Pirates, Zorro & Musketeers…. Oh my! New Swashbucklers to hit your TV soon

J.M. Aucoin . Misc., Movies/TV, Musketeer 19350 No Comments

black-sailsSo there’s a slew of swashbuckling and swashbuckling-inspired TV shows coming to your flat screens soon and for the first time in years I’m jealous of those who own cable.

There’s not just one but two… yes two pirate shows in the works for the 2013/2014 season. NBC has Crossbones and Starz has Black Sails. Then of course BBC America is in the process of shooting Three Musketeers. There’s also some grumblings that Zorro is being remade into a TV shows — with some changes, sadly. As a swashbuckler writer myself I’m pretty stoked that there’s an interest in these types of stories. Hopefully they’re well done and get people interested in reading stories like this as well. There hasn’t been this sort of interest in this much swashbuckling since the early-1900s, so it’s exciting to see.

After the jump, we take a look at each of the shows and what you can expect…

Well... at least they gave him a black beard

Well… at least they gave him a black beard

John Malkovich as Blackbeard

The resemblance is uncanny.

First off there’s NBC’s Crossbones which is due out 2013/2014. From NBC:

It’s 1715 on the Bahamian island of New Providence, the first functioning democracy in the Americas, where the diabolical pirate Edward Teach, a.k.a. Blackbeard (John Malkovich), reigns over a rogue nation of thieves, outlaws and miscreant sailors. Part shantytown and part marauder’s paradise, this is a place like no other on Earth – and a mounting threat to international commerce.

To gain control of this fearsome society, Tom Lowe, a highly skilled undercover assassin, is sent to the buccaneers’ haven to take down the brilliant and charismatic Blackbeard. But the closer Lowe gets, the more he finds that his quest is not so simple. Lowe can’t help but admire the political ideals of Blackbeard, whose thirst for knowledge knows no bounds – and no law. But Lowe is not the only danger to Blackbeard’s rule. He is a man with many villainous rivals and one great weakness – a passionately driven woman whom he cannot deny.



From the award-winning creator of “Luther,” Neil Cross, and award-winning executive producers Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald (“Gladiator,” “Men in Black”) comes an extraordinary action adventure with an unexpected moral center where one can’t be sure whether the pirates or the British crown are the villains. One-hour drama.

Nailed it.

Nailed it.

Between this show and the upcoming Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, a lot is being made of the pirate’s freedom and democratic views. As much as they had both in varying degrees, I think a little bit too much credit is being given to the pirates as “first men in thee New World to set up a truly free/democratic nation” but if it makes for a good story, go for it. I’m concerned with John Malkovich starring as Blackbeard. Yes. John Malkovich will be portraying arguably the fiercest pirate from the Golden Age.

Say what you will about Pirates of the Caribbean IV  but Ian McShane at least looked like a believable Blackbeard. I guess we’ll have to see to see what NBC and Malkovich do with it. *fingers crossed*

According to Screen Rant, Hugh Laurie was supposed to be Blackbeard. Not sure what happened to change casting. Not that I agree with Laurie as Blackbeard either. Funny enough, both were in Man in the Iron Mask also known as Old Men with Swords.


anne bonny clara paget

Clara Paget as the cold-blooded Anne Bonny

But that’s not the only pirate show that’s in the works. Starz is in the process of shooting a new series called Black Sails. It’s due to air sometime in 2014. Here’s the synopsis from Starz:

The pirate adventure “Black Sails” centers on the tales of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and his men and takes place twenty years prior to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic “Treasure Island.” Flint, the most brilliant and most feared pirate captain of his day, takes on a fast-talking young addition to his crew who goes by the name John Silver (Luke Arnold). Threatened with extinction on all sides, they fight for the survival of New Providence Island, the most notorious criminal haven of its day – a debauched paradise teeming with pirates, prostitutes, thieves and fortune seekers, a place defined by both its enlightened ideals and its stunning brutality.

A mix of fictional pirates and historical ones. Interesting. Here’s the first trailer for the show:

First thought: Michael Bay!? Ugh…

Second thought: They’re totally aiming for the Game of Thrones crowd.

Third thought: Oh hey, look. New Providence is the center of both shows.

Despite Michael Bay’s best efforts, this might have a chance of being good since it’s on Starz. Least a better chance of being better than the censored NBC Crossbones. Time will tell…


BBC America Three Musketeers

These costumes… just no…

My favorite book is also getting a TV treatment with BBC America. This is also due out in 2014.

Three Musketeers is slated to be a 10-episode series that “follows the exploits of three brothers,” according to Screen Rant.  From BBC America GM, Perry Simon:

“The series bristles with vivid escapism and heroic action adventure and is set to thrill audiences with cracking stories of the week.”

I went through this before, but my big irk right off the bat is the costuming. It’s awful. I have higher expectations with BBC, so to see garb that’s pulled from several different eras or, at times, just completely made up is kinda annoying. And as a 3M lover, I hope “brother” isn’t literal. BBC has had good luck with breathing life into Sherlock Holmes and, kinda, Robin Hood so maybe they’ll get lucky with 3M, too.

Not much on the actual synopsis has been released, though.

There’s also rumors floating about that The Fox will be getting his own TV show, but those who are praying for Zorro to wield a sword in Spanish colonial Los Angeles (*raises hand*) might be in for some disappointment. If the rumors are true he’ll be living in the modern world.

Danny Trejo

Go big or go home

From Variety:

Set in modern-day Los Angeles, “Z” will chronicle the rise of Diego Moreno from an orphaned teen and raising his sister with little supervision, to an infamous hero fighting to save the city.

“Z” would be a script-to-series order, with a decision likely made in January or February. If USA, which has had the script for about a month, decides to greenlight, “Z” would go straight to series without a pilot.

Georgeville TV, which secured the rights to “Zorro” from John Gertz and Zorro Prods., is set to produce.

Interestingly enough, Georgeville TV also is involved with Crossbones. They also inked pulp movie mastermind Robert Rodriguez to a six-series deal. I can maybe forgive not putting Zorro in a black caballero suit if they get Danny Trejo to play a modern Zorro.

Whew… that’s a lot of swordplay coming up. I’m staying cautiously optimistic about each of these endeavors, mostly because the current state of Hollywood is to water down the genre and underwhelm audiences. With that said, I have a soft spot for bad swashbuckling adventure stories, movies and TV shows, so I’ll probably still get a lot of enjoyment out of them all.

J.M. Aucoin

Author. Fencer. Sometimes actor. Full-time nerd. I write swashbucklers & historical adventure novels.

Leave a comment