Not With A Yaaaarr, But With A Whimper: NBC’s Crossbones

Crossbones (Photo: NBC)

Also, I swear its using the sets from Xena or  Jack of All Trades.


Crossbones, Fridays at 10/9c on NBC.


Doctor/spy1 Vaguely Recognizable British Actor tries to keep a Macguffin from falling into the hands of pirates, falls into the clutches of John “Blackbeard” Malkovich, succeeds in poisoning him, then saves his life and forms a vague alliance because politics and hot pirate lady with dying husband.

By whose steady hand did the good ship ‘Crossbones’ make it to the port of summer replacement series?

Neil Cross created Luther2 but also wrote some later series (i.e. much worse) episodes of Spooks. James V. Hart knows from piratical having written or co-written Hook and Muppet Treasure Island among other films. The series is based on a book ‘The Republic of Pirates‘ and the book’s author also penned an episode or two.

Who be watching this scurrilous ‘Crossbones’?

People hungry for Black Sails, but unwilling to pay for Starz. Also those who felt the 1800’s pirate/naval back-lot sets have been sorely underutilized as of late.

The wind at our backs

Yaar! What be not to like about John Malkovich playing Blackbeard, plus some buckling of swashes, and some multi-layered pirate palace intrigue?

Watch the rocks

Yar? Were my blood sugar lower, I would describe the show as ponderous. Also, it has that generic television visual style I associate with the 1990s and BBC period pieces. It all feels like an overextension of the pirate politics pieces of the last several years, and the fact that they can’t figure out how to pace things to take advantage of John friggin’ Malkovich as Blackbeard is a real shame.3


Folks who have seen more than the pilot episode seem to still be singing the same tune – so I think Crossbones can safely be scuttled from your queue.

  1. No, really – he’s both.  
  2. Whose praises I will be singing at some point this summer.  
  3. Although the ridiculous lookon Malkovich’s face just before the second commercial did cause me to pause watching the pilot for several days.  

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