On one level, the events of Survivor Cagayan’s seventh episode were pretty straightforward: Tribes merged, Sarah’s lack of commitment to either her old or her new alliance and her simultaneous swing-vote power trip led Kass to flip, and Sarah was voted out.
On another level: OMG!!!!!!! WTF!!!!!!!
That was an incredible episode and a particularly spectacular Tribal Council, from people exposing their idols to the Tribal Council vote-switching to the surprise result of the vote to the obnoxious applauding by those who did the blindsiding. It was just moment after moment, yet another of the amazingly crazy Tribal Councils we’ve seen over the past few years.
The fun idol play seemed to lead Aparri to switch from Tony to Jefra, but also seemed to be entirely unnecessary because Tony wasn’t in danger (though I can see why he’d want insurance for Kass’ swap). Also, sometimes men feel the need to pull out their idols and make sure everyone knows they have one.
Tony revealed and then played his idol for LJ, who then revealed his idol and played it for Tony. Thus both idols were discarded—and after all that work they went to re-finding their idols before switching tribe beaches, too.
After Spencer challenged him to pull out his idol, Tony did, but before playing it, asked Jeff Probst to validate it, as if that’s a thing. Jeff, the correct answer was, No, I won’t. Play it if you want to see if it’s real.
The repercussions for Kass’ swap will be interesting. As she said early in the episode, best-laid plans end up “sprawled out on a murder scene floor.” (Um.) And as she said after the vote at Tribal, when Spencer basically said she’d lost any chance of winning, there’s a lot of game to go.
While “Chaos Kass” (sigh) has probably destroyed her long-standing alliance, it was possible Sarah would have destroyed it anyway, so I think it was better for Kass to take control herself—especially since things didn’t seem to be going her way with Tasha basically telling Sarah to vote Kass out. Even if Kass ends up on the bottom of the new pile, that’s better than being in the middle of the pile that’s being picked apart.
Sarah spent most of the episode walking around with a giant sign that said “FORESHADOWING MY OWN EXIT,” telling the cameras and her fellow contestants that she was the swing vote, even saying the game was a “Sarah sandwich,” but it ended up being one of those sandwiches you pick up and the middle squirts out onto the floor.
Sara was also acting odd about her alliance’s desire to vote out Jefra, Proving that she really was the best strategist, she insisted Tony didn’t have an idol and wanted to vote out LJ or Tony because they didn’t have idols. Meanwhile, Tony wanted Sarah to swear on her badge and she refused, which didn’t exactly give him confidence, though the demand was obnoxious.
Woo won the first individual immunity, perhaps because he was was the only person wearing shoes while having to perch on thin pieces of wood and the narrow top of a floating platform. If his Vibram FiveFingers-like shoes actually did give him an advantage, he deserved the win even more: Probst says contestants were given a choice about whether or not to wear shoes. While this balancing challenge isn’t new, it did show off some fantastic cinematography and editing—never mind nature’s role, as the wind picked up just as everyone stepped up to the top of their platforms, and started falling off in waves.
Earlier, the tribes merged after receiving Tree Mail that was so vague that I thought for sure the tribes wouldn’t be merging, just living together, at least for an episode, but they actually did merge—even their names merged, because tribe name creativity is dead. While the drama that resulted was fantastic, on some level, I wish they hadn’t merged: all of the tribe-related twists are being flung at the contestants and us really fast, and we don’t really get a chance to see longer term impact of them.
But, clearly, the choices Probst and production are making are yielding dramatic results. So are the choices the players are making. I’m not quite sure what game many of the contestants are playing, but they are certainly ensuring things stay crazy interesting, emphasis on the crazy.
While April is bringing us at least one show that seems like parody but is very real, it also has several new shows debuting, in addition to the shows that started airing in March. Four of those are ones I hope you’re watching now:
CNBC’s The Profit is having a strong second season that comes off as more produced than season one, but it’s still engaging and real (here’s a news story about last night’s satisfying story, for example).
Syfy’s Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge, which started last week and is pretty much just like Face Off, except the process of construction is much more interesting and doesn’t lead me to fast-forward, like I now do during the middle of Face Off episodes. There’s also the bonus of Jim Henson nostalgia.
Discovery’s Naked and Afraid, which is back for its second season and although it’s paired with an obnoxious after-show, Naked After Dark, the series itself is as compelling as ever, with varied locations and personalities making each episode very different.
There are others that I haven’t been able to watch fully yet, such as Chicagoland and The Freshman Class, that I’m looking forward to, and perhaps I’m missing others. (Let me know!)
