NBC suffered a number of setbacks this year, with its original series Ironside, Welcome to the Family, The Michael J. Fox Show, Sean Saves the World, Dracula, Crisis and Believe all proving dead on arrival, and Revolution shedding viewers at an alarming rate in its second (and likely last) season. Only James Spader drama The Blacklist arrived as a modest hit, while perennial underdogs Community and Parks and Recreation have been holding their own in the comedy department. To put it simply, the Peacock network really needs a hit, and execs are now pinning their hopes and dreams on pirate drama Crossbones, which arrives next month.
Unfortunately, though Crossbones has been in development for a few years, the fact that Starz got their pirate drama Black Sails to air before Crossbones paints NBC in an unsavory light (not exactly a new position for the network behind ill-fated Revenge clone Deception, Touch take-off Believe and Hostages rip-off Crisis – and that’s just this last season). However, the first trailer for Crossbones gives me a small amount of hope that the show might be exactly the kind of serialized story to revitalize NBC’s lineup. Check it out below:
Make a list of what Crossbones has going for it, and John Malkovich will come out on top time after time. The Emmy winner is clearly relishing the role of feared pirate Blackbeard, who has evidently aged out of his namesake. The actor has proven that he can play menacing, charismatic characters in countless films, and he seems to have nailed the combination here. “I’m not the devil … I cast out the devil,” he hisses in the trailer.
Richard Coyle, best known for his role as a sex-obsessed loser on Britcom Coupling, is also a reason to check out Crossbones. Though his comedy credits are exemplary, the actor has transitioned into more action-based fare of late, with the lead role in crime thriller Pusher (a remake of Nicolas Winding Refn’s cult classic) and a recurring spot on USA’s spy drama Covert Affairs. In Crossbones, he’s playing a wily cad of a physician charged with guarding the location of a sacred treasure.
Finally, the reason I’m most intrigued by Crossbones is its creator: Neil Cross, the writer behind brilliant cop drama Luther. His involvement on any level would be exciting, but Cross also penned all ten episodes of the already-ordered first season.
Sadly, Crossbones can’t offer the TV-MA pleasures of Black Sails – though that blood spray in the trailer hints that it will toe the line as much as possible. Maybe a riskier, more ambitious drama is exactly what the doctor ordered for NBC.
Crossbones premieres on May 30th, at 10 p.m.