TV Review: Black Sails

‘Black Sails’ is a pirate adventure series created by Jonathan E.Steinberg and Robert

Levine. Starz production (USA) are set to release season two at the end of January, malady 2015,

after finishing its first season by the end of March of this year. The series is set just 20

years prior to Stevenson’s world renowned novel, Treasure Island, so any whom are

familiar with the novel will automatically be able to identify with the setting and genre.

Among executive producers credited is Michael Bay, which may alert warning

signals in viewers minds (happened to me personally). However in this case it is a false

alarm. ‘Black Sails’ focuses much more on developing its intriguing storyline and

characters than it does on over exagerreted and intensified action scenes, which instead

are realistic and exciting and by no means over the top.

The main storyline revolves around the difficulties faced by Captain Flint (Toby

Stephens) when trying to cement his trust with a sceptical crew while also trying to retain

his persona as a deadly and fearsome pirate. It deals with the interaction between the

pirate and civilized race, and the contrast which occurs as the two groups struggle to

survive together in the area of New Providence Island, where the series is set.

Actors, for the most part, are successful in portraying the characters of real life

pirates and commoners of the era. Although some appear more easy on the eye than can

be expected from your common wenches and drunken pirates, most are rugged and

unkempt, often showing little pity or morals, and the standard of acting is clearly not

sacrificed by the inclusion of these actors/actress’ who defy the stereotypes, so why

complain. Captain Charles Vane (Zach McGowan) for example captures spectacularly the

soul of the pirate, while avoiding the stereotypical eye patch or wooden leg, and is overall

compelling to watch.

The plot itself contains sufficient narrative progression, which could arguably be

sped up at parts. However, each episode features more than enough action as well as

drama to entice the viewers to continue watching, and as is the case with many opening

seasons, plot and character development take time.

The production values are perhaps not the same as what we have come expect in the

likes of say, a HBO production, but location of shooting in Cape Town adds immensely to

the stylistic trait of the show. Spectacular scenery helps create an even greater sense of

realism, capturing the world and environment of the pirate lifestyle beautifully.

If you have a soft spot for silly sitcoms or rom-coms then this most definitely is not

the show for you. If you enjoy adventure and want to try this as a new viewing experience,

different and relatively unexplored, this series will be well worth the watch.

– James Holohan

Arts Editor

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