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Review: Billion Dollar Wreck

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A reality show about a sunken luxury liner that isn’t the Titanic, featuring a grizzled seadog who did time for killing someone with a gun? Yep, Billion Dollar Wreck is probably our guiltiest pleasure on the box this week.

In a nutshell

Notable TV superstars who are also convicted killers are pretty thing on the ground. There’s Leslie Grantham, aka Dirty Den (it’s true – he shot a taxi driver and did a decade in the nick years before he became famous). And there’s… well, the guy in this show, who may not be a “superstar” in the UK, but he’s certainly fast becoming one Stateside. Easy to see why – he looks like an actual pirate (complete with black eye-patch) and has madcap pirate-like adventures. Chiefly related to the RMS Republic, the so-called “millionaires’ ship” which sank in 1909.

This forerunner of the Titanic was reputed to be carrying heaps of treasure when it hit the ocean floor, and this show – a monster hit in the US – follows our man Martin Bayerle and his once estranged son Grant as they desperately try to recover what they can. The show doesn’t dodge Martin’s dodgy past – he was convicted of manslaughter after shooting and killing his wife’s lover – and the whole thing has a shamelessly “Hollywood” tinge to it. And why not? This is, after all, a kind of underwater heist run by an ex-con, and the stories of all the unclaimed loot are utterly outlandish. In fact, it’s all so exciting that we wonder if this reality show is just a wee bit “exaggerated” here and there? Perish the very thought… 

What's the verdict?

Some US reality shows are so unfeasibly high-concept that it can be easy to be cynical. But let’s just go with it, because Billion Dollar Wreck is just too much fun not to watch. Question is, will they ever get their hands on the booty, or will it remain as mythical as Davy Jones’s Locker? 

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