‘Black Sails’ stuns Starz fans

Story by Mykaela Cross, Assistant Editor

HBO, famous for its movies and miniseries, is always a great source for a something watch on a Saturday evening when Netflix fails to provide anything interesting. With award-winning and thrilling shows like Game of Thrones and True Blood, HBO has always been the highest priority channel on my DVR recording queue – that is, until now.

Starz’s new television series, Black Sails, a pirate show based on the historical island-town Nassau, has blown HBO’s biggest hits out of the water.

The Dark Ages and Medieval periods featured in HBO’s Game of Thrones proved to be entertaining enough; add a few dragons and other fantastical creatures, dramatic heroines and a battle for power over the Earth between two compelling forces, and Black Sails has the makings of a hit series with plenty of room for plot twists.

Be that as it may, the setting and subject matter in Black Sails does not have to rely on fantasy to be fantastic. With a real historical setting and conflict, the show focuses on a time when the future of New Providence island, or Nassau, hangs in the balance and turns it into a complex storyline featuring places and problems I can research on Google.

By spotlighting real men and women from history – Captains James Flint and Charles Vane, Calico Jack and Anne Bonny – and even including an allusion to the infamous Black Beard, Black Sails takes one of the most fascinating eras in human history and propels audiences into a pirate paradise beset by the coming of English civilization. Because the setting, characters and conflicts are so realistic and based on heroes of legend, Black Sails does more than introduce audiences to favorite familiar faces, it is an amazing academic experience as well.

Throughout the first two seasons aired, not only have I learned much about what it was like to be a pirate, I have also learned much about colonization and European culture during that period because of the deeply disturbing yet frighteningly funny relationships the English had with the very outlaws they condemned. I am aware that these characters and situations are rooted in actual history, which makes watching the scenes unfold on screen only makes the show that much more interesting.

With its creative conflicts, Black Sails does much more than dig up treasured pirate tales for geeks like me. It also uses the tricks of the Hollywood trade to ensure that all age-appropriate audiences are “hooked.” Realistic, high-seas battles, swashbuckling sword fights, gallons of gunpowder and unexpectedly murderous plot devices make Black Sails entertaining for adrenaline-seeking action lovers, while the complex conflicts and convincing character relationships keep drama and romance fans happy. In the end, no audience member is left to walk the plank.

As an added bonus, the show's premiere aligned with one of the most anticipated video game releases of 2014 and is a treat for many video game fans. Assassin’s Creed Black Flag also features many of the situations, settings and characters found in Black Sails and gives gamers more opportunities to see the historical heroes of and villains they play for and against in the game.

With something for any fan, I’d suggest this show to anyone interested in pirates, the colonial age or a show that won't disappoint. That being said, I’d only recommend Black Sails to anyone comfortable with R-rated experience, as it is extremely violent and contains sexually explicit materials as well as foul language.

Now beginning its third season, Black Sails is my new favorite series and I’ll be keeping my eye on the horizon for more shows by Starz.