Knife Fight, April 15, Tuesdays at 9. Esquire’s fun cooking competition—hosted by a former Top Chef winner—returns for its second season with impressive chefs competing in the stripped-down showdown, including Sue Zemanick, Traci des Jardins, Charles Phan, Tim Love, and Mark Peel. The prize-less, half-hour show is quick and not at all gimmicky, so you’re just watching two (usually very competitive) chefs show off their skills.
Years of Living Dangerously, Showtime, April 13, Sundays at 10. A reality series executive produced by Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron about climate change and starring celebrities sounds like it could be parody, straight out of Team America: World Police, but the trailer suggests otherwise. In it, James Cameron sums up what the series is about: “the stories of people whose lives have been transformed by climate change.” Those stories are told and explored by a group of journalists, scientists, and celebrities, including Harrison Ford, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, and Jessica Alba, and aided by some tremendous cinematography and
Deadliest Catch, Discovery, April 22, Tuesdays at 9. I admit that I haven’t watched in a few seasons, having grown somewhat tired of the repetition. But I’m thrilled this show exists, and not just because, along with shows such as Naked and Afraid, it proves Discovery is capable of high-quality nonfiction despite airing reputation-destroying crap like this. It’s Deadliest Catch’s 10th season this year, and its brutal reality is matched by its artistry, which is evident in this trailer.
“24/7 real time, multi-platform viewing experience where viewers will play a large role in each survivalist’s success or failure. The survivalists struggle will be streamed live, day and night, from the moment they are abandoned into the remote wilderness with only the clothes on their back. Viewers will have the ability to check out the survivalists biometric data to see who is physically struggling, and can elect to help them out. The survivalists will be able to build a relationship with the audience by talking to them through the cameras. That relationship could be the difference between failing to succeed on the first week or making it the full 42 days. To prosper, these survivalists will need the audience in their corner if they want to stay alive.”
“After a crash course in the entertainment industry in their early twenties, the guys have enjoyed branching off into different facets of the entertainment business. Their first experience left them with a desire to become more educated, seeing first hand how incredibly complicated (and sometimes corrupt) the industry can be. And now, after 10 years apart, Trevor, Jacob, Erik, and Dan are reuniting as friends with a renewed passion for making music together again.”
Jacob told Billboard that “We had discussed a summer tour to perform our old songs and finally give the fans what they’ve been asking us for the last 10 years. However, once we began working, what developed was something a little more ambitious. The ideas kept flying and we couldn’t help but start making new music.”
CBS was already developing spin-off called How I Met Your Dad long before last night’s How I Met Your Mother series finale, and now comes word that this summer, the network will air another spin-off: a reality series that pairs with the network’s usual summertime competition.
How I Met Your Big Brother will be a documentary-style series that will show just how Big Brother’s cast members found their way onto a national television show, following both current cast members and some past cast members. However, only those unknown and underexposed past cast members will be profiled, such as fan favorite Jessie “Mr. Pec-Tacular” Godderz and beloved couple Rachel and Brendon.
When it profiles current cast members, producers hope it will serve as a way to humanize the cast even and help us understand why they do things such as voting for certain players, shouting so loudly in the Diary Room they cause hearing damage, going on racist rants, nominating who producers gently suggest they should nominate by telling them to do it or their future in Hollywood hosting CBS.com shows will be ruined, and threaten to stab each other.
The series will illustrate the careful, scientific process by which talented casting producers narrow the applications, interview people, field applicants’ obnoxious phone calls for months and months, and then have their choices thrown out by executives who think they know better and are eager to re-use their press release about how the show is a social experiment designed to generate revenue off the back of disposable people.
For the first time ever, we’ll also see the background check process, or as it’s known outside of Hollywood, skimming the first page of Google results. We’ll also see past cast members describe how their close personal friendships with strangers on Facebook and Twitter led to their casting and gave them an outlet for the personal and confidential information they couldn’t share anywhere else.
Borrowing lessons from How I Met Your Mother’s nine-season run, the entire season will be dragged out long past its logical conclusion, finding creative, new ways to alienate even its biggest fans.
The show will air on the CBS-owned TVGN and be broadcast in standard definition to make it as unwatchable as possible.
Lots of people have quit Survivor over the years, for reasons including regret that they’d left to play the game while a loved one was ill, asking to be voted out because they’d given up, and pure ego.
If there’s anything more exciting than the drama associated with fan freak-out following a quit, it’s online quizzes, which allow you to figure out what Muppet Baby you are or what your feces say about your leadership style.
