Summer’s over. I know this because there are no longer any knuckleheads running around in banana suits or red unitards in the Big Brother house. Yes, I was hanging out in the reality TV minor leagues for a few months, but it’s back to the majors now, people! Julie Chen did an admirable job hosting while preggers, but LOOK! There’s Jeff Probst about to get pummeled by a massive wave! He might even lose his hat in the face of that perfect storm. His hat, for crissakes! Then he’d be risking prolonged sun exposure and who knows what level SPF he’s wearing. For all we know, he’s not wearing any sunscreen at all! THIS IS SERIOUS DANGER WE’RE TALKING ABOUT!
Judging by the way the camera is briskly moving away from the reef, we have to assume the helicopter has either left Jeff Probst to die on a rocky cliff, or he’ll be just fine. But before we get into the rest of the Survivor: Samoa premiere, a few programming notes.
Programming Note #1: Good thing Probst did survive his epic Samoan encounter, because it means he can continue to deliver his must-read weekly blogs here on EW.com. Want insight from the host with the most? Then make sure to get the inside scoop he’s kindly hooking you up with.
Programming Note #2: Deleted scenes. You want ’em. We got ’em. The fine folks at CBS are once again hooking us up with an exclusive deleted scene every week from the most recent episode. You can find them at the end of this here column — don’t skip ahead! — and on Probst’s blog.
Programming Note #3: Another season of Survivor means another season of Survivor Talk! Josh Wolk and I will be grilling each of the losers — uh, I mean contestants — after they are booted out of the game. And we’ll once again be having a few former Survivors stop by to join in the fun. (Amazon winner Jenna Morasca will be in the house for today’s episode.) Installments should go up later on Fridays so check our Survivor video hub around then.
Okay, the contestants look like they’re almost done discussing Shambo’s mullet and paddling to shore. What’s Jeff gonna make them do now? He’s gonna make them pick a leader. The Galu (purple) tribe picked Back Russell, who Erik described as a “better looking Lennox Lewis,” which I suppose is nicer than a “worse looking Milli Vanilli.” In their infinite wisdom, the Foa Foa (yellow) tribe did not pick White Russell, who had already kindly informed us that he wants to make it hell for his entire tribe. Instead, they went with pleasant and instantly forgettable Mick. But Mick did make a very interesting pick when Probst told the leaders they’d have to select who they wanted competing in the tribe’s first reward challenge. Jeff asked Mick to pick his strongest swimmer, and Mick immediately chose Jaison, which no doubt raised eyebrows among his tribemates (Mike, in particular).
Why? Well, this is a touchy one. You see, there’s no gentle way to put this so we may as well just state the facts: black contestants have not always been the strongest swimmers on Survivor. Some haven’t known how to swim at all. I even remember being out in Micronesia and watching Parvati give James swim lessons one afternoon so he could figure it out. I can’t tell you how much I was silently praying before Jaison took to the water — silently because my wife gets creeped out when I talk to the TV screen, and if I am going to start praying to God, it’s probably best that I don’t begin by asking the Big Fella to use His enormous powers to help influence the outcome of a reality TV competition. Please, let Jaison smash this stereotype to smithereens, I thought, and smash he did. Turns out the dude plays water polo! Also turns out it’s pretty easy to outswim someone when they insist on wearing jeans in the water! I don’t know what John was thinking with that outfit. Why not just tie some weights around your ankles as well while you’re at it? Maybe bust out a pair of Heavy Hands?
NEXT: A tale of two Russells