Archive for February, 2011

Help for the Fashion Challenged

February 24, 2011

I’m a big believer in experimenting with your look. That’s why I didn’t cut my hair for a year and a half.

Note: Actually, I’ve never cut my hair, but you know what I’m talking about.

Another Note: I’m the guy to the left in that picture. The guy on the right doesn’t have to worry about his hair at all. (But he does have a sweet Web series).

I always assumed I would let it grow until I was sick of it or until the alliance partner put her foot down. Oddly enough, that day never came. Despite how gross it was in the hot Nicaraguan sun, what a pain it was to dry, or how much it drove my frenemy Kerry nuts I still kinda liked it.

Yet Another Note: Truthfully, I loved how much Kerry hated it.

(more…)

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‘Survivor: Redemption Island’ Recap: ‘Boston’ Rob Shakes Up the Game

February 23, 2011

Last Week: Russell sold a new persona that no one seemed to buy. Kristina found an idol but trusted the wrong guy. And Francesca was sent to Redemption Island by an agent whose mouth was dry.

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Let’s take a look at the tribes as they currently stand…

The Ometepe Tribe (wearing orange)

Andrea – 21, Student
Ashley – 25, Nurse
Grant – 29, Yoga Instructor
Kristina – 46, Law Student
Matt – 22, Pre-Med Student
Natalie – 19, Dancer
Phillip – 52, Technology Executive

The Zapatera Tribe (wearing purple)

David – 31, Defense Attorney
Julie – 50, Firefighter
Krista – 25, Pharmaceutical Rep
Mike – 31, Former Marine
Ralph – 45, Farmer
Sarita – 36, Visual Effects Producer
Stephanie – 26, Waitress
Steve – 51, Former NFL Player

Currently Residing on Redemption Island (wearing shame)

Francesca – 36, Attorney

We kick off the festivities with Francesca (Francesqua?) arriving at Redemption Island. For some reason she’s still annoyed with Secret Agent Man for selling her out. She has a great attitude though, saying that she could make a comeback and win the game. Yup, just win like 14* consecutive immunity challenges.

*That’s an estimate. I have no clue how many it’ll take.

Meanwhile, Boston Rob considers that Tribal Council to be one of the wildest ones he’s ever participated in. Double-0 Phillip pulls Rob aside to tell him that Rob owns his vote until he goes to Redemption Island. Apparently Phillip prefers to align with people with easily pronounceable names.

The next morning we meet up with Phillip and his fuschia underpants in the midst of a crab hunt. Phillip gives a heartfelt speech about how important his word is to him. He’s good enough, he’s smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like him.

Phillip punctuates his point by beaning a crab with a rock.

Fun Fact: Those crabs are everywhere in Nicaragua. You have to be careful not to stomp on them while walking around the forest.

Over at Zapatera, Ralph wakes the crew with a rooster crow. For some reason Russell takes this to mean Ralph is a moron.

Russell also lets us know that he wants to bring Krista on board as part of his dumb a— girl alliance.

The other part of his plan? Finding an idol. Russell rummages around, not caring if anyone sees him. They’ve seen Samoa, they know what’s up.

However, the same player Russell wrote off as a moron earlier beats him to it. Ralph uncovers the idol while digging in the rocks.

OK, seriously? What happened to Russell-proofing the idols?

Ralph describes finding the idol as being as easy as “wiping your (rear) with toilet paper.” Do you need a joke for that, or should we just move on? Let’s move on.

Back at Ometepe, Andrea and Matt are developing a bit of a showmance. Rob’s seen this tactic before and doesn’t like it. Matt won’t impress him until he marries her, has kids with her, and stars in 40 reality shows with her.

Rob and Natalie discuss their options and decide that if Phillip doesn’t go next, then Andrea should.

Immunity Challenge Time: Players will swim out to a platform, jump off, smash a tile with a branch, and retrieve a key. Once five keys have been returned, the players will use them to unlock boxes that have balls in them. The players will then use the balls to smash another set of tiles. First team to smash all their tiles wins immunity and fishing gear.

Before the challenge gets started, Phillip vows to outlast any man in the game. When J-Pro (complete with sweet blue hat) asks him about the women, Phillip deadpans, “That’s another day. We’ll see.”

