancy I could find in this regard is the clothing; I saw a couple of outfits I didn’t think actually fit into the time period. But I’m not very well versed on clothing styles through the centuries, so I won’t officially call this out.
The acting is superb, with Toby Stephens portraying the main character, Captain Flint. Stephens has recently become one of my favorite actors, due in large part to this role. I don’t think anybody else could have played the part as well as he does. Likewise, Zach McGowan does an excellent job as Flint’s rival, Captain Vane. McGowan also owns this role, and no substitute could probably ever be found for him. The rest of the cast does a fine job as well, with several notable names (I will not list them all here, as there are many).
The storyline in BLACK SAILS is intriguing and enthralling. Each episode unleashes more drama and more intensity as the plot unfolds. This is another positive for the show, and it’s another key component to my enjoyment. I daresay this writing is some of the finest on television today.
Season two starts off with a bang, and the intensity never lets up. It picks up immediately where season one leaves off, and the story continues on at a constant pace from there. A couple of minor twists occur here and there, but nothing considerably crazy happens. Thankfully, the writing continues to excel as the season progresses.
BLACK SAILS is a huge win for me, and I highly recommend this addictive historical fiction series to everyone. Don’t let the kids watch this, however…it is rated Mature for good reason. There’s a boatload of sex and profanity, which explains why the show is on Starz. Nevertheless, it’s a heck of a show and a heck of a lot of fun. Season two hits store shelves next Tuesday, so make a note.