02 June 2014


Here it is, the second of two pirate themed TV shows of this year. The first one (Black Sails) was kind of a disappointment that might still redeem itself in the second season, so I was really looking forward to this one. I think I said it in the review of Black Sails - how hard is it to make a good and fun pirate story? Seems like it really is a hard task since... well, this one disappointed me in its pilot just as well.

The story of notorious Blackbeard starts with yet another ship battle. A ship that's carrying a prototype of a navigational device along with its inventor and schematics is under attack and in danger of falling into wrong hands. Ship's physician Tom Lowe (who's actually an assassin on a secret mission to kill Blackbeard himself) decides to destroy the device, burn the schematics and kill the inventor in order to protect it. He is soon captured and taken to the notorious pirate's lair where he is tasked to save the inventor (who happens to be still alive and dying) or be put to death. The inventor dies, but Lowe finds the cypher and memorizes its contents before burning it. With information existing only in his head, Lowe is left alive and used to decode what's left of the burned schematics. Wait, he has the info in his head? Isn't that exactly the same thing as ship schedule in Black Sails which was memorized by John Silver? Coincidence? Quite possible since both shows were filmed at the same time. But it's really... weird. Anyway, he soon learns about a possible plot between the Spanish and pirates and puts his original plan of killing Blackbeard on hold until he can learn more about this new danger.

I liked the dynamics of the show in the first episode. A lot has happened in those 50 minutes: the battle, the capture, death of the inventor, some torture, a brief flashback that explains Lowe's mission. Quite unusual for TV shows nowdays, unfortunately. Still, the story seems to be lacking something to make me wish I could see more episodes as soon as possible. It could just be a slow start (now I feel weird, didn't I just say the show was quite dynamic?) and it will improve over the course of the show. We'll see, I don't want to dismiss a possibly good show just because I didn't really like the pilot.

I can't finish writing this before mentioning John Malkovich as Blackbeard, Yasmine al Massri as Selima El Sharad and Richard Coyle as Tom Lowe. Malkovich alone is worth watching Crossbones, he just cannot disappoint. As for the show... we'll see. There is more than enough time to make this work. 

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