Oh man…NEVER VOTE PHILLIP OUT OF THIS GAME!

David will sit out for Zapatera.

Grant flies into the pool and gives Ometepe a lead. Ometepe retains that lead throughout the swimming portion. However, Stephenie takes the lead as Natalie has trouble unlocking her tribe’s boxes.

Ralph and Phillip pull tossing duties for their teams. Ralph jumps out to a huge lead, but Phillip uses his super agent powers to come roaring back. However, Ralph manages to win it.

Uh oh…Matt goes over and shakes Zapatera’s hands during their celebration. That does not sit well with Boston Rob.

Russell volunteers to carry the fishing gear back to camp knowing that the immunity idol clue is probably hidden in it. Sure enough Russell manages to pocket the clue, but not before Ralph catches him.

As Russell is sharing the clue with his lovely ladies, Mike and Ralph swing by to pay them a visit. Ralph calls Russell out on swiping the clue. Russell claims he doesn’t have it and lets them know that they’re either with him or against him.

You’re either hobbit or hobbait.

That sounded way better in my head. Sorry.

Over at Ometepe, Phillip holds his pre-Tribal Council speech saying everyone performed “galantrantly.” He regrets that he didn’t perform as well as they did.

Kristina breaks out her immunity idol and lets us know that she’ll be playing it at Tribal.  Smart move.

Rob meets with his alliance and they decide that Matt’s post-game handshake was too serious a breach of etiquette to ignore. So, it’s time for him to go home. Not such a smart move. You’ve just been beaten in two straight challenges. You need all the young blood you can get.

Afterwards, Rob takes Phillip aside to assure him that he doesn’t need to freak out at Tribal Council again.

NOOOOOOO!  Phillip freaking out at Tribal Council is all I have to look forward to now that Adam Wainwright’s elbow has ruined the Cardinals season.

(…I don’t want to talk about it.)

Rob tells Phillip that he’ll signal who Phillip should vote for by putting his hand on that person’s shoulder at Tribal. Rob considers this a test to see if Phillip can be trusted.

Quick Aside: People give Rob grief for not making it to the jury twice, but he gets this game. I disagree with this Matt move, but I see its merit. And this Phillip thing is genius. Two episodes in and I am crazy impressed.

That night at Tribal Council, Phillip flashes his many zoological tattoos and gives a little explanation speech for each one. Love him.

Boston Rob lets Phillip off the hook for losing the challenge.

Matt says it’s messed up to vote Phillip out over a single mistake. But that’s the game. He then says it’s like rain on your wedding day, or a free ride when you’ve already paid.

Phillip then lets us know that he’s OK with going to Redemption Island so he can square off against his nemesis. Oooooo…look out Francesqua.

As Jeff preps everyone to vote, Boston Rob puts his hand on Kristina’s shoulder. Kristina looks understandably freaked out.

Voting Time: Matt votes for Phillip, Phillip votes for Kristina (and says “Francesca” properly! No more dry mouth!) Kristina votes for Phillip, and the rest of the votes are secret.

Hmm…no Matthew votes.

Before Jeff can finish his spiel, Kristina stands up and hands him her idol. No Kristina votes will count.

Two votes for Kristina, two votes for Phillip, three votes for Matt, and the second person to be banished to Redemption Island is…Matt.

Ironically, he didn’t shake anybody’s hand as he left.

Verdict: Another strong episode. Can’t wait to see more of Zapatera though.

And, the more I think about it, the more I hate the Matt vote. First, they need all the challenge power they can get at this point. Second, Boston Rob had a good thing going as the leader of his merry band of Mouseketeers. Now, they’re all going to be watching their backs.

But, as long as it keeps Phillip around you’re not going to hear any complaints out of me. Well, any more complaints.

Who’s Going to Win? If David can see the benefit of teaming up with Russell, he’s going to be my pick to take it all.

Power Rankings Update: Sash clobbered me like an Ometepian swinging a branch at a brightly colored tile. He currently leads by a score of 13 to 5.

Any questions? Any comments? Drop me a line on Twitter at @gordonholmes.

Matthew ‘Sash’ Lenahan Accepts ‘Survivor’ Power Rankings Challenge

February 22, 2011

Last Season: The student defeated the master as XFINITY TV’s “Survivor” fella Gordon “The Truth Seeker” Holmes bested Benjamin “Coach” Wade.

