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Review of Black Sails pilot

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Eye was speaking to the vernacular use of the word "Dollar" My Bad.. see post below.

Edited by oderlesseye

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Spanish Dollars did exist.. for close to seven centuries. However eye am curious to know about the vernacular of the day that was largely influenced by the Spain, France, England, and the Dutch. Where the "Real de a ocho" or Eight REAL other wise known as a Piece of Eight was the main denomination used in the West Indies during the GAOP. I am not ready to accept the word "Dollar" pronounced dólar in Spanish, had crossed from Spanish to English lips PERVASIVELY during the GAOP untill Eye find proof of that. I have since done some home work and have found that the use of the word would not have been referencing to Spanish money.

Edited by oderlesseye

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I was informed that you all here might be interested in this Analysis of the Historical Content in STARZ's Black Sails that I wrote:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/h12ph5ltwylv6zo/Analysis%20of%20Historical%20Content%20in%20Black%20Sails.pdf

Mind you, it's only talking about and critiquing historical stuff. This isn't a review of the show's entertainment value by any means. It's just on the pilot (and I'll revisit it after the season is complete and critique the entire season all together). Also, small spoilers in the review.

Would be interested to hear if anyone found this interesting or informing.

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I was surprised to see 'Blackbeard' mentioned as a neutral historic point, since I believe Blackbeard did not become a captain of a ship in his own right until after 1715. The mention of Blackbeard's name should not have inspired fear until 1716 onward.

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I'm waiting to see what they actually do with that to judge it. We didn't see him, so I'm wondering if they are going the route, "Blackbeard started out as a inside pirate joke and then Edward Thatch turned it into something scary." Want to see if this gets brought up in any other part of the season.

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To me the first episode was a pleasant surprise. Both in terms of historical accuracy and acting/plot.

This may be merely because after one "historical" fiction product called Assasin's Greed 4 Black Flag lowered my demands for accuracy for a fictional story. (That video game has so many historical fails... Blackbeard is killed by 100 gun man of wars, ships are later than gaop or fantasy, officers have Nelson's era bicornes etc.)

Britprivateer's writing was most interesting and has some points that I too noticed.

I enjoyed the action, story etc. Some scenes weren't necessary though (you know what I mean).

But, what about accuracy. I know some things so I can judge a bit.

Here is my humble opinions about these things:

Some photos are not from the first episode but all from Black Sails.


I like the realistic pirate flags seen in the first episode and in trailers

MV5BMjAzMjI5Mzk2Ml5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNjIy

Screen-Shot-2013-04-17-at-1.jpg

The ships (while clearly CGI at times) are more period correct than in many fiction works. So often in pirate fiction there are mix of earlier and too modern ships. They are larger but it is not necessarily inaccurate as pirates did have large ships too. I still hope we will see smaller ones in the future episodes.

black-sails-2014.jpg

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For the most part I like the costumes. Yes there are the big boots and other stuff like that.... For example coats are more modern or made of leather and belts are odd. Still, compared to what I have used to see in fiction I think these are actually quite accurate. Also I am pretty sure this is one of the few places where you can see even some kind of short jackets (Silver has a blue jacket but of later fashion). Also gentlemen are wearing wigs which are quite accurate, though slightly later. That cannot be taken granted in pirate fiction (for example in the said video Game AC4 Stede Bonnet even as plantation owner didn't posses a wig and does the same as Woodes Rogers and has a haircut of Neoclassicism period...)

