Well, Mark Burnett, I gave Pirate Master two weeks of my time, but unfortunately I am not going to be able to continue walking the plank, dropping the anchor, or rigging the sails any longer, as Pirate Master has outstayed its welcome. I was all ready to follow you from sea to sea, from adventure to adventure (I even made a photoshop template last week, Mark, come on!). However, I’ve decided that sticking with it will only frustrate me further, so I should cut myself adrift before the ship sinks for good. But, of course, I can’t just say goodbye without letting you know my reasons for leading my mutiny.
5. The Confusion
On Survivor, and every other reality show, the rules are usually fairly simple (Or are ever-changing, like on Big Brother). Here, however, everything is left vague. Rules pop up out of nowhere, the Captain starts tossing around money as if it’s a normal strategy play, and the eliminations aren’t surprising but rather completely underdeveloped. It’s one thing to make a thinking man’s reality show, but it’s another to make one that only a doctorate thesis could properly dissect at this rate. They needed to set the rules down in this episode, and all they did was make them more confusing.
4. The Editing
Very simply, Mark Burnett has forgotten how to edit things. In the Eco Challenge era, he pioneered characterizations in reality television through smart editing, making sure that rivalries were fostered and created. Here, none of that seems to be present: the comments chosen for talking heads are often highly cliched, and fail to ignite any sort of character within these people. It is the job of the editing to make even boring people look good, and it just isn’t working here. There are no stories for these people, no identities. It’s not entirely the fault of the editing, but it should be stepping in to save these people. Speaking of which…
3. The “Pirates”
Reality contestants need to be either interesting or outrageous, and this cast consists of neither. When they’re asked to explain things in talking heads, like Cheryl explaining the Black Spot process, they are embarassingly terrible actors. When they were clearly told to dramatically look at the marked crew members and the captain during the elimination ceremony, they were wooden and terrible again. These people just are not good reality contestants. This episode at least showed them doing more of the work on the boat, which was cool, but none of them could even build a story around themselves. This episode boiled down to weaknesses, not strengths, and its highest profile pirate (Azmyth) didn’t even speak last week. That’s a cast filled with nobodies.
2. The Host
Cameron Daddo, you are not funny, charming, entertaining or engaging. I do not care when you’re on screen, and you don’t even try to get me to take your silly chest of Zanzibar seriously. A reality TV host is supposed to make even the most mundane challenege intriguing: when Jeff Probst or Phil Keoghan are stuck talking up a crappy challenge, they damn well make it sound like the best thing ever. Daddo just maintains his monotone perspective, believing that all pirates are soothed by stoic speech. This is not the case, and I certainly don’t tolerate it either. A good host could have steered this ship away from the sharp pointy rocks of suckage, but Cameron Daddo is not that host.
And finally, the #1 Reason I’m no longer watching Pirate Master…
1. The Challenges
I like long distance challenges because they offer plenty of physical strength and varied tasks for the competitors. However, seriously, they do NOT make good television. I want to be out there with these people, not following one team while they slowly attempt to catch up and fail miserably. There is no narration, no suspense, no intrigue. It may just be these first two episodes, but two suspense-free challenges that failed to contain a single interesting element or sense of urgency more or less seal the deal for me. A show like this is entirely dependent on its challenges to survive if its people are not up to snuff; it’s how The Amazing Race remains the best reality show on television even with a crappy group of Racers. However, Pirate Master doesn’t even have that to fall back on, and this was the final straw.
Bon Voyage, Pirate Master. I shall spend my Thursday nights elsewhere from henceforth.