Jib

Review of Black Sails pilot

66 posts in this topic

Tonight I was able to see a screening of the new STARZ TV series “Black Sails”. I’ve been eagerly watching the trailers on facebook and through a twist of luck I managed to see the pilot episode in a theater on the big screen!

My first impressions: This series requires “thinking” as it weaves a tale of intrigue. With a director behind it like Michael Bay you know you’re going to see some explosions (and you do!) but the detailed backstory and sub plots might be a bit much for your average viewer. Not as much action as you come to expect from Michael Bay but this isn’t a bad thing as the pilot sets up the characters and lets you know a lot has yet to be revealed.

The Good:

Set in Nassau in 1715 (and the pirate city of Nassau looks amazing!)

Prequel to “Treasure Island” combining fictitious characters from the novel (Long John Silver, Billy Bones, Captain Flint) and real life pirates (Charles Vane, Calico Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny).

Pirate articles.

Vaporing when preparing for an attack.

At least a nod to real world history and some semblance of the workings of Nassau when it was a pirate haven.

The theme of intrigue and deception are focus of the series not just random acts of violence. There is a story here and it looks to be quite deep.

The Bad:

If you are a huge history buff and stickler for details this movie is going to kill you! The costuming is more fantastic than period. They play fast and loose with history.

Lots of nudity (while not bad it is more “in your face” nudity). The whores in Nassau tend to lie about in states of undress or draped over some rogue in a very public yet intimate display. When done in a tasteful manner it can enhance a period drama however here it is done very heavy handed.

Cursing, this might be common amid a society of pirates, but is again presented for shock value.

CGI ships are a little off (minor issue).

I liked the first episode and was glad to hear that STARZ picked up the second season already before airing the first season on TV. I can overlook the historical mistakes as long as they give me a good story. I don’t know if this series is going to generate the buzz that Game of Thrones does but that seems to be the direction/ feel they are taking this series (POTC by George R R Martin?). It looks to be more of a smart drama than an action show. Then again I really like pirates and it's hard to disappoint me.

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Black Sails ComicCon 2013 N

Eye saw the first episode as well... at ComicCon San Diego

1) No one wears a tri-corn or thrump cap ( However not ever one in the film should be wearing one either)

2) The Reference to Money was plain wrong.. There is no such thing as a Spanish Dollar...! hEHE

Eye talked to one of the producers.. They are very much aware of the mistake and will correct it in future episodes... He said they are in a learning curve.

3) The depiction of the shore of Nassau was very impressive to me..

4) The violence in this was a bit over the top for me.. almost inhuman as to the amount of beating any one could ever take in reality.

5) They have built a real sailing vessel and some partial ones for sets.. Not all of it is CG.. Good thing!

6) Eye will be subscribing to Starz to catch the rest of this series..

Edited by oderlesseye

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2) The Reference to Money was plain wrong.. There is no such thing as a Spanish Dollar...! hEHE

There are a ton of sources that say otherwise.

"From the 1500s, Spain established colonies in Venezuela. As a result, the Spanish dollar was used as its currency for about 300 years." Lori McManus, Money Through History, p. 33.

"[T]he Spanish dollar, which had been known on the Chinese coast since the early 16th century, functioned as the most important means of payment and clearing unit." Markus A. Denzel, Handbook of World Exchange Rates, 1590-1914, p. 507.

"But this foreign dollar, this Spanish dollar of 1707, has undergone changes in value as the decades passed by." Parliamentary Papers, HOuse of Commons and Command, vol. 15, p. 80.

As I understand it, the famous piece of eight was simply another name for the silver Spanish dollar. "The most widely used coin [in the American colonies] was the eight reales, piece of eight or Spanish dollar (peso)." Alvin Rabushka, Taxation in Colonial America, p. 154.

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about the mix of treasure island characters... this kinda makes me want to put a musket in the face of one of the makers of this in that isn't there 1001 versions of treasure island already?? I've always said how keen it would be if they made a series about the pirates in the golden days as most of them knew each other and there was alot of relationships that would be worth dramatizing and making into something like this. Must pirate movies and shows always go to treasure island? Isn't there plenty of pirate characters that REALLY existed? I think there is plenty, and yet we're forced to follow fictional characters that Blackbeard would have laughed at (captain flint take heed, and your baldric looks stupid). At least Disney had the gull to do something original. (not looking at the 4th one, in which Blackbeard would have laughed at himself being only 5'8")

