Black Sails (TV series)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||38 (list of episodes)|
|Location(s)||Cape Town, South Africa|
|Running time||49–65 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Platinum Dunes
Quaker Moving Pictures
|Original release||January 25, 2014– April 2, 2017|
Black Sails is an American historical adventure television series set on New Providence Island and a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island. The series was created by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine for Starz. It debuted online for free on YouTube and other various streaming platform and video on demand services on January 18, 2014. The debut on cable television followed a week later on January 25, 2014. Steinberg is executive producer, alongside Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, while Michael Angeli, Doris Egan, and Levine are co-executive producers.
On July 26, 2013, Starz renewed the show for a ten-episode second season, which premiered on January 24, 2015. The early renewal, six months before the first season premiered, was based on the positive fan reaction to the show at the San Diego Comic-Con. The series was renewed for a third season on October 12, 2014, and a fourth season on July 31, 2015, both before the respective previous seasons had premiered. On July 20, 2016, Starz announced that the series' fourth season would be its last; the season premiered on January 29, 2017, and the series concluded on April 2, 2017.
Black Sails is set roughly two decades before the events of Treasure Island and during the Golden Age of Piracy. Feared Captain Flint brings on a younger crew member as they fight for the survival of New Providence island. According to the first episode, "In 1715 West Indies, the pirates of New Providence Island threaten maritime trade in the region. The laws of every civilized nation declare them hostis humani generis, enemies of all mankind. In response, the pirates adhere to a doctrine of their own....war against the world." Real life pirates who are fictionalized in the show include Anne Bonny, Benjamin Hornigold, Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Ned Low, Israel Hands and Blackbeard.
The plot of the first season focuses on the hunt for the Spanish treasure galleon Urca de Lima. At the beginning of the second season, the treasure from the Urca de Lima has been stranded on the shores of Florida with Spanish soldiers guarding it, but by the conclusion of the second season, the treasure has been taken by Jack Rackham and his crew and brought to New Providence Island. During the second season, the questions of how and why Flint—a man who was a navy officer and London gentleman—turned to piracy are answered. The third and the fourth seasons focus on the war for the control of New Providence between the pirates and the British Empire, represented by Captain Woodes Rogers.
|First aired||Last aired|
|1||8||January 25, 2014||March 15, 2014|
|2||10||January 24, 2015||March 28, 2015|
|3||10||January 23, 2016||March 26, 2016|
|4||10||January 29, 2017||April 2, 2017|
- Toby Stephens as James McGraw/Flint
- Hannah New as Eleanor Guthrie
- Luke Arnold as "Long" John Silver
- Jessica Parker Kennedy as Max
- Tom Hopper as William "Billy Bones" Manderly
- Zach McGowan as Charles Vane (seasons 1–3)
- Toby Schmitz as Jack Rackham
- Clara Paget as Anne Bonny
- Mark Ryan as Hal Gates (season 1)
- Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Mr. Scott (seasons 1–3)
- Sean Cameron Michael as Richard Guthrie (seasons 1–2)
- Louise Barnes as Miranda Hamilton/Barlow (seasons 1–3)
- Rupert Penry-Jones as Lord Thomas Hamilton (season 2, guest season 4)
- Luke Roberts as Woodes Rogers (seasons 3–4)
- Ray Stevenson as Edward Teach (seasons 3–4)
- David Wilmot as Israel Hands (season 4)
- Harriet Walter as Marion Guthrie (season 4)
The opening title sequence was made by Imaginary Forces and directors Michelle Dougherty and Karin Fong with the backing sea shanty inspired theme composed by Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead composer Bear McCreary. It accurately features an instrument of the period in the form of the hurdy-gurdy.
For the amount of detail that was added to the vessels, it took over 300 workers to build just one ship.
The first season of Black Sails received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the season holds a rating of 62%, based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's consensus reads, "Black Sails boasts visual appeal, but the show's bland characters aren't strong enough to keep the show from being dragged down into its murky depths of aimless exposition". On Metacritic season one has a score of 58 of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said, "This ambitious pirate story is helped immensely by going beyond the pay cable freedoms that often bog down lesser shows in boobs, blood and sex. Black Sails steers itself out of that realm after a few episodes and makes a play for bigger, more complicated stories". Robert Lloyd of The Los Angeles Times said, "Black Sails is a pirate treasure. The Starz series vividly depicts the daily life of pirates." Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly said, "Not even a guilty pleasure, Black Sails is arrrrrr-estingly good". Tom Long of the Detroit News commented "Alliances are made and broken, power shifts go this way and that, blood is spilled, and wenches keep wenching. It's oddly addictive, and the cast—made up mostly of British, Australian, and Canadian actors—is as sharp as you'd expect from pay cable".
