Tyler Perry idol appears, may threaten one of Survivor’s best strategic seasons

The emergence of the stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, seriously Probst, stupid Tyler Perry immunity idol threatens to disrupt what has so far been an incredibly satisfying game of unpredictable strategy on Survivor Cagayan.

Although idols were flying at Tribal Council last night, and although the results would have been very different had Spencer thought to give his idol to Jeremiah instead of playing it for himself, the end result was predictable, as the larger alliance stuck together and sent Geremiah to the gury.

For the first time this season, we may be entering a period of predictable votes. At least, the outcome tonight, which sent poor Geremiah to the jury, suggests a dominant alliance unwilling to turn on each other, at least until the two strong players are gone.

Then again, that alliance does include Tony, who has otherwise proven unwilling to follow his tribe’s plan. The preview suggests Spencer uses Tony’s paranoia against him, which seems very probable, especially since Tony is so paranoid/brilliant he created a camouflaged area near the water well to listen in on strategy conversations. CBS hashtagged this “spyshack,” which reminded me of Big Brother’s shack, if you know what I’m saying (masturbation location).

When Tony found the super-power idol by just digging around noteworthy trees, good for him, but this is what I pictured in my head, so I dry heaved and tweeted this. Because enough.

The idol’s appearance is frustrating because Tony has been a fantastic player who’s inspired smart and unpredictable strategy without insane godlike power to save himself or anyone else after the votes have been read. Worse, the Tyler Perry idol is stupid, just like it was 16 seasons ago, before Tyler Perry suggested it and Jeff Probst decided it was a great, brand-new idea. Idol mania is problematic enough without this crazy power.

Tony seemed to impulsively pulled out the idol—or its wrapping paper, or a decoy—at Tribal Council even before the votes were read, so perhaps he’ll do something stupid with it. But essentially, he cannot be voted out right now, and if he uses it to his advantage, can hold the tribe hostage and march his way into the final three. As Spencer pointed out during his backhanded compliment during Tribal Council, “Tony has been steering this game and you all haven’t.” He doesn’t need the idol to taint his game play.

Taint, heh.

I don’t want to give all the game play credit to Tony, of course. We’ve seen a lot of really smart and interesting (and questionable!) decision-making this season. This episode, it was Trish who played a quiet but smart game. She deftly managed Jefra, whose feewings were huwt because of Tony’s strategy. Although Trish was similarly kept in the dark, she hasn’t let it disrupt her game and is essentially keeping Tony alive in the game. That may not work to her advantage—she may get voted out, or the jury may not value that less-visible game play—but it’s an interesting choice.

Having just freaked out for several paragraphs, I probably shouldn’t be so worried about something that may happen, and very well may not. I’ve just been so unexpectedly thrilled with this season that I’m worried. It’s like being halfway through some amazing ice cream and then having a bird shit on it. I guess it’s possible the bird shit won’t do any harm but ugh.

Meanwhile, I complained last week that Survivor was getting cheap with its rewards by just taking them to another beach, but this week the winning team had their cheap feast at Callao Cave, a pretty spectacular location. I really loved when the guide warned them about the slippery rocks—“watch your step”—and Spencer immediately fell. Fantastic comic timing. That memory helped me forgive the guide when he interrupted strategy talk, as Spencer and Tasha worked to get Jefra to flip. But my favorite part of the reward challenge was Jeff Probst inexplicably adopting a South Park voice to explain what they’d eat: “Cheekin! Reebs! Putatuh salad!”

Later, Tasha balanced her way to an immunity win, but that only gave the three smaller alliance members two idols between them, and once Jefra confessed she wouldn’t join them in the vote, the outcome was clear.

Knowing he was soon to be voted out, Jeremiah confessed to his alliance that he was, in fact, a fashion model. He told Spencer and Tasha—and everyone watching—to Google “Jeremiah Wood” and “just put model afterwards and you can see something.” As Jeff Probst said while narrating the immunity challenge, “That starts a lotta balls movin’.”

Bachelorette cast member Eric Hill has died

Eric Hill, one of the suitors on the cast of this summer’s The Bachelorette with Andi Dorfman, has died following a weekend paragliding accident. His sister wrote on Facebook this morning:

“Eric shared his final journey with us this morning as all his immediate family were able to be at his side when he passed away. Thank you to all of your love and support and prayers and fasting. It was amazing to be with so many of his friends and family yesterday in the hospital who came to express their love for Eric. He gave us such a gift of a life fully lived and fully shared, and allowed us all to be a part of his last adventure here on earth. It is hard to think of life without his bright spark, but we know he is on to new adventures. We look forward to carrying on his legacy here and greeting him joyfully again someday. I love you so much, little brother!”

While The Bachelorette is still being filmed, Eric is not one of the final four suitors, according to reports by Reality Steve. However, Eric did have the season’s first one-on-one date, which was photographed by paparazzi.

The Wrap reports that “ABC referred requests for comment to Warner Horizon, which produces the show. A Warner Horizon spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment.”

