Black Sails – a Review

Anticipation has raged rampant for more than a year with those of us waiting for an authentic pirate series.  Black Sails promised to bring just that and with a production team that includes Michael Bay, it was a shoe-in that this was going to be the series of the year.  Well, I watched an early release of the premier and…I found my imagination drift and interest drift mid-way through.  The very episode destined to be the “hook” foundered and sunk miserably.

My opinion: It was a huge disappointment. I will give the producers this – the authenticity of set, props and wardrobe was impressive!  Thank heavens someone did the research necessary to bring visual accuracy to set and location.  I was just getting into the savory imagery that comes with salty sailors and tall ships when one of the characters popped off with, “Grow up!”   What?  Who said that in the 18th Century?  Certainly not pirates, says I.  Then, with the frequently dropped F-bomb (as if that word had the same purpose in 1715 British English as it does in 2014), I leaned back in my chair hit with the first wave of disappointment.

My production manager sat across the room and commented, “It’s like watching a bunch of pretty actors in a pirate soap-opera.”  That comment speaks volumes from a guy who was just there to watch a pirate show.  Exactly why this show didn’t “click” with either of us remained an anomaly for at least two hours until the answer hit me straight in the gullet: the characters lacked development and relate-ability.  In other words, I didn’t connect with any of the characters throughout the entire episode – not one character seemed real, believable or human.  Each actor had his job to do and it was evident each did that to the best of his or her ability – but I didn’t believe them.  Nor could I relate to any one of them and I LOVE pirates, pirate history and pirate folklore.  I wanted to make that viewer-connection with any character.  But, it didn’t happen.

Indeed, the actors were pretty with straight teeth, clear skin, silky hair and clean fingernails – my production manager was right.  Several of the actors chosen to play roles as pirates were very appropriate appearance-wise with unusual features that drew attention, but none of them were “swarthy” (another observation made by the production manager).

Just how Marshall, Miller and Scott missed the key elements needed to pull in their audience doesn’t seem likely.  However, the premier navigated as stormy leaps from idea to shock-factor to obvious CGI scenes back to idea without seamless shifts that comes with practiced transitions.  I was disheartened, as were many others who had seen the premiere.

I still desperately want to believe in the tale told in Black Sails.  I hunger for a gritty, true-to-life pirate story that will seize my attention and plunder my soul with its storyline’s twists and turns.  I pray the writers re-group and re-navigate to develop an intense plot with voluptuous, delicious characters that can take viewers into the deep, rich history that was the Golden Age of Piracy!

Now is the time, Black Sails – hoist th’ colours!

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