Conversely, Brian Lowry of Variety said, "Black Sails never quite takes off, developing into a tired treasure hunt with indifferent casting and stock characters. Counting Michael Bay among its producers, this South Africa–lensed production might tempt adventure-seeking viewers to plunge into its crystal-blue waters, but despite some handsome aspects, the show ultimately proves as hollow as its CGI-rendered ships". Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club said, "Black Sails is a handsome illusion at times, but it rarely finds its way beyond that."
The second season of the show currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 5 reviews, with an average rating of 8.6/10. Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, "Starz knows the formula for these costume-heavy action dramas from experience with shows like Spartacus and Camelot. And that formula is executed with particular skill in 'Black Sails,' thanks to some strong performances and an exploration of the consequences of greed that could have come out of modern-day Wall Street".
|2014||66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Main Title Design||Karen Fong, Michelle Dougherty, Alan Williams, Kris Kuksi, Brian Butcher||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Main Title Theme Music||Bear McCreary||Nominated|
|Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series||Benjamin L. Cook, Iain Eyre, Susan Cahill, Jeffrey A. Pitts, Tim Tuchrello, Brett Voss, Michael Baber, Jeffrey Wilhoit, James Moriana for "I."||Won|
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role||Benjamin L. Cook, Iain Eyre, Susan Cahill, Jeffrey A. Pitts, Tim Tuchrello, Brett Voss, Michael Baber, Jeffrey Wilhoit, James Moriana for "I."||Won|
|2015||67th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series||Benjamin L. Cook, Stefan Henrix, Susan Cahill, Jeffrey A. Pitts, Brett Voss, Michael Baber, Jeffrey Wilhoit, Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit for "XVIII."||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Erik Henry, Kevin Rafferty, Paul Stephenson, Annemarie Griggs, Mitch Claspy, Ken Mitchel Jones, Lari Karam, Whitman Lindstrom, Charles Baden for "XVIII."||Nominated|
|13th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Visual Effects-Driven Photoreal/Live Action Broadcast Program||Erik Henry, Annemarie Griggs, Paul Graff, George Murphy for "I."||Nominated|||
|2016||14th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Erik Henry, Annemarie Griggs, Kevin Rafferty, Aladino Debert, Paul Stephenson for "XVIII"||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project||Aladino Debert, Matt Dougan, Greg Teegarden, Ken Jones for Charles Town Harbor||Nominated|
|68th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series||Benjamin L. Cook, Susan Cahill, Stefan Henrix, Jeffrey A. Pitts, Tim Tuchrello, Brett Voss, Michael Baber, Jeffrey Wilhoit, Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit for "XX."||Won|||
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Erik Henry, Terron Pratt, Ashley J. Ward, Jeremy Hattingh, Paul Stephenson, Aladino Debert, Greg Teegarden, Olaf Wendt, Yafei Wu for "XX."||Nominated|
|2017||15th Annual Visual Effects Society Awards||Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode||Erik Henry, Terron Pratt, Aladino Debert, Yafei Wu, Paul Stephenson for "XX."||Won|||
|Outstanding Created Environment in an Episode, Commercial, or Real-Time Project||Thomas Montminy-Brodeur, Deak Ferrand, Pierre Rousseau, Mathieu Lapierre for "XXVIII." (Maroon Island)||Nominated|
|Outstanding Compositing in a Photoreal Episode||Michael Melchiorre, Kevin Bouchez, Heather Hoyland, John Brennick for "XX." (Sailling Ships)||Nominated|
|69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards||Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series||Benjamin Cook, Stefan Henrix, Mike Szakmeister, Shaughnessy Hare, Tim Tuchrello, Brett Voss, Michael Baber, Jeffrey Wilhoit, Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit for "XXXVII."||Nominated|||
|Outstanding Special Visual Effects||Erik Henry, Terron Pratt, Ashley J. Ward, Kevin Rafferty, Paul Dimmer, Yafei Wu, Martin Lipmann, Nicklas Andersson, David Wahlberg for "XXIX."||Nominated|
- Schwartz, Terri (January 10, 2014). "'Black Sails': 'Treasure Island' will hopefully connect, Season 2 being filmed - Zap2it - News & Features". Zap2it.
