The Court Ship!
Folks, after years of trial and error, we know exactly what those ravenous pinheads out there on the other side of the goggle-box crave in their mindless escapism. Idiots! Conflict! Contests of “skill”! Elimination rounds! Romance with multiple suitors vying for the affection of one worthless slob! Exotic venues! Am I right?
It always works! Say it’s a bitchy faux judge hurling insults at witless litigants in a mock courtroom, or a psycho chef bellowing at hapless cooking contestants, or unlikeable people being stranded on islands and told to re-enact Lord of the Flies, or bachelorettes being plunged into the colosseum to hack away at each other until one can claim a red rose, or some such shit. Chuck in a talent show for that added soupçon of ritual humiliation and you’re there! They eat it up! It never gets old!
SOOOO – why not give them the whole schmeer in one all-singing, all-dancing shit show revue? Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, I give you: THE COURT SHIP!
Picture it: the SS Court Ship, flagship of the Kangaroo Cruise Consortium, sailing in warm southern seas. On board: two eligible bachelors, both well-to-do heirs from wealthy families, at least one of them a smug, entitled, and loathsome heel (think Martin Shkreli), locked in a bitter legal dispute over some deal gone bad, a pharmaceutical patent, what have you – use your imagination. They’ve come to settle their dispute on the high seas where the authority of the Ship’s Own Admiral’s Court is absolute, beyond any appeal (everybody will have to sign away their actual legal rights, of course, and various other waivers dealing with intentional infliction of emotional distress will be in order, but that’s never a problem). Captain Steubing is the Judge, Julie, your cruise director, is Bailiff, and Gopher is Court Reporter. The litigants represent themselves! Perhaps instead of lawyers they could get celebrity coaches, who will egg them on with uniformly bad advice.
Meanwhile, aft and out of view on the upper deck, 16 bachelorettes are brought aboard to await the victorious bachelor litigant. They are corralled by the Ship’s Doctor, serving as a sort of den mother.
Perfect set-up right? Now we bring it all together in an ingenious tapestry of all the key elements.
In the Admiral’s Court, the litigants must first establish who bears the burden of proof. They do this by competing in one of the ship’s fun facilities – climbing the rock wall, say, or high diving, who cares, we’ll make something up. This sends the vital message that the merits of the case aren’t all that important. It’s who can cling to a wall that matters, not who’s actually right. The inherent injustice in this will inflame just the right passions in the viewers!
Then, after opening argument, they do it again – another break for some contest of physical prowess, utterly irrelevant to the rights and wrongs of the case at hand, to decide onus of proof – will it be on a “balance of probabilities”, or “beyond a reasonable doubt”? This will whip the viewers into a frenzy, as they root for their favourite.
Maybe, just to add to the outrage, we can rig it sometimes so that the heir who’s obviously the nicer guy with the better claim always loses these contests.
Let the case begin!
Meanwhile, aft on the upper deck, it’s the Doc’s job to winnow the sixteen bachelorettes down to eight, through a gruelling sort of beauty contest/talent show/skills competition/knowledge contest combo. They’d be scored in categories like poise, beauty, knowledge, athletic ability, singing and dancing acumen – obviously, the scope here for pernicious, degrading, back-biting competition is vast. Each round, a loser will be kicked off the ship until only eight remain, waiting breathlessly for the verdict in the Admiral’s Court below.
After the usual court room hijinks, flurries of objections and liars on the stand and all that noise, a winning litigant is declared! The loser is made to “walk the plank”, that is, marched fully-clothed down a diving board into one of the Ship’s luxurious pools, before being lowered over the side and left behind, apparently stranded at sea in one of the ship’s motor yachts. Cast and crew will gasp and beg for mercy, but the audience will be let in on the secret that the yacht has a crew that’s taking him to Bermuda, where he gets two weeks at an all-inclusive as his consolation prize. Psych!
We’ll have to make sure that at least half the time, the winner is the more loathsome heir.
Then, the victorious heir and his eight suitors enjoy a 90 day cruise around all the hot spots of the Caribbean, each bachelorette trying to woo him in the usual scripted ways. We might want to throw in some more little contests, like, say, two bachelorettes must play a game of chess to see who gets to go out on tonight’s date with the bachelor. This would allow us to add things to further dismay the viewer, like, say the bitchiest bachelorette, the one we all hate, is an ace at chess – or poker, or shooting hoops, it doesn’t matter. Or maybe they could mud-wrestle. This goes on until the heir picks his bride, and the other seven are flown home, coach, at the next port of call. The Doc could drape each one of the rejected losers in a sash as she starts down the gang-plank, “First Runner Up”, “Second Runner Up” and so on, as they blubber inconsolably.
Captain Steubing will then use the power vested in him by the law of the sea, or the will of Poseidon, whatever, to join the two in legal matrimony. Happily ever after! Or is it? We could leave room for a twist – say, we’ve been hinting all along that the eligible bachelor is hiding a dark secret, and reveal at the end something devastating, like he’s already married, or his family just went bankrupt and he stands to inherit nothing, or he could break down and come out as gay or something, the whole contest having been his last-gasp effort to deny who he really is. Or maybe the new bride is pregnant with another man’s child. Again, use your imagination.
Obviously, we could do a parallel version in which females are the litigating heirs, and a bunch of guys are the pining bachelors vying for the prize.
I even have a theme song:
the final venueeee
we will be judging youuuuuuu
The Court Ship
settling any and all disputes
The Court Ship
chuck in a chance at romance to booooooooot
We won’t challenge your fitness
to serve as a witness
The Court Ship!!
Oh, this has legs. It’ll run and run.