The Rockford Files get a brief respite this week, as I take a look at three different television series being released to DVD and Blu-Ray today. The first is the pirate series, Black Sails, available now from Anchor Bay.
This lushly produced, and cinematically shot eight episode first season is simply stunning in high-definition, and it has a highly detailed story, with great characters as well. Using both historical pirates, Charles Vane (Zach McGowan), Jack Rackham (Toby Schmitz), and Anne Bonny (Clara Paget), as well as introducing fictional characters like Captain Flint (Toby Stephens, enjoying himself to the full, and it translates as such to the screen, Flint is a great character!) and John Silver (Luke Arnold) (who has to be conniving, charming, and seeking nothing but self-preservation for the entire eight episodes – this was a character that could be messed up and miscast easily, but Arnold is a lot of fun in it) before the events set in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island (20 years in the show’s future), this series, shot on location off the coast of South Africa, is a brilliant ride.
Flint is in pursuit of a Spanish galleon weighted down in gold coin, using a recovered log book, he’s able to chart where the galleon will be, he just needs to get there. But he’s faced with all manner of trials before he can lay hand to coin.
Using Nassau as home port, he and the other free ships, christened enemies of mankind as British Rule tries to make its might felt, deal with the Guthrie family, Richard (Sean Cameron Michael) and daughter Eleanor (Hannah New), who ship their plunder and make a profit.
Each of these characters, including a local whore, Max (Jessica Parker Kennedy) and Eleanor’s associate Mr. Scott (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), a variety of intriguing crew members, Billy Bones (Tom Hopper), Dufrense (Jannes Eiselen) and Flint’s friend, ally and quartermaster Mister Gates (Mark Ryan) weave through the eight episodes, bringing to life a vivid tapestry of sex and violence set against the high seas, as the world seemed paused on the cusp of change.
There are betrayals, treasures, boarding parties, trysts and a lot of blood. It plays like a cross between Game of Thrones and Pirates of the Caribbean (without the supernatural lilt). The series is fantastically acted, and gorgeously shot, nothing seems to be missed in this lavish production, and all of it looks to be there on the screen.
The series comes back in late January, so if you haven’t seen the series yet, this is a great opportunity to catch up on it before it returns. If you have seen the series, and loved it, you can pick it up today on DVD and Blu-Ray. There are a number of featurettes on the third disc of the 3 disc set, covering everything from the making of the series to the clothes, and much like the show, they are completely engrossing.
I had only heard of this show briefly when it first went to air, but never followed up on it, they can be assured that I definitely plan on being there for season two on, because it’s smart, sexy and brilliant. The characters are well-written, and every single one of them seems to have a moment or more to shine through the first season.
And oh the ships. I understand that there is a lot of computer generated imagery, and set extensions, but those ships look amazing, and watching as they go into battle, it’s a visceral experience, perfectly captured, and paced.
But to be clear, this isn’t a pirate adventure for younger viewers, blood, violence and nudity are common place throughout the series, and it’s grimy, gritty, and intense portrayal of life on the big seas, sailing under the black flag.
Black Sails: Season 1 is available from Anchor Bay today!