This Season: One of “Survivor’s” sharpest minds and last season’s third-place finalist Matthew “Sash” Lenahan will match wits with XFINITY TV’s two-time Power Rankings champion (um…and two-time loser).

The Rules: Each week our two combatants will create separate power rankings. The ranking of the person who is voted out of the next episode will determine the number of points the two players will earn. For example, if Andrea is voted out this week, Sash will receive 2 points and Gordon will receive 8 points. At the end of the season, the person  with the most points will be named the “Survivor: Redemption Island” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.

TEAM SASH

Current Score: 0

.

TEAM GORDON

Current Score: 0

david . grant
#1 David – Want to bet he put the puzzle together instead of Russell?  David is smart enough to not let others know how smart he is.  As long as he keeps a low profile and teams up with a physical player, he’ll make it to Final Tribal…and win. . #1 Grant – I think one of the biggest takeaways from the first episode is that the challenges are no joke. This makes our friend Grant very valuable (until the merge at least) to Boston Rob.
andrea . david
#2 Andrea – She’s smart enough to take orders from Philip and laugh it off, she’s from a Wisconsin farm and won’t get beat-up by the weather, she’s with Rob but not “with” Rob, and I wouldn’t be surprised if she uses her acting skills like Fabio did last season to meander her way to the end. . #2 David – The pre-game interviews made David look like an arrogant first-boot candidate. However, inside the game he’s shown that he’s capable of putting his ego on hold. He’s going to be one to keep an eye on.
mike . steve
#3 Mike – Reminds me of Chase from Nicaragua by being a physical force and very likable.  No one wants to vote out an Iraq War Veteran, and he’ll be a powerhouse in challenges winning rewards.  My guess is he’ll get owned by David using him to clear a path to the Final Tribal council. . #3 Steve – If a Russell vs. the world showdown is going to take place at Zapatera, it’d be wise for people like Steve to let Mike and Ralph take the lead. Russell has shown the ability to overcome numbers disadvantages before, no need to become the latest victim on the Russell highlight reel.
natalie . krista
#4 Natalie – Can we call her Amber?  She’s in love with Rob.  Rob loves that she’s in love with him.  Does anyone care that he’s married with kids?  Maybe not for 39 days.  The only problem is that no one is going to allow Rob close enough for a shot at the end.  As soon as Rob is gone, Natalie will be next. . #4 Krista – Krista’s this high because she wasn’t Russell’s pick for Natalie 2.0. That was a smart bullet to dodge. That, and she’s a former Auburn cheerleader. War Eagle!
bostonrob . matt
#5 Boston Rob – He already has the women wrapped around his finger and he’s not going anywhere any time soon…but he did say, “I’m going to do, what I said I was going to do, with the people I said I was going to do it with…and that’s it.”  Hey Rob, last time you put that much trust in your own alliance, you were quickly sent home.  Watch for history to repeat itself. . #5 Matt – People keep saying you look like Fabio, but I’m getting more of a younger Jimmy T. vibe from your look. Anywho, you’re in the same boat as Grant, Boston Rob needs you guys right now.
phillip . mike
#6 Phillip – How can you not be in a “hyper state of arousal” when watching this Former Federal Agent(?)?  Despite breaking the law by wearing those droopy fuchsia colored briefs, Mr. Dry Mouth, who pre-game I had pegged to be first voted out, has just earned himself a Get Out of Jail Free card as he’s a sure bet to get zero votes at the end.  Look at him as a swing vote to make it far. . #6 Mike – The good news for Mike? David is a smart player and could take him far. The bad news for Mike? I’m not sure how familiar he is with the game, especially after his comment about trying to avoid immunity challenges.
ashley . sarita
#7 Ashley – This pageant winner wasn’t sad about losing the challenge, she was sad about letting Rob down.  She’ll do anything her leader says and Rob will sacrifice anyone to keep himself in the game.  Mark my words; Ashley’s departure will cause a downward spiral for the original Ometepe Tribe. . #7 Sarita I didn’t get that good of a feel for Sarita in the first episode. But she’s smart enough to know that getting rid of Russell should be high on Zapatera’s to-do list.
steve . andrea
#8 Steve – His NFL skills will get him to the merge because of his strength, but no one wants to see this guy do what Tom Westman did in Palau by going on an immunity run.  He’ll be a big target after the merge. . #8 Andrea – Andrea didn’t get much screen time, but what we saw spoke volumes. While Francesca and Kristina were frustrated with Phillip, she wouldn’t let him get to her. And, she didn’t hack her own foot off, so that’s a plus too.
