In what appears to be quite the “get”, Hugh Laurie is in talks with NBC to star as Edward Teach in their upcoming pirate drama, Crossbones. Who is Edward Teach? Well, he is none other than the infamous pirate, Blackbeard.
Laurie, fresh off House, has not made any announcement, nor has NBC, so it’s all speculation at this point. Fun speculation, but speculation all the same. If nothing else, it will be nice to hear Laurie in his native tongue once again. Perhaps that is why the Emmy voters snubbed him for so many years as Gregory House, they just didn’t like his American accent. Hogwash. Could he take home an Emmy as Blackbeard, a la Kevin Costner in Hatfields & McCoys? We’ll have to see.
“But wait, what is this Crossbones of which you speak?” You have questions, I have answers, as limited as they may be. NBC, who is leading the charge so far this season when it comes to viewers 18-49, for the first time in a very long time, is in development for a 10 episode mini-series about Blackbeard and his “rogue nation of thieves, outlaws and miscreant sailors” (Deadline). Set in the 1700’s on the island of New Providence, Crossbones will hopefully deal with Teach’s transformation from student pirate to the most notorious and recognizable pirate we know today.
Crossbones is written by Neil Cross, creator of the fabulous Luther (if you haven’t watched it, head over to Netflix and remedy that, post-haste) who has written for MI-5 in recent years as well. With a seasoned BBC man at the helm, one has to wonder, is NBC willing to further their 10 episode experiment into more similar projects in the future?
One has to hope that reality TV will someday fall out of favor and people will return to scripted television. Problem is, 22 episodes is too long. It just is. I enjoy a long season of a show just as much as anybody else, but in terms of coming up with material and funding and just the investment that needs to be made ahead of time, 22 episodes is too long. Not only are there financial issues, there are creative issues. Perfect example is Life on Mars.
Life on Mars had two seasons (series) on the BBC each consisting of 8 episodes. It was met with critical acclaim and after the first series, the creator (Matthew Graham) announced that the story was finite and there would only be one more season. There was a total of 16 episodes that told the story from beginning to end, quite nicely. ABC decides to remake show here in America. Same concept, better budget, arguably better production value, 17 episodes. Difference? It was canceled after 17 episodes due to waning viewership. Instead of controlling its own destiny like the BBC version and having the chance to write out the ending in a way that made sense and wrapped things up to viewer’s satisfaction, the US remake falls somewhat flat. It was a great show! Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but it wasn’t a concept that was built for many seasons of 22 episodes each. This is where American network television and it’s stubbornness has sunk itself. Boardwalk Empire is getting ready to wrap up their third season, with its 12 episodes each season. Are there people out there complaining the season is too short? Of course, as a society we like to get more, but by the same token, are there many people complaining that the quality of the show is less because it is shorter? No. And if they are, well they are wrong.
All that to say, I hope Crossbones is successful and it heralds in a new age of network programming in America. One that doesn’t revolve around teenagers singing and getting pregnant. Oh what a happy day that would be.
Because we’ve discussed shows being canceled and NBC, I feel obligated to further my one woman campaign to resurrect my favorite canceled show. Bring back Kings! If nothing else, let’s just hope Crossbones doesn’t suffer a similar fate.