So, in an attempt to become the next Buzzfeed, I present the Which Survivor Quitter Are You? quiz. Think about each answer carefully, and you’ll soon find out which quitter you are!
Congratulations! If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you’re that Survivor who chose to leave the game! If you answered no, you’re not a Survivor contestant who quit.
Share this quiz with your friends on Facebook and all the people you don’t know who follow you on Twitter.
And thanks to Survivor’s unofficial historian Jeff Pitman for double-checking my list, i.e. doing my homework for me, like he often does, even though I ignored some of his advice, such as whether or not to include people who asked to be voted out.
The Voice just announced that Pharrell Williams will coach season seven of the NBC competition series, replacing Cee Lo Green, who recently quit the show.
Once again, the show has been able to secure a major, current singer to serve as a coach; Williams’ record “Girl” is currently #6 on the Billboard 200. As a bonus, he wears large and sometimes absurd hats.
If the same schedule holds, the other coaches would be Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, and Blake Shelton. NBC said in a press release that “[t]he rest of the coach line-up will be confirmed at a later date.”
Remember Joe Millionaire—and remember its failed second season, The Next Joe Millionaire, and all of the failed knock-offs? Perhaps you also remember how, in 2003, Fox’s entertainment chair called the second season “greedy” and said it should have been “a one-time stunt”?
Flash forward to 2014, when Fox has produced another season of the show, though it won’t have that title. However, from what we know so far, it is basically the exact same show. The series is called I Wanna Marry “Harry”, and features 12 single women dating a man they think is Prince Harry in England, but he is actually a lookalike, Matthew Hicks.
Deadline reported details about this last week, including that it will air this summer, and I’ve been trying to pretend ever since that it’s not actually happening (i.e. I totally missed it).
It was filmed last summer and is produced by Ryan Seacrest Productions and ZigZag Productions, a UK production company. Deadline notes that departed Fox reality exec Mike Darnell “originally brought in and ordered I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’ before leaving the network in May. The project was then shepherded by his successor, Simon Andreae, who is British-born.”
Last week on Lindsay, OWN’s documentary reality series that follows Lindsay Lohan, Oprah said “fuck.” Twice. Then she said “bullshit.” Twice. “You’re not going to be fucking up. And I know you’re surprised to hear me say ‘fuck,’” Oprah says, adding soon after, “You need to cut the bullshit, you really do. Just cut the bullshit.”
This was interesting because Oprah was trying to steer Lindsay Lohan toward a better, more responsible life, and because Oprah was swearing (though that got a lot of attention, because Oprah). But what truly fascinated me was the subtext: Oprah, an executive producer of the series, appears on the show to help save the show, which is filmed and eventually becomes the show.
From its first moments, Lindsay has broken the fourth wall, introducing director Amy Rice, who we hear talking to Lindsay while they drive. It makes the series feel even more intimate than it already is—which is extremely raw and fly-on-the-wall. The editing contributes to that by including blurry shots, bad audio, and shots of the crew, which make it feel like someone is filming Lindsay with an iPhone, not like it was shot by an Emmy award winner and produced by the major, high-quality studio behind series such as Top Shot.
The series they’ve created has almost entirely been about creating the series, which may be boring to the rest of the world but which causes me to drool.
Most of the first three episodes spent a significant amount of time focused on the production of the show. Episode three showed the crew standing around, “waiting an hour” for Lindsay, noting that she’s been late seven of 12 days, and then showed a text from Lindsay to director Amy Rice. Lindsay later talks to executive producer Craig Piligian, who it turns out has advanced her money to help pay for an apartment that may or may not be materializing.
Lindsay tells her dad “that’s like mean and cruel,” and adds, “He’s just being a dick,” referring to Piligian, the producer of the show whose star just calls him a dick on his series. Piligian then tells Lindsay, “This is making me very frustrated. Is that when you tell our production what you will and won’t do, it doesn’t work for me.”
Director Amy Rice says, “There’s a fear, Lindsay, that we’re not going to get this footage from you”—and of course, there’s footage of her saying that which becomes part of the show that they’re fearing won’t get made because there won’t be footage. But there is! Of the director worrying about a lack of footage.
Including all of this demonstrates remarkable transparency and/or ego on the part of the producers, possibly both, and I love it.
