#141 - Shipmates
Sailing the seven seas of sleazy sexcapades and misdemeanors.

 

Syndication (2001-2003)
Text by: Robert Seidelman


In 1999, Blind Date came on our airwaves and was the very first dating show to actually show you how the date went.  From first meeting, to the dinner, to whatever afterwards, to the post-date taped comments, it was the first of its kind.  Included in this show were Pop Up Video-esque jokes and factoids among other things to keep the show lively.  Also on this show was Roger Lodge, a relative unknown nationally, but he had the sly charisma to give us a good broadcast.  Usually, this show would have two dates in one show, but if a date was really good and really juicy, it would have its own episode.  With the success of Blind Date, shows with similar execution would pop up with The 5th Wheel, which actually had two men and three women or vice versa on the same date and see who would hook up with who.  Debuting alongside The 5th Wheel, is a show that was exactly like Blind Date, except it was on a boat and the date lasted 3 days.  This would wind up to become the one late-night dating show where if you were up late enough to watch it, you were definitely suffering from insomnia and need to take some sleep medication.  So, get your dance shoes and sea-sickness medication ready, it's time to board the only ship that needed to be disinfected after every single cruise.  Time for some Shipmates. 

This show starts off with a familiar face in the dating game show world.  Singled Out host Chris Hardwick takes the wheel in this voyage.  While I thought he was utterly deplorable on Trashed, he did a good job when Singled Out was on and he did ok here on Shipmates.  However, it needs to be known that he really didn't do all that much on this show.  He would basically intro the couples and other segments on the show, in his own sarcastic way.  More often than not, the sarcasm was hilarious.  He would also make some random comments during the date in pop-up video style breaks from the date, but we'll get to those later and how they affected this show. 

The premise of this show can be summed up as this: Blind Date extended to three days on a Carnival Cruise Ship.  And that's basically it.  Sadly for Shipmates, the show's location hampers everything about the show.  There are so many more options on Blind Date to go on a date with that it makes it more interesting to watch, besides the crazy antics of the daters before ending up in a hot tub semi-naked and getting to second base without even knowing them for longer than a day.  Shipmates basically shows them in either one of four places: On the deck having drinks, having a meal in the dining hall, at the ship's nightclub, or when they eventually do hit the port of call, it's to have dinner at a fancy restaurant.  That's all there is too it for the show. 

To make the dates more interesting or more annoying, they used the same Pop-Up Video style of making jokes about the date to bring home the comedy.  Some of these were done by Chris Hardwick himself.  The result of this was mediocre at best.  Blind Date got big because of the varied actions of the dates and also because of the daters themselves and how they reacted to the other dater.  Not because anybody thought those pop-ups were funny at all.  And while we're on the subject of the people picked to be on this show. 

The daters on Shipmates can be classified in three categories: Boring, Horny, or Angry.  Most of the dates that wound up happening on this show would wind up also in three categories.  Tons of grinding non-sex sex while doing body shots off of one another, a staid affair that would have been better left on the cutting room floor, or two people that just don't like each other and throw drinks in each others faces and almost wind up in jail for misdemeanor assault (and yes, that actually did happen on a date).  There were about 260 episodes of the show, and I doubt any long-lasting relationships were made here.  I'm certain that the couples were already tired of seeing each other for three straight days and didn't want to be around them anymore. 

At the end of the cruise, the daters would give a video postcard.  These can range from the sanctimonious to the downright hilarious.  It's also interesting to see them in so many ways to say "I like you as a friend, but nothing more." to "I think you're an amazing guy and I'd love to hook up with you once we touch land again." to, my personal favorite, "Oink, bitch" (Yes, this did happen as well.  On the same date as the misdemeanor hitting no less.  Here's the proof right here.).  I guess this was supposed to tie up the show nicely, but it just continued to show how pathetic the show really is. 

While not doing too well in the ratings, it was the beneficiary of the popularity of both Blind Date and The 5th Wheel before being beached in 2003 and finding a home in reruns on Spike even later at night along with reruns of Judge Mills Lane.  If you're into sleaze, then this was for you.  However, if you're looking for anything else, then this wasn't the show for you.  Sadly, it was the early 2000s with such sleazy dating shows such as this one, Temptation Island and For Love Or Money that glutted the market and made anyone with sanity wretch and this was one of the worst offenders by being nothing more than Blind Date on a damned Boat.  If Blind Date was the 747 of dating shows of this time, Shipmates was the Hindenberg.  I would have made the Titanic reference, but that one belonged to Love Cruise: The Maiden (and only) Voyage, a show that I dread to have to watch again.