TV Review: Black Sails

Cops. Mobsters. Spies. Serial killers. Superheroes. Witches. Wizards. Television has tapped almost every genre archetype that exists to create easily marketable programming for our geeky-pulpy culture. One of the few exceptions: Pirates. And for good reason. Shooting on water? An expensive, logistical nightmare. (See:WaterworldTitanic) Also? Pirates are fuuuuuu-gly, all scruffy and greasy and dentally challenged and eye-patchy. What good, image-conscious actor in their right, vain mind would sign up to look like that for years and years? Pirates certainly seem suited for an age smitten with Very Bad Men, for audiences that can find wish-fulfillment in gangsters, psychopaths, meth dealers, and Rakes of all sorts. But they come with only a limited supply of built-in story (they pillage, they chase pipe dreams, they turn on each other, they die; hardly six-seasons-and-movie material), and there's little room for women, or at least good female characters. And then there's the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, which pretty much scratched any itch anyone might have had for epic pirate narrative, and also made the whole pirate thing look goofy. Which works for a piece of big-budget escapism every few years, but not for ongoing, modestly budgeted, character-driven TV drama.

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