Black Sails: Complete Series One review

Set several decades before the events depicted in Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel Treasure Island, this cracking new period drama follows the exploits of Captain James Flint (Toby Stephens) and his crew of pirates – including a scheming new cook called John Silver (Luke Arnold).

In need of one big score, Flint sets his sights on the heavily-armed Spanish treasure galleon, Urca de Lima. But before he can attempt that he needs to win the support of local black marketeer Eleanor Guthrie (Hannah New) and deal with all manner of unexpected threats to his captaincy.

So batten down your hatches and get ready for eight episodes of buccaneer brilliance…

Picture: Primarily set on the sun-soaked island of Nassau (and shot at South Africa's Cape Town Film Studios), this first season of Black Sails makes a strong visual impact on Blu-ray, with decent clarity and definition to its 1.78:1-framed 1080p imagery.

As with Starz's earlier historical hit Spartacus, the amount of fine detail present in the image is very impressive. But unlike that heavily-stylised series, the colour saturation and contrast levels here are much more naturalistic. Image clarity drops off slightly when the action moves to the dingy interiors of the ships, and there's some black crush evident here and in some night scenes. But these are fairly minor flaws in an otherwise exemplary hi-def presentation.
Picture rating: 4.5/5

Audio: Studio Starz doesn't have the same production budgets as HBO, and Black Sails can't compete with Game of Thrones, let alone the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, when it comes to audio prowess. But judged on their own merits, the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtracks here are difficult to fault.

The use of the surround channels is somewhat unadventurous, but there's still plenty of separation in the mix and strong dynamics. Dialogue reproduction is faultless, and it would be remiss not to mention how expertly the discs handle composer Bear McCreary's hurdy gurdy-infused score.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: There's no buried treasure to be found here. Indeed, beyond the show itself, all this four-disc set has to offer are six brief behind-the-scenes featurettes that were clearly made to promote the series online.

Building the Behemoth (two minutes) looks at the construction of the main pirate ship; Dress to Kill (two minutes) focuses on the costumes; Pirate Camp (two minutes) looks at the 'pirate training' the cast underwent; Black Sails: An Inside Look (nine minutes) is a generic Making of… promo; Folklore is Finished (three minutes) explores pirate politics; and A Place in History (two minutes) looks at slavery during the era. Argggghhhhh.
Extras rating: 1.5/5

We say: A solid Blu-ray debut for this pirate drama, but we’d appreciate a few more extras for future seasons

Black Sails: Complete Series One, Anchor Bay, Region B BD, £40 Approx