BURNETT DOWN: Marc Burnett, the king of reality TV, has hit a rough patch in his career this year, it seems. While the Survivor franchise remains successful for the moment, you’ll get less than even odds that The Apprentice is coming back, especially since the show’s figurehead, Donald Trump, seems unwilling to return for another season, even if NBC renews the show.


His new shows aren’t doing so well, either. Reviews for Pirate Master, his latest show (Survivor on a boat, basically), have been less than kind. After last Thursday’s premiere, Roger Catlin, TV critic for the Hartford Courant, speculated that if “anybody is saying “arrg,” it’s people in the audience, who aren’t fooled by the contrived challenges, the overblown orchestrals and the dour drawn out pageantry of tribal council (they must be calling it something else).”


It reminded him of Pirates Of The Caribbean – not the movie franchise, as Burnett and his backers might have hoped, but the “burnished design and forced passage” original Disney ride: “The way the teams row past perfectly posed skeletons and dig for treasure under fake crocodiles, it’s kind of silly and looks less dangerous than either “Survivor” or “The Amazing Race,” though it should by all rights be more,” wrote Catlin.


“I felt like I was watching a Survivor outtakes reel,” wrote James Poniewozik of Time magazine, “right down to the shamelessly ripped-off screen-graphics typeface.” Poniewozik admits he’d have no problem with Survivor on a boat, stripped to the most basic premise of the idea: “But take those same Survivors, dress them up in silly costumes, and it becomes like hanging out after showtime with the sixteen dumbest members of an amusement-park revue.”


“Mark Burnett largely established reality TV as a commercial force in American broadcast TV,” wrote Poniewozik. “Between this and On the Lot, it seems like Burnett is on a one-man campaign this summer to kill it.”

Speaking of which, Fox has responded to the dismal numbers pulled in by On The Lot by axing last the Monday night competition episode of the show, starting last night. The competition and results episodes will be compressed into a single one-hour show every Tuesday at 8pm, and the Monday night slots will be filled with reruns of episodes of Fox shows such as House, The Simpsons, American Dad and – returning to the small screen last night, just in time to help me survive the return of Canadian Idol - the third season of Hell’s Kitchen. Summer’s going to be just a little bit sweeter now that Ramsay’s back to howl and rage and fillet a few new ones – who need pirates?