Black Sails - Season 1 (2 stars)

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The swashbuckling series is a po-faced Pirates of the Caribbean knock-off

(Anchor Bay)

Black Sails is prequel of sorts to Treasure Island following the lives of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and John Silver (Luke Arnold) 20 years before Robert Louis Stevenson's pirate adventure. But this is no salty sea yarn for the kiddies: there's far too much blood, boobs and blue language for the pre-teen market.

The main fault with Black Sails is that it's almost impossible to find anyone to relate to amongst the stock characters. The leads are uninspired stereotypes: Flint is too flawed and contrary while Silver is just cheesy. The villains are far more entertaining, such as the fast-talking Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz) and his partner Anne Bonny (Clara Paget) while Captain Vane (Zach McGowan) has transformed into a ripped, grizzled antihero by series end. Interestingly all three are pulled from the pages of history rather than fiction.

Black Sails falls into an unsatisfying and flat middle ground where it fails to deliver on adventure or drama. Far too much time is spent on shore in Port Nassau bickering about taxation and governorship. Considering Michael Bay is listed among the producers it feels bizarre to be complaining about a lack of action. There are a few exhilarating moments on the high sea and the series definitely improves as it progresses, upping the swashbuckling quotient in the last few episodes, but Black Sails just comes across as a po-faced Pirates of the Caribbean knock-off.

Black Sails | Opening Title Sequence | STARZ

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