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4.1 out of 5 stars414
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 4 April 2014
I've been following the US response to this new Pirate drama the reaction has been generally good, so it's great to see Amazon investing in it. As with many modern historical dramas compromises with accuracy have been made, the characters have a contemporary edge in keeping with the needs of a modern audience but performances are uniformly excellent. Toby Stephens is not an actor I particularly enjoy but he makes a compelling Captain Flint and Mark Ryan as his Quartermaster Gates is a worthy support.
In tone and language the series is reminiscent of Deadwood, with its portrayal of real historical figures alongside fictional characters and it forms a prequel to Treasure Island . The production design is top notch and Bear McCreary has provided a score worthy of mention. There is some potentially gratuitous sex, nudity and language in keeping with the current trend but I can accept that. The portrayal of conflict at sea is impressive and the many ships of the era are beautifully rendered and the Pirate nation rings true as does the democratic nature of Pirate politics. Altogether Black Sails is an exciting and compelling story crafted with flair and I hope it runs and runs.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 15 April 2014
Well everything you heard was true this is just rollicking good fun. Designed to be a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's `Treasure Island' this show takes real pirates and some fictional ones and throws them into a bawdy mix of greed, lust, jealousy, violence and pirate folklore. Real pirates include Anne Bonny, Charles Vane and Benjamin Hornigold - their real stories are explosive enough but this adds to the fun.

The plot is centred around the pirate stronghold of New Providence Island, where Captain Flint is trying to broaden his power base by biting off more than he can chew by capturing the prize of the biggest Spanish Galleon `Urca de Lima'. The island is run by the daughter of the corrupt governor and she has a taste for power, money, men and yes ladies too! We also have John Silver and a more sly opportunist would be hard to come across even on such a lawless island.

Then there is the Royal Navy, the shenanigans of the local brothel and bawdy house, double deals a-plenty and more swashes than you could buckle in a life time (probably). This is a full grown up `Pirates of the Caribbean' with all the filth and bedroom action thrown in to make it both believable and modern enough to cater for a spoilt twenty first century palate.

The actors are all universally brilliant as are the sets and attention to detail. It is hard to single out any for individual praise but here goes; Toby Stephens as Flint and Toby Schmitz as the wonderful rake Rackham are just excellent. We all know this has gone down so well that a second ten episode run is already in the pipeline and if that is not enough to shiver your timbers then you are truly hard to please - absolutely ruddy excellent.
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on 12 November 2015
What can I say I love this series. It is slow to start probably about episode 5 before it really gets going but when it does oh boy is it good. The first few are setting the scene and I almost gave up but so glad I didn't. The characters are amazing Vane, Flint, Bonny are amazing all well acted. When we finally get to see it does not disappoint and the end has lots of questions. I am now galloping through season 2. Watch this it is certainly one of the best TV series I have watched in a long time....but you have to give it time to build the story...do not give up you will not be disappointed.
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on 18 December 2015
I admit that I did not have tremendously high hopes for Black Sails when I first started watching. The series featuring on a lesser known cable network, the involvement of Michael Bay, and some rather clunky/cringeworthy dialogue in the first couple of episodes would not have led me to expect the sheer level of quality in acting, writing and production, along with bold choices to avoid typical pirate cliches and have richly drawn, morally ambiguous characters.

While the show doesn't pretend to be a documentary, its depiction of piracy is the most in depth and thoughtful I have ever seen. Piracy is not just a backdrop for a generic story, but an integral engine of the plot, both in the large scale relationship of pirates in the new world with the colonial empires of the old- and in the day to day business of piracy, the politics, the losses and profits, the personality clashes.

This is a story of piracy where the outcome of an upcoming vote is as important an upcoming battle, where loyalties are divided and motivations uncertain. The show strikes a great balance between the idealism of pirates living free under their own rules, with the less shining reality of human nature, of pride, selfishness and dishonesty. There are few true heroes or villains, just flawed human beings trying to do what they think is right.

