Ken Tucker razzes ''Survivor'''s fenced-in lions and that ''bush survival'' guide
Carl Bilancione, Survivor: Africa
Credit: Survivor: Monty Brinton

Rich dentist Carl can’t survive a tiebreaker vote

”It’s a game for money, and you don’t need it.” Thus spake Lindsay, the squeaker of a winner in the Samburu tribe’s first tribal ejection council on Thursday night’s ”Survivor: Africa.” And thus Carl, the dentist who’d said proudly that he owned a Porsche and a Mercedes, became — to the best of my memory — the first contestant of all three seasons of ”Survivor” to be voted out because he was more wealthy than his tribe-mates. These people call themselves Americans — what happened to pride in capitalist gain?

Well, technically, that wasn’t really the reason Carl got booted — it was the reason he ended up a finalist in two tie-votes with Lindsay, who’d made the mistake of showing that she was weak. Or as she put it, ”I dehydrated pretty bad yesterday and passed out. I don’t know, maybe someone could take that for weakness.” Yes, they could, dear.

In the sudden death competition, Carl and Lindsay had to answer questions based on info they’d gleaned from a ”bush survival guide,” which since it was a book we’d heretofore never heard of, made for an unsatisfyingly dull finale. Indeed, the entire episode was kind of a drag. The night’s big threat was supposed to be the two lions seen prowling and growling around the Boran tribe at night. The thing is, the lions WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF A FENCE (we weren’t shown the fence, but the contestants referred to it). Oh, my — what a fright: It was like… a trip to the zoo!

The Africa edition is rapidly becoming the low-rent ”Survivor” — the reality-TV version of ”Married…With Children”: full of rude, vulgar, mean people. I can’t think of a single contestant who’s displayed a sense of humor, unless you count Boran tribe’s Tom and his notion of a distress signal: walking around with what looked like a feather wedged into his backside. You see what I mean about the ”Married… With Children” comparison.

I did like the reward challenge, though. Having each tribe push a gigantic ”boulder” (it looked like papier mache to me, but also seemed capable of crushing a wayward contestant) to a designated finish line was fun to watch, in part because the exertion it required kept the tribes’ hectoring banter to a minimum.

At least we won’t have to hear any more huffy guff from Carl about the laziness of what he kept calling ”Generation X”– i.e., the young ‘uns who voted against him. If I was in Samburu, my next target would be Linda, with her equally persistent prattle about how ”Mother Africa is a very spiritual place.” Sure, Linda — and you’re only in ”Survivor” for spiritual awakening, not the million bucks.

Survivor: Africa
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