‘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.


Guest Post: The Bachelor’s Boundless Bull[crap]

15 02 2011

by Eric Gray

Brad Womack

Just look at the intelligence behind those eyes.

[Editor’s note: Jess here. I think Brad Womack is a borefest and have been disinclined to write about his “journey,” so my awesome boyfriend decided to take the reins for this episode. I’ll pop in here and there with some insight; just look for the italics.]

Jess informed me that her Monday nights are henceforth to be filled with bitchy, sobbing, fawning women embarrassing the crap out of themselves for the love (er, attention) of one dude: Brad Womack, The Bachelor. So, I have a weekly choice to make: A. spend my Monday nights away from the woman I love and go do something reasonably unproductive, or B. spend my Monday nights with the woman I love and participate in something that is unquestionably unproductive. I chose B.

We all know that Brad is an idiot and boring as crap. We can’t dispute this. He’s overly polite to the point that I’m not sure he could form sentences without the words “PUH-LEESE” and “Will you EXX-CUUSE USSSSSS for a second.” [EN: I smell a drinking game….] His basic demeanor is flat, reactionary, and constantly in a state of feeding off the women’s energy while letting none of his own personality (beyond his predilection for producer-foisted X-TREME activities, pool parties, and candlelit dinners) shine out from beneath his doofus-sheen. In short, he sucks.

Really, the whole show is a packaged fantasy. The promise of the show actually building a relationship between two people is fake. [EN: It has happened in a few cases. Bachelor fans will argue this point, so it’s worth mentioning.] For the majority of these ultra-vetted, producer-picked, far-too-young women, this is a fantasy they can experience and be led through, with the hope of finding love—and having some time in the spotlight—and for some other women, it’s a fantasy they can control and play like a game. But it’s a bubble; the whole thing exists in a vacuum. I pale to think of what happens after the winner goes home with The Bachelor, when she finally realizes that away from the spotlight, beaches, bathing suits, endless alcohol, and ziplines, he’s about as interesting as white rice on a saltine cracker, and cannot verbally get out of his own way.

I guess for some, getting their 15 minutes in the spotlight is awesome, but I can tell some just aren’t cut out for it. Ally [EN: She was eliminated last week] and Britt, both I’m sure decently nice people, just couldn’t get their heads around what the show was about. They couldn’t live it large in front of the cameras, and were edited to come across as dull and uninteresting, or at least not ready—read: too immature—to love 38-year-old Brad. Britt actually struck me as quiet and thoughtful, and Ally was just too freakin’ young. And then on the flip-side, you have Michelle, the obvious producer-plant. She understood the rules of the game and manipulated the hell out of it, all while gaining publicity for her new movie. She didn’t love nor necessarily even like Brad, and I suspect she saw him as an opportunity to further her own career. This would explain her outrageous behavior and complete indifferent shutdown as she was sent home. We were spared a look at her family too—I shudder to think of what they would’ve been like.

The funeral girl, Shawntel, is still my top choice. She’s the most interesting out of all of them. Even then, though, I honestly want to know how she and Brad would work with the cameras turned off. But maybe they want the cameras to be on them all the time, to live the “Hollywood” lifestyle. Like Survivor, this is about as far from “reality” as you can get. I just hope everyone involved knows it. [EN: Reality TV Common Sense: The Bachelor is far more scripted and planned than Survivor.]

As an aside, however, Jess and I have decided that Costa Rica looks like a totally freakin’ awesome place to take a vacation, and we’re planning it now.

[EN: Just some stuff that Eric forgot to mention: Chantal is not fat. She’s a beautiful, curvy woman, and you’d eat some big meals if you were in Costa Rica and Anguilla too, especially if you were being plied with alcohol every waking minute. Lighten up, America. Also, I’m willing to bet that Emily’s kid is freaked out more by the camera crews than Brad, but the producers will work every angle they have. If Brad ditches Shawntel because of her job, he’ll lose every last lingering shred of respect I have for him (which is almost nil anyway), and I’m surprised that he kept Ashley—she seems more like a kid sister than a wife. I felt sorry for his unceremonious dumping of Britt, and the fact that she had to face the other women while she packed—what a horrid experience! And finally… ding, dong, the bitch is gone! Thank goodness. Sayonara, Michelle.]