stephanie . ashley
#9 Stephanie She called herself out after seeing Russell get off the helicopter, “If I’m not the one person he picks to go to the end, I’m going to be out…I’M GOING TO BE OUT”.  Guess what…You’re Out!  She’s smart for telling Russell not to be seen walking around camp with her, but she’s dumb for letting everyone see her walk around the camp with him.  Her life will hinge on Russell.  Once he’s gone, his prom date will be next. . #9 Ashley – Ashley was more concerned with letting Rob down than with losing immunity. She should be more concerned that Amber is waiting for her at Redemption Island.
russell . julie
#10 Russell – Love him or hate him, he has successfully lost every time he has played by making it to day 39.  If these players are smart, they’ll allow him to self-destruct a third time.  The only problem is his arrogance won’t allow him to make it that far. . #10 Julie – Didn’t get to see much from Julie either. However, with challenges being as physical as they are this season, she should be safe for a while.
grant . natalie
#11 Grant – A pre-season favorite of mine, but may be just a bit too “Zen” for the rest of the tribe.  Instead of finding himself during “Survivor,” he’ll probably find his torch snuffed by Jeff pre-merge.  Besides, Rob is focused on the women, and the women have the numbers. . #11 Natalie – Another one of Rob’s lovely ladies. She’s going to be safe while they weed out Kristina and possibly Phillip, but she has to be first on the chopping block if Team Rob has to start eliminating their own.
krista . bostonrob
#12 Krista – With Russell having already found his Queen in Stephanie, this southern belle’s fate will remind us of Parvati’s closest ally Danielle in another divide-and-conquer move by Russell. . #12 Boston Rob – He has the numbers, he’s a challenge monster, and he’s a proven leader. Rob’s biggest problem? He’ll never be safe. Ever. If you’re the one to mastermind Rob’s dismissal, you’ll have made a name for yourself.
matt . russell
#13 Matt – This harmonious, Fabio-esque, med-student may just be loving “Camp Harmony” so much he won’t see his harmonious blindside by his own tribemates. . #13 Russell – I had hope for Russell when I saw him trying to switch up his game. However, that hope went out the window as soon as people saw him walking around with Stephanie. That’s a big mistake.
kristina . phillip
#14 Kristina – Wow!  Last season Marty had huge balls for not playing his idol during Tribal Council, turns out that Kristina has huge b….um…well, let’s just say it was a bold move not playing her idol too.  Unfortunately she’s the only one on the chopping block from her tribe.  She’s given herself another 3 days, but not much longer. . #14 Phillip – Oh man…love me some Phillip. But what is Ometepe going to do? Bounce him because he’s bad for tribe morale, or keep him and try to take him to the finals NaOnka-style? It probably doesn’t matter what they decide as Phillip will use his federal agent powers to thwart them.
julie . ralph
#15 Julie – This gruff momma already admits that she’s more likely to bond with the guys over the girls.  On a tribe where Russell likes young women, and guys are needed to compete in challenges, this 50-year-old firefighter may have a hard time making friends. . #15 Ralph – The preview makes it look like Ralph will be the first target of Team Russell. I’d like to think with Russell’s reputation that Ralph wouldn’t have much to worry about, but I’ve lost too many Power Rankings points betting against Russell to risk it.
sarita . kristina
#16 Sarita – She’s not young enough to be Russell’s girlfriend and may be a bit too naive to realize that villains do exist in this game.  Her glowing happiness is ripe for Russell to devour. . #16 Kristina – Has anyone ever done so much right and so much wrong in one episode of “Survivor” before? You found an idol with no clues, then trusted the craziest person the show has ever seen. I’d say you were safe this week because you still have the idol, but I wouldn’t be shocked if you traded it for a handful of magic beans.
ralph . stephanie
#17 Ralph – Ralph, aka “Steel Wool”, was a pre-game favorite of mine to make the end.  Unfortunately he wound up on Russell’s tribe and Russell doesn’t care about winning challenges, he cares about winning over the women.  Despite having “The Most Impressive Man Sweater I’ve Ever Seen”, this beach may not be big enough for the both of them. . #17 Stephanie I don’t think teaming up with Russell is a bad idea. I think letting people know that you’ve teamed up with Russell is a bad idea. Luckily for Russell, they’ll need his strength. Unluckily for you, they’ll want to split you two up. Good luck against Francesca at Redemption Island.