The pace of the show is much slower and deliberate than one might be mistaken for thinking after the flurry of sex and violence of the first episode. While this may put off some casual viewers, the show is much richer for it, and constantly builds the story for tremendous pay off both in this season and the next.

The show features a rich ensemble cast, with particularly strong performances by Toby Stephens who plays the darkly charismatic Captain Flint with a true sense of gravitas and conviction, Mark Ryan, who serves as the emotional heart as Quartermaster Gates, Toby Schmitz as the wry, quick witted Jack Rackham.

The show is also underlined with an outstanding soundtrack from Bear McCreary (who also scored The Walking Dead), using a blend of period instruments and modern techniques to fit perfectly with the atmosphere of the show.
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on 18 April 2014
Well acted, great locations, camera work and atmosphere. Hampered by an inconsistent script, that is at times clumsy, and at others delightful.
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on 9 December 2014
Black Sails does require effort to get past the first two episodes as it gathers pace and introduces us to the characters. Having fictional characters from literature aswell as genuine pirates such as Anne Bonny and Charles Vane, we get a good mix of history and creative license. The character of John Silver here quite annoyed me at first but he grows into a lovable rogue of sorts offering much of the smile inducing moments alongside the intriguing Randell. Toby Stephens as Captain Flint and Zach McGowan as Charles Vane give us the better acting in the piece although I do love the portrayal of Toby Schmitz as Jack Rackham and Clara Paget as Anne Bonny. I don't really mind the little action on the seas, I know as a pirate show we come to expect a lot of battles at sea rather than the politcal aspects on the pirate island but I quite like how this offers us an insight into the wheeling and dealing beyond the sea life. However and one of my main grating points of the series is of the main character Eleanor Guthrie, I can't help but see a spoilt Elizabeth Swan trying to lord her superiority over everyone who stands in her way. Her character lacks intrigue and Anne Bonny aswell as Miranda Barlow offer much better equals to their fellow man here. I will definitely give the second series a go as I think it is still an enjoyable series, just not one that at the moment offers much in the way of repeat value viewing. I would also say that as there is very little blood and guts throughout the series that if they did away with the sex as it offers very little captivation that perhaps they could get a 15 certificate rating and attract a broader range of viewers or go the other way and utilise the 18 certificate much in the way Game of Thrones and Vikings and offer more of a blooded sexed up rampage on the seas.
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on 20 June 2014
Authentic, a great tone, well acted and craftily written. A series in which you have to think. True, there's plenty of nudity (both sexes) and violence, but there's also a deep, multi-layered and contemplative plot in there.
Characaters are multi-dimensional, with John Silver a particular favourite.
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on 24 November 2014
Yeaahhh great, pirates, pirate women, plunder etc and lots of sunshine. What's not to like!
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on 9 April 2016
When the anonymous reviewer said of this series, in April 2014, that it was reminiscent of Deadwood he or she was voicing my thoughts. However, Black sails does not descend quite to the raw level that Deadwood did. Equally, I agree with Ramsey Hardy in the November 2014 review that the dialogue is diabolically difficult to follow. All in all, however, it makes very good viewing.
There are some quite nasty characters in this series and the acting is good enough to make you feel a quiet loathing for them. Toby Stephens doesn’t quite measure up in his ability to convey his character and there is not enough of the duplicitous one legged John Silver in Luke Arnold’s acting but the rest of the cast is superb. When I say, superb I mean it literally as well. Some of the male leads have simply stunning physiques which, given the type of life they would have lived is more than a little unbelievable. However, there is a generous sprinkling of female nudity and I suppose the makers wanted to balance out the offerings for male a female viewers. Strange, given that the story, and acting are so good, that the writers thought that it was not enough and added a titillation factor.
I will definitely buy the follow on series to see where the story leads once it runs out historical facts
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on 25 May 2014
Enjoyed the different setting to most modern series - mostly well acted, well shot and some good characters - feels more like Hollywood than TV Series.. bring on season 2.
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