Friday, June 01, 2007

Pirate Master: I'm Your Pirate Master, a Master for Money...

Finally, it's here. I've been anticipating this show for weeks now. When I first heard about Pirate Master, I thought it was just trashy enough to be awesome. And then I heard that one of the cast members described himself as a "scientist/exotic dancer," and that's when I knew it was going to be trashy awesome.

The show is Survivor with pirates; it doesn't pretend to be anything other than that. Actually, that's not true, because it does have its own carefully constructed mythology, something about a pirate named Henry Steel and a treasure that he conveniently divided up into 14 portions, exactly long enough for this show's run. Awfully obliging of him. At every stop, they use treasure maps to navigate to, well, treasure. This episode also has the crew choose a captain, only to find out later that he will be sharing private quarters and most of the booty with his mates, and will be deciding, along with his officers, which crew members will be up on the chopping block at Pirate Court, their version of Tribal Council. Naturally, this causes no small amount of resentment among the grunts. And while the crew can mutiny and overthrow the captain, there's one person who annoys them more than any amount of unfair advantage the captain gets. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As with any Burnett show, the casting department has done its job, and there's a colorful crew, to say the least, populating this ship. There's firefighter Joe Don, who's the first captain; Rupert lookalike Louie; former NFL player Christian; and Joy, who's got a good attitude and a bad case of seasickness. Then there's Cheryl, who doesn't want to tell anyone that she's a deputy district attorney because she thinks her understanding of criminal behavior gives her an advantage. You know, because pirates are criminals. However, as no one there is actually a pirate, the point is kind of moot.

But you want to know about the scientist/exotic dancer, don't you? Yeah, you do. His name is John, and if you didn't see him, imagine a refugee from an '80s new wave band, with long black hair and a headband. When we first meet him, he's trying to get Joy to do a pirate jig, and then whispering creepily in her ear that he doesn't think there are any pirate jigs. Poor Joy looks about as weirded out by this as you'd expect. And while John is smart – he's the one who figures out where the treasure is and wins it for his crew – he gets all pouty and whiny when everyone else doesn't appreciate how smart he is. And then, when he ends up as one of the candidates for elimination, he steals the ship's compasses – no, for real – and is all, "Unless you want to drift about aimlessly forever, you'd better keep me in the game!" Joe Don smacks him down mightily, explaining how he can navigate without compasses – they're called the stars and the sun, Mr. Scientist – although his point is a little dulled by the fact that it's a cloudy night, and he can't figure out where north is at exactly that moment. But it's enough to make John look like even more of an idiot, and he earns himself a unanimous vote back to the exotic dance lab.

The verdict: it's exactly the sort of mindless, juicy reality show that makes summer TV fun. Plus it's got pirates, and pirates are so hot right now.