What Do You Think? Drop me a line on Twitter at @gordonholmes.

‘Survivor: Redemption Island’ Recap: Best Opening Tribal Council Ever

February 16, 2011

Quick Note: Jeff Probst has promised us the most memorable opening Tribal Council ever. We shall see J-Pro…we shall see.

Alright…let’s dance.

We start off aboard a helicopter that’s being piloted by the Nicaraguan air force. The passengers? Oh, just three-time Emmy winner Jeff Probst and sixteen random Americans (who are mostly from California).

First up, we meet former Special Agent Phillip. He’s got a real Coach vibe to him.

Next up we meet Fabio-look-alike Matt. Apparently Matt is very spiritual and well spoken. OK, so he only looks like Fabio.

Finally, we’re introduced to Ralph. Ralph admits to being a dumbass and thinks it’s time a dumbass wins the game. Apparently nobody clued him in about “Survivor: Nicaragua.”

Wow, we’re three minutes into this and I’ve already made fun of Fabio twice. I don’t see what the big deal is…they recycle locations, I recycle jokes.

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Wait a minute…did Probsty say eighteen people? I only counted sixteen.

Let’s take a look at these new tribes, shall we?

The Ometepe Tribe (wearing orange)

Andrea – 21, Student
Ashley – 25, Nurse
Francesca – 36, Attorney
Grant – 29, Yoga Instructor
Kristina – 46, Law Student
Matt – 22, Pre-Med Student
Natalie – 19, Dancer
Phillip – 52, Technology Executive

The Zapatera Tribe (wearing purple)

David – 31, Defense Attorney
Julie – 50, Firefighter
Krista – 25, Pharmaceutical Rep
Mike – 31, Former Marine
Ralph – 45, Farmer
Sarita – 36, Visual Effects Producer
Stephanie – 26, Waitress
Steve – 51, Former NFL Player

Fun Fact: Steve was an NFL teammate of “Survivor: Guatemala” player Gary Hogeboom.

Before Jeff starts off the game, he informs the tribes that they’re going to wait for the arrival of two more players. A second helicopter lands and two behatted (not sure if that’s a word) gentlemen step out.

The first one, who is wearing a Boston Red Sox hat, is greeted by applause.

The second person, who is wearing a fedora, is greeted by looks of horror and disappointment.

J-Pro introduces the two new players. One is known as Boston Rob and the other is known as Russell. Probst goes on to explain that the two players offer a combined 156 days of experience in the game.

Francesca is concerned that Boston Rob and Russell are troublemakers and aren’t interesting in helping either tribe.

Nevertheless, the two players each reach into a bag to retrieve a buff. Boston Rob’s is orange, Russell’s is purple.

The Ometepe tribe bursts into cheers as they realize they’ve received a hard-working, challenge-winning machine and dodged an ill-tempered, camp-disrupting bullet.

Meanwhile, the Zapatera crew looks like it’s Christmas morning and all they’ve received are socks. Which is convenient, as that’ll give Russell something to burn.

Before Jeff sends the tribes on their way, he explains that for the first time in “Survivor” history, when someone is voted out, they will not go home. Instead, they will be sent to Redemption Island where they will live alone. When the next voted-out person is sent to Redemption Island, the two people will duel. The winner stays, the loser goes home for good. At some point in the game, the remaining player will be allowed to reenter the game and compete for the million dollar prize.

Jaws drop…

From there, the tribes are given maps and are sent on their way. As they’re leaving, Probst makes the point that they should make the most of Rob and Russell’s experience. I appreciate the restraint that must’ve gone into him not saying, “Please don’t vote them off.”

We meet up with Zapatera at their beach. Russell let’s us know that we’re going to see a new Russell. A Russell that’s a leader.

