Here’s what you need to know about my summer. I developed a mild obsession with a wisecracking robot. I almost choked to death while moderating a panel at Comic-Con. Oh yeah, and I went down to Nicaragua for a week to bring you some on-location scoop from this upcoming season of Survivor! I’ll sprinkle some of those tidbits into this here recap as we make our way through the premiere episode ofSurvivor: Nicaragua. Season 21! Survivor! It’s GO TIME!
· The first thing out of anyone’s mouth this season was Jud (a.ka. Fabio) marveling at how out in the jungle ”there are no fences like at the zoo.” From what I’m hearing, comedy is going to be a main theme this season (think Keystone Cops), and you can expect Fabio to be in the middle of a lot of it. In this episode alone, you had him trying to pick up a crab (only to then be shocked when it pinched him back) and then staring in wonder at Kelly Bruno’s prosthetic leg and asking, ”Like, how do you tell it to move?” Seeing as how Fabio probably has a little trouble receiving intelligent messages from hisbrain, I can see how he was confused. The dude may not be the brightest bulb, but he does seem like a genuinely likeable and engaging personality.
· Obviously, the opening lacked drama compared to the ”epic” (Mark Burnett’s favorite word in the entire English language) marooning of Heroes vs Villains. Basically, everyone showed up, walked around for a few minutes looking for something, walked back, re-divided themselves, and then left. There was really no good reason to divide the tribes up one way, and then re-divide them up another five minutes later other than to offer the cameras an opportunity to capture obligatory ”OH MY GOD! I CAN’T BELIEVE IT!” shots from the contestants. But for some reason I do find myself amused at how easily and often contestants are amazed by the most unamazing things, so in that sense, I enjoyed it nonetheless.
· Okay, we can’t talk about the opening without getting into the other big twist: the Medallion of Power. When Probst first mentioned the twist to me, I honestly thought he was joking. Seriously, I was sure he was punking my ass for all those times I made fun of his hat and/or sunglasses. I mean, c’mon, it sounds like the title of a freakin’ Dokken album, for crying out loud! And then, when I rewatched the episode at home on television, it was so cheesy that I could swear when he said it that a small pool of Velveeta began congealing under my TV set. Which is why henceforth this twist shall be refereed to as the Medallion of Velveeta. I promise you, I am not trying to be a negative Nancy, but I have serious concerns about the Medallion of Velveeta. As I mentioned to Probst in our interview, I do like it when they force teams to make decisions during a challenge (I keep lobbying — unsuccessfully, I might add — for them to start putting hidden immunity idols into immunity challenges, so contestants must choose whether to play for the team or play for themselves by splitting off to go dig/search for an HII instead), but I honestly don’t see the upside of this one. If a tribe uses it, then we don’t have a fair match and it is less fun to watch. If a tribe does not use it, then, well, what’s the point, other than to have a few typical second-guessing sound bites? Not sold on the Medallion of Velveeta. Hope that I’m wrong. Don’t think that I am.
NEXT: Why Jimmy Johnson needs to go. NOW!