Black Sails (TV series)

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For other uses, see Black Sails (disambiguation).
Black Sails
File:Teaser Poster for Black Sails.jpg
Genre Period drama
Created by
Composer(s) Bear McCreary
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 3
No. of episodes 28 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Editor(s) Joe Hobeck
Paul Trejo
John Coniglio
Location(s) Cape Town, South Africa
Cinematography Lukas Ettlin
Jules O'Loughlin
David Luther
Gavin Struthers
Running time 49–65 minutes
Production company(s) Platinum Dunes
Quaker Moving Pictures
Film Afrika Worldwide
Original network Starz
Original release January 25, 2014 (2014-01-25) – present (present)
External links
Official website

Black Sails is an American dramatic adventure television series set on New Providence Island and a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island.[1] The series was created by Jonathan E. Steinberg and Robert Levine for Starz that debuted online for free on YouTube and other various streaming platform and video on demand services on January 18, 2014.[2] The debut on cable television followed a week later on January 25, 2014.[3] Steinberg is executive producer, alongside Michael Bay, Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, while Michael Angeli, Doris Egan, and Levine are co-executive producers.

On July 26, 2013, Starz renewed the show for a ten-episode second season, which premiered on January 24, 2015. The early renewal, six months before the first season premiered, was based on the positive fan reaction to the show at the San Diego Comic-Con.[4] The series was renewed for a third season on October 12, 2014, and a fourth season on July 31, 2015, both before the previous seasons had premiered.[5][6]


Black Sails is set roughly two decades before the events of Treasure Island and during the Golden Age of Piracy.[1] Feared Captain Flint brings on a younger crew member as they fight for the survival of New Providence island. According to the first episode, "In 1715 West Indies, the pirates of New Providence Island threaten maritime trade in the region. The laws of every civilized nation declare them hostis humani generis, enemies of all mankind. In response, the pirates adhere to a doctrine of their own....war against the world."[citation needed] Real life pirates that are fictionalized in the show include Anne Bonny, Benjamin Hornigold, Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Ned Low, and Blackbeard.

The plot of the first season focuses on the hunt for the Spanish treasure galleon Urca de Lima. At the beginning of the second season, the treasure from the Urca de Lima has been stranded on the shores of Florida with Spanish soldiers guarding it, but by the conclusion of the second season, the treasure has been taken by Jack Rackham and his crew and brought to New Providence Island. During the second season, the questions are answered of how and why Flint turned to piracy, a man who was a navy officer and London gentleman.

Season Episodes Originally aired
First aired Last aired
1 8 January 25, 2014 (2014-01-25) March 15, 2014 (2014-03-15)
2 10 January 24, 2015 (2015-01-24) March 28, 2015 (2015-03-28)
3 10 January 23, 2016 (2016-01-23) March 26, 2016 (2016-03-26)



The series is filmed at Cape Town Film Studios in Cape Town, South Africa, with local production company Film Afrika.[11][12]

The opening title sequence was made by Imaginary Forces and directors Michelle Dougherty and Karin Fong with the backing sea shanty inspired theme composed by Battlestar Galactica and The Walking Dead composer Bear McCreary. It accurately features an instrument of the period in the form of the hurdy-gurdy.[13]

For the amount of detail that was added to the vessels, it took over 300 workers to build just one ship.[14]


The first season of Black Sails received mixed reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the season holds a rating of 64%, based on 44 reviews, with an average rating of 6/10. The site's consensus reads, "Black Sails boasts visual appeal, but the show's bland characters aren't strong enough to keep the show from being dragged down into its murky depths of aimless exposition."[15] On Metacritic season one has a score of 58 of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[16]

Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said, "This ambitious pirate story is helped immensely by going beyond the pay cable freedoms that often bog down lesser shows in boobs, blood and sex. Black Sails steers itself out of that realm after a few episodes and makes a play for bigger, more complicated stories."[17] Robert Lloyd of The Los Angeles Times said, "Black Sails is a pirate treasure. The Starz series vividly depicts the daily life of pirates."[18] Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly said, "Not even a guilty pleasure, Black Sails is arrrrrr-estingly good.".[19] Tom Long of the Detroit News commented "Alliances are made and broken, power shifts go this way and that, blood is spilled, and wenches keep wenching. It's oddly addictive, and the cast--made up mostly of British, Australian and Canadian actors--is as sharp as you'd expect from pay cable."[20]