Sure enough, he gathers his tribemates together and tells them all that it’d be foolish for him to play the game the way he has in the past. They’d all see through him and send him home. So, they can expect a kindler, gentler Russell. Group hug.

Afterwards, Ralph takes off his shirt to get down to the business of “shack” buildin’. Apparently Ralph’s luxury item is a sweater made of human hair. Seriously, he makes George “The Animal” Steele look like Miss Elizabeth.

Mike then lets us know that the tribe will do well as long as they can stay away from immunity challenges.

Wa…huh?

Meanwhile over at Ometepe, Phillip is already rubbing some people the wrong way. Apparently he’s kind of a jerk for showing Andrea the proper way to chop a log. Some nerve on that guy. Her, thrust-the-blade-of-the-axe-directly-at-her-foot technique was fine.

Afterwards, Phillip tells everybody that he’s a former federal agent. Apparently this makes him incapable of lying. Not only that, but he’s an expert in being able to read if people are telling the truth or not.

This is just like the Psychic Survivor strategy I pitched to Probst in Nicaragua. You can’t vote me out cause I’ll know it!

Kristina gets the bright idea to start searching for hidden immunity idol clues. She smartly starts digging around the huge honking box of tools they were given. (Seriously, what’s with all the hardware? They should only get a machete and a Dixie cup.) Boston Rob picks up on what she was doing, and tries to help her out a little.

Hate on Rob all you want, but the guy gets this game.

Back at Zapatera, Russell and Stephanie are discussing strategy. Apparently Russell is accepting applications for the new co-star of his dumb ass girl alliance. Stephanie signs right up. For some reason, the sight of Russell walking around camp with a girl half his age is enough to freak out the rest of the Zapaterans.

The next morning at Ometepe, Kristina heads out on an immunity idol hunting expedition…and in true Hantzian style, manages to find one.

Color me impressed.

Immunity Challenge Time:
Each tribe will push four blocks on a track to form the base of a temple. The tribe will race up the blocks. Then they’ll chop a series of ropes to release more steps. They’ll climb those steps and be greeted by a block puzzle. The first tribe to complete their puzzle wins immunity and flint.

Medallion of Power Advantage:
Oh wait, there’s no Medallion of Power this season. Nevermind…

Zapatera gets off to a big lead, getting all four of their blocks into place first. New leader Russell is shouting encouragement as they go…which is unnerving.

Ralph chops through the ropes quickly and Zapatera advances to the block puzzle. Ometepe finally makes their way to the stage and Matt makes quick work of the ropes.

Probst reminds Ometepe that they have a great puzzle captain in Rob. How Probst refrained from giving Rob a hug I’ll never know.

David is leading the puzzle team for Zapatera, which is smart as David apparently has the highest IQ of any Survivor ever.

Yes, even higher than Shambo.

In the end, Ometepe’s amazing puzzle champion wasn’t enough to make up the difference as Zapatera claimed the first immunity win of the season.

Back at Ometepe, Ashley lets us know that it sucks that they lost and it sucks that they have to go to Tribal Council. You know what else sucks? Bad vocabularies.

We then meet up with Kristina who tells Francesca that she has an immunity idol. Kristina also lets Francesca know that she has no idea how to use it. She describes a plan where they get the others to vote for her while they vote for Rob. Then she’ll play the idol and send Rob home.

This plan is ridiculous. There is no reason to turn the game on its head in day three. There are like a dozen more Tribal Councils between now and a million dollars.  Chill out.

Francesca agrees with me, explaining that it’s a fun idea but that Rob is a strong competitor and it might be smart to keep him around. Francesca offers Natalie as the first boot instead.

Meanwhile, Rob tells us that he originally wanted Francesca to go home because of what she said at the beginning of the game about him being sneaky. Yeah, Rob. She knows you’re sneaky, she’s a genius. Or, she owns a TV.

However, now Rob wants Kristina to go home because he caught her trying to find the hidden immunity idol.

Rob gets his alliance together and tells them to split the vote between Francesca and Kristina in case they did find the idol. Rob makes extra sure to slap some Tyson insurance on this plan by telling everyone to stick with their votes.

