Finally, someone has produced the TV comedy we have all been waiting for -- a pirate parody!
The aforementioned sentence was meant to be sarcastic. But if there is anyone reading this who has been sincerely frustrated by TV’s pirate deficit, then I mean no offense.
In any case, your wish is hereby granted. This one-of-a-kind pirate comedy is called “Our Flag Means Death,” streaming on HBO Max starting on Thursday (March 3).
The show springs from the fertile, creative mind of producer/director Taika Waititi, whose 2019 film “Jojo Rabbit” was the best movie I saw that entire year.
The show’s title is as sarcastic as this blog’s lead sentence because the show’s central pirate ship -- named the Revenge and captained by a very reluctant pirate -- is in no way life-threatening.
The captain, one Stede Bonnet, is played by New Zealander Rhys Darby (pictured above), who has made a specialty of playing clueless characters who are decidedly out of their depth, starting with his sensational starring role in one of the best TV series ever made, “Flight of the Conchords” on HBO.
In “Our Flag Means Death,” Capt. Bonnet is a bored British aristocrat in 1717 (described in the show as “the golden age of piracy”), who decides to go to sea as a pirate in a bid to live a more exciting life.
But there is only one problem: He knows nothing of pirating, abhors violence and is revolted by the sight of blood.
Luckily for him, piracy targets in the form of merchant ships on the high seas are so few and far between that he mostly gets to avoid the very situations that he set sail to experience.
Thus, the captain and his vagabond crew have substantial leisure time which only leads to grumbling and a half-hearted plan to initiate a mutiny.
One of the most creative features of the show is that Capt. Bonnet has been styled more like a sensitive, 21st-century CEO than the rough captain of a 18th-century pirate vessel.
He provides his crew with a number of perks not available on any other ship -- including a rec room and a regular salary. And yet, his crew is ungrateful enough to ponder murdering him.
Can Capt. Bonnet gain his crew’s respect before they do him in? Answering that question would constitute the kind of spoiler that the HBO Max p.r. team has requested that TV columnists kindly refrain from.
Judging by Episode One of “Our Flag Means Death,” the show wants to be a comedy, but with tragic elements. It is a combination that is challenging to bring off, to say the least.
“Our Flag Means Death” starts streaming on Thursday (March 3) on HBO Max.