Black Sails (Starz 2014-2017, Toby Stephens, Ray Stevenson)

Black Sails is a prequel of sorts to Treasure Island set twenty years before the events of Stevenson’s novel. It’s 1715 and the golden age of Pirates is in full swing. Captain Flint is determined to get his hands on the fabled Spanish treasure galleon Urca de Lima.

Many real life pirates are featured in the series including the likes of Blackbeard, Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny and Charles Vane.

Season One
Flint, the most brilliant and most feared pirate captain of his day, takes on a fast-talking young addition to his crew who goes by the name John Silver. Threatened with extinction on all sides, they fight for the survival of New Providence Island, the most notorious criminal haven of its day – a debauched paradise teeming with pirates, prostitutes, thieves and fortune seekers, a place defined by both its enlightened ideals and its stunning brutality.

Season Two
Season two begins where season one left off – The Walrus crew is stranded, with an army of Spanish soldiers standing between them and the precious Urca gold. And with their crimes against their brethren no longer a secret, Flint (Toby Stephens) and Silver (Luke Arnold) must join forces in a desperate bid for survival. Meanwhile, Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New) struggles to maintain her grip on Nassau, as a new breed of pirate arrives in the form of Ned Low (Tadgh Murphy), a man for whom violence isn’t just a tool … it’s a pastime. As blood is spilled, and tensions mount, Charles Vane (Zach McGowan) must decide which he values more: Eleanor’s life, or the respect of his men. And unbeknownst to all of them, a prize of immeasurable value has already been smuggled onto the island … one whose discovery will alter the very landscape of their world, and force everyone in Nassau toward the ultimate judgment: are they men, or are they monsters?

Black Sails

Ray Stevenson looking suitably epic as Blackbeard.

Season Three
In season three, all are tested when a new threat arrives in Nassau, one the pirates could never have anticipated. It knows them. It understands them. And in the blink of an eye, it will turn them against each other. Ray Stevenson joined the cast this season as the notorious Blackbeard. Luke Roberts also arrived playing the role of the real life Woodes Rogers.

Season four will be the final season of the show.

Speaking about the fourth season series co-creator and executive producer Jonathan E. Steinberg said “It’s a rare privilege in television to be given the kind of creative freedom we’ve enjoyed on this show over the last four years. While it was a difficult decision for us to make this season our last, we simply couldn’t imagine anything beyond it that would make for a better ending to the story nor a more natural handoff to Treasure Island.” Indicating that there may well be a Treasure Island series proper which if made to the same standards as Black Sails would make for the best version of the oft-filmed story ever.

production details
USA / Starz – Platinum Dunes – Quaker Moving Pictures – Film Afrika / 28×50-65 minute episodes / Broadcast from 25 January 2014

Creators: Jonathan E. Steinberg, Robert Levine / Music: Bear McCreary / Executive Producers: Michael Bay, Brad Fuller, Andrew Form, Jonathan E. Steinberg, Chris Symes, Robert Levine, Michael Chernuchin, Dan Shotz

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
Toby Schmitz as Jack Rackham
Clara Paget as Anne Bonny
Mark Ryan as Hal Gates
Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Mr. Scott
Sean Cameron Michael as Richard Guthrie
Louise Barnes as Miranda Hamilton/Barlow
Rupert Penry-Jones as Thomas Hamilton
Luke Roberts as Woodes Rogers
Ray Stevenson as Edward Teach