Also, exposing the drama behind the scenes of Lindsay’s reality series makes sense because it’s a reality series about Lindsay Lohan’s life and the drama it contains, which includes the series we’re watching. At one point, Lindsay complains on camera about what she perceives as warring behind-the-scenes factions:
“One side wants the drama and the other side just wants something real and honest, and that’s the Oprah side, and that’s the side I signed on for. So my struggle has been … the fact that I signed up for something just to be, a camera just be there. Not a reality show, no offense to the Kardhasians, they do a great job with theirs, but I don’t ever want to be that. And there’s certain parts of my life that I don’t want on camera.”
Although she specifically cites her recovery, I can’t help but wonder if her saying that is one of those moments. In other words, I wonder if she had any sense that the drama about the show would become the show.
Ultimately, the effect is that Lindsay creates a lot of empathy for Lindsay, frequently illustrating others’ exploitation of her. There’s often footage of others reacting to Lindsay’s behavior without really knowing what’s going on in her life. Of course, broadcasting her drama may leave her more open to criticism and contribute more to the damage caused by her behavior and celebrity.
Yes, the show’s producers—OWN and Pilgrim and Amy Rice—are all participants in that, but at least they’re not hiding what they’re doing. (Of course, one could argue since they’re constructing the show, they’re doing so in a way that makes themselves look good by showing carefully selected not-so-great moments. So many layers!)
During their confrontation/meeting/discussion, Oprah tells Lindsay, “I’m perfectly fine with letting the whole thing go … because I’m not interested in putting on something that is half-assed. If you can’t create artistically what our vision was from the beginning, that we all agreed to, my thing is, let it go.”
What is that vision? During the very first episode, which was filmed before their interview, Oprah tells Lindsay, “I’m happy you’re here,” and then asks what Lindsay’s intention was for the interview. She repeats it back to Lindsay: “Just to be you. Because that’s my intention. My intention is to serve as a path for you to be able to do that. And so if I know that’s what you really want to do, I’m going to call you on it if you’re not.” Oprah added: “We’re going to get along just fine. I’m really not interested in it for this interview or for the docuseries that we’re doing with you. I’m only interested in what is the truth.”
One truth, as it turns out, is that creating the docuseries for Oprah’s network turned out to be a dramatic undertaking, one that—amazingly—is what we get to watch.
SurvivorbeatAmerican Idol in total viewers and in the 18-49 demo for the first time on Wednesday; it defeated Idol in the demo for the past three weeks but only this week beat it in total viewers, too. The two shows will face off in May, when both air their finales on the same night.
A disturbing picture of a trapped coyote in a tiny cage is part of Mother Jones’ follow-up report on abuse of animals on Animal Planet’s Call of the Wildman, which stages scenes using real animals. The new report notes that authorities are investigating, in part because Kentucky doesn’t allow coyotes to be imported, and one had to be brought in to replace the “sick and unresponsive” one in the cage.
Last fall’s best new reality series, Behind the Mask, earned Hulu its first Emmy nomination: a Sports Emmy Award nomination in the Outstanding New Approaches to Sports Programming category. Also nominated: HBO’s 24/7, 30 for 30, A Football Life, Casualties of the Gridiron, The Journey, MLS Insider, and Nine for IX for Outstanding Sports Documentary Series, and four films in the Outstanding Sports Documentary category.
E! announced another Kardashian spin-off, Kourtney & Khloe Take The Hamptons, and Jimmy Kimmel produced this PBS documentary trailer about “their furious march for domination”
New ABC reality executive Lisa Berger hired Jason Sarlanis to be her VP of alternative programming; they used to work together at E!, and he’s now the senior VP of unscripted TV at Ryan Seacrest Productions, where he oversaw Keeping up with the Kardashians. It’ll be interesting to see if ABC turns into E!—or more into E!, since The Bachelor is pretty much E! programming.
Guess what Bethenny Frankel is blaming the failure of her talk show on? Hint: Not herself. “I felt edited and diluted, a little bit controlled. And I’m not really great when I’m shackled. As you know, you have to kind of unleash the beast,” she told Andy Cohen. “Ultimately, it was not what I really should be doing. I really didn’t love it the way that I thought that I would.”
NBC’s reboot of Last Comic Standing announced its judges: Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans, and Russell Peters; the show will be hosted by JB Smoove.
OWN cancelled Our America with Lisa Ling, which will air its final season starting May 29. Of the show’s 44 episodes, Lisa Ling said, “I have never been more proud of anything I’ve ever done in my career and hope that our shows have enriched people and provoked them to think differently and with compassion about those who inhabit Our America.”