- Todd Spangler: Starz to Release Michael Bay's 'Black Sails' Premiere Episode for Free on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and More. Variety.com, January 13, 2014
- "Black Sails: Starz Series Starts January 25th". TV Series Finale. November 20, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2013.
- Bibel, Sara (July 26, 2013). "'Black Sails' Renewed for Ten Episode Second Season by Starz Months Before Its Premiere – Updated". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on July 28, 2013. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- "Black Sails Renewed For Season 3 By Starz!". Seriable. Retrieved October 12, 2014.
- Rawden, Jessica. "Black Sails Has Been Renewed For Season 4 By Starz". CinemaBlend. Gateway Media. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Mitovich, Matt Webb (July 20, 2016). "Black Sails to End With Season 4". TVLine. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
- "Black Sails Season 4 Trailer from the New York Comic Con". ComingSoon. October 7, 2016. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
- Anderson, D.M. (December 30, 2014). "BLACK SAILS Ain't Your Daddy's Pirate Tale". Movie Pilot. Retrieved November 8, 2015.[permanent dead link]
- Jeffrey, Morgan (August 6, 2015). "Rupert Penry-Jones says Flint's gay romance on Black Sails was cut back". Digital Spy. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- TV News Desk (November 4, 2015). "Starz to Premiere Season 3 of BLACK SAILS, 1/23". Broadway World. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
- Friedlander, Whitney. "'Divergent’s’ Ray Stevenson Joins Starz’s ‘Black Sails’ as Blackbeard". Variety. Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved March 24, 2015.
- Petski, Denise (27 January 2016). "‘Black Sails’ Casts David Wilmot; Jocelin Donahue Joins Crackle’s ‘Start Up’". Deadline.com. Retrieved 23 December 2016.
- Iacopelli, Jennifer (11 March 2017). "EXCLUSIVE: Black Sails Character Reveal!". Fangirlish.com. Retrieved 17 March 2017.
- Starz (July 26, 2013). "Starz Embarks on an Early Renewal for Second Season Order of the Original Series "Black Sails"" (Press release). Futon Critic. Retrieved December 14, 2013.
- Goundry, Nick (October 15, 2012). "South Africa's Cape Town Studios prepares for pirate miniseries Black Sails". TheLocationGuide.com. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
- Hibberd, James (December 30, 2013). "'Black Sails': See the awesome opening credits with theme from 'Walking Dead' composer – EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved January 18, 2014.
- Starz. "Black Sails: Building the Behemoth". YouTube. Retrieved January 20, 2014.
- "Black Sails: Season 1". rottentomatoes.com. January 24, 2015.
- "Black Sails". Metacritic.
- Goodman, Tim (January 21, 2014). "Black Sails: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- Lloyd, Robert (January 25, 2014). "Review: 'Black Sails' is a pirate treasure". latimes.com. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Black Sails TV Review | TV Reviews and News". EW.com. February 19, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
- "Critic Reviews for Black Sails Season 1 - Metacritic". Metacritic.
- Lowry, Brian (January 23, 2014). "TV Review: 'Black Sails'". Variety. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- VanDerWerff, Todd (January 23, 2014). "Black Sails is a tale of a bloodthirsty pirate bureaucracy". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- "Black Sails: Season 2". rottentomatoes.com. January 24, 2015.
- Genzlinger, Neil (January 23, 2015). "In 'Black Sails' From Starz, Pirate's Booty Is at Stake". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
- Wallenstein, Andrew (August 13, 2014). "TV Academy Awards Six Interactive Media Emmys". Variety. Retrieved August 16, 2014.
- "Creative Arts Emmy Awards Winners" (PDF). Television Academy. Retrieved September 12, 2015.
- Tapley, Kristopher (February 5, 2014). "'Apes,' 'Big Hero 6' win big at 2015 Visual Effects Society Awards". Hitfix. Retrieved February 5, 2014.
- ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Game of Thrones,’ ‘The Peanuts Movie’ Lead Visual Effects Society Nominations
- "68th Emmy® Awards Nominations" (PDF). Television Academy. July 14, 2016. Retrieved July 14, 2016.
- Giardina, Carolyn (January 10, 2016). "'Rogue One' Leads Visual Effects Society Feature Competition With 7 Nominations As 'Doctor Strange,' 'Jungle Book' Grab 6 Each". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 10, 2016.
- "69th Emmy® Awards Nominations" (PDF). Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. July 13, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2017.