bks1_101_021513_4767_10x8_1_0.jpg

After all, they wanted the pirates to look cool in the show and so there are e.g leather clothing and middle eastern elements, especially in main characters' clothing to make them seem more exotic. Also, there are Nelson's era Royal Navy sailors in the navy. Captain Hume is wearing 1748 RN uniform but since the style of the clothing didn't change significantly much (between 1715-1740s) I think it is not a really bad thing at all. Mainly since for storytelling reasons it is good to have easily noticeable foes with uniforms and it is close to the period (compare with many other pirate films that have even later uniforms in Gaop). Elements like shirts, striped breeches etc. are quite accurate. For example the merchant captain is dressed quite accuratey (beard aside) and has e.g a coat with mariners cuffs. Also I think a few pirates like Silver have even actual shoes not only inaccurate boots. Though the lack of e.g monmouth caps is striking, most of the action seen in the episode happens in hot Nassau rather than at sea so… But then there are the sins. Flint has a tiny earring (but it is not necessarily inaccurate, but we cannot say it is accurate either) and I think mister Gates has a tattoo in his head which is a clear anachronisms...

blacksails.jpg

New Providence has clearly slightly too good infrastructure and the fort is probably too large. Though the "island" seems to be quite accurate with shape and houses are at least near to colonial Caribbean style.

BlackSails_Marquee6_1440x651.jpg

Weaponry, what i have seen is nearly accurate, if we accept that the firearms, axes and cutlasses are later later age of sail. But in trailers and clips we can see that e.g grenades will be seen which is a good thing. The series shows what kind of arms were used by pirates and mariners in age of sail rather than the extact styles or patterns of the early 1700s.

Black-Sails-new.jpg

I too noted the "dollar". The term is period correct at least but it apparently didn't mean Spanish currency.

The language is too modern, of course and the f-word is over used, while in most cases it is period accurate. Sailing lingo is missing too. But I like to see cursing pirates who doesn't say just "Shiver my timbers".

The material culture is ok while there are inaccuracies. For example the bottles were quite accurate onion bottles, perhaps a decade or two later with style but still. In some pirate movies you can see modern green glass bottles. Vane has cigarettes which isn't really bad since the matter of cigarettes is not simple and they existed in some form around this time. It is still good that you can see more accurate clay pipes used by pirates. Looking preview clips we will have e.g Rackham wearing sunglasses in the future episodes. While the style of the glasses is not accurate it might not be so inaccurate as one could think at first (at least the good conversation about the subject in Twill support the idea that people had something near sunglasses in Gaop already, though rarely).

The ladies... Well in historical perspective they fit better to modern beauty taste rather than that of the Gaop people. They also look far too healthy as noted by Britt.privateer

There is the modern romantic view of pirates as rebels against all, but is more about how you interpret history rather than right or wrong. Same is with romantic view of tolerant pirates with African people as noted by Britt.privateer.

In any case I liked the episode partly since my expectations weren't high. Though I find the sex scenes and the amount of bloodshed unnecessary.

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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Anybody else concerned about those scarfs in the main deck beams? Firstly, they should not be there. Secondly, they are cut wrong. The center of the joint is backwards for a hooked scarf. Throughout the fight those joints kept catching my eye.

2.jpg

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I think that is just an anachronism caused by later ships

For example it seems that HMS victory had those beams (whatever)

A modern cross section.

HMS_Victory_Cutout.jpg

That was a bit unclear

This is a modern model

deck%20436.jpg

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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It wasn't the beams that annoyed or the open weather deck. It was those joints (the type), where they are, and the fact that they were cut wrong. Basically it was an unforced error on their part.

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you guys see all these bad things but the thing that jumps out at me is the fact that long john is trying to be jack sparrow with better teeth, perfect infact, which I think is disgraceful all in it's own! And he's not the only one they all have perfect teeth!

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I think The channel could have tried to shock the audience with bad and dirty teeth instead of those... other things :rolleyes:

I think the shape of the joint is rather a minor thing. Though the shape doesn't make sense as it does not even reinforce the structure much...

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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If we're down to complaining about scarf joints, that's a sign we don't have much to complain about. I'll be watching this tomorrow night and from what I've read here, it sounds really good. By the way, I've examined many skulls from this period and earlier, and often they have fine teeth, better than most peoples' now. It was the 19th century, with abundant cheap sugar and generally poor dietary habits brought about by industrial-era urban squalor that caused severe tooth problems, so pirates with good teeth don't cause me distress, though they should be stained by tobacco, tea and infrequent cleaning. In fact, gum problems would have been more distressing than teeth problems, but these would have affected older people, and pirates were mostly young men.

