Survivor: Heroes Vs Villians

It’s here! Survivor 20, formally known as Survivor: Heroes Vs Villians,with “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” replaced with “Return, Redemption, Revenge”. I love this! I had seen the cast list, of course, but actually seeing them on the screen again quickened my heart and shortened my breath. Rupert, you old softie! Good to see you again, brother! Stefanie! I’m still holding out hope you have a hidden longing for an older man that I can fulfill. Randy! I forgot what a dick you are. Same with Tyson. Boston Rob…I forgive you your past cockiness and douchiness. Marriage and fatherhood has softened up more than your abs.

I could go on and on. But it was good to see the old familiar faces once again. Say what you will about All-Star editions of reality shows, but there’s a reason they work, for me at least. If you spend a TV season investing emotionally in certain cast members, you want to know occasionally that they’re doing well. You don’t dump your friends after six months and lose interest in seeing them again do you? (I know, I know; you think it’s pathetic that I look at complete strangers on reality television in this light. Screw you.)

As the season progresses, I’d like to commend to you three entertaining sources of insight and analysis of HvV that I never miss.

First is Dalton Ross’ recap that appears on EW.com every Friday. Dalton’s been recapping Survivor forever, and provides a fan’s insight that’s dead on and hillarious to read. He generally spends a few days on site at the beginning of each season providing behind-the-scenes goodies such as the following that appeared in his recap of the season premiere:

” As some of you may know, often when there is a challenge on Survivor that is presented as a ”first team to three wins,” in actuality, it was something much longer. Take this reward challenge: What you saw on TV was a ”first one to three wins.” But in reality, the teams actually played all the way to five. Remember how the Villains went up 2-1 after Coach dragged Colby back to the Villains mat? In actuality, the Heroes had a whopping 4-0 lead when that contest took place, and that Coach victory merely got the Villains back to 4-1. But this was just the tip of the out-of-order iceberg, and what I am about to tell you is so convoluted and confusing we may need Lostexpert Doc Jensen to decipher it. The first-round match-up you saw with Stephenie and Cirie vs. Parvati and Danielle was actually round six and got the Villains back to being down only 4-2. But wait, it gets even more confusing. Remember how you saw Stephenie dislocate her shoulder and Probst remarked how she injured herself in the very first round of the very first challenge. Well, that was true, but it wasn’t the round you saw. The actual first round (that you did not see) featured the exact same match-up (Stephenie and Cirie vs. Parvati and Danielle) and it was actually a Heroes victory. Not only that, but the injury appeared to occur while Stephenie was slapping the mat with her extended arm to give her team the win. So, the round you saw presented as the first match-up was actually a rematch that Stephenie was participating in after she had already dislocated her shoulder! (How tough is she?) So, the injury happened in one place, but was edited into another. Now because this is all a bit hard to follow, let me be clear about one thing: There is no monkeying around when it comes to Survivor challenges. The teams compete and the winner is the winner. Nothing is rigged. When you saw people winning rounds, they were winning rounds, maybe just not in the exact order it actually happened. Like all elements of the show, the producers just often record much more than can actually show so then have to figure out the best way to condense it all. (For example, the one round where Coach dragged Colby to his mat took over nine minutes by itself. It was an epic duel that was mesmerizing to witness, but simply too long to show in its entirety) And Stephenie did injure her shoulder in that competition against those same players, just not in the round they showed us. I’m actually surprised they edited it this way because watching Stephenie dislocating it as she won, and then coming back to compete after injuring it was pretty dramatic in itself. Again, just not enough time.”

Just as entertaining an insightful is Probst’s blog that appears on EW.com on Fridays. A must-read every week. A sample:

“Okay, without thinking it through – just off the top of my head – here are some overall thoughts about some of the returning Survivors:

Sandra Diaz – I am so glad she is back. I love her lippy way of telling it like it is. Courtney is also surprising me early on. I like how hard she fought in the initial challenge. Cirie is a legit, 100% full-on threat to win this game. Parvati, if given any kind of an opening will worm her way back into a solid alliance. Russell is a no-brainer. Take him out early or risk seeing him in the final again. Tom Westman, so glad he came back for another go. He needs a strong alliance and if he gets it, he will go deep. He’s a very good “people person.” Rupert, Rupert, Rupert. It’s hard for me to distinguish the Survivor Rupert from the real Rupert. Maybe there isn’t a difference anymore, but I know this… kids still love them some Rupert!”

Want your analysis a little more biting and a little less mainstream? Then you must bookmark Colette Lala’s “Bitchy Survivor Blog“. Colette, you da best!

