After last week’s crazy tribal council, there was a Grantland e-mail chain during which all of the office Survivor fans discussed Malcolm’s strategy of letting Stealth know that the Three Amigos (if I’m embarrassed to type that, why are they not embarrassed to refer to themselves as that?) were voting for Phillip. A good question was raised: If Malcolm hadn’t named the Specialist, would the favorites’ alliance have started voting for each other out of fear? Mr. Fierman pointed out that if Malcolm had simply announced the three bros were voting together and let the favorites try to sway them, there could have been an interesting and hierarchy-shifting scramble. The problem, though, is that the numbers in the favorites’ alliance is still strong. Unless Eddie, Reynold, and Malcolm are able to pull off some really impressive mind-fuck maneuvers on the remaining six in Stealth, one of them is going home this week. This season lacks a mastermind like Boston Rob or Russell Hantz, and it would take that kind of evil genius to shake up the can enough to explode the unity that Sheppard created with his goofus nicknames and constant check-ins. I’m hoping that in the upcoming episodes, someone (Cochran? Sherri? Andrea?) gets it together and decides to play a little dirty. This season could now use more “Russell seeds,” lies deliberately and carefully planted in little one-on-one shelter gabfests. Sherri, Andrea, and Erik are all prime targets — Erik voted with the meatheads to get rid of the Specialist, Sherri’s one of the last remaining fans, and Andrea has the Eddie connection (their romantic B-plot has been sidelined momentarily, hopefully leading to a Very Special Date episode to follow sometime soon).
Yesterday afternoon, John Cochran tweeted that “as a Survivor expert, I feel comfortable saying that tonight's episode is going to be one of the most insane in the history of the show.” Cochran won the Harvard Dean’s Scholar prize for comparing the judicial system to Survivor’s tribal jury, so it’s not surprising that he was right; over the course of years of watching this show, I can’t really remember a more chaotic moment during the pre-vote Probst-on-group interview. I assumed nobody was allowed to speak unless directly addressed. Apparently this rule gets waived when everybody jumps on board, like during times of extreme stress. And this was a stressful episode! In a good way. But not for Dawn. I’ll get to that in a second.
Koh-Lanta, the French version of Survivor, looks almost identical to our own, right down to the Geoffroy Preauxbt, but I’d never paid much attention to it (or Denmark’s Robinson Ekspeditionen, or Brazil’s No Limite, or even the show that started the whole Survivor institution in 1997, Sweden’s Expedition Robinson) until I heard about Gerald Babin’s death. Babin was a 25-year-old contestant who died of a heart attack during the first challenge of Koh-Lanta’s 13th season, a little more than a week ago. The French media began to speculate about the care Babin received from the show’s doctor, Thierry Costa, mentioning anonymous sources who criticized Costa’s response to an apparently visibly sick contestant. The season was immediately canceled. Now Costa has committed suicide, leaving behind a note that partially blames “unfair accusations” and a reputation damaged by the press.
There's a nugget buried deep within today's THR interview with Mike Darnell, the Fox reality-TV mastermind who brought us such civilization-ending classics as The Swan, Moment of Truth, and Let's See Which Fifth Grader Lasts Longest Wearing a Basket of Hungry Cobras on His Head, that hints at a better world than the one in which we live, one where two rejected pitches were green-lit, ran for 10 cycles, and revolutionized semi-scripted television as we know it:
As our own Andy Greenwald noted earlier today, fans of Important Television didn't have too much to whine about this morning after the 2012 Primetime Emmy nominations were announced — the lists were surprisingly well-balanced, with popular favorites like Modern Family right up there with critical darlings Girls and Louie, and realistically, that's probably about how things should be, right? (I'm assuming all Community fans have stopped reading by now.) So, huh. This is weird. Is there anything left to get irrationally angry about?
Yes, yes there is! Here are your 2012 Outstanding Reality-Competition Program nominations:
The ongoing game of hot potato that the U.S. and U.K. have been playing with ex-Pussycat Doll/ex-X Factor judge Nicole Scherzinger has reached a shocking conclusion (for now). The Daily Mail reports that the sinewy chanteuse behind such memorable hits as “Baby Love” and “Wet” has been tapped to replace former Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland after the well-liked judge departed the show after only one season (something about “scheduling conflicts”). This of course comes after Scherzinger was unceremoniously dumped from the stateside version of the overblown singing competition after only one season (something about “you can’t do your job, everybody hates you, and you made a 13-year-old girl cry.”)
[Explosion noise!] In a mushrooming scandal currently rocking the world of real-estate-themed reality television, HGTV (that'd be Home and Garden Television) has been forced to admit that its flagship show, House Hunters, in which home buyers are shown three prospective homes to purchase — or, if you'd rather, three prospective futures in which to build their lives — is partially staged. [Airhorn noise!]
As a fan of TLC's My Strange Addiction, I'm not entirely certain where the line is between that show and TLC's new documentary series, My Crazy Obsession. I guess Addiction is about people who do weird things in secret, and/or that the people who love them wish they wouldn't do, whereas everyone in Obsession is pretty cool with whatever's going on ... except the viewer. Here's a breakdown of one of the two stories in the show's series premiere, which aired last night.
Who Is This Now? Joe and Pat Prosey.
Why Are We Watching Them? They have collected 5,000 Cabbage Patch Kids.
Well, here is a development of note: The Bachelor host Chris Harrison told Access Hollywood that he personally asked miraculous Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow to be the show's next bachelor — and that Tebow said yes! Harrison explains, “I’ve actually met Tim Tebow. I met him about becoming our next Bachelor. I think he’d be a great Bachelor ... He did say yes ... but he would never do it. He has a little job called quarterback for at least another year.”
Take a minute. Process the information. Go ahead, let it sink in. OK, ready to discuss?