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All of my observations aside, it's my 'gut reaction' that makes me a repeat viewer, and every time I think back to the pilot episode I think 'Sex and Cussing". I don't think 'high seas adventure' and I don't think 'pirates', which is really sad for a pirate show.

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I guess each of us will see (or hear) something that bothers us and that others will see as minor or inconsequential. It all relates, I suppose, to our individual interests and focal points in the worlds of history and reenacting. For some it is svelte vixens, for others language, still others it's shoes and clothing or inexplicably good health or dental work. To adequately dissect the good and the bad of this series to the satisfaction of all would require a scene-by-scene, cut-to-cut evaluation. It would take years. And that will happen, if the series is memorable enough, if it gathers the kind of fan following of Star Trek, Firefly or any great science fiction series be it in film or in print. Fans regularly go to great lengths to winnow out the most arcane facts and inconsistencies of those series. But there will be a difference here. The difference is that those programs and books were science fiction and not character-driven historic recreation with claims of accuracy. In science fiction the inconsistencies are internal; there are no "facts" against which to measure the content of those series. Want a transporter beam? No problem. Not so with Black Sails. If one were to create a series based on WW II submariners and install screen doors in the bulkheads, someone would likely point that out. I think the fact that we are already down to such things as ship construction is that we, as a group, really want this series to succeed, we want it to be our go-to history-geek series. We are asking quite a bit of a show meant mainly as entertainment. So, you wanna talk teeth? Fine by me. But those joints really, really bug me...

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The thing is...I want to like it. I want to like all pirate stories and inventions, but I REEEALLY want this to be good. I need it to be good. I want something with a story I can sink my proverbial teeth into, so if I'm critical, it's because I'm a storyteller at heart and I know what I like. I'm willing to watch if the recipe improves. I have yet to watch the perfect pilot.

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We can pick apart a film's or show's inaccuracies and still like it, right? Just because there are inaccuracies doesn't mean you have to dislike it. Some people are going to be interested in that, so we discuss it. If people ask about the accuracy (which they have and will since the show is pitching itself as "real") of the show, I see no problem in knowing in advance the issues in it. Doesn't take away from the entertainment quality, does it? Or are there just a few people who don't care about it but get annoyed at those who post about it?

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We can pick apart a film's or show's inaccuracies and still like it, right? Just because there are inaccuracies doesn't mean you have to dislike it. Some people are going to be interested in that, so we discuss it. If people ask about the accuracy (which they have and will since the show is pitching itself as "real") of the show, I see no problem in knowing in advance the issues in it. Doesn't take away from the entertainment quality, does it? Or are there just a few people who don't care about it but get annoyed at those who post about it?

I liked it! I don't fuss about the inaccuracies but just have fun with it.

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enjoy it for what it is (or Not) - Live and let live...

mP

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OK, I'm not a shipwright, but I do know a thing or two about boat building and how to at least do google image searches. Yes, I'm going to harp on the scarf joints a bit here. However, I'm also going to possibly defend them a bit as well. For being 'hooked scarf' joints, they are backwards, as noted earlier. However, simple scarfs may have been in a main beam there. Not every boat was built to Lloyd's A-1 standard, and even those that were could take damage that was fixed to the best of their ability in order to survive. Didn't the Mayflower have to use a screw jack to support its main beam when it cracked (or something similar...I'm a couple drinks in and relying on memory here)? Now for the photographic evidence from Wasa and Charles W. Morgan (Yes, the Morgan is much later, and what I'm posting is actually a current restoration, but it shows continuity of wooden shipbuilding technique)...

7.jpg

Wasa's starboard side planking and wales.

512.JPG

Lots of scarf joints right around an important structural component of Wasa's rigging (I think these are the starboard mizzen chains, but I'm not an expert on this particular ship)

29.jpg

Not 100% sure, but is that a scarf on a main beam under the grating on the right? Hard to tell in this picture, but just maybe...

