Friday, February 12, 2010

Searching For Signal: #105 - “Survivor” - Heroes vs. Villains - Episode 1

Okay, the first thing I realized as I settled in to watch the premiere episode of Survivor’s twentieth run is that the Annoyance Factor is going to be pretty high this go around. In a typical season there’s usually only two or three people that get on my nerves. Now we have a guarantee of at LEAST ten people that are going to send me over the edge with their arrogance and disillusionment. Terrific.

Anyway, we start off with Jeff doing a long monologue about how the South Pacific has always been a place where warriors go to settle their scores. Really? Maybe I missed something in my history classes. Or maybe Jeff is just full of crap, babbling pointless sound bites just to get us psyched up about the virtual bloodbath that is coming. I’m thinking it’s Plan B.

In any case, we then see these foreboding, military-like helicopters transporting the Survivors to their destination, as if we’re watching “Black Hawk Down Under”. This is really overkill. Just throw the people on the island and let’s get started. No need for twenty minutes of people crammed in a chopper, with 27 reaction shots of Parvati realizing that they are, like, really high in the air.

While this overblown transportation montage is going on, we start getting little snippets from the various Survivors. Russell, no surprise, still thinks he shot the world out of his butt. Cirie explains that she’s a “gangsta in a Oprah suit”. (What the hell does THAT mean?) Boston Rob fesses that he knows he’s a target, but he’s not worried right now because “they never get rid of the bad guys first”. (Which is a good point. People can be really stupid on this show.)

Then we have some scenes with Coach in his helicopter, channeling the “electricity” around him, or some Zen crap along those lines. He was the first one on the screen where I thought, aw hell, there’s no way I can put up with this blowhole for 39 days. Really don’t like him.

Oh, and there’s Jerri, trying to be cute by saying that she feels like “Mother Teresa” amongst all these youngsters. Sweetie, Mother Teresa has passed through the Pearly Gates. Are you saying that you feel dead? Or is it just that you don’t watch the news? You know, that program where they tell you about current events, like the fact that your hairstyle is ten years out of date.

So everybody finally piles out of the choppers on the beach. (We get several scenes of Survivors standing around and trying to avoid the flying sand as the choppers come and go. We didn’t need to see that, producers. I’m starting to understand why the premiere is two hours. Not because it’s action-packed, but more because somebody doesn’t know how to edit out the boring bits.)

Once everybody’s on the beach, Jeff goes into this really long session where he’s asking all the contestants why they have been put into the Hero tribe or the Villain tribe. This is really pointless, Jeff. We’ve seen the shows. We know who we love and who we hate. Can we get to a challenge, please?

And then we do. (Thank you.) Right on the beach we have a Reward Challenge, with the winning team getting flint to make fire. Groups of four, two from each tribe, are going to race across the sand, dig out a buried pillow thing, and then try to be the first to race back and touch your tribe mat while still clutching the pillow.

This gets brutal, really fast. The Villains are apparently unconcerned with any sense of sportsmanship. First off, Stephenie gets her shoulder dislocated, and Medical has to pop it back in place. (THAT was really pretty.) Then JT gets involved in a scuffle with one of the Villains, and they end up in a shockingly sexual position. (Jeff: “That’s some country right there.”)

We have a huge surprise when Coach manages to best Colby. This is quickly followed by a sidebar wherein Tyson makes fun of Colby, calling him a woman. Really? This coming from an anorexic waif who, at any given time, looks like a drag queen with anemia. (And what’s up with those man-panties you’re wearing? Did you get those from Victoria’s Secretion? Does RuPaul know about this?)

Then we have the round where Sugar (hero) and Sandra (villain) are two of the four players. Up to this point, I’d been slightly wondering why Sandra had been assigned to the Villain tribe. Sandra helpfully clarified this for me. While she and Sugar are struggling in the sand, Sandra reaches up, unhooks Sugar’s bra, and tosses it to the wind.

Say it with me, folks: Bitch.

Happily, Sugar manages to wiggle her way free, then dashes across the sand, with the twins bouncing perkily, and scores a point. She then turns around and flips Sandra a double-bird. Sugar knows her milkshake brings the boys to the yard, and she’s got plenty of straws. Hayyy.

In the final round, James the Behemoth muscles his way to a challenge-winning point for the Heroes. Sadly, Rupert somehow manages to break one of his toes in about 12 different places. Poor guy. Damn those Villains.

Later, we cut to the Villains camp, where it’s clear that the Survivor producers are once again making the show all about Russell. He’s running his mouth about everything. Same trash, different season. Dude. Do you ever shut up? I don‘t want to see you all the time. (Do the producers not understand that? There are 19 other people on this show. Can we turn off the Russell-Cam for a while?)

Anyway, Russell is also up to his old tricks, racing around the camp and promising his loyalty to everyone he runs into, like Danielle, and Parvati. (“I want the devil on MY side.”) This is what cost him last season. The man didn’t learn a damn thing.

Zip over to the Heroes camp, where Colby’s shockingly-white teeth are blinding everybody and causing satellites to bounce out of orbit. Tom manages to discover four chickens just wandering around stupidly. (Hey, are those Shambo’s chickens?) The tribe works together to capture them. In fact, this tribe is working together, period, with all of them praising each other and singing songs. This will probably last roughly 12 minutes.

