‘Survivor: Redemption Island’: The Rob and Russell Show is off to a good start

17 02 2011

I admit it: I hate that Russell is back again. I like Boston Rob just fine, but facing another season of the hateful troll was almost enough to make me give up all together. I’ve even heard (I have no evidence! it’s an online rumor! I’m probably wrong! but if you have evidence, please share) that Russell was responsible for leaking the results of his season, and therefore the reason the ending was ruined for me. I’m trying to avoid that this season (it happened for Nicaragua, too, and this season of The Bachelor), but it’s hard when spoilers are all over the comments section on EW.com.

But Survivor was my first true TV love (besides Thomas the Tank Engine), and none of that is enough to make me give up on Jeff Probst and his sexy summery button-down shirts.

ANYWAY. Okay. Premiere. I won’t be sold on the Redemption Island premise until I see it in action, and I don’t think that’ll happen until episode 3, but this cast is already worlds better than the Nicaragua cast. I loved the alliance/battle between Kristina, Francesca (oops, I mean Franquesta… Frankesta… Franquesa!), and Phillip, which lead to an amazingly satisfying first Tribal Council. I’d say that last night featured the best first-episode Tribal Council in Survivor history.

Phillip is above and beyond the Coach level of crazy. He’s well and truly nuts; hell, he could be Naonka’s daddy! And I love that they have a question mark next to his occupation—is he or isn’t he a former secret agent?! The world may never know! But what we do know is that he wants us to think he is, and he wants it so bad that he has to mention it every seventeen seconds. I can’t imagine he’ll be around too long, not after proving that he can’t keep his damn mouth shut about anything, including Kristina’s Hidden Immunity Idol.

Now, after Russell found all those HIIs in his first seasons, I recall being promised—PROMISED, I tell you!—that the producers were going to make them much harder to find. Well, guess what, producers! Hiding it under some rocks at the base of a tree isn’t good enough. It’s never been good enough. But I’m happy that Kristina found it, because it A) means she’s the first woman and second Survivor ever to find an HII without a clue, and B) made for an awesome Tribal Council once Phillip blabbed.

I do feel bad for Francesca, though, for getting herself caught in the middle. It would have been a tie between her and Kristina if Phillip hadn’t changed his vote—Rob and his doe-eyed fan club had a solid plan—but it didn’t shake out that way. I like Francesca, and I hope she has to shot to return from Redemption Island.

I’ll speculate more on Russell’s tribe next time, because I feel like we didn’t get to see a whole lot of them. It looks like Russell is up to his same old games with the new Natalie/Parvati girl (was her name Stephanie?), but he has to have some new twist coming up because he can’t hide behind his lies now that everyone’s seen his seasons.

It’s always easier to blog once the tribes are whittled down some, and you can expect much more from me now that I’m enthused about the season. Nicaragua broke my TV-loving heart with its awful, unlikeable cast, and I couldn’t bring myself to blog about it much, but… bring it on, Redemption Island! I’ll just try to ignore Russell until his tribe sends him home off to duel for a second chance.


Winter/Spring 2011 Season

31 12 2010

Here’s what’s on deck for Jess Blogs TV during the winter/spring 2011 TV season:

The Bachelor, ABC, 8 PM (premieres 1/3)

America’s Next Top Model, CW, 8 PM (premieres 2/23)
Survivor, 8 PM, CBS, 8 PM (premieres 2/16)
Note: I will most likely not be watching/blogging American Idol this season.

Wipeout, ABC, 8 PM (premieres 1/6)
Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, 9 PM (returns 1/6)
Private Practice, ABC, 10 PM (returns 1/6)

Project Runway‘s return is still TBA. I’m also hoping to finally catch up on The Office and 30 Rock—we’ll see. Spring is actually pretty light, but my schedule isn’t!

How about you? Any big TV plans for the winter/spring? Am I missing something huge that you want to see covered? Comment with your ideas, or send me a pitch for a guest blog!

(If you’re looking for a show not listed above, check out TheFutonCritic.)


‘Survivor: Nicaragua’: “Sorry I smushed the bananas.”

