Monday, August 04, 2014

Penny Thoughts ‘14—Crossbones, season 1 (2014) ***½

TV-14, 9 45-min. episodes
Creators: Neil Cross, James V. Hart, Amanda Welles, Colin Woodard (book “The Republic of Pirates”)

Directors: David Slade, Ciaran Donnelly, Stephen Shill, Dan Attias, Terry McDonough, Deran Sarafian

Writers: Neil Cross, James V. Hart, Amanda Welles, Colin Woodard, Blake Masters, Michael Oates Palmer, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Josh Friedman

Starring: John Malkovich, Richard Coyle, Claire Foy, Yasmine Al Massri, David Hoflin, Chris Perfetti, Tracy Ifeachor, Peter Stebbings, Julian Sands, Ezra Buzzington, Aimee Mullins, Lauren Shaw, Natalie Hoflin, Kevin Ryan, Michael Desante, Henry Hereford, Reema Sampat

“Crossbones” was a surprisingly good summer television experiment by NBC. It’s too bad no one watched it.

OK. So check this. You cast John Malkovich as the infamous Edward Teach, a,k,a, Blackbeard. You set the story in 1715 near Jamaica. Teach has “settled” down in an island colony he built that is designed to be a true democracy. Most of the island’s inhabitants are thieves and pirates, but not all. Many are survivors from the pirate raids on their ships who have chosen to stay on the island as part of this supposedly free society.

During one raid a man named Tom Lowe is among the survivors invited to stay as a citizen of Teach’s island colony. Under the guise of a surgeon, a discipline to which he is skilled, Lowe is actually an assassin commissioned by the English governor of Jamaica to bring him Blackbeard’s head. In order to get close to the guarded legend, Lowe must befriend the man and after a while becomes convinced of the soundness of his philosophies if not his mind.

With Malkovich in the lead, that’s a movie I’d go see. It’s certainly a television show I’d return to each week. His supporting cast is up to the task of matching Malkovich’s commitment to the material. The whole thing is surprisingly well done, and yet it seems done before it has even begun. It’s too bad. I feel I’ve seen more good shows meet quick ends this year than most. Still it was worth the time while it lasted and they finished it in a way that it felt finished even though they left a window open.

No comments: