Saturday, September 17, 2011

Survivor: South Pacific - Episode One: Love, Loss and How To Call It

Ozzy the Survivor-ator solving the awesome puzzle
It’s Friday night, 10:48PM, and I’m on my way to Boston for the weekend. At the moment, I’m theoretically an hour away, but effectively stuck in a traffic jam that refuses to appear on my iPhone. So I’m completely in the dark as to how long this traffic jam actually is. It is ironic how annoyed I am by this considering I keep affirming that I am not at the mercy of my currently not-so-smart phone.

BUT! Never fear. Now that I have slept and listened to music for the past almost-four hours from New York, I am fully prepared to launch into my Survivor: South Pacific – Episode 1 run-through.

As I mentioned in my last post, I decided to try a new experiment this time and really connect with fellow fans on Twitter. The fact that Jeff Probst was tweeting and posting videos FROM HIS LIVING ROOM definitely helped. Russell was also there (obvi making comments on how Brandon – and well, everyone else – should play the game); I particularly enjoyed his Tweet on how Ozzy got powned by Parvati when Russell controlled Parvati: “Ozzy does not know how to play this game. He got punked by Parvati, I controlled Parvati.” Now now Russell… I would disagree on both accounts. But let’s not get into that today.

Now onto my episode highlights!

1. These contestants actually look ready to play.

We begin with a shot of Jeff and a helicopter. Very quickly, we zoom into Coach and Ozzy as they loom over the South Pacific island of Samoa, about to field various reactions from the tribes they are about to join. One thing is certain; the contestants are skeptical and make it very clear that the All-Stars’ fate will depend on whether they can be used… or shoo’ed. One Upolu tribe member, Christine, stands out as being a plain ol’ bitter pants when she states very assertively that these guys will not stay for long. That’s not just up to you, lady… And who ends up on her tribe? Poor Coach. Ozzy got a warmer welcome as he smacked his tribe’s red paint-filled egg against his heart. Now that t-shirt will be a winner for the eBay auction.

2. The first challenge is the coolest, most challenging puzzle ever.

A face-off between Coach and Ozzy turns into a united tribe effort when Ozzy has finished showing off his climbing, digging and being sexy skills and Coach has kind of kept up. This is actually the first time I’ve seen contestants being called out on not following the rules and taking a while to figure it out. Basically, the puzzle is a pyramid sliced into horizontal pieces from the base to the tip. The pyramid is complete on one table and the goal is to move the pyramid to a third table by only moving one piece at a time and only putting smaller pieces on top of larger ones. Ozzy showed his humbler side when he gestured to his tribe to help him out and the challenge became a screaming fest of “No! Not that one! To the left! Over here!” But it worked for Savaii, and Ozzy took home the “fire in the form of flint.”

3. Coach has some work cut out for him… And does a great job.

Without a doubt, Coach got the short end of the stick on this one. Not only did he end up on bitter Christine’s tribe, he was also clearly the less welcome of the two redemption-seeking All-Stars. Somehow, he still managed to get himself an alliance of 5, including a very intriguing, smart and highly intuitive recent grad, Sophie. The only girl of the alliance, she could go far. She definitely gets a “to-be-followed” card from me. But Coach’s biggest break was clearly this: Upolu won Immunity at the first challenge. Despite not being Coach’s biggest fan, I’m impressed at how he handled himself and look forward to seeing his next moves.

4. Ozzy falls for an over-confident, too-much-boob-showing show-off. A huge downgrade from Amanda.

Ozzy's love interest?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I was never Amanda’s greatest fan… But at least the girl was super hot, smart and could stand her own at a challenge (even if she couldn’t stand up for herself at Tribal Council). Enter Semhar, an outspoken young lady with awesome afro hair and a knack for showing too much cleavage. A few words of spoken-word poetry and Ozzy’s taking the bait. Ugh… Now, I realize that my TOUT comment on this came across more angry than anything else, but really I was just frustrated that Ozzy would be so keen to start another island romance when his last once so obviously took his attention away from the game. He even stood up for Semhar when she stepped forward claiming to have great aim and a good arm and then failed miserably at the challenge, ultimately losing Immunity for Savaii. Tssk Tssk Ozzy, tssk tssk.

5. Brandon: a doomed creepster that I hope will manage to step up and surprise me.

When I learned Russell’s nephew was going to be on the show, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I suspected he wouldn’t follow his uncle’s wicked ways, but I was hoping he’d actually have some game under there too. Turns out he’s a married father – even though he looks no older than 19-20 – and he’s a G-d fearing conservative prude. I will blame much of his creepster moments on biased editing, but that doesn’t mean I was not extremely disturbed – and somewhat entertained – by his sneaking up on and trash-talking Mikayla, who seems like a strong and promising contestant that just happens to also be pretty darn fine. Apparently that’s too much for Brandon to handle.

But keeping his t-shirt on in various ridiculous ways to hide his Hantz tattoos is totally up his alley. I mean come on, how common of a last name is Hantz? And wouldn’t lying and saying he wasn’t related right off the bat be better than dooming himself to having to explain why he won’t ever take his shirt off? Personally, I don’t think he’ll be able to keep the secret, even if that is in his best interest. Having a killer player like Sophie on the tribe will make this concoction for disaster a lot of fun to watch—I hope.

6. Why the hell are people all up in Jeff’s face about how to call them all of a sudden?

It’s one thing when quirky Cochran asks Jeff to call him by his last name because previous players that have had that honor have always been more awesome for the title (Mariano, Penner, Savage…) and it’s quite another when a dubious but admittedly cuddly-looking retired police officer by the name of Mark Anthony (also dubious…) asks Jeff to call him Poppa Bear. What’s next, Ozzy asking Jeff to call him Monkey Man? Or Dolphin Boy? Or simply Survivor-ator? Surviv-inator? (Well, something like that.) It’s ludicrous, and unless it’s a pronunciation thing, Probst (cuz he’s that cool) should have the last say on how he chooses players should be called. He gives the cool factor; it’s not imposed on him.

Ultimately, this first episode was very entertaining to watch and the 90-minutes just flew by! I’m more than pumped for this season and excited about some of these players. The girls seem to be promising as well as pretty (Mikayla, Elyse, Whitney), the nerds could have a lot to offer given the chance (Cochran and one of my front-runners right now, Sophie), we‘ve got some loud but entertaining folk (Jim, Christine, who I really don’t like and hope will leave the game soon) and of course we have Ozzy, who just keeps reminding me how much I love him and why I believe in him as much as I do. The one thing I’m not seeing right now is how the muscular men will prove to be more than just that.

What did you think about the episode? Who were your favorite contestants? Are you rooting for Ozzy and/or Coach? Were you happy with the first elimination? 

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