30 09 2010

Maybe I’m an optimistic sucker, but I truly believed Coach Jimmy Johnson when he said he was there for the experience and not the money. This week at Tribal, I became even more convinced. He didn’t fight to stay, didn’t ruffle any feathers, spoke with honesty, and was sent packing because Marty and Jimmy T. are egotistical and insecure. I’d never claim to be a Jimmy Johnson fan outside of reality TV. I’m a Patriots girl through and through. But he brought heart, humility, confidence, and peace to Espada, and I was sorry to see him go. The heartbreaking part is if he had just fought, just talked to his fishing buddies and Tyrone, he could have easily gotten the votes to send Dan—who is useless—home. But he didn’t, and he’s gone. No wonder the editing was so Jimmy-heavy for the first couple of episodes; the producers knew he was leaving and wanted to get as much celebrity on our screens as possible! I never thought I’d feel sorry for a guy who coached the Dolphins and the Cowboys, but I did last night.

There’s really no one to root for on Espada, but I find myself hoping they’ll pull through anyway since La Flor is so much worse.. I like Jane and Jill, but they need to amp it up, not defer to Marty, and make decisions for themselves. Marty and Jimmy T. drive me nuts. Tyrone is okay, but he’s too soft-spoken. I wish Dan had never been cast—how did he even pass the physical?

I’m not sure if Marty telling the tribe about the Hidden Immunity Idol was a good move. I hope it will work against him somehow, because I don’t like his ego or his lack of humor. Can people steal the Idol? If someone swiped it and used it for themselves (preferably to send Marty home!), that’d be great. But I don’t even know if that’s allowed. No one’s done it yet, even when they’ve found an Idol in a person’s bag.

The only people I like on La Flor—Kelly B. and Fabio (Jud)—are on the smaller alliance. I really hope Naonka, who I may actually dislike more than Russell (shocker!), starts to alienate some of her alliance with her attitude and behavior. Knocking Kelly B. down to get a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol (which the dummy couldn’t even decipher) was downright reprehensible. I don’t like having her horrible attitude in my living room once a week. It legit makes me upset. And her apology about ruining the bananas, with no mention of the fact that she shoved a disabled person to the ground, just made it worse. If I had a child going to the school or YMCA where she’s a PE teacher/coach, I would pull him or her out of the class or program immediately.

I also found out by reading Dalton’s EW recap that Benry used to be a Girls Gone Wild cameraman, which makes me hate him even though he’s had very little airtime. Girls Gone Wild cameramen get DVD footage by convincing college girls to take their shirts off when they’re not sober enough to make good decisions. It’s a morally bankrupt job, and Benry seems proud of it. I cringe when my boyfriend wears a Girls Gone Wild t-shirt around the house, and he even got it for free.

I’m annoyed with Jeff Probst for constantly referring to them as “older tribe” and “younger tribe.” You gave them tribe names, damnit. Use them. The Medallion of Power is still my least favorite addition to this season, but the harder Hidden Immunity Idol clues are awesome.

I’m concerned about not having enough good people to root for this season. It seems that everyone I like is either teamed up with the bad guys or on the outs in their own tribe, unlikely to last long. I’ll keep watching—I always do—but I really enjoy liking people on Survivor, even if they don’t win (and they often don’t). But it’s only episode three. There’s still time for this season to improve, and for some of the folks to grow on me. Except for Benry and Naonka. They’re in the Jess doghouse for however long they stay on the show.

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’: The Craziest Tribal Council Ever

23 09 2010

I don’t like La Flor. It’s as simple as that—as a responsible 20-something who feels pretty grown up most of the time, watching these people bicker like high schoolers makes me mad. (No offense meant to any mature high schoolers out there!) I’m so glad I’m not on that tribe, because I wouldn’t last long. I like Kelly B. a lot and if someone from that tribe makes it, I want it to be her. I also want to hear more from Purple Kelly, because she seems all right. I would never be able to put up with Naonka, though, and I consider myself a relatively patient person. Jud (Fabio) actually seems normal compared to her.

But that was one of the nuttiest Tribal Councils I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen every one). Shannon completely blew a gasket and called Chase out for his alliance/relationship with Brenda, then turned to Sash and asked him point-blank if he was gay. Shannon claims it was taken out of context and that he’s not a homophobe or sexist, but regardless, he dug himself his own grave. It’s easy to make whatever claims you want after the show has aired and you’ve had months to reflect on what you said or did, and spin it in a way that makes you sound less like a jerk. But I’ll say it right here: Shannon, I think you’re a jerk. Even if the comments were edited badly, you still let your emotions explode all over Tribal. If you’re gonna play Survivor, people, learn to keep your feelings under wraps.

