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In the tradition of its other fine historical dramatic series, like Robin Hood, William Tell and Sir Lancelot, TMG proudly brings you The Buccaneers, based on the true story of England's attempt to destroy the Caribbean pirate's stranglehold on shipping routes in the New World. Produced in England at the famed Nettlefold Studio sound stages in Walton-on-Thames, The Buccaneers features the noted British actor Robert Shaw (Jaws, A Man For All Seasons) as Captain Dan Tempest, a pardoned ex-pirate, and Peter Hammond (The Avengers) as Lt. Beamish, the Crown-appointed deputy governor of the pirate-infested island of New Providence, in the Bahamas. In true swashbuckling tradition, Tempest and his former pirate crew of his swift corsair, The Sultana, take on the Spanish privateers ravaging the Caribbean. Receiving a pardon from the King in return for giving up a life of piracy, Tempest and his stalwarts confront the privateers on the high seas of the Spanish Main. Swordplay abounds, as the forces of the Crown struggle to rid the New World of pirates, the likes of Blackbeard, a constant irritant to Captain Tempest and a recurring villain in the series. Many of Britain's finest actors of the time took part in the series, including Paul Hansard, Edwin Richfield, Alec Clunes, Neil Hallett and Brian Rawlinson. The 30 episodes in this 3 DVD set are among the best of The Buccaneers, featuring the daring adventure and exciting exploits of Captain Tempest and his not-always-so-merry crew!
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Following on the heels of their two previous classic TV releases (the 1954 version of "Sherlock Holmes" with Ronald Howard and "Victory at Sea," the early 1950s World War II documentary series), Mill Creek Entertainment offers all 39 episodes of this entertaining series. Given the low selling price for this release, I had low expectations for this DVD set, but was very pleasantly surprised at the visual quality of the episodes. These episodes are very near the quality that one would expect for a classic TV release from a major studio. There are some very minimal film specks and an occasional tape roll but, on an overall basis, Mill Creek has more than exceeded my expectations for this 50 year old series ("The Buccaneers" began U.S. broadcasts in September of 1956). There are 13 episodes included on each of three single-sided, dual-layered discs, but the transfers are very solid; I've seen no significant issues regarding compression or digital breakup on the episodes. Unfortunately, the Mill Creek Entertainment logo appears twice for about 15 seconds in each episode; it's not too distracting and is the only real negative for this release.
There are a couple of interesting notes on "The Buccaneers" and this release from Mill Creek Entertainment. In episode #9, titled "The Ladies," Robert Shaw is heard singing "Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain . . ." Shaw would reprise this very same tune 19 years later in "Jaws." Shaw also returned to the genre in the 1976 film "Swashbuckler." Mill Creek incorrectly describes "The Buccaneers" as being television's very first pirate series on the back of the DVD box. That's not correct; "The Buccaneers" was produced in 1956 whereas "The Adventures of Long John Silver" (with Robert Newton reprising his signature role from two theatrical films), was produced in Australia in 1955 for syndication in the U.S. and England. It was Australia's first television production (it wasn't even shown there for a few years until the country had a nationwide feed) and was filmed entirely in color. Mill Creek has included 14 (of 26) episodes of this series in "The Ultimate Pirate Collection" which Amazon also sells.
For fans of classic TV and costume adventure series from the 1950s, I can easily recommend "The Buccaneers" . . . five stars and a hoist of the Jolly Roger!
I loved this series when I was 10. Allowing for the technology of the time, it's still a fun show, with good dialogue and good acting. Camera work is generally tight and the sets don't shake.
I am still in love with Lt. Beamish, and the wary relationship he and Tempest develop. But after watching and rewatching 50 years later, I find Hammond's Beamish is the best character in the show. Certainly the most developed one. (And this close to drop-dead gorgeous). Shaw was pretty much playing himself. But Hammond fleshed out what was essentially a comedy relief role of a naive bumbler with authority figure issues into someone with real grit underneath, added the touchstone orf "King and Country", honor and friendship, and went toe to toe with Shaw's ego and came out dead even or sometimes ahead.
The ad-libs and one-upmanship in this old series are just a tickle. I have no idea of what the professional relationship between Shaw and Hammond was, but the two characters really click.
Pity that Beamish disappears after episode 26. The show loses some spark as Tempest has no one to really bounce off of. Beamish was the only one who butted heads with him.
This is a Broadway musical waiting to happen. Someone please show this to Mel Brooks!
A terrific Yo Ho.
And thigh-high leather boots. . . .
One year later:
not only has it held up well and Beamish is as endearing as I remember, I actually managed to locate and contact the actor - Peter Hammond - who portrayed this delightful character.
After several phone conversations, he's 85 and delightful and charming, he barks and bites, he's coy and bright and a veteran curmudgeon all in a neat grandfatherly package.
memories don't come better than this. If I had met him when I was 10 I would have been struck dumb and brain-dead.
It's astounding to me the number of "official" media reviews of this old show I read that dismiss the Beamish character as a nearly total git when I am seeing the character evolve and mature. And I think that had to be Hammond's doing.