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about the mix of treasure island characters... this kinda makes me want to put a musket in the face of one of the makers of this in that isn't there 1001 versions of treasure island already?? I've always said how keen it would be if they made a series about the pirates in the golden days as most of them knew each other and there was alot of relationships that would be worth dramatizing and making into something like this. Must pirate movies and shows always go to treasure island? Isn't there plenty of pirate characters that REALLY existed? I think there is plenty, and yet we're forced to follow fictional characters that Blackbeard would have laughed at (captain flint take heed, and your baldric looks stupid). At least Disney had the gull to do something original. (not looking at the 4th one, in which Blackbeard would have laughed at himself being only 5'8")

Jake the pirate tale you want is also coming to TV. "Crossbones" is a network TV series that also takes place on Nassau and and features the "pirate culture" that existed in the Golden Age. No word on when we will see it. I wonder if Black Sails generates an audience that maybe we'll see it sooner. The hosts of the preview I attended stated that they hope people will subscribe to Starz just for Black Sails. Maybe we shall see a second Pirate Renaissance?

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I've seen enough previews and still shots and read enough reviews to conclude that Black Sails is Hollywood doing what Hollywood does. I think this is the Pyrate version of Once Upon a Time and Neverland, both of them fun little pass-time television series. If we want accurate portrayals of Pyrates we're going to have to wait for The History Chann...oh, nevermind.

On the other hand, it may lead to another bump in the general public's interest in Pyrates. We'll turn the most promising over to the dark side of reenacting and living history. *Insert evil laughter here* Eh, Starz is included in my television package, so I'll watch just to see. Perhaps the worst that can happen is we see more scantily-clad Pyrate girls in camp...

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On the other hand, it may lead to another bump in the general public's interest in Pyrates.

That's a very real possibility I hadn't thought of, and you've raised my expectations for more traffic on the Pub.

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im practically begging hubby to get Starz as this looks really promising. Can't wait to see what will happen with it.

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If we want accurate portrayals of Pyrates we're going to have to wait for The History Chann...oh, nevermind.

I just about fell out of my chair laughing at that one! I wouldn't be overly surprised by a history channel show about 'possible' UFO evidence left buried by Blackbeard at Oak Island! Then again, that Oak Island thing is just starting, right? There's plenty of time in the season to come up with something...

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about the mix of treasure island characters... this kinda makes me want to put a musket in the face of one of the makers of this in that isn't there 1001 versions of treasure island already?? I've always said how keen it would be if they made a series about the pirates in the golden days as most of them knew each other and there was alot of relationships that would be worth dramatizing and making into something like this. Must pirate movies and shows always go to treasure island? Isn't there plenty of pirate characters that REALLY existed? I think there is plenty, and yet we're forced to follow fictional characters that Blackbeard would have laughed at (captain flint take heed, and your baldric looks stupid). At least Disney had the gull to do something original. (not looking at the 4th one, in which Blackbeard would have laughed at himself being only 5'8")

Jake the pirate tale you want is also coming to TV. "Crossbones" is a network TV series that also takes place on Nassau and and features the "pirate culture" that existed in the Golden Age. No word on when we will see it. I wonder if Black Sails generates an audience that maybe we'll see it sooner. The hosts of the preview I attended stated that they hope people will subscribe to Starz just for Black Sails. Maybe we shall see a second Pirate Renaissance?

AWESOME IT'S ABOUT TIME!!! (sorry about not saying something more piraty)

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Just saw the "behind the scenes" preview on Starz...as the voice-over guy blathered on about "attention to accurate historical detail" the clip onscreen was a close shot of a drill driving a Phillips-head screw into some ship detailing...just about sums it up, I think.

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Mini-skirt. That's my only feedback for today.

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I posted what may be the thirstiest drinking game ever to the Black Sails Facebook page...

If you see a monmouth cap. Even one. You get to drink.
If someone is wearing their 'tankard' on their person, you pour out a drink in the sink.
If someone is wearing actual shoes and stockings, you get to drink.
If someone wears boots while riding a horse, you get to drink.
If someone jumps in the water wearing boots, you pour a drink down the sink.
If someone is carrying a fid or true sailor's knife, you get to drink.
If someone brandishes a caplock, you dump a drink out.
If someone says 'Ahoy!' in context, you get to drink.
If they ever yell 'Weigh Anchor!' and drop the anchor, you dump out a drink.
If someone uses an eyepiece suspended by a ribbon or tied with a ribbon, you get to drink.
If a wench is wearing stays, you get to drink.
If you see a miniskirt, you pour a drink in the sink.
If someone is given a ship's pistol to use just before a battle you get to drink.
If any ship uses a tiller, you get to drink.
If a ship's surgeon is seen shaving anyone, you get to drink.
If you see a ship's sails filling one way and the same ship's flag flying the other way, you pour out a drink.
If the scuttlebutt is shown, you get to drink.
If you hear amazing grace, you pour out a drink.
If someone says 'Larboard' you get to drink.
If they say port in place of Larboard you have to dump your drink in the sink.