I don’t really like Sash either, though, with his minorities-only alliance ideas. I understand the reasoning, but I don’t like racism (or sexism, or most -isms) in any shape or form. I’m curious to see how the alliances work out now that Shannon is gone and Chase and Brenda have been called out (and possibly targeted).

Life at Espada isn’t all puppies and rainbows, either. Holly’s a bit of a nutcase, what with the shoe-stealing and all, but who brings $1,600 shoes on Survivor anyway? And at least she came clean in the end. Coach Jimmy Johnson is showing how much of an asset his leadership skills are, too. He pulled Holly back from the edge when she wanted to quit and really set the mood for the Reward/Immunity Challenge, which helped lead Espada to victory (the Medallion of Power helped too). I hope they keep him around for awhile, even though Jimmy T. and Marty seem jealous. There don’t seem to be any strong alliances yet, but Jimmy J. is making friends with a lot of people.

And Marty found the first Hidden Immunity Idol, too—but with serious help from Jane, who figured out the clue. I’m glad that Espada found the Idol before La Flor, even though I don’t like Marty that much. I like Jane, though, and I think she’s one of the strongest older women to grace Survivor for years now. (Anyone else still miss Madd Dog? I miss Madd Dog.) I just hope she’s able to get that Idol from Marty if she needs it. He doesn’t seem too trustworthy.

I’m loving this season so far. Heroes vs. Villains was great, but two seasons of Russell was just too much. It’s awesome to see some new people, smart people, strong people, dramatic people, and a few really great people. Let’s get on with the alliances and scheming!

‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ Premiere: “I can’t believe I just got a pep talk from Jimmy Johnson!”

16 09 2010

First things first: Yes, Jimmy Johnson is a famous and successful NFL coach and analyst. No, that does not mean he was cast simply because of his high profile. According to Jeff Probst’s EW blog, Johnson’s tried out three times but always failed the physical before. And Johnson himself said that he’s watched “every second” of Survivor. So, while him being on the show likely benefits CBS, he’s there “for the adventure” and because he’s a true fan, not simply because Survivor loves casting celebs (although that’s true too). I do love that his appearance on Survivor corresponds with the beginning of football season, which just adds to Fall TV’s awesomeness. Between football, Fall TV, cool weather, and Halloween, Autumn really is the best season ever. We even slept without an air conditioner last night!

But let’s move on. As previously stated, the tribes are split by age this season. It seems like the younger team, La Flor, has a significant advantage over the older team, Espada, in terms of physical prowess. But La Flor also seems to be the team filled with dunderhead twenty-somethings with little leadership ability and lots of hotness. I’m really excited about Kelly B., whose prosthetic leg might cost her the game not because of her performance but because of her potential to garner “sympathy votes.” No one else over there has stuck out to me so far, except maybe Jud (aka Fabio) for his sheer lack of brain cells.

Over at Espada, Jimmy Johnson shocked me by flat-out stating that he doesn’t expect to win but instead wants to help his team move further ahead. I’m not sure if I buy the idea that Mr. Competition isn’t in it to win it, but I did like his pep talks. Jimmy T. is a blue-collar Massachusetts guy through-and-through, and I wish I liked him but so far he won’t shut up. I was very impressed with Jane, who managed to make fire without flint. She might be my favorite on that tribe so far.

I’m not sure about this “Medallion of Power” thing, which can be used at the beginning of a challenge to give one team a head start. It’s then passed to the other team, which means that La Flor will have a chance to try it once Espada caves and takes the short cut. Aside from the lame name, I think it might be useful… or just boring and stupid, like when Russell found every Hidden Immunity Idol ever. We’ll see.

Oh, Wendy. Poor, talkative, awkward Wendy. Her husband said she’d be the first to go, and he was right. But according to Dalton Ross, she eats her pets, so I’m really okay that she’s gone. That might just mean chickens and goats and stuff, but still… not sad to see her go, especially after her rant at Tribal Council.