Bravo is going to start letting its viewers choose which scenes will be shown on television, yet another of its attempts to integrate fans into the TV they’re watching. The network should be commended for trying new things, but I fear this just further devalues the perception that some reality TV is crap that requires no talent to produce. But the process of editing and selecting footage is a craft, not something that should be left to a vote.
Watch this short but fascinating documentary, via Laughing Squid, about the people who take on the “very lonely profession” of creating neon signs in Hong Kong. It’s produced by the Hong Kong museum M+ and its “online exhibition that celebrates a key feature of the city’s streetscapes by exploring, mapping and documenting its neon signs.”
“Shame on you, Lindsie,” someone in the sand after Lindsey quit Survivor Cagayan. That misspelled criticism was the only real judgment of her decision to bail on the game shortly after her alliance was torn apart by a blindside at Tribal Council. The remaining cast members were all thrilled (either that she was gone and/or that there was one less player) and Probst had kind things to say to her.
Wait, what? Yes, our host, who chewed out the show’s last quitter, sat on the ground next to Lindsey and calmly talked to her, and never even challenged her decision. Instead, he just framed this as another Survivor First™: “No one has ever quit because they were afraid they were gonna do something they regretted, so they took a moment and said my best move is to just move on,” he told her. Probst later told EW:
“As difficult as it is to lose someone from the game in this manner, I was really impressed with the way Lindsey handled it. She was so upset with Trish that she was genuinely concerned she might get physical with her if she stayed in the game. She wanted to show her daughter a good example of how to handle a situation like that — remove yourself from the situation. As for whether there were other contributing factors such as fatigue and regret, only Lindsey knows for sure.”
There must have been, because based on what we saw, Lindsey’s exit didn’t make much sense. Sure, she fought with Trish, saying mean things about Trish’s laugh and teeth and face, and perhaps regretted those. But isn’t apologizing both a better example for her daughter and a better strategy in the game?
As it turns out, Lindsey actually thought she would physically harm Trish: “I was going to kick the shit out of her,” she told Gordon Holmes. That’s unexpected, because as he previously pointed out, Lindsey’s bio explained that her “Inspiration in Life” is “Martin Luther King Jr., in a time of struggle he pushed through without violence. A positive movement and true leader.” Lindsey also wrote in her bio, “My brain works better under pressure, I’m athletic, a fighter and ‘cut the fat’ in every situation.”
Whether she’s a fighter or a pacifist, those don’t seem like the words of a person who’d actually hurt another person, but apparently she thought she would. When she quit, Lindsey told Probst, “I don’t know what else to do.” (Probst told EW producers on the beach radioed to him “about an hour after Tribal Council ended.”) Even if she did think she was going to assault Trish, it also seemed like she realized she was screwed, both in terms of her alliance and her outburst, and bailed—i.e., she was out of options and really didn’t know what to do. And it’s surprising Probst wouldn’t call her on that.
The effect of her exit was, as Tony put it, “a beautiful thing: Two for the price of one.” Also a beautiful thing last night came out of the reward challenge, a game of slap that gave the winners the chance to raid the losers’ camp. Raiders Tony and Woo got instructions for the raid and a hidden immunity idol clue for themselves, but decided to give it to Jeremiah. The reason, Tony told his tribe later, was to “put a big illuminated target on his back.”
There’s some evil brilliance in that, especially because it played off an expectation that the rules he invented came from producers—i.e., Jeremiah had to go in private to read the clue, and he had to give it back to Tony. The whole plan actually worked: While Jeremiah knew he’d been played and told his tribemates, Spencer said, “He’s not foolin’ anyone.”
There was less brilliance in Tony using the high from his plan to confess to his tribe that he’d lied about his profession. LJ summed that up perfectly: “To solidify that he is trustworthy, Tony exposed that he lied. Different.”
The immunity was like a epic best-of challenge, with multiple stages of previous challenges, from building a staircase to moving a key through a maze to solving a puzzle. Each led to another thing, like a key unlocking a machete to chop through wood to release puzzle pieces that revealed a combination which opened the ninth gate of hell, or something like that. Probst’s explanation was so long it’ll be continued next week.
Despite getting off to a slow start, Solana won immunity and became immediately cocky, chanting that they’re now the top five. Even weirder: Aparri actually seemed to buy that, because their strategizing focused around imagining that they were going to be picked off one by one after a merge.
The ever-so-subtle preview revealed that happens next week. And while a Pagonging is certainly possible, they seemed to just be giving up. Then again, the tribe did manage to unite and decide together to dump Alexis, so perhaps there’s more unity than there appears.
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