Eric’s attempt to visit all 195 countries in less than 3 years, 3 months, and 6 days was documented on his web site. The Facebook page for his project posted last night that “He is an every day hero. Someone who we can really look up to. He literally lives every moment to its fullest.”

This is actually the best reality TV supercut ever

VH1 has gathered what it says are The 5 Greatest Fan-Made Reality TV Supercuts. It’s hard to argue with 2008’s comprehensive “I’m Not Here to Make Friends,” and Michael Kors’ critiques make me miss him even more.

But first came something even more magical from the now-defunct TVgasm (Real World producers bought it, ruined it, and then shut it down, similar to what happened recently with NBCUniversal’s Television Without Pity). This supercut arrived three years before “I’m Not Here to Make Friends.”

Yes, I’m talking about Julie Chen and “but first,” which highlighted and brought attention to her robotic hosting in a completely new way. It’s still hilarious, with the repetition and the fun bits thrown it at the end.

Even if you’d watched Big Brother and were conscious of Julie Chen’s awkwardly robotic hosting (note: how could you not be?) and her repetition, this was still mind-blowing, especially to see the way she turned exactly the same way and said it with the exact same intonation.

Best of all, a friend showed the video to Julie and she watched it and agreed with us all, declaring, “I am the Chenbot!”, thereby proving that she actually was not, because she could laugh at herself. Top that, “I’m Not Here to Make Friends.”

Voice’s live shows start by silencing one contestant’s voice for 20 seconds

The Voice’s first season-six live show suffered from a major technical problem during a top 12 contestant’s performance.

About 20 seconds of Kristen Merlin’s performance of “Stay,” below, was inaudible because her microphone failed. She removed the monitor in her ear, thinking that was the problem, but she kept singing anyway, finishing the song with its final word as someone handed her a working mic.

Kristen previously had both her battle round performances condensed into brief recaps, so cue the conspiracy theories.

Kristen was praised by the coaches, particularly by Adam, for her professionalism—i.e., not panicking and freaking out, which could help her with viewer votes. In addition, Yahoo’s Lyndsey Parker suggests that, because downloads of the song count as votes, she might receive more votes when viewers seek out the full version because they didn’t hear it on TV.

However, when an awkward post-show interviewer said she might get a sympathy vote, Kristen quickly added, “which I don’t want.”

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Bachelorette suitor critically injured

A man who will apparently appear on Andi Dorfman’s season of The Bachelorette this summer was critically injured in a paragliding accident Sunday.

KUTV reported that “[a] 32-year-old paraglider suffered critical injuries after his parachute collapsed near Point of the Mountain in Draper” and “[c]rews found him unconscious but breathing 100 to 150 feet up the mountain. … The medical helicopter transported him to the University of Utah Hospital in critical condition with possible head trauma.” A friend of his said he was in an induced coma and had “severe head trauma.”

News outlets, such as The Salt Lake Tribune; the Salt Lake City Fox affiliate; and KUTV, the Salt Lake City CBS affiliate, have not identified the victim by name, but officials said he was from California.

However, in a public Facebook post, Eric Hill’s sister wrote, “He’s in critical condition after a paragliding accident at Point of the Mountain in Draper.” Her Facebook profile identifies Eric Hill as one of her brothers, and his profile says he’s from California and connects to a Facebook page for his attempt to visit every country on Earth in fewer than 1,200 days. Last month, it teased his appearance on the show last month: “He is off on different kind of adventure (some of you may have already heard) for another month.”

Bachelor spoiler Reality Steve first mentioned this on Twitter, noting—minor spoiler alert—that Eric is Andi’s first one-on-one date of the season. Steve, who recently identified Andi’s final four, previously identified Eric Hill as one of her suitors.

Survivor memory challenges and Jeff Probst’s dangerous game

Survivor challenges that test the contestants’ memory, such as Wednesday immunity challenge, were unlikely to return to the show for some time—at least until Jeff Probst listened to 17 people on Twitter and changed his mind. Really.

This started with Dalton Ross asking Probst in their weekly Q&A about the Dream Team’s testing of those challenges. As part of his answer, Probst said,

“Personally, I’ve become less and less fond of memory games. We may take a break from them for a while. (No promises, but that’s the gut feeling right now.) They just don’t have enough action to ensure they’ll be exciting, so you are forced to rely on a very close finish, which fortunately we had this week.”

That’s a reasonable answer, even though I disagree; I like variety more than consistent action, and would much rather see a memory challenge than a repeat of a challenge that tests the same skill (endurance, for example).

Anyway, Probst’s response prompted Dalton Ross to have what he describes as “a long back and forth about it discussing the pros and cons” with Probst, who then asked his Twitter followers what they thought. Here’s what Probst said after getting feedback:

“Based on your statement that you actually liked the play along factor of memory challenges — I went to Twitter tonight to ask the fans what they thought. Are memory challenges fun because you can play along or boring to watch? The overwhelming majority was ‘fun to play along!’ So never mind what I said about taking a break from them! They’re back in the rotation! I love getting direct and immediate input from the people who matter most — our fans.”

