'Black Sails' star Toby Stephens treasures his 'Star Wars' VHS that 'hasn't been tampered with by George Lucas' -- VIDEO
You don’t know pirates. You think know pirates after all those hours watching Johnny Depp slurring and scampering around the Caribbean in guyliner. But that’s only because you haven’t seen Starz’ Black Sails yet. The new Treasure Island prequel debuting Jan. 25 is more like a Deadwood with palm trees – more grounded and gritty, yet still delivers steady heaps of swashbuckling.
Are you ready to see set course with a whole new brand of pirates?
Starz is hoping to strike gold with Black Sails, a new period drama about a ruthless high seas captain (Toby Stephens) and his crew, that promises to be bolder, grittier, and a lot more realistic than other more recent takes on the genre.
Listen up, Black Sails. I’m gonna hit you with some cannonballs of truth. I like you. I like how you take place in a universe where everyone has blue-green eyes that shine like the ocean reflected through a diamond filtered through a watercolor Instagram filter. I like how everyone on this show uses f-bombs as punctuation marks. But when one is watching a show about pirates, one might expect that said pirates will do pirate-y things at some point.
Given Captain Flint’s reputation as a vicious bloodthirsty uber-ambitious go-go bang-bang buccaneer, you probably figured he was a ladies’ man. With a girlfriend in every port, and a mistress in between every port, and maybe a friend-with-benefits he visits whenever a girlfriend breaks up with him because she found about a mistress. Nothing could be further from the truth. Turns out Flint is in a long-term relationship with a genuine lady. This isn’t, like, just physical or anything guys. This is a deep connection.
Pradha Mitchell woke in the morning nude and thoughtful. She perambulated in the altogether, her mind dark with bleak possibility. There were fearful rumors. There were unconfirmed sightings of British ships. Long ago, when her father first arrived at Pirate Island, it was populated entirely by leprous mole-people who used rat feces as food and as money. Now, Pirate Island was a burgeoning city of thieves. That could all disappear in a moment. Her naked fear was palpable, and also she herself was naked.
The new pirate drama Black Sails has a lot on its mind. The brutal march of civilization. The rise and fall of the frontier. The socioeconomic implications of black market economies. Swords. Boobs. Guns. Perfect, incandescent white teeth that actually seem to glow neon in contrast to perfect sunbaked skin. Boobs. Perfect hair. Beards. Swears. Democracy. Michael Bay produced this show, and I choose to read Black Sails as the origin story of the entire Michael Bay-verse. Sean Connery in The Rock is descended from Toby Stephens in Black Sails.
Cops. Mobsters. Spies. Serial killers. Superheroes. Witches. Wizards. Television has tapped almost every genre archetype that exists to create easily marketable programming for our geeky-pulpy culture. One of the few exceptions: Pirates. And for good reason. Shooting on water? An expensive, logistical nightmare. (See: Waterworld, Titanic) Also? Pirates are fuuuuuu-gly, all scruffy and greasy and dentally challenged and eye-patchy. What good, image-conscious actor in their right, vain mind would sign up to look like that for years and years?
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