Pirate Master! Better than expected.

(I’m posting a few things today, so be sure to scroll down and take a look at my other posts today: The existence and morality exist w/o the need for deity, Religion and deteriorating societies, and Steampunk magazine.)

Pirate flagSo last night was the first episode of the new reality show: “Pirate Master“, from the makers of “Survivor.” I’m a huge pirate fan, so of course I had to watch it.

I’m not a “Survivor” fan. I did watch the very first season, back when “reality TV” was new and interesting, and found it fascinating! Then the second season, I stopped watching after a few episodes, and now I don’t watch any “reality show” that throws some random mix of people together into some contrived situation (like “Survivor,” “Big Brother,” and the like.) However, I do occasionally watch the odd reality program that is either pseudo-documentary-like and involves a pre-existing “cast” (such as “Work-Out“) or puts together people who have a shared talent who are in competition to win something that is directly related to their shared skill instead of just a money prize (such as “Project Runway” and my favorite: Food TV’s “The Next Food Network Star“). Granted, these shows are also often plagued with excruciatingly annoying people and embarrassingly stupid personal conflicts and issues which are the reasons I don’t watch “Survivor” and “Amazing Race” and “The Apprentice,” but the context of the competition based on a shared talent and skill (like clothing designer or chef,) makes up for the rest.

In any case, because of this I was very apprehensive about this Survivor-on-a-pirate-ship series. Especially when the first few minutes revealed one of the contestants was a “Scientist/Exotic Dancer” (oh puh-leeze!) with a really whacked-out idea of what makes for a mysterious appearance. Yikes. However, the show ended up to be rather entertaining. The challenge for the first episode was piratey, and had an interesting twist to sabotage the opposing team.
Also surprising was the inclusion of a couple of nods to actual pirate culture. For example, the winning one of the two teams elected the ship’s captain–which was the actual way in which pirate captains (in general) lead their ships. Pirate ships were little bastions of democracy in that they elected in and out their captains. However, in the TV show, they made the captain and his two hand selected “officers” into something of a naval ship’s way of operating. That is, the captain commanded the entire ship and his officers were second in command, and that’s not real pirate tradition. The “captain” on a pirate ship generally was only in charge of the military aspects of the ship–the attacks upon ships and raids upon targets on shore. When it came to the day-to-day operations of a ship, the man in charge was the ship’s pilot. In fact, oftentimes, the pilot outranked (so much as the idea of “rank” was observed on pirate ships) the captain. But in most cases, the captain, pilot, and the ship itself received an equal share of treasure acquired (the “ship’s share” was the funds needed for supplies and repairs.)

Some ships would have “officers” of a sort in the form of sergeant-at-arms who carried out the orders of the captain and/or pilot, and a quartermaster and/or carpenter who were/was in charge of stocking, repairing, and maintaining the ship. They usually received either equal share to the captain and pilot or something in between them and the rest of the men. In the TV show, the captain received half the loot! In actuality it was usually divided as: the men got 1 share, the captain and pilot and “officers” received 2 or 3 shares at most. Although, actually I am OK with their giving the captain half since he’s expected to use it for bribes and payments and other ways which may add to the dramatic element of the show–and that’s cool. Oh, and back to the ship’s democracy, the crew on the TV show can actually, if it’s unanimous, vote the captain off the ship, and that’s cool.

The show is edited in such a way as to make it appear as though the contestants (and the host I guess) are the only people on the ship (which is a real barque class ship.) I was wondering if that was all “magic of TV” and in fact they did no actual work on the ship and a real crew did everything, and in fact if the ship actual sailed at all. However, I’ve found non-CBS affiliated sites that confirm the contestants actually did do a lot of work sailing and maintaining the ship–even though, of course, there was a real crew doing the important work. Like this page written by the real captain of the ship the show was filmed on:Picton Castle
<> The Picton Castle’s Very Own Pirate’s Passage Through the Caribbean
It adds, for me, to the enjoyment of the show knowing the contestants actually did work and perform some of the duties actual pirates would have done.

So, I’m looking forward to this series; I hope it fulfills the promise I see in it so far.