So, that seems pretty awesome. The executive producer and host of network reality show was willing to be challenged and listen to feedback, and changed plans for the future based on that feedback.

Except: That “overwhelming majority” was, as of right now, 17 out of 18 people who replied to Jeff’s tweet. To be fair, 219 people favorited his tweet; Twitter describes that function as “most commonly used when users like a Tweet” which “can let the original poster know that you liked their Tweet, or you can save the Tweet for later.”

Let’s make the wild assumption that all 219 were letting Probst know they liked his tweet—and not just that they liked that he was asking the question, or that they were bookmarking his tweet, but that they actually like the idea of memory challenges.

So, doing the math:

  • 9.35 million people watched Wednesday’s episode live or DVRed it and watched later that day.
  • 354,252 follow Probst on Twitter.
  • 236 of those people just affected the future of the show.

That’s awesome power. And absurd power.

We have seen this before; three years ago, Probst said a returnee was brought back because of Twitter; the evidence suggested that was Ozzy, even though no one replied to his tweet about bringing Ozzy back and only two people favorited it.

Back then, I agreed with Probst when he tweeted that “complainers typically have a bigger voice than those who enjoy something” and said that hidden immunity idols would have been gone from the game had he listened to those people.

But why listen to the memory challenge complainers and ignore the immunity idol complainers? It’s odd because this isn’t just Probst using feedback to justify his decisions; here, he actually changed his mind. That’s both cool and frightening—frightening because I don’t want the future of one of my favorite shows in the hands of the loudest voices on social media. Read the comments on Survivor’s official Facebook page’s posts and see how comfortable you are with those people making decisions, never mind the fear you’ll have for the future of our species.

I want creative people who work in television to make the best shows they can, making decisions they think are best, even if I don’t like those decisions. Sure, they should be aware of and listen to constructive feedback, and even incorporate that. But a knee-jerk reaction to what a handful of people say online is not a great creative decision. It’s scary, even if the outcome is a change I agree with.

You’ll never laugh more at people crying than with this Real Housewives montage

Jezebel has created a montage of “the best of the worst cries from” Bravo’s The Real Housewives shows: New York, Beverly Hills, Atlanta, New Jersey, D.C., Orange County, and Miami. The result is hilarious footage of sadness—perhaps because, as the headline says, it’s “Real Housewives crying through Botox.”

If you think it’s mean, just wait until you hear what song they’ve set the montage to (hint: it’s “Tears of a Clown”). Watch it here. (By the way, there’s something super-ironic about a Gawker media property not allowing other sites to embed a video they created.)

Survivor’s Tony keeps playing with fire and burning others

After last week’s loss of the best player to play the game, Survivor Cagayan managed to recover with a crazypants episode courtesy of whirlwind Tony. Bravo to the editors for presenting the most coherent, linear version of Tony’s madness as possible, though I still had to pull out my whiteboard and map this out while it was happening.

Fearful that he was in jeopardy because the minority alliance voted against him (!), Tony decided to turn on his own alliance (!!). Instead of doing that directly, he lied to LJ about how worried he was about Woo (!!!) and that led LJ to basically agree Woo had to go (!!!!). Yet when it came to actual strategy talk after the immunity challenge, LJ kept his attention on the minority alliance: Spencer and Jeremiah, who I keep confusing with LJ. While Spencer/Jeremiah votes seemed to be the plan, Tony used the idea he’d planted with LJ to suggest that LJ was really the threat for turning on their alliance, and got his alliance to vote LJ out (!!!!!). That was most incredible to watch when Tony told Woo that LJ was targeting him, when, of course, it was Tony who’d targeted Woo.

I need a drink.

Tony’s game play strikes me as brilliant and insane all at once. It’s not quite out of control, but runs up against that line all the time. If Tony makes it to the finals I’d say he has a solid case; he’s spent much of this season dropping lit matches into a gas tank and has not been burned yet.

Earlier, after winning reward, Spencer told Tony his minority alliance of three were simply “pawns on the board.” All three of them ended up voting for LJ. In other words, the vote wasn’t even along alliance lines, though several members of the dominant alliance voted for Jeremiah as a back-up.

Tangent: I’m thrilled rewards are back but also remember fondly those days when rewards actually meant going someplace spectacular, not to a chair and camp shower set up on a beach.

I was glad to see a mental immunity challenge, which Tasha won, thanks to her ability to retain basic information—colors, in order—while listening to Jeff Probst babble on and on and on. Seriously, I don’t think keeping the colors in order was the challenge here; the challenge was keeping them in order throughout the long, drawn out process of showing one tile at a time while Probst did commentary. Just watching, I was thinking this.

That also seemed to be what everyone was doing at Tribal Council, talking around their collective decision to dump El Jay as Probst prodded. The most reaction came from the jury bench, such as when Sarah looked like she was going to jump up and beat Tony over the head with a torch when he was talking about trust and then identified himself as a construction worker.

Next week, Woo falls out of a tree (!!!!!!).

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