Friday, September 21, 2007

This is why life is good

And the storm clouds parted, revealing Jeff Probst on my television screen, and once again peace and happiness reigned throughout the land.

So Pirate Master may have been a bust (does anyone actually know who won? I keep forgetting to google that dang it), but Mark Burnett's summer failings are but a vague memory now that the sweet nectar that is Survivor is back on the air for another season providing well-needed nourishment to a quality reality-tv-starved audience. It is no secret that I am still nursing a huge fanboy crush on Jeff, who remains the gold-standard of reality program hosts (save perhaps Kathy Griffin on "My Life on the D-List", but that is a completely different genre of reality). He is not the Isabella Rossellini of my laminated list, he is right at the top. Heh.

Now, as all Survivor fans know, the first four episodes are always a bit awkward, like the first day of school or the first hour of a high school date with someone you really like but don't quite know yet. We don't know the characters, we don't really know what kind of twists to expect, and the producers have very little time to introduce you to a handful of characters very quickly so that come tribal council you have an opinion about who is in danger of getting voted off. By episode five things just tend to flow much better. But still, there are juicy moments of delight to be found.

So far, here are what I see of the real and potential cons of the season:

1- It is early to complain, but I'm never a fan of bad and/or negative attitudes. They almost always throw one or two in the mix to help guarantee that there is a story line to follow, which is the biggest negative of reality programming for me. And there seem to be more of these types than usual this season. Time will tell. But rolling your eyes at a monk is not a good way to endear yourself to the audience dear, I'm just saying. Nor is complaining that everyone is too nice to you. And don't use the fact that you live in New York as an excuse for ridiculing manners and, especially, culture. Real New Yorkers are nice, and like eating ethnic foods, and sit on the subway every day with people from a million different cultures and all get along fine. You, sweet thing, are just a scared little girl and somewhere along the line decided that being jaded at 22 was a good defense against things that scared you, but don't expect any sympathy from a TV audience that can see right through your pathetic blabber.

2- Gimme a break, how many cons do you expect me to come up with for the best show on television???


1- China. Hello, they are in CHINA!! That is freaking awesome!! It means we are treated to gorgeous filler scenery transition shots all season long! They keep showing images of the Great Wall, and I bet they are actually hundreds of miles away, but I don't care. One team elected a leader, who said he was reluctant (but didn't really seem reluctant at all), but then said "Well this will be a sort-of democracy." And I was thinking, dude, you are in China, better off to say the tribe is Communist and then you don't have that big target on your back. Heh.

2- The producers are clearly trying to set up a conflict between the "Christian Radio Host" and the "Gay Mormon Flight Attendant". However we got no actual interaction between them at all. I was prepared to dislike the Radio Host after she walked out of a greeting ceremony that she later said felt too much like she was worshipping a false God. But she didn't get all crazy and actually handled the issue respectfully I thought, even if her retrospective game talk was weak. ("If people like me, great, if not, oh well." Why do people always say that? It is ok as an internal dialogue, but to say it to the face of strangers who are looking for any weakness to exploit in the very beginning is just stupid.) But more on her in a second. Gay Mormon Flight Attendant, or GMFA for now, is young and clearly wants to play the game, but I bet he ends up trying too hard. The best players just play. The weaker ones talk about playing and then just do stupid things. But we'll see.

3- The pro Poker Player. He was totally lame and went up to GMFA and said "I don't believe you are a flight attendant. I just get a vibe that you are really clever and are going to play really well." This statement got GMFA all a-flutter, as it was intended to do. However I don't think it was nearly as clever as PokerMan gave himself credit for, especially if he does it to anyone else. GMFA loved the compliment, even if it had no basis in reality, so wasn't able to see through the incredibly transparent gesture. But I doubt many others will be quite so gullible. Still, I love that kind of crap.

TRIBAL COUNCIL: The three with their heads on the block were the girl-pro-wrestler who got sick, the bossy Asian girl, and the old man who doesn't know how to play well with others. All three had very typical first-vote faults. The sick girl got better though, and I think could be a strong player, so I was rooting for her. Bossy girl also cried in frustration after they lost the challenge, which to me says she is WAY too wound up to be much help at anything. But the old man was the best. When they first arrived and started talking shelter, his way of sharing his experience and knowledge was just to not-so-subtly tell people that their ideas were bad. When they started getting upset at this behavior, he decided he would just keep his opinions to himself, which would be fine, except for when people would ask him direct questions about what he thought would work better and he refused to give an answer other than "Whatever you want to do is fine." This revealed such a profound lack of understanding of how to talk to people that I knew he wouldn't last long. Plus he was old. So indeed, he was the first given the boot. The best part is that it surprised him, and when he got booted he literally screamed "DAMN!", which has to rank as one of the better reactions of Tribal Council ever.

BEST MOMENT OF THE EPISODE: There is a huge black guy, all rippling with muscles, who is a gravedigger. He is very quiet though, and admitted he doesn't really know how to talk to people and prefers to be alone. But he seems like a nice guy. So none other than Christian Radio Host approaches him and quietly gives him a little personality pep talk. "Just be yourself and you and I will get along fine." Then she starts giving him advice on how to fit in with the others. "Just ask them questions, people love to talk about themselves." It was very smart advice, and I thought, this could be the start of a *very* interesting alliance.

The last few seasons have started with 20, and this one started with 16 players, so things should get to the point faster. And thankfully there was no racial division or anything boring like that. The last two seasons of Survivor have been especially strong, so it will be interesting to see how this one goes. I'd of course recommend that you watch along with me so you too can enjoy the fun, but if not, I'll keep you updated at least. ::grin::

1 comment:

  1. Oh Robb, I've checked your blog NO LESS than six times since 8:05pm MST last night waiting for this post. You were on my mind all day and I celebated the fact that YOU have a loved one willing to sit beside you and also soak in the fun. Alas, my Beloved Boyfriend is perfect in all ways except sharing my obsession with quality reality television. But to his defense (he is Beloved after all) he did make me a tasty grilled cheese and poured a nice glass of wine to go with it....

    I don't see how skinny, whiny NY chic is going to last long. If they don't vote her off early, she's sure to shrivel up and blow away in less than two weeks.

    I dislike the poker-play Jean-Whatever already. Perhaps it's his arrogant, pot-bellied swagger that turned my stomach.

    Really liked the moment in the immunity challenge when the Gravedigger and Frosti were neck-and-neck. The athleticism was impressive. I thought the overall effect of the chinese dragon train was a little cliche, however.

    Did you notice the Survivor Website has a fantasy team play-along this season? Is that the ultimate in dorkiness that I have a Survivor Fantasy Team (Ashley, Todd, Frosti and gravedigger James if you're curious).

    It seems like a great combination of people, and a fantastic location. I'm very happy so far!