I’m hoping for an awesome season. I want laughs, tears, and for the older tribe to kick the younger tribe’s ass. And if they don’t, I want a quick merge, because watching the older guys get decimated won’t be fun. I want better challenges than the first Immunity Challenge, which was very standard and dull. And, although I don’t like either of the teams he coached, I want Jimmy Johnson to stick around for a bit because he gives good soundbites. I’m excited by the start of this season; even the shift to Wednesdays doesn’t bother me now that I know my night classes won’t interfere with my reality TV. Woohoo Survivor! I’m always happier when it’s back.

Jess’s Fall TV: What you can expect to read about.

27 08 2010

Fall Leaves photoMy TV schedule changes with the leaves. I will continue to blog Weeds, True Blood, and Big Brother until their respective finales, but this fall, I’ll be watching:

America’s Next Top Model, CW, Wednesdays at 8. Premiere: Sept. 8. I’ll be DVRing this one once Survivor starts, but I should still be able to blog about it.

New day! After 9 years of airing on Thursdays, Survivor (CBS) is moving to Wednesdays at 8. Premiere: Sept. 15; this season takes place in Nicaragua. This show is basically why I started a TV blog, so you can expect plenty of coverage.

Grey’s Anatomy, ABC, Thursdays at 9. Premiere: Sept. 23.

Private Practice, ABC, Thursdays at 10. Premiere: Sept. 23.
(GA and PP are so related that I may combine posts; we’ll see how it goes. I am taking two classes and working full time this fall.)

Dexter, Showtime, Sundays at 9. Premiere: Sept. 26.

The Walking Dead, AMC. Premieres on Halloween—Sunday, Oct. 31, at 9. It conflicts with Dexter, so the DVR will be getting some action.


-I’m behind on Gossip Girl, so although it premieres on Monday, Sept. 13 (CW, 9 PM), I probably will not be able to cover it. Unless I catch up. Hmm….

House starts on Monday, Sept. 20 (8 PM, Fox), but I’m a few episodes behind still. We’ll see.

-I’m going to give Shit My Dad Says a try, but I don’t know if I’ll blog about it. If not, I’ll at least give you my initial reaction and review. Premiere: Thursday, Sept. 23, 8:30 PM. (CBS).

-I’m still behind on The Office and 30 Rock, but they both start on Thursday, Sept. 23 on NBC.

The Amazing Race (CBS, Sundays, 8:30) premieres on Sept. 26, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll blog about it.

Is there anything else you want covered? Check out EW‘s Fall Cheat Sheet for a full list of premiere dates.

CBS announces twist for ‘Survivor: Nicaragua’ season

29 07 2010

Survivor: Nicaragua logo

The 21st season of Survivor, my absolute favorite show (and the show that taught me the joy of TV addictions), will premiere on Wednesday, September 15th at 8 PM, followed by the Big Brother finale from 9-11 PM. Talk about one huge night for CBS!

This is the first time since season 1 in Borneo that Survivor will air on Wednesdays—news that initially freaked me out, because I planned my fall class schedule around Thursdays (yes, I do that, even though I have DVR)—but fear not! My Wednesdays are clear, and I hope yours are too.

Survivor has given us all sorts of crazy tribe divisions in the past: men vs. women, tribes split by ethnicity (affectionately nicknamed the “race war” season), fans vs. favorites, heroes vs. villains, older men vs. younger men vs. older women vs. younger women, and more. The twist in Nicaragua will apparently be a spin on that last one: two co-ed tribes, split by age. One tribe will feature 10 castaways ages 40 and older, and the other will have 10 primarily in their 20s (with a few in their 30s).

We know that Jimmy Johnson, 67, NFL analyst and former head coach of the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins, will be on the older tribe. In a game that generally—but not always!—favors younger players in physical challenges, will his years of leadership, teamwork, and strategy help his team succeed? Or will his fame and riches get him ousted early?

And it’s best not to count the older tribe out yet: Even if they’re weaker in physical challenges, they usually excel at puzzles and strategy. All I’m hoping for, really, is to have one excellent, evenly-matched season with a nice mix of physical and mental challenges—and without scumbag Russell Hantz’s ugly mug on my screen every week.

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