“We’ve met them all before. We know their reputations. We’ve seen them at their best and, by golly, we’ve seen them at their worst. The Heroes sit in silence, their capes billowing in the breeze of the helicopters. They look hopeful and eager with promises of success and ponies in their future. Over in the Villains aircraft they’re smug, arrogant, smirks on their faces and an overwhelming amount of opportunites to annihilate their opponents waiting for them patiently on the beach. The gentle hairy giant known as Rupert tries to tell us that ‘good’ will win. I put my cigarette out on the kitten at my feet and I just laugh and laugh. Silly man! Thankfully, a voice of reason takes over. It’s Lucifer (Russell Hantz) fresh off of Survivor 19 telling us it’s a fact that Villains are smarter than Heroes. “It’s a proven fact.” He insists we google it. I did. I marched right over to my laptop and punched in “Are villains smarter than heroes?” I never got my answer cuz it took me to an Asian porn page, but I’ll interpret that as a resounding YES! If you can’t trust Lucifer, who can you trust? I mean, come on, seriously.

And then it happens… the line I wait for every season… I’m getting tingly all over just thinking about it… Dimples stands alone on a mess of rocks, violent waves crashing all around him, and we hear it… 39 DAYS, 20 PEOPLE, 1 SURVIVOR!!! *throws confetti in the air* I throw my top off and twirl around my living room. Hay day doh dee doh dee doh doh… I study the opening credits for clues, quickly decide I’d rather not know, and go back to my half Irish, half Salsa gyrations.”

If you’re more of a podcast fan, hurry on over to iTunes and subscribe to Armchair Survivor. Mike and Marji dissect each episode with brutal (and expicit, truth be told) honesty, and just may have you squirt a beverage out of your nose once or twice. They record their show live following Survivor and encourage chat and voicemail feedback.

These articles, blogs, and podcasts greatly augment my enjoyment of Survivor, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them too.

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Random Thoughts #1

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post; I’m sure you all have missed me terribly. Truth is, I’ve been fighting a severe case of Procrastination lately, and have only recently felt recovered enough to attempt to string a few words together into a coherent sentence.

I’m still feeling too weak to attempt an entire post on one subject, so instead I’ll throw out a few disconnected Random Thoughts:

• Only three more new episodes of Lost this season. Then I guess that’s it until, what – January? Thank goodness I’ll have summer and Christmas to distract me while I wait. One thing I’m not looking forward to during the Final Season is the amount of spoilers that will no doubt be floating around. Why can’t folks just enjoy the story as it unfolds?

• I’m seriously considering getting an iPhone when the new ones hit the market this summer. Burning questions: What do I do with my 16GB iTouch? Use the phone strictly as a phone and the iTouch as my .mp3 player? eBay the iTouch? What about all apps I’ve purchased? Can I move them to the phone, or will I have to repurchase?

• I need to do some unfollowing in Twitter. I’m sensing some Superior Attitudege by some Tweeters towards those of us who are using this social media to be…well, sociable. Some seem to think that Twitter should be used exclusively for entrepreneurial networking and selling, I don’t know…stuff. Unless you’re a Social Media Guru or Maven or Whatever, you need not apply. Like every enjoyable activity since kids first starting tossing pie tins back and forth, the money people are looking to make a quick buck on folks having fun. The new buzzword is “Monetize”.

• I started using MySpace, Facebook and Twitter before all of my friends. I guess I could promote myself as a Social Media Pioneer.

• Heh…those last two Thoughts may lose me enough followers that I won’t have to wade through my list looking for cutoffs.

• I am still of the belief that Bluetooth headsets should never be utilized outside of one’s vehicle. If you’re walking around Wal Mart wearing one, people are not looking at you thinking, “There goes someone obviously very important, and leading the pack in cutting-edge technology.”  They’re thinking, “What a douche.” Particularly if you’re walking around with your phone in your hand.

• I’m participating in a weight loss challenge at the MMA school I train at. I’m not leading, but I’m close. I really want a couple of tacos, or a Five Guys burger.

• Speaking of douches, I’m hoping Coach Dragon Slayer gets blindsided sooner than later. Preferably by someone he despises. I don’t care how much Jeff likes him (gotta love Jeff’s blogs, though).

That’ll have to do it for now; I feel another attack of Procrastination coming on. I have to go be apathetic for a while.

“You’re Going To Want That Tooth” (Survivor 3/12 – Spoilers)

Random Thoughts about tonight’s Survivor episode:

Recap shows the story of two strong (HA!) tribes who keep sending Brenden and Taj to Exile Island. I smell the theme of tonight’s episode being set up.

“They made plans to strengthen their alliance”… by including the two wimpiest people in their tribes to work with.

Taj didn’t have a chance to look for the HII, but Brenden found his stuck in the ass of the Tree Mail Idol. Early guess is that Brendan has a chance to give his idol to Taj, but doesn’t. She goes home.

