Black Sails Review: “I.” (Season 1, Episode 1)

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It’s a pretty safe assumption that most viewers are coming into Black Sails expecting it to be Starz’s pirate themed replacement for the stylistically gory and successful Spartacus series. If the premiere is anything to go off of though, a better comparison to draw would be with a slower paced and more meticulously crafted show, like Game of Thrones. Now, don’t take that statement and twist it into me saying Black Sails has enough promise and potential to become a cultural phenomenon, because that’s far from what I’m getting at. I’m just saying that its pacing and storytelling is a bit more drawn out.

While imitation is usually a sincere form of flattery, in the case of Black Sails, the show might be trying too hard. Its dialogue often comes across as cheesy and brutish, which doesn’t flow with the more serious and realistic plot that it’s trying to tell. Imagine if you stripped Spartacus of its absurdly choreographed battle sequences and decapitated heads, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Black Sails truly feels like. It’s Starz seemingly trying to refine their tried and true formula used for period piece action dramas to make it more appealing for a mature audience.

Don’t worry though, because there’s still plenty of unnecessarily awesome nudity, if that kind of thing keeps your attention. Early on in the episode, John Silver is invited to a brothel which instantly transcends into one of Starz’s infamous orgy sex scenes, complete with loud music in the background. Who knew softcore pornography could be filmed with so much style?

If there is anything concrete and substantial to take away from this episode, it’s that Black Sails is admirably attempting a plot that is overall more mature than Starz’s usual offerings. It may not be the most well written or riveting story on TV at the moment, but it’s certainly going to fill that lustful void for violence and graphic action. And sometimes, that’s all you can really ask for.

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