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CBS orders new Mark Burnett pirate-themed reality elimination show


By Reality TV World staff, 11/06/2006 

Apparently one season of Survivor: Pearl Islands wasn't enough for CBS and Survivor producer Mark Burnett. Three years after the broadcast of the seventh pirate-themed Survivor edition that introduced pillaging, mutiny, and a poorly received Pirates of the Caribbean-like "ghost tribe" twist to reality viewers, CBS has confirmed that it has ordered a new untitled Mark Burnett "pirate-themed reality adventure" show.

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According to Daily Variety, other than confirming the show's pirate theme and the fact that it has ordered "approximately" thirteen episodes, CBS isn't ready to formally reveal any additional details of the still-untitled series. However, according to a Variety source, the series -- reportedly set to begin casting shortly and being targeted for a Summer 2007 premiere -- will "take place on both land and at sea, suggesting the presence of ships and islands as central characters in the unscripted drama." The show will reportedly also "incorporate traditional reality elements such as competitions and elimination ceremonies."

While the show's tropical location and inclusion of traditional reality competition features might remind viewers of Survivor, Variety's source also claims the show "will not simply be Survivor at sea" and will "vary... in many ways."

"The Apprentice at sea," "The Contender at sea," and "Rock Star at sea" would appear to be equally poor descriptions for the new series, but there is one less well known Mark Burnett reality series that, depending on its final format, might be more apt -- "Combat Missions at sea."

Broadcast on USA Network way back in early 2002, Combat Missions was Burnett's first attempt to recreate the success of Survivor's initial Summer 2001 edition. Set at "Camp Windstorm," a mock desert training base, and hosted by original Survivor castaway Rudy Boesch, the reality-action series featured four six-person teams of military and police operatives competing in a series of "missions" designed to simulate real-life combat situations. The simulations included combat training, hostage rescues, enemy attacks, and urban assaults.

Rather than battling each other during their "missions," Combat Missions' squads took turns fighting "Shadow Squad," another team that filled each mission's "bad guy" role. Two of the four squads competed in each episode, with the least successful team forced to vote off a member. For the first six episodes, the losing team was allowed to select a replacement squad member from a pool of extra contestants. After twelve episodes, all the remaining members of a losing team were eliminated. Once only one team was left, the members of the remaining team split $150,000 and competed among themselves until one member was crowned the show's $250,000 champion.

Combat Missions was not renewed for a second season. Two years after its broadcast, Scott Helvenston, a 38-year-old former U.S. Navy SEAL who was the most prominent member of the Delta Team that was eliminated in Combat Missions' thirteenth episode, was killed in Iraq while working as a civilian contractor.

Left unaddressed in CBS's confirmation that it had ordered Burnett's new pirate-themed reality series was the fate of Rock Star, his reality talent series that, along with Big Brother, has served as the heart of the network's recent original summer programming schedule. So far, CBS has not announced whether Rock Star will be renewed for a third edition. Last season, CBS waited until January 2006 to announce Rock Star would return for Summer 2006.

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