NBC's Crossbones: Arrr Ye Hooked?

Crossbones Series Premiere

More than a mere pirate drama, NBC’s Crossbones — which premiered Friday — takes us inside the minds of history’s most devious swashbuckler and the one man cunning enough to bring him down.

RELATED | Crossbones‘ John Malkovich Talks NBC’s Twist on a Swashbuckling Tale

The pilot introduces us to Tom Lowe (Covert Affairs Richard Coyle), a ballsy assassin charged with infiltrating the camp of legendary pirate king Blackbeard, played to eerie perfection by John Malkovich.

It’s not long before Tom’s “surgeon” cover is blown — he’s a much better assassin than he is a fake doctor — but he quickly devises a Plan B and burns an all-important document known as “the cypher.” This leaves Tom as the only person capable of decoding the instructions for building the coveted chronometer, a device which would enable sailors to reckon longitude, thus putting an end to piracy. (Oh, you didn’t think this show would be complicated? Sorry to disappoint.)

This buys Tom quite a bit more time among the living, but when simply surviving no longer appears a viable course, Tom and his “monkey” pal Fletch (Next Caller‘s Chris Perfetti) return to Plan A, which has always been to kill Blackbeard. Of course, offing the pirate king in the pilot would make for a pretty short series, so the duo runs into a major snag during the execution of their plan.

Upon discovering that the Spanish are conspiring with pirates — and that he’ll need Blackbeard alive in order to discover what they’re up to — Tom is forced to double-back on the assassination, supplying Blackbeard with the antidote to the very poison he tricked him into consuming.

It’s anyone’s guess where Blackbeard and Tom’s relationship will evolve from here, but for now, we’re enjoying the pirate-era Emily Thorne/Victoria Grayson dynamic they’ve got going on.

Our question is: Will you stick around long enough to find out who comes out on top?

Rate the Crossbones premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. I reiterate, sounds too similar to Black Sails. Tom fakes being a surgeon. John fakes being a cook. Tom destroys a cypher. John destroys the map.

    • Maryann says:

      Except Tom is not faking. He really is a doctor. He’s just an assassin and a fighter and apparently a chemist to boot.

    • No_no_nope says:

      You’re the same one who posted that long diatribe on Crossbones’ Facebook page, aren’t you? Grow up.

      • I’m not the only one who’s pointing out the similarities between these two shows.

        • wrstlgirl says:

          I don’t get what the big deal is. A lot of shows have similarities. That doesn’t mean they can’t be good.

          • The similarities are conceptual, rather than superficial, which is what generally tends to be the case.

          • wordsmith says:

            One character lies about his identity and destroys key evidence to keep himself useful. Yes, it is strikingly similar, but it’s ultimately fairly superficial. The conceptual core of each of these shows is very different. I’d say you’re 1-1 on bold and inflammatory claims.

        • wrstlgirl says:

          Yeah, so what. Still doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t be just as good, or in some cases better.

        • wrstlgirl says:

          LOL, if you’re gonna quote somebody you really should make sure you get it right.

          • “Yeah, so what. Still doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t be just as good, or in some cases better.”

            So what, meaning “so what if they are similar”.

            “doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t be just as good, or [snip] better”.

            That’s an excuse. “If it’s better, it doesn’t matter if it’s similar!”.

          • wrstlgirl says:

            Seriously this is ridiculous, lol. I’m out. Have a nice evening.

  2. WIF says:

    I’m already hooked on Black Sails. I didn’t watch but I have to say from this recap, it sounds much like Black Sails, destroying something important to stay alive and all. And I’m not particularly fond of a bald Blackbeard with white beard. I love me some pirate shows, so if it gets some extremely good reviews, I might end up watching. Who knows.

  3. J c Cruickshank says:

    I am viewing Crossbones, only problem is, same ol same ol, we need something right out of left field, some good decent humor, but no gay or lesbian trash, good wholesome family stuff.
    J C

  4. DavidSask says:

    This show like others before it will be cancelled!

  5. Sheila says:

    Show was a little meh, but I loves me some Richard Coyle!

  6. Pat Maher says:

    I think anything with John Malckovitch is worth checking out especially on the small screen – after watching the first show I must admit I’m hooked matey! arrrrr….ps to the so called pureness and “family” type show naysayers I say your comments are typical of such folk as you portray yourselves to be – my advice is don’t watch it – too late for your kiddies to be up – and go to your church and pray to be forgiven for mouthing off about a show you have chosen to dislike because of your “values” – go watch something more suited to your ‘needs’ and go far away.

  7. Maryann says:

    Uh, Andy, you missed one important point. Our assassin is not a fake doctor at all — he is just that and “so much more.” That explicitly came up when someone asked him.

