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Watching Robert Shaw as the gangster/mark Lonergan in The Sting, made
me think of the first time I saw Mr. Shaw in this short lived series
The Buccaneers. It was one of those British based series that made its
way in syndication across the Atlantic, like Robin Hood, Sir Lancelot,
Sir Francis Drake.
I've got a feeling that this one may have been a replacement for Robert Newton's Long John Silver. Mr. Newton was the grandest pirate of all, he made Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow look like Mr. Chips. But he was dying of alcoholism and maybe the BBC needed a new pirate show.
Only 39 episodes were made of The Buccaneer. Robert Shaw went on to bigger and better things. He died tragically just as he was really reaching the heights as a player with great performances in Jaws and in The Sting. What a great loss he was.
Shaw's Dan Tempest was not in the Robert Newton, but rather in the Errol Flynn tradition. He would have made a grand swashbuckling hero if his career hadn't taken other directions.
Like Flynn's Captain Blood, Dan Tempest was a former pirate newly pardoned and working for law and order and his majesty the king, doing a few odd jobs policing the seas. His three top crewman, Gaff, Taffy, and a Spanish renegade named Armando were as salty a bunch as ever shivered any timbers.
He also had a British naval officer, Lieutenant Beamish played by Peter Hammond who worked with Tempest, sort of in tandem. Beamish was squeamish about working with a pirate, but after a while he sort of just went with the flow.
With all the great film parts that Robert Shaw played, it's Dan Tempest that I remember him best for. I do so wish I could see some Buccaneer episodes.
I remember watching this TV Show in the 1950's in Australia during the
first decade of Television in the country. Robert Shaw was a great
swashbuckler leading his motley pirate crew in a new adventure each
week. It was very entertaining and the theme music I remember to this
When I saw the whole series was available in the USA on DVD I naturally bought it. Imagine my disappointment when I found the original theme and song 'Lets go a roving ..' had been completely discarded in the program in favour of one generic theme with lots of woodwinds and percussion. I wonder why the original music could not have been retained? Perhaps there had been a problem with the original print that was now remastered for DVD. Whatever the program definitely lost something in the translation. It is great to be able to watch the show again after many decades but my memory feels betrayed by the substitution of the program's theme music.
"The Buccaneers" was made by the same British production company that
did "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (Richard Greene). Robert Shaw was
over the top as ex-pirate Dan Tempest. Their action scenes were equal
to Greene's Robin Hood. They also had an interesting theme song.
Some reviewers have said they would like to see "The Buccaneers" on DVD. Three volumes (12 episodes) are available from: oldies.com ($5.95 each). The last volume was just released in May 2007. Hopefully, that means 36 of the 37 episodes will be collected in nine volumes.
The Lt. Beamish character (Peter Hammond) seems to be there for some comedy relief. The pilot episode of the series did not have Robert Shaw as the star. He appears in the second episode.
The DVDs are good quality (picture as well as sound).
I was about 10 or so when I discovered this on TV in the States in
first run. I had no clue as to first run, repeats, or anything like
that, only that I found some shows and would watch them intently. And
what an enjoyable time watching swordplay, great sailing ships go at it
in battle, feats of derring-do tempered with some humor. And what a
role model Dan Tempest was for a young boy. How could you not imagine
yourself on some privateer battling the Spaniards or other pirates.
I remember seeing him next in From Russia With Love and it took me some time to realize who he was and where I had seen him before.
A very enjoyable series, along with The Three Musketeers (which I have reviewed) and Adventures of Robin Hood (which will come). TV series like these are only a dream today where the basic set is just an apartment living room and a coffee shop. Give me the world!
If you can get a copy, just sit back and enjoy. And I hope current or future versions will include the original theme song - that alone was fun to sing along with.
For a low budget series this one comes off quite well. The only obvious flaws are the small cast and limited sets. Substituting Cornwall for the Caribbean is an odd choice indeed, but again,they seem to carry it off! Shaw is excellent as "Dan Tempest" the nice-guy pirate. "Dan Tempest" sounds like a Gerry Anderson character from one of his puppet series. There was "Troy Tempest" in Stingray. Compare this series to 1954's "Long John Silver" shot in Australia. The one redeeming factor in that series was Robert Newton reprising his Disney role. All in all an enjoyable series. You could spot Shaw as an up and comer. He reminds me of Richard Greene's Robin Hood from the same era. Low key but he got the job done.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
great show i have got it on DVD i was not born when it came out in 56 and 57 but it is full of true pirates like black beard and Anne bonny and calico jack it is full of well know Brits stars that i have grown up with roger del gardo the master in Dr who Joan Sims in the carry on films and Derek nimo from all gas and gaiter's and some well known films and Paul eddington from the good life and yes minister and bill Owen from the carry on films and the last of the summer wine and Jane asher she stared in the film Mandy and Alfred Burk as well sid jamesi can see why it done well in the 50s and not long after the buccaneers came out thay made the t.v series of long john silver with the Brit star Robert newton the buccaneers covered all things pirate great to see on DVD
Let's go a-roving, / a-roving across the ocean. / O, let's go a-roving,
/ And join the buccaneers!
The theme-tune was jaunty. They all were, for these classic children's TV shows. (Did adults ever watch them? By contrast, children and adults happily watched the American series such as "Tales of Texas Rangers" a Western that alternated modern and old stories, "Whirlybird" about a charter helicopter service, "Seahunt" about frogmen, and "Cannonball" about long-haul big-rig trucking.) The pattern for these British historical TV series had been set by "Robin Hood", starring Richard Green. "Robin Hood, Robin Hood, riding through the glen. Robin Hood, Robin Hood, with his band of men. Feared by the bad, loved by the good, Robin Hood, Robin Hood, Robin Hood". There were verses, about vowing to serve his king, and still having plenty of time to sing ... Chorus, repeats. Memorable.
"The Buccaneers" was great fun, as long as you ignored the serious side of piracy, law, fighting, ... But serious violence was not the issue. Zorro carved his "Zee", and occasionally pinked an opponent in a furious fencing duel. The good cowboy shot the gun out of the hand of the bad cowboy. The buccaneer with the heart of gold punched his opponents, knocked them out with a belaying pin, or tossed them overboard.
Plots were mainly about uncovering dastardly plots, righting wrongs, defending the vulnerable, and generally proving that a former pirate was really on the side of the angels.
I just finished watching the whole 1-season, 39 epps on Amazon, having not watched The Buccaneers since it came to America when I was about ten. Unlike the other UK import to impact American TV culture, Robin Hood, this series did not live on in my memory, save for the catchy sea-chantey song played over closing credits. Somehow, the words to the song had stuck in my head. The plots are simple, the production is pretty lean and at times the actors chew the scenery, but overall, I found myself compelled to watch all the episodes. About ten years later when I saw Robert Show as the villain in 'From Russia With Love' I did not make the connection, nor in 'Jaws.' His Captain Dan Tempest was vibrant, physically imposing and humorous, but at times, he really goes over the top, even for a 50s show. One thing that surprised me was how the Brits referred to the acting governor as Lieutenant, the way we pronounce it here, vs. 'Leftenant,' how they say it there. For the US market only? Anyway, a pleasant enough guilty pleasure to watch.
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