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Monday June 4, 2007 2:09 pm

The Sad Reality (Shows) of Summer

Pirate Master

After , like Charlie, went into the great beyond (well, at least until 2008), my TiVo has become a vast, barren wasteland.  Like any TV-deprived person, I’ve upped my Netflix queue, but that’s not enough.  I’m still jonesing for new episodes of television, and lo and behold, these past two weeks I got to see the premiere of two new reality shows, “Ex-Wives Club” and “Pirate Master.”  My thoughts now?

It’s going to be a long summer.

Ex-Wives Club is ... oh, let’s go to ABC’s online description:

How do you mend a broken heart? By getting angry, getting even and getting over it! Real people who have undergone traumatic divorces learn how to move on with their lives, on Ex-Wives Club, an empowering new reality series on the ABC Television Network. The show is hosted by three women who know all about breaking up—famed “exes” Angie Everhart, Shar Jackson and Marla Maples.

Okay, let’s start off with the hosts.  I know Marla Maples’ ex, who recently quit the pretty much already cancelled Apprentice; I know Shar Jackson’s ex, because he keeps fathering children with crazy pop stars; and ... I know Angie Everhart.  She was married to somebody?  Okay, evidently she was married to Ashley Hamilton.  Live and learn.

What do they have to teach divorcees?  I’d imagine it’s be a hot redhead, marry rich men, and avoid Kevin Federline at all costs.

But no, after watching it, I learned that ... actually, I didn’t learn anything except that some people had some really horrendous divorces.  The two divorced people that the ex-wives helped had just abysmal stories: the guy’s wife left him with his two kids for her best friend shortly after he got out of the military and embarked on a new career; the woman’s husband called her a bitch on their honeymoon and then crashed her computer and lost her 120 pg. master’s thesis by downloading porn.  That’s an ouch right there.

And to heal them?  Well, for her, they had her drop her ex-husband’s car (which I guess she got in the divorce, unless ABC’s into grand theft auto) from a plane at 10,000 feet which is great, I guess, except that maybe she could’ve just sold it and got the money.  Plus, Angie confronted her ex-husband and basically got nowhere.  Also, they gave her a makeover, bought her the same computer I have, which is good, but not worth her crazy reaction, and sent her on a somewhat awkward date.  So problem solved.

For him, they gave him a makeover and helped him with his business.  Oh, and they had Marla Maples flirt a lot with him which I think gave him a lot of false hope.  Again, problem solved.

I think that the show’s supposed to be sort of Oprah self-help mixed with Extreme Makeover.  If that sounds like a mess to you, congratulations, you don’t need to watch the show now.  You’re one up on me.

And yet, “Ex-Wives Club” is a cool breeze of reason compared to “Pirate Master.”  Talk to us, CBS:

Sixteen modern-day pirates embark on a high seas adventure around the Caribbean island of Dominica in search of hidden treasure that will total $1 million.  Only one pirate will win the largest booty and claim the title of “Pirate Master.”

Oh, yeah, it’s just that pretentious.  This little train wreck is brought to you by Mark Burnett, executive producer of Survivor and Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and this show is pretty much a combination of both.  Let’s see if I can explain the show before I fall into a coma of confusion and boredom:

So there are sixteen people and they were on a pirate-style ship and they were split into two teams and the team that won the challenge got to choose a captain who chose two officers and they got more treasure than other people and then they had to pick three people to be cut loose and then everybody else got to vote them out or mutiny and thenzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Oooh, so close.  Okay, in all seriousness, imagine if you took the bizarre level of importance and gravitas that Survivor contestants give their actions and thoughts in what is, let’s face it, a game show, and combined it with the believability and excitement of Orlando Bloom in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (I’ve only seen the first one, but I don’t imagine he gets progressively better and more authentic).  Well, that’s your show.  Sounds awful?  Oh, but you haven’t even heard about the contestants.

There’s John, who looks like a cheap rip-off of Criss Angel (of Mindfreak fame), so you can imagine how bad that is.  Did I mention that his caption says his occupation is “scientist/exotic dancer?”  Another one of those on tv?  We have the delusional auto parts salesman Jay, who says, “I’m a kind of a pirate everyday.  I’m in sales.  I’m providing someone with a service but I’m also trying to relieve them of their money,” and the equally delusional district attorney, who thinks she has an advantage because, “We’re pirates.  Pirates are criminals.”  Evidently nobody told her that, um, THESE AREN’T REAL PIRATES. And finally we have Louie, who I believe thinks he’s an actual pirate, though he’s closer to Rupert from Survivor than, say, Blackbeard.  Also, there’s a guy named Azmyth, and he actually was an extra in Pirates of the Caribbean 3: When Will This Movie End (or something like that).

It’s such an odd show.  I think these people actually believe they’re pirates which ... no.  Just no.  The people on Survivor don’t really believe they’ve been marooned on this island with no way out.  And yet these Survivor-wannabes (and one of them actually plays “online Survivor,” whatever that is) are convinced that they are sailing the bounding main, searching for treasure and something, something squawking parrot.  (I’m impressed if you get that reference.)

Like Survivor, there are prizes and people get voted off and all that, but the decisions these pseudopirates are making somehow make even less sense than the show itself.  Let me give you an example (oh, and spoiler alert, I guess):

John, Pirate-Mind Freak, defends himself at the end of the first episode by saying that he has all the compasses and that if they kick him off, they have no navigational aids, so they should kick off the “Captain.”  Captain Joe Don, who is the pompous ass-ness of this show taken to the nth degree, makes a case for himself by saying that he can navigate at night by using the stars and that by day he can create a sort-of sundial to find what direction north is, ending with, “I don’t need your compasses, and I don’t need you.”

John responds to this by getting out a compass and asking where north is.

Joe Don looks up into the cloudy night sky and says, and really this is the best part, “I have no idea, perhaps we might be further south than we can see at this point and time.  In the daytime, it’s simple, it’s a piece of cake.”

I have no words.  I can’t believe that anybody on the boat was able to keep a straight face.  And then they all voted Captain Magellan out, right?

Nope, they cut Mindfreak loose.  Who took both compasses with him.  Seriously, they all deserve to drown at this point.

What a week.  Please, wake me when Kathy Griffin, Top Chef, and Hell’s Kitchen come back.  And not a second before.




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