“I’ve never brought such pleasure to a woman before.” Not something you want to admit on national TV. Even in jest. Especially to Eddie George’s wife.

Too much early emphasis on the idol. It must play a huge part in tonight’s show. If not, I’m deleting all this tomorrow.

“Why the sad frown?” “Because everyone feels the need to give me a prostate exam!”

She found it! Forget what I said earlier. Just start reading from here.

Uh oh. Stephen’s playing the “Possession is 9/10ths” rule. Taj is going home tonight, and it’s because he won’t give it up.

That tapir still creeps me out. Might be fun to take to a party, though.

Those Charmin commercials with the bears are just…wrong.

Sierra: “I’m proud of myself. I’ve formed an amazing alliance.” You did? When? Oh, you mean the one that was formed before anybody bothered to tell you about it?

Probst: “Sandy voted out at the last Tribal Council.” Coach:”Only a matter of time.” Pot, meet kettle.

Is someone going to puke? I bet someone pukes. I know I would.

The Charmin Cafe???? OMG. I hope you don’t have to watch bears wipe their asses while you eat.

“A modern toilet and plenty of Charmin.” I don’t know why that literally made me laugh out loud. Jeff, they don’t pay you enough.

I bet Tyson isn’t paying attention to any of this.

Who was it on Big Brother that got spun around, tried to walk, fell down and sliced his head open? Wasn’t it that FBI guy?

Coach is guiding Erinn with his eyes.

Jalapeno wins reward!

Brendan chooses Stephen to go to Exile. Assistant Coach Tyson is suspicious. Doesn’t pay attention at Tribal, but keeps track of who goes to Exile with who.

Pick a trip to Brazil, or to the Survivor Finale. Hmmm. Tough choice.

Product placement the past couple of seasons has been too much. “Got any napkins?” “No, use the Charmin.”

They’re not really more excited about the Charmin than the food, are they? That’s just editing, right? Right?

No, Joe, Taj has not had the opportunity to create a tighter bond with her tribe, but she’s had the opportunity to find the Hidden Immunity Idol. If Stephen gives it to her, of course.

Wait…what’s that? More Charmin? No! Letters from home! I bet Taj gets autographed pictures of Eddie George to hand out to everybody.

Everybody’s getting all weepy about people they haven’t seen for, what…two weeks? I’ll be right back. Martini time.

I’ll bet Taj’s letter from Eddie starts, “You know all my millions that I invested with Madoff?” No wonder she’s crying.

Tyson’s got Brendan figured out! Bastard!

“If we merge, he’s got control of the game. And I’m just a bystander. And I certainly don’t want that to happen.” Too late, Coach. It’s happened.

Coach the Weatherman. And as accurate as the guy on channel 69.

Didn’t anyone tell the CBS graphics guy that Exile is not on an island? Everyone else is just calling it “Exile”.

Stephen is definitely going to keep the HII from Taj.

Spencer isn’t telling Sydney he’s gay. Although she probably already thinks he is because he’s not flirting with her.

The ol’ Ball Launch Immunity Challenge! How boring!

Joe hurt his knee back there, with subtitles. Does this mean he loses the challenge for them later?

JT loses a tooth. He doesn’t care. He’s from the south, where that happens all the time.

Probst wants to stop and find the tooth. Otherwise they have to come up with another catchy title for the episode.

What? They actually found it? And Probst puts it in his pocket? LOL!!

JT says it’s Spencer’s fault. But JT misses the last ball. Ha! Sacrificed that tooth for nothing. Tempura wins immunity! Crap. We’re stuck with Coach for another week.

Shut up, Taj! Stephen’s not going to give up the idol!

Wait…they’re saying she’s next to go. That means it’s Spencer.

Isn’t that the same shirt Probst had on last week? Isn’t he rich or something?

Oops. Jeff called it “Exile Island”.

They never showed Stephen not giving the HII to Taj. That means Spencer’s toast.

WHAT!!!! DAMN YOU, TIVO!!! WHERE’S F’ING TRIBAL COUNCIL???

Never mind.

Jeff’s going to tally the votes.

The 5th person voted out of Survivor:Tocantins: Spencer.

“Spencer, the tribe has spoken.”

TWO WEEKS?!?!?! DAMN YOU, MARCH MADNESS!!!!

“Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This”

Happy Thursday!

