Saturday, March 8, 2014

Not Your Mama's Pirates

Have any of you been watching Black Sails, the new series on Starz?  I saw the original trailer clear back last Summer and could hardly wait until January.  When it got close to the premiere, I set the DVR to record so I wouldn't miss anything, then with one thing or another, didn't watch the episodes until last weekend. Which, as it turns out, was the perfect way to do it. I saw all seven shows back-to-back and got totally immersed into the best television I have seen in a very long time.

These pirates are not Johnny Depp.  The series is based on factual events in Nassau in 1715: the real corruption of most British officials, the totally raw and unbelievably grim existence for slaves and prostitutes, and the dog-eat-dog hierarchy of the pirate lords. The plot is character-driven, and though most of these guys (and women!) are sleazy and dangerous and cruel, as the story deepens, we understand the how and why behind several of the main people.

But I should forewarn you, dear readers: This isn't a program for the faint of heart and most definitely isn't Pirates of the Caribbean.  It's a serious portrayal of an incredibly brutal way of life. I cringed, grimaced, sat on the edge of my seat, held my breath, gritted my teeth, covered my eyes and at one point yelled "No! Not Billy Bones!" Beneath the main story--finding and pirating the largest treasure ever to sail a Spanish galleon--there is betrayal and heartbreak, loyalty and camaraderie, love and hate, death and loss.

And honestly, to my mind, storytelling doesn't get much better than this...

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