Back over to the Villains camp, where everybody, especially Tyson, is making fun of the fact that some of the Heroes got hurt during the Reward Challenge. Nice. Then Coach and his ego hog the camera for a while, so we get some of that mess. Throughout all of this, Tyson is looking exceptionally androgynous and completely unattractive. Is there anybody on this entire planet that has the slightest urge to sleep with him? I didn’t think so.

But what’s this? Jerri and COACH are attracted to each other? This is a sure sign of the Apocalypse, everybody start a prayer circle and light candles. But the rest of the camp is all hip with it, babbling about the “Black Widow and the Dragon Slayer” getting together.

Blech. First of all, these cute little nicknames don’t fit. How is Jerri a spider? I can think of several other more appropriate animals. And Coach was never involved with the slaying of a dragon, mainly because they don’t exist. (And by the way, Tae Kwon Don’t, nobody in the history of the planet believes your stupid little canoe story.)

But hey, if Twisted and Cracked want to bump uglies on their own time, then let them go at it, preferably in a cave somewhere that the Survivor cameras can’t reach. I don’t want to watch the conception of Little Damian, with his Asian tattoos and frizzy hair.

Once more to the Heroes camp, where it appears that James and JT might be in an alliance. (Quick sidebar with Colby warning Candice about such a hook-up.) Additionally, we see that Cirie and Amanda might still be tight, as well as Tom and Stephenie. But then Tom also appears to be sealing a deal with JT. (“I want another winner at the end.”) People are running all over camp, pretending that they aren’t making deals and saying ugly things about one another.

Hmmm. Okay, I get the part about always working the strategy, but shouldn’t we be a bit more focused on things like, say, winning challenges? It’s day two. Keep your team together, rip them apart later.

Once more we head over to the Villains camp, where these folks are NOT working together and things are not pleasant. Rob whines about this in a sidebar, complaining that people aren‘t helping, as he sits there on a rock, not doing anything. Then we have him being obstinate about starting a fire by basically rubbing two sticks together, and refusing to give up until he actually succeeds.

This throws Russell into a tizzy, with him hating on Rob and the fact that the rest of the tribe now considers Rob a Fire Hero. I don’t know Rob at all, probably should hate him but I didn’t watch his season. All I care about is that he trumped Russell, and that’s a fine and mighty thing in my book.

Back over to the Heroes camp, where we first see Sugar in a sidebar, fessing up with “I need a protector”. Then we see multiple examples of her stalking Colby, intent on becoming his Survivor Concubine. This greatly irritates everyone, especially when they are trying to get some sleep.

Then we have a lovely scene with JT killing one of the chickens with his bare hands, twisting and snapping the neck. That’s a nice family-hour viewing moment, with impressionable young kids across the country pausing with popcorn halfway to their mouths, startled and frightened. The girls on the tribe all look squeamish and repulsed, but hey, everybody was sucking the meat off the bone when it came time for THAT, just sayin.

Immunity Challenge.

This one involves putting a boat together, paddling out to retrieve a torch, paddling back, solving a puzzle, then building and racing up a ladder. This business starts out great for the Heroes, with them fetching the torch while the Villains are still figuring out what a boat is and where the water might be.

But then the Heroes get to the puzzle part, and it all goes to hell. Cirie, Amanda, Sugar and Rupert are in charge of this bit. Cirie and Amanda bicker and paw at the thing, with Sugar standing back for a while, and getting snapped at when she DOES try to help. And Rupert? I don’t know WHAT he was doing, staring off into the distance, but he wasn’t working on the puzzle.

The Villains finally get their act together, make it out to the torch and back without anyone getting killed, breeze through the puzzle like all they had to do was plug in a hair dryer, and they thunder up the ladder to victory. One of the Heroes will be going home tonight. The Villains whoop it up, the Heroes look sad, and Sugar cries.

Quick visit to the Villains Camp, where everyone is really impressed with themselves for winning (though, to be fair, they only won because the Heroes screwed up so badly at the end), Sandra is really mouthy about everything that pops into her head, and Russell is still convinced that he’s the star of his own TV show.

Back to the Heroes Camp, with everyone looking all tragic and pale. Of course, the scheming is in full swing as they try to figure out who to send home. Initially it looks like it’s going to be Sugar. She’s sweet and all, but really, not the greatest player. But then Tom starts trying to convince Colby that Cirie should go, while Cirie is pushing her peeps toward Stephenie or Tom, with the emphasis on Stephenie. By sundown, it appears to be completely up in the air, but you never know, what with the famous Survivor editing.

Tribal Council.

Wow, this get-up is new. They’ve apparently built the Council about thirty feet in the air, a series of little hut things that make it look like a warped Ewok City from Star Wars. (This is kind of a rude arrangement, really. Now you have to climb flights of stairs and THEN get voted out, sent on your way before you can even catch your breath.)

Jeff’s pre-vote discussion with the group is actually kind of boring, no major shocks or catfights. There’s a general theme from a few (like Amanda) that “there’s people here who have won”, meaning it’s time for somebody else. Cirie, responding to the fact that she screwed up during the puzzle, says “I don’t think one challenge should determine your fate”.

Um, this is Survivor, where simple things like how you eat a coconut can determine your fate, especially in the beginning when people don’t have anything else to base their vote on.

Anyway, we get to the vote and it’s a landslide. Sugar is going home. To her credit, she’s very gracious, and her parting words to the Heroes are: “One of you all better win.”


Wait a minute. How come we haven’t heard a peep so far about a hidden Immunity Idol?


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