NBC’s ‘Crossbones’: Watching pirate drama proves arrrr-duous

John Malkovich and Julian Sands in a pirate drama?

Sounds like the best TV series of 1994.

It probably would have been.

Instead, they’re stuck in NBC’s “Crossbones” (10 p.m. Friday, KSNV-TV, Channel 3), a new series about Blackbeard that’s only kinda sorta about Blackbeard.

In 1729, the British Navy has just developed a chronometer that will allow their ships to avoid pirates. So a secret agent (Richard Coyle) is charged with protecting that chronometer from Blackbeard (Malkovich) and, if he gets the chance, killing Blackbeard. Which leads to a game of cat and mouse, even though you know he’ll never kill Blackbeard, because then there wouldn’t be a show, and, ugh, I got bored just typing that.

Considering that “Crossbones” is being marketed as a Blackbeard drama, it’s fairly disappointing that Blackbeard is around for less than 12 minutes of the premiere. He’s reportedly in even less of the next two episodes that were sent for review, but I didn’t care enough to see for myself.

Malkovich is the only reason anybody should tune into this. And he seems to be having fun. In addition to the actor’s customary game of Guess the Accent, his Blackbeard sees a ghost, gets a bloody nose and sticks needles in his head.

Here’s hoping that for future episodes, someone on the crew dipped a table or some books in cheese sauce, because Malkovich isn’t chewing enough of the scenery.

As it is, watching “Blackbeard” is a task that proves too arrrr-duous.