I have my Tostitos, my bean dip and my Stewarts Orange and Cream nearby, ready to watch this week’s installment of Survivor: Tocantins. Random Thoughts as the episode unfolds:

  • Did you know that Benjamin Wade was fired from his woman’s soccer coaching position? Seems he told the athletic director at his school that he was going to be gone for a week, but ended up missing school for almost two months, without a note from home. He’s not worried, though, because he’s off to persue a career in Hollywood, because his popularity on Survivor will open doors for him. And why not? It certainly opened doors for…um…you know, that other guy that became famous after Survivor
  • Two hot babes were voted out in the first two weeks of the season. Hope that trend reverses. They don’t have that many to lose.
  • “She just insulted all of our intelligences.” Can that be grammatically correct?
  • Erinn doesn’t know when to stop talking. Just like her parents didn’t know when to stop adding “n”s to her name.
  • What the hell kind of animal is that with the flexible snout they show during the opening? Creepy.
  • In each of his EW.com blogs so far this season, Probst has wisecracked about Sierra marrying a Survivor producer. Think she’s gonna?
  • Oh, yeah…Debbie! Has she done anything noteworthy yet?
  • Jerry’s having problems with the beans. Aren’t beans standard Army-issue grub?
  • “We’re a force to be reckoned with.” As long as there’s not a challenge that involves catching fish with a net.
  • I’d hate to be the caller in one of these challenges. The losing team always blames the callers and votes their ass out.
  • Maestro looks pissed.
  • Brendan and Taj off again to Exile Island. It’s tough enough not to look suspicious without Probst stirring the pot.
  • “Winners always find a way to win. Losers always find a way to lose.” Wonder what his record was when he still had a soccer team to coach? Because his Survivor team sucks.
  • Crap. The Tostitos are already gone. Do I bother making popcorn, or just grab the Fritos?
  • “You’re like my assistant coach.” Aw, that’s swell, Little Buddy! Maybe he’ll let you carry his jacket at the next TC. I wouldn’t let myself get too associated with him, though. No matter what he thinks his standing is, he’s annoying a lot of people. You don’t want to be caught in that backlash.
  • “He loves me.”? “Everyone can see it.”? “Maybe he’ll promote me”? Never mind what I said before. Good luck with all that.
  • I forgot I had some chips and French onion dip. The popcorn and Fritos can wait for Lost.
  • Brenden and Taj choose Stephen and Sierra as their Mini-Me’s.
  • Sandy: “I know I’m a sex kitten this morning. There’s no doubt in my mind.” And the men all remember they have an appointment on the other side of Brazil.
  • Sierra runs like a girl.
  • Erinnnnn – hush! Your mouth is a shovel that’s digging a deeper hole!
  • Jalapao wins! Erinnnnn will be going home, no matter what Jerry thinks.
  • Or not.
  • The owls are not what they seem.
  • Maestro is still pissed. I’m concerned about his blood pressure.
  • “I am so true that existing around people that smile evilly when somebody else is on their knees kills me.” Huh?
  • “To me, it looks like she’s just here to lie and deceive and, you know, get ahead any way she can.” Unlike everyone else in the game, right, Assistant Coach?
  • Brenden finds the HII by lifting up the backside of the skirt and seeing the hole.
  • “I like seeing people cry when you crush their dreams.” I don’t want him to be my assistant coach anymore.
  • Jerry: “I think the leader should be Brenden.” And Maestro’s smile turns upside down. Ha!
  • “I basically told everybody with my eyes what they needed to get.” I think I laughed harder than Erinn did at that.
  • Jerry’s thinking maybe he should have kept his mouth shut.
  • GAH!!!!! UGLY CENTIPEDE!!!!
  • First 2 votes Jerry; Erinn’s smiling smugly. She’s toast.
  • Or not.
  • Poor Maestro. Erinn’s still around, plus nobody wants him to be the leader. Been a tough day.
  • “Jerry, the tribe has spoken.”

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Why Probst Thinks We Should Watch Tocantins

Besides being a Lost and 24 dweeb, I’m a big fan of the granddaddy of so-called “reality shows”, Survivor.  I just caught the end of the first season, but I started watching religiously during the second season, and always look forward to the next.

Survivor: Tocatins begins this Thursday, Feb. 12. If you don’t know, host Jeff Probst writes a weekly blog at EW.com following each episode. In the current (Feb.13) edition of Entertainment Weekly, he tells us why we should tune in to the 18th season of the venerable series:

The first thing is CAST, CAST, CAST. (Here’s a tease: “Dragon Slayer” – just wait.) I’m putting my reputation on the line: If you don’t love this cast, I’ll offer to switch EW.com blogging jobs with The Bachelor’s Chris Harrison. And get ready for a BIG TWIST in the first five minutes that has lasting repercussions. Hint: Can you ever change a first impression? We’ll find out. As for THE BLINDSIDE, it is taken to a whole ‘nother level. We set a new record this season. Beastly. And the TERRAIN? High desert, 120 degrees, snakes, injuries, and a stunning river oasis. Exile Island will totally destroy them. Tocatins is so good, it may just crack out top five seasons ever.

If you’re a Survivor fan, you owe it to yourself to check out Jeff’s blog, and writer Dalton Ross’ recaps every Thursday at EW.com.