As someone who spends his non-“work nights” boozing and thus his non-“work days” clinging to life, I spend a good amount of weekend time on the couch recovering, eating Foodler, and watching inordinate amounts of TV and movies. These unprecedented sessions of small screen indulgence are include selections from regular old cable, On Demand, and Netflix. Therefore, for those that frequently find themselves in similar shoes, I figured I’d start at least semi-regularly throwing up a recommendation to distract you from your hangover. This week is the recently ended epic series from Starz; Black Sails.
Black Sails is a precursor to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel about pirates, Treasure Island. Set in 1715 in New Providence Island, Bahamas, “Black Sails” follows the exploits of a few different groups of Pirates and the semi-crooked inhabitants of the island as they work to both co-exist and do battle with various governments. To get you to bite, I’ll dispel a couple of negative notions you may have about the series, diving a little bit deeper into what to expect along the way……
“Black Sails” is a rip off or derivative in some way of “Game of Thrones” – This false narrative follows the show around like the plague and I honestly think it might be why it wasn’t more widely watched. The shows really couldn’t be different. There is no elements of fantasy in “Black Sails” and it doesn’t take place in a fake world. (I’m not sure if New Providence was an actual island but obviously the Bahamas are real.) As a matter of fact, Sails even features characters that existed in real life such as the pirate Charles Vain. Overall, if we’re doing HBO metaphors I’d actually compare Sails to a high seas version of “The Sopranos” believe or not, given that pirates were members of criminal enterprises that sought to co-exist with or at least appease the government to some capacity.
Now I guess I can see how things got a little twisted. Like Thrones there is a good amount of sex and blood, however that can be said for most if not all premium channel shows, that’s why they’re on premium channels. O and it’s also a show about fucking pirates, not choir boys. There are also British accents. Which idk, they’re cooler? In reality the thing they have most in common is their beyond generous budgets (Michael Bay, of large budget, boom bang pow movies and doing sex with Megan Fox fame, has an EP credit on Sails). As would be expected, this allows for the show to have some awesome shots of the high seas life both in battle and at rest.
For what it’s worth the shows were also developed at just about the same time. In short, you can get your thrones fix of the deadly sins pleasure but they’re different shows.
2.)”Black Sails” was just a massive play to capitalize on the popularity of the pirate genre brought on by “Pirates of the Caribbean” and therefore a lot like those movies – Now here is where I have to concede there is probably something to an argument. I don’t doubt that the POTC series putting colonial, high seas piracy back into the public conscience didn’t allow Sails to happen or that Starz didn’t use it as a chance to cash in, but the comparisons really stop there. As a matter of fact, I’m guessing Sails is a much more accurate depiction of what pirate life was like. Either way why can’t there be another pirate-based intellectual property? I didn’t see “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” fans getting all bent out of shape when Harry Potter blew up.
Now, I GUESS you can find some Jack Sparrow among some of these gentleman in terms of the quirkiness and mannerism. But guess what folks? Watch a few more British (or in Johnny Depp’s case British accented) movies or t.v shows and you’ll find a few screwballs with similar personalities, it’s just the nature of British entertainment.
Overall “Black Sails” is a fantastically-made, visually stunning show. It follows a perfect 4 season arc that keeps it from running past it’s prime. As I said earlier it has enough pulp to retain even the most fickle of attention spans, but it is really the characters, the plot-lines, and some of the best fucking acting you’ll ever see that makes it such a gripping show. I guarantee you’ll become just as emotionally invested as you are/were with your other favorites. So pull out your Foodler/Grubhub/Seamless/Postmates app, crack open some electrolytes (after your hangover beer), and enjoy.