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I posted what may be the thirstiest drinking game ever to the Black Sails Facebook page...

If you see a monmouth cap. Even one. You get to drink.

If someone is wearing their 'tankard' on their person, you pour out a drink in the sink.

If someone is wearing actual shoes and stockings, you get to drink.

If someone wears boots while riding a horse, you get to drink.

If someone jumps in the water wearing boots, you pour a drink down the sink.

If someone is carrying a fid or true sailor's knife, you get to drink.

If someone brandishes a caplock, you dump a drink out.

If someone says 'Ahoy!' in context, you get to drink.

If they ever yell 'Weigh Anchor!' and drop the anchor, you dump out a drink.

If someone uses an eyepiece suspended by a ribbon or tied with a ribbon, you get to drink.

If a wench is wearing stays, you get to drink.

If you see a miniskirt, you pour a drink in the sink.

If someone is given a ship's pistol to use just before a battle you get to drink.

If any ship uses a tiller, you get to drink.

If a ship's surgeon is seen shaving anyone, you get to drink.

If you see a ship's sails filling one way and the same ship's flag flying the other way, you pour out a drink.

If the scuttlebutt is shown, you get to drink.

If you hear amazing grace, you pour out a drink.

If someone says 'Larboard' you get to drink.

If they say port in place of Larboard you have to dump your drink in the sink.

Mate you are going waste a lot of good rum...

Edited by Jib

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On the other hand, it may lead to another bump in the general public's interest in Pyrates.

That's a very real possibility I hadn't thought of, and you've raised my expectations for more traffic on the Pub.

My thoughts as well. The general public may start looking at piracy a little more closely and decide they want more. A few may turn up here and learn a few lessons in history.

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well this is put together in help with Micheal Bay, who I hate enough already. He tends to screw with things and try to shock you with stupidity

Edited by Jake the SeaSnake

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And boobies. He tries to shock you with boobies.

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With Michael Bay's fingerprints on this one I've lowered my expectations as low as I can set them. I expect lots of modern slang and turns of phrase, excessive violence and sex, little or no real shipboard life and details and the occasional electric guitar solo.

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This here is but a candle to the moth. Some will stay to feast upon our fine woolen coats, and we will have them.

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So I watched the free preview. It was okay. Not as bad as I thought from a plot standpoint, albeit free with plot interruptions for obligatory sex scenes. And I do mean obligatory. Not well crafted into the story, but obvious rating-hunting scenes. Skin for the paying customers. It felt forced. No set-up, just sex for sex's sake.

That said, the costuming is not flagrantly bad, but it is all over the map.

Some good fighting. Not bad fighting at all, though I'm loathe to figure out why steel 'shings' in leather, wind and wood.

I did like the use of CGI. Since it doesn't look real, at least they made the ships look pretty, almost painted. It's like watching maritime art move.

There were some historic points made and some accurate terminology given, but it's counterpointed by almost as many obvious flaws, so it evens out. I'm not a fan of shows that 'even out' because the story telling is usually not enough to give the story life and longevity. If I don't want to watch it again or own it, well...

...you be the judge.

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William -

Sounds as if ye had but few sips during the preview.

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I thought I might have seen a monmouth cap, but I was never sure. I did see a few period caps and a few period instruments. That was a pleasant surprise.

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Just watched the heavily redacted version uploaded to the web by Starz. They covered up the various lady parts, zeroed out the language and blurred the worst of the mayhem so I guess I'll have to watch it on the Starz channel to, y'know, make sure the lady parts are period correct. I think they may have captured the violence of shipboard battle, if nothing else. But you would think, given a big budget, they would have gotten the clothing right. I mean, why not? A baldric isn't cheaper than a sword belt. Buy a few more hats, why don't cha. And doesn't anyone do laundry in the 1700's? Ever? Biggest thing that jumped at me was the scarf joint in the deck beams during the climactic fight: A) A main midship deck beam is no place to put a scarf. B) They got the scarf wrong. The "hook" in the middle is backwards. Those wouldn't hold anything. Why introduce a scarf as a detail and then get it totally wrong? Also, it seems that a lot of pyrates in the boarding party early on were involved in some form of "dress-up" to intimidate the victims. Really?

Still better than sparkly vampires.

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Heh. I thought I was the only one that noticed the scarf joint. During his whole 'speech' I kept focusing on it and thinking, "Why wouldn't you use a continuous piece of wood, there?". Too funny. Like Minds.

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Hmmmm....computer changed my "B" to an emoticon....And you would use a continuous piece of wood because it's one of the greatest stress points in the ship.

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