Feb 022017
Black Sails-Season Three

This season deals with the occupation of Nassau by a British fleet led by Woodes Rogers. Or as I like to call it, The British Empire Strikes Back. At the end of last season, Jack Rackham and his crew had captured the Urca gold, brought it back to Nassau and then decided to invest it in a shared trust to defend the island against England. Interestingly, the season starts after Rackham and his partner Max had dealt with the understandably angry Flint and Vane when they had returned from bombarding Charleston into rubble, enabling the writers to avoid explaining how the confrontation was resolved without violence. As ever, the show is exciting. This season is fun, lots of fun, but frustrating, since the writers are mixing fantasy with large chunks of historical accuracy. Read More…

Feb 182016
Black Sails-Season Two

None of this happened, but it has ooodles of violence, steamy sex scenes between physically perfect people who are good actors, wearing mostly period clothes, and the constant betrayals are fun to watch, so you can be entertained while pretending to learn something. Kind of.
Sadly, the writers clearly have no interest in the fascinating history of the golden age of piracy. The historical narrative that caused the increase in piracy is not complicated. Black Sails could have been Spartacus on ships, instead it is merely an enjoyable melodrama.
Nothing makes any sense but it is astonishingly melodramatic. However, I have to give credit, the plot moves along at a breakneck pace like a proper soap opera, where a new crisis appears just when the last one was resolved. Read More…

Jan 242015
Black Sails Season Two Trailer

Season Two of Black Sails starts tonight. I enjoyed the first season, so I am looking forward to the new season. Judging by the trailer, there will be even nastier pirates, and more background. One of my main criticisms about the first season was the lack of historical context, there was no explanation of why hundreds of sailors suddenly decided to go into the lucrative yet risky business of attacking armed ships to steal their cargoes. In addition, the series will expand the pirates’ world to include London and the American colonies, in particular South Carolina, which is important since the real pirates were part of a much larger economic ecosystem than Nassau.
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Jan 232014
Black Sails Season One Trailer

Starz’s new series, Black Sails, is set twenty years before the events of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, which my generation probably read during high school and forgot about. The series takes place near the end of the Golden Age of Piracy (1650-1730). Following the end of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), thousands of British privateers decided to adjust their business model, and attack ships from all nations, not just Britain’s enemy Spain. Black Sails is a weird mix of history and fiction, since the lead character, Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) is taken from a novel. However, there are quite a few historical figures in the show, including Charles Vane, Anne Bonney and Calico Jack Rackam, but Edward Teach, better-known as Blackbeard, is missing. It is Starz, so there should be a fair amount of sweaty flesh, um, for those who like that kind of thing. Read More…