Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Are you watching...Black Sails?

Have you seen Black Sails, the pirate action drama series from Starz Originals? If you haven't, you really, really should. All four series are available now on Amazon Video for free if you have a Prime subscription.

The show has a cracking title theme

The first series of Black Sails follows Captain Flint (he of Treasure Island fame) as he tracks down a Spanish Galleon full of gold. If you've ever seen Spartacus (another phenomenal show), you'll recognise the wonderful blend of intrigue, suspense, violence and excellent story telling. Whilst Black Sails isn't as violent or lewd as Spartacus was, the story is every bit as fantastic. 

The enigmatic Captain Flint
Yes, there's plots-a-plenty, backstabbing, tavern wenches and the promise of treasure - everything you could want from a tale o' the seven seas.

I'm a little bit obsessed with pirates - I even have a treasure map, compass and pirate ship tattooed on my left forearm with plans to continue it into a full sleeve. I have a flintlocke pistol shaped rum bottle, my favourite rum is a toss up between Rumbullion and Kraken and, for Christmas, one of my friends bought me a beautifully ornate nautical compass. So imagine my delight when, ET started getting into pirates, too.

Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists is much more Ethan's speed

Now, Black Sails isn't something I'd let my young son watch, because whilst it isn't as lewd or violent as Spartacus, it is still lewd and violent. Flint is a remarkably complex and nuanced character, played expertly by Toby Stephens, son of acting legend Maggie Smith. He flits between reserved stoicism, bursts of extreme violence and impassioned speeches as he cheats and connives his way towards the treasure, all with the grand plan of sticking two fingers up to good ol' Blighty and declaring the island of Nassau a pirate haven. To see his character evolve over the four series is a thing of beauty and you can tell Stephens enjoys every second of it.

Supporting Flint in his quest is John Silver (or Long John Silver, as he eventually became known), a stowaway with the gift of the gab and the ability to inspire the crew with a wildly spun tale, Billy Bones, a pirate who's naivety may get the better of him, Eleanor Guthrie, the woman who has miraculously brought a semblance of order to Nassau and Max, a tavern whore with big dreams and even bigger ambition. The rest of the pirates, privateers, whores and ne'er-do-wells add rich character to the stories as they twist and turn to a very satisfying conclusion. Of particular note are Jack Rackham and Charles Vane, based on two real-life pirates. Rackham in particular is a great character, more concerned with how history will remember him than he is with the day to day politicking of the island.

The always excellent cast of Black Sails

There is so much I want to say about Black Sails but to do so would spoil the many surprises, suffice to say that it is a brilliant show that is well worth your time and, with all four series available now, there is plenty to get stuck into.

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