Crossbones, the new NBC series starring John Malkovich is due to premiere tonight (30th May). The series follows the world's most famous pirate - Jack Sparrow excluded - Blackbeard AKA Edward Teach and is set to track his infamous life and career.


Malkovich stars as Blackbeard in the lavish production based on Colin Woodard's book The Republic of Pirates and adapted by Neil Cross (Luther) and James V. Hart & Amanda Welles. From what can be gleaned from the trailer and reviews, the series appears to centre on the relationship between Blackbeard and his captive, undercover government agent Tom Lowe (Richard Coyle), and their respective romantic attachments to Selima (Yasmine Al Masri) and Kate (Claire Foy). 

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Early reviews from critics indicate the show is a must see over the summer months. Neil Genzlinger (New York Times) has described the show as "sophisticated" and "well-acted" whilst David Wiegand (San Francisco Chronicle) claimed Crossbones "is filled with adventure on the high seas and sex and intrigue on dry land." Wiegand added "above all, it's fun", which possibly the most important element for a series airing over the summer months,

Crossbones castThe Cast of 'Crossbones'

However, other critics have been less than impressed with the show and have criticised the amount of violence present throughout the opening episodes. Entertainment Weekly and Variety have both panned the series. EW's critic Tim Stack went so far as to claim "a bout of scurvy would be more entertaining." Whilst Variety's Brian Lowry felt the show is "too lifeless to capitalize" on Malkovich's considerable acting talents. 

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Overall the critical response has been largely positive but it appears some reviewers have delved too deeply into the show's meaning and have even gone so far as to consider the historical inaccuracies of the series. One critic (Ed Barky, Uncle Barky) claimed "Crossbones is about as believable as Casanova in a seminary." As with any historical drama, be it HBO's Rome, Boardwalk Empire or Showtime's The Borgias, there are bound to be difficulties in keeping the drama true to events. 

John Malkovich
John Malkovich stars in Crossbones as Blackbeard.

Malkovich, speaking to NBC, has explained the issues within the series and emphasised that Crossbones is a fictional portrayal of Blackbeard's later life. As Malkovich points out, Blackbeard did not live past his 30s thus his character in Crossbones is simply an older adaptation of an already highly fictionalised character. Speaking on the matter, Malkovich said "This story says what if he [Blackbeard] had lived and if he had had a much longer career but a secret career. And if he had gained a great deal of wealth and caused great havoc to the shipping trades."

Crossbones will premiere tonight at 10/9pm on NBC.