Conversely, Brian Lowry of Variety said, "Black Sails never quite takes off, developing into a tired treasure hunt with indifferent casting and stock characters. Counting Michael Bay among its producers, this South Africa-lensed production might tempt adventure-seeking viewers to plunge into its crystal-blue waters, but despite some handsome aspects, the show ultimately proves as hollow as its CGI-rendered ships."[21] Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club said, "Black Sails is a handsome illusion at times, but it rarely finds its way beyond that."[22]

The second season of the show currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 5 reviews, with an average rating of 8.6/10.[23] IGN gave the season a score of 8.8/10, saying that it featured "great action... blended with an awesome and illuminating backstory".[24] Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times said, "Starz knows the formula for these costume-heavy action dramas from experience with shows like 'Spartacus' and 'Camelot.' And that formula is executed with particular skill in 'Black Sails,' thanks to some strong performances and an exploration of the consequences of greed that could have come out of modern-day Wall Street."[25]


Black Sails received four nominations for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music, Outstanding Main Title Design, Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series at the 66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards. The series won Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series.[26]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Schwartz, Terri (10 January 2014). "'Black Sails': 'Treasure Island' will hopefully connect, Season 2 being filmed - Zap2it - News & Features". Zap2it. 
  2. Todd Spangler: Starz to Release Michael Bay's 'Black Sails' Premiere Episode for Free on YouTube, iTunes, Amazon and More., 2014-1-13
  3. "Black Sails: Starz Series Starts January 25th". TV Series Finale. November 20, 2013. Retrieved November 21, 2013. 
  4. Bibel, Sara (July 26, 2013). "'Black Sails' Renewed for Ten Episode Second Season by Starz Months Before Its Premiere – Updated". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved July 26, 2013. 
  5. "Black Sails Renewed For Season 3 By Starz!". Seriable. Retrieved 12 October 2014. 
  6. Berman, Marc (July 31, 2015). "Starz Renews ‘Black Sails’ and Jumps on the Binge-Watching Bandwagon". TV Media Insights. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 Anderson, D.M. (December 30, 2014). "BLACK SAILS Ain't Your Daddy's Pirate Tale". Movie Pilot. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  8. Jeffrey, Morgan (August 6, 2015). "Rupert Penry-Jones says Flint's gay romance on Black Sails was cut back". Digital Spy. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 TV News Desk (November 4, 2015). "Starz to Premiere Season 3 of BLACK SAILS, 1/23". Broadway World. Retrieved November 8, 2015. 
  10. Friedlander, Whitney. "'Divergent’s’ Ray Stevenson Joins Starz’s ‘Black Sails’ as Blackbeard". Variety. Variety Media, LLC, a subsidiary of Penske Business Media, LLC. Retrieved 24 March 2015. 
  11. Starz (July 26, 2013). "Starz Embarks on an Early Renewal for Second Season Order of the Original Series "Black Sails"" (Press release). Futon Critic. Retrieved 14 December 2013. 
  12. Goundry, Nick (15 October 2012). "South Africa's Cape Town Studios prepares for pirate miniseries Black Sails". Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  13. Hibberd, James (December 30, 2013). "'Black Sails': See the awesome opening credits with theme from 'Walking Dead' composer – EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 January 2014. 
  14. Starz. "Black Sails: Building the Behemoth". YouTube. Retrieved 20 January 2014. 
  15. "Black Sails: Season 1". January 24, 2015. 
  16. "Black Sails". Metacritic. 
  17. Goodman, Tim (January 21, 2014). "Black Sails: TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 23, 2014. 
  18. Lloyd, Robert (2014-01-25). "Review: 'Black Sails' is a pirate treasure". Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  19. "Black Sails TV Review | TV Reviews and News". 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-02-24. 
  20. "Critic Reviews for Black Sails Season 1 - Metacritic". Metacritic. 
  21. Lowry, Brian (January 23, 2014). "TV Review: ‘Black Sails’". Variety. Retrieved January 23, 2014. 
  22. VanDerWerff, Todd (January 23, 2014). "Black Sails is a tale of a bloodthirsty pirate bureaucracy". The A.V. Club. Retrieved January 23, 2014. 
  23. "Black Sails: Season 2". January 24, 2015. 
  24. Fowler, Matt (April 4, 2015). "Black Sails Season 2 review". IGN. Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  25. Genzlinger, Neil (2015-01-23). "In ‘Black Sails’ From Starz, Pirate’s Booty Is at Stake". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-08-18. 
  26. "Black Sails". Television Academy. Archived from the original on 19 July 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2015. 

External links