Now for the Morgan:

IMG_4064.jpg

This is a beam being scarfed to a new section (presumably due to decay in the original). Behind it you can see another scarf joint in a main beam. The scarfs themselves look nearly identical to the Wasa's from 250 years earlier. Yes, there are more intricate scarfs that you can do, but it seems like in the working days of sail, these simple scarfs were fairly common. So, I'd say that from the pictures posted, Black Sails over complicated the scarf joints if anything, and got the more complicated kind wrong.

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Planking scarfs are very common, especially if the ship/boat is double-planked as was often the case. Deck beams, not so much. I cannot recall ever seeing any that were not then supported in some way. I have seen sistered beams (beams side-to-side and bolted together). It will be interesting to see what other support the repaired Morgan beams will receive. Here's a decent picture of a hooked scarf, this one with wedges to tension the whole thing. Longitudinal stability would be excellent, but vertical and lateral not so much without further support, like a post beneath and planks above. This type of scarf would be very difficult to use in a repair situation because it would have to jockeyed into place with either lateral or longitudinal room to move. The plain scarf in the Morgan picture can be just jacked into place and bolted.

scarf_joint_detail.jpg

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We could take a good third of this thread to the 'Shipyard' subforum at this point.

As a side note, I actually won tickets to the studio open house for Black Sails, due to the tongue in cheek 'drinking game' I posted on their Facebook page. Unfortunately, I learned of it only the day before, far too late to fly to Turner Studios in New York. Evidently they have a sound stage with Flint's ship on it.

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While the F word is arguably period, why should it be used to replace so much fantastic slang from the period? It's one thing to drive the point home, but to use it as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. in place of so many creative words that existed, well...the dialogue pitches from good to bad like tides.

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While the F word is arguably period, why should it be used to replace so much fantastic slang from the period? It's one thing to drive the point home, but to use it as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. in place of so many creative words that existed, well...the dialogue pitches from good to bad like tides.

The F word as used in the show is mostly wrong. In 1715 and thereabouts, it would have strictly referred to people engaging in intercourse. The only time in the first episode it is used correctly (even though it still could have been said more accurately) is once by Anne Bonney when she tells Calico Jack she is interesting in doing it. Beyond that, no. The use of the F word to mean an intensifier expressing annoyance, hostility, urgency, exasperation; or used in imprecatory and exclamatory phrases are all incorrect and only began being used in such a way in the 20th century. If you want to argue otherwise, go argue with the Oxford English Dictionary, they've documented the use over time and that's what they show.

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As for the language (having seen the second episode as well now) it is too boring. The use of f-word is making the dialogue boring as there is less creative words (both modern and period ones).

Though I, personally, think that a show with completely or even nearly period accurate language would be hard to listen. Think about it all pirates would use mainly language like "Damn you dog! God damn you! I will do you a mischief!..." or "You did very well!"

I would still hope more older language and language with more variation...

And a note about the second episode: there is no dollars anymore! (Though there could still be dollars but meaning Dutch money.)

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

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While the F word is arguably period, why should it be used to replace so much fantastic slang from the period? It's one thing to drive the point home, but to use it as a noun, verb, adjective, etc. in place of so many creative words that existed, well...the dialogue pitches from good to bad like tides.

The F word as used in the show is mostly wrong. In 1715 and thereabouts, it would have strictly referred to people engaging in intercourse. The only time in the first episode it is used correctly (even though it still could have been said more accurately) is once by Anne Bonney when she tells Calico Jack she is interesting in doing it. Beyond that, no. The use of the F word to mean an intensifier expressing annoyance, hostility, urgency, exasperation; or used in imprecatory and exclamatory phrases are all incorrect and only began being used in such a way in the 20th century. If you want to argue otherwise, go argue with the Oxford English Dictionary, they've documented the use over time and that's what they show.

It was distracting hearing it used as a an intensifier, verb, noun, and adjective all in the same conversation.

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