  8. Meme says:

    I’m looking forward to the amazing Kevin J.Ryan joining the cast in episode 3 of Crossbones. He is sure to add some more excitement to the show. If you didn’t check him out in Copper, you need to take a look. Hoping Crossbones will add a bit of humor as it goes along. I’m sure it will pick up as we learn all the players involved and the actors become more comfortable with their parts. But Friday at 10 is not the best spot for a new show. Tuesday at 10 would have been better. Do you hear me NBC?

    • jenna says:

      i find it odd that they would leave to show to burn off on a friday in the summer.. its not like theres much on during the week as is!

    • wordsmith says:

      The violence level definitely makes it a 10pm show, and NBC already has a fairly strong Friday night presence coming off of Grimm, particularly for a “genre” show.

      They’ve demonstrated an ability to make Friday night work for shows distinctive enough to become “appointment viewing”.

  9. Angel Torres says:

    No one does evil better than Malkovich, he was as scary as ever. Best new show of the summer, cant wait to see more!!!

  10. Gerry says:

    Not at all thrilled with this show, and normally I love this type. Did nothing for me, and won’t waist my time on it.

  11. Fido says:

    I loved all the word play (gives the show rewatchability), the English hero and the cockney sounding gall. The hallucination was kinda huh?! and I’m a little confused as to why he decided to save BB at the end (must give it a rewatch) but I shall be back for more. Now I’m off to buy some gunpowder for my medicine cabinet to fix myself up next time I cut myself shaving. :)

  12. crowbone says:

    My first impression: Hey! There’s ALCOCK!

    Second impression: “Black Beard”???

    There was some mention of “1712” and “The Carribean” – but other than that it is a lot of NON-period/place -specific soundsets where these motley costumed actors chew the fantasy curtains – in a la-Las Vegas theme park.
    Although occasionally UNintentionally risible – the only way this preposterous mess would have worked would have been to get someone like Mel Brooks to direct it as a full-blown farcical send-up.

  13. RickC says:

    Aye matey, I be hooked!

  14. J Wolf says:

    Two comments: Richard Coyle was suberb in Britain’s “Coupling” possibly the funniest show ever made (4 seasons). I’ve only seen the premiere last night, but he was the center of the show and easily held his own with Malkovich in both wit and action. The second was the language – it is rich, dense. I looked at several reviews and none mention this. In this Age of Twitter, I know most people are not aware of language, but it is extremely rare to find quick-witted speech and a pleasure to have it matched with a fast-moving script.

  15. Polly says:

    So much better than black sails. This could be a great pirate show with the right amount of spying and treachery.

  16. James says:

    It’s obviously a big budget show which makes one wonder why the acting was borderline hammy to watch, leaving an impression that the actors don’t take the show too seriously. It definitely is a Blacksails rip-off without the course language and the explcit sex (why have the blurry nudity on the beach when graphic violence is shown), Blacksails has a better choice of actors too. As a first episode the show was disappointing.

  17. christopher bee says:

    Malkovitch acts in a bore-autopilot way, it´s not one of his solid works. Richard Coyle on the other side shines in his scenes. But most of all i like the ships, very nice models.

  18. Bark Star says:

    Needs work, but interesting. Mostly thanks to the excellent actors.


    TVLine, your new website design stil sucks.

  19. LABete says:

    I was really looking forward to this when Hugh Laurie was going to star in it; a little less so when John Malkovich took over. After watching the pilot, I think it was just “OK.” The cast is good but the story is all over the place and they are missing a young good-looking hero. I think they should have split the doctor/assassin into two different characters. As it is, it is bizarre to have a doctor repeatedly murdering characters and then bringing back to life. Didn’t English doctors take the hippocratic oath back then?

  20. tp says:

    I liked it. So much more than Black Sails. Mostly because of JM and RC.

  21. Sammi says:

    Enjoyed the show. Have not seen Black Sails. Like the two main characters — have always liked Coyle.

  22. Alex says:

    It was pretty boring. It takes talent to make pirates boring!

  23. Renee says:

    Richard Coyle is gorgeous. That will probably be the only reason I keep watching.

  24. Henry says:

    Does any body read the trades?????? If you don’t know what that means then you are ignorant and you shouldn’t be writing accusations on this site.

    If you do then you would know that this show was supposed to air in September 2013. That means all the episodes (The Bible) were written out a year or more before that date so Who is copying whom Black Sails?
    Get your facts right before you start pointing the finger!

  25. uavegan2 says:

    Flat. Really the feeling I got. Like flat soda. All the flavor is there, but without the fizz why bother? The writing is bad, am the directing is bad. The actors are genius so they could make reading the phone book compelling, but after a while you want to get to the point. Hoping for more character development, but I really feel like I am plodding through.

  26. Alixandra says:

    This show is amazing!! SO MUCH BETTER THAN BLACK SAILS!!!!! I love the smart remarks and John Malkovich is, as always, brilliant as Black Beard. It really makes you pay attention and you learn so much about Pirate’s history. Plus, what’s better than Pirates? It’s a great show I so enjoy so much watching it with my dad.