What can I say? I love this show. The teaser did absolutely nothing for me but I gave it a chance anyway and I’m certainly glad that I did. I mean, seriously what’s not to love about pirates?
This article is cross posted from the NY times.
Land, Ho! A Cerebral Blackbeard
John Malkovich Plays a Pirate in NBC’s ‘Crossbones’
In “Crossbones,” an adventure series that NBC rolls out on Friday night, John Malkovich makes his delightful Blackbeard considerably more cerebral than pirates generally are. And “cerebral” takes on a hilarious new connotation in one scene in the premiere: Blackbeard turns up with a porcupine’s worth of needles sticking out of his bald head, an effort to relieve headaches.
Mr. Malkovich is perfectly suited to pull off this fearsome/eccentric/possibly psychopathic character, so much so that you miss him whenever he’s not around. Poor Richard Coyle, who has the unenviable task of being what might be considered the main character in the series, just can’t compete.
Mr. Coyle plays Tom Lowe, a British spy who poses as a doctor aboard a ship carrying a revolutionary navigational device. The gizmo is a type of chronometer that could change the dynamics of the high seas and, it is said, put pirates out of business. Blackbeard’s crew attacks the ship and ends up with Lowe in custody, which is just where he wants to be, since one of his assignments is to kill Blackbeard.
He is hauled back to the island where Blackbeard (who, by the way, does not like to be called Blackbeard, perhaps because his beard is just a goatee and it’s white) has established a sort of private country. It’s 1729, and the pirate seems to have been reading up on political theory: He is trying to establish an outlaw’s version of a society based on the rule of law, something that gets him in a pickle in Episode 2.
A twisted sort of symbiotic relationship develops between Blackbeard and Tom, each unable to do away with the other without sacrificing a larger goal. The series was created by Neil Cross, James V. Hart and Amanda Welles; Mr. Cross’s previous work includes the brainy crime drama “Luther.” He and the other writers avoid the “ahoy, matey” stuff (these pirates spend most of their time on dry land) and instead make sure to give their characters, especially Blackbeard, a decent ration of smart dialogue in each episode.
It’s sophisticated, well-acted television for a warm-weather series. With “Crossbones” and “Black Sails” on Starz, pirates are certainly having their moment on TV.