Pirate Master debuts on CBS tonight

Seven years ago tonight, CBS debuted Survivor and changed network television forever. To mark that occasion tonight, CBS debuts a series that seems virtually identical, except it takes place on a pirate ship and its contestants wear pirate costumes.

While Pirate Master has perhaps the best name for a reality show ever, its debut at 8 p.m. ET is unlikely to alter the course of television like its precedessor. The show follows “16 modern-day pirates as they embark on a high seas adventure around the Caribbean island of Dominica in search of hidden treasure that will total $1 million,” according to CBS. They “will live aboard a massive 179-foot pirate ship” and “will go on extraordinary expeditions and decipher clues along the way,” winning “[g]old coins — real money that the pirates can take with them beyond the show.”

CBS also explains that “one pirate will become the captain of the ship and will assign roles and chores to the remaining crew members, setting the tone for law and order or betrayal and sabotage, which could lead to mutiny by the crew.” And there will, of course, be a Tribal Council, although it’s called Pirate’s Court. The last person standing wins $500,000.

Cameron Daddo hosts, and he tells the Boston Herald that this is “fantasy reality.” He says producers “kept as close as we could to the period and make this world alive to them, where they are back in 1730 and all of the tools they were using, the maps, the compasses, everything was leather and old. The art department … worked overtime to make this world for these contestants.”

He also says that the contestants were kept busy and tired: “I don’t think any of them expected what actually happened. … They would be running through the jungle, dealing with sabotages, and then come back to the ship and swab the decks, make their food and get up a couple hours later and do their watch.”

Pirate Master [CBS]
CBS’ ‘Pirate’ parrots reality format in quest for ratings gold [Boston Herald]

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.