The We Lost Our Gold treasure hunt has begun in earnest with the first episode of the weekly web series released today. As ARGNet reported last month, these absent-minded pirates buried their treasure of ten thousand gold-colored US dollar coins somewhere in New York City but can’t remember where they hid it. This eight-part web series will contain clues to the location of the pirate’s chest, and whoever finds it, keeps it.
Episode One introduces some vital information about the possible location of the chest, as the crew tries to retrace their steps through New York, beginning with the Balto Statue in Central Park, then on to locations like “Cape Shakespeare” and “Columbus Rock.” Meanwhile, the pirate-and-ninja crew struggles to find a way to prevent spies from learning too much by using codes, including “Morris” code and Japanese numbers. A series of interrupted flashbacks provide key background information about the crew and its unlikely journey through the Big Apple. The episodes to come will continue to piece together the crew’s journey through New York City, presumably ending with the final location of the pirate booty.
Through July, three trailers were released, providing glimpses of what’s to come in this modern-day treasure hunt. As of the time of this writing, the first trailer, which introduced the premise, has over 19,000 views on YouTube. Three of the pirates, with parrot in tow, appeared on MSNBC Live, putting up a fuss about would-be treasure-seekers while still managing to charm hostess Tamron Hall so much that she snorted on live television.
Personally, I’ve taken every opportunity to interact with the Captain and First Mate Mulligan on Twitter and on the We Lost Our Gold Facebook fan page ever since I first interviewed the Captain for ARGNet. I find the pirate puppets amusing, approachable, and clever (in their own way). It is easy to be engaged by these sharp-tongued brigands because of the way We Lost Our Gold toys with the fourth wall, that imaginary yet often powerful barrier between actor and audience. For example, the third trailer was set up as a celebrity movie interview with the pirate crew, and not only do the pirates know about the web series, they hate it. Thus, the audience is integral to the story; we’re not completely removed from the experience, watching from afar. We are the spies that the pirates are so fearful of, and rightfully so.
There has been quite a bit of speculation about who might attempt a wild stunt like this. A large corporate sponsor eager to generate buzz through viral marketing? Perhaps a promotion for New York City tourism? Not at all. According to a recent write-up in the New York Times, We Lost Our Gold is a completely independent venture, conceived by two Brooklyn-based guys, one a puppetmaker and one a freelance video editor, who would like to remain anonymous for now. In a logic that defies recent viral marketing practice, the buried treasure is to promote the puppet pirates, and the pirates are not promoting anything but their creators. This is exceedingly rare for a production of such high caliber, and a very refreshing addition to the web series genre.