Later, Phillip is apparently driving Kristina nuts with his strategy discussions. So, she shows him the immunity idol to get him to shut up. That’s enough to get him on board. He thinks he’ll be the new leader of Ometepe after they send Rob home.

That night at Tribal Council, Probst breaks out the classic “Fire means life” line. Although, it doesn’t sound quite right now that fire means you’re sent to the second bracket in the double-elimination tournament.

Matt tells Jeff that Phillip’s bossiness could rub some people the wrong way.

Francesca says their vote tonight should be to keep the tribe as strong as possible.

Kristina tells Jeff that she doesn’t feel safe at all.

Jeff then asks Francesca how Redemption Island will affect strategy. Francesca explains that if someone like Boston Rob were sent there, it’s likely he could come back into the game. She also makes the point that Rob won’t be going there tonight.

Phillip takes exception to that comment saying that Francesca and Kristina had told him to vote for Rob.

Wha-what!

Phillip has a meltdown, saying he’s voting for Francesca and that Kristina has an immunity idol.

Best of all, Phillip keeps mispronouncing Francesca’s name and she keeps correcting him.

Rob asks Kristina to show him the immunity idol. She owns up to having it and shows it to him. Rob tells her that he’ll let her stay in the game if he can have it.

Wha-what!

Yeah, best first Tribal Council ever.

Probst is giddy. So am I. This is awesome.

Kristina refuses to give over the idol. Rob says that’s fine, but someone is obviously lying. Rob says he’s going to do what he said he was going to do with the people he said he was going to do it with.

Voting Time: Rob votes for Francesca (saying how much fun it is to play with amateurs), Natalie votes for Kristina, Francesca votes for Phillip, and the rest are secret.

Jeffrey tallies and returns. He asks if anyone would like to play a hidden immunity idol…and Kristina doesn’t.

Two votes for Kristina, one vote for Francesca, one vote for Phillip, one vote for Francesca, one vote for Phillip, one vote for Kristina, one vote for Francesca and the first person to be banished to Redemption Island is…Francesca.

Verdict: Wow.

Probst was right. Not only was that the best opening Tribal Council ever, but it’s got to rank up there among the best of all time.

Usually bad gameplay makes for bad “Survivor,” but Kristina’s idol foolishness resulted in pure gold.

Who’s Going to Win? Oh jeez…not Phillip.

Exit Interview Note: Since nobody left the game, there will be no exit interview tomorrow. In fact, we won’t have an exit interview until after the third episode (where the first Redemption Island duel takes place).

Any questions? Any comments?
Drop me a line on Twitter at @gordonholmes.

Inside the New Twists of ‘Survivor: Redemption Island’

February 16, 2011

A diverse group of strangers? Check. A remote, tropical location? Check. Officially licensed, multi-colored Buff headwear? Check.

A couple of twists designed to spice up the game? Check.

But where will this season’s twists rank? Will they be as amazing as “Heroes vs. Villains” or as dreadful as “Haves vs. Have Nots”? As game-changing as hidden immunity idols or as snore-inducing as the Medallion of Power?

So, let’s take a pre-game look at the twists the “Survivor” producers have in store for us and try to figure out how they’ll affect the game and if they’ll be fun to watch.

The Twist: The Return of ‘Boston’ Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz

How It Will Work: “Survivor” Hall of Famers Boston Rob and Russell will each join a tribe as a celebrity tribe member.

It’s Kinda Like:
When Stephenie LaGrossa and “Survivor” Power Rankings veteran Bobby Jon Drinkard were invited back to participate in “Survivor: Guatemala” after their Ulong tribe was wiped out in “Survivor: Palau.”

How That Twist Worked Out:
Not too badly, actually. Bobby Jon got to feel what it was like to win an immunity challenge before becoming the tenth person to leave the game. While Stephenie LaGrossa managed to make it to the finals before being decimated by Danni Boatwright.

How “Redemption Island” Is Different:
Bobby Jon and Stephenie were seen as hard workers who had the bad luck of being put on a cursed tribe. Compare that to Russell Hantz who is best known for burning socks, stabbing backs and punching kittens. Even likable “Boston” Rob will be looked at with contempt as he makes his fourth trek into the wilderness. The sixteen new cast members won’t agree on much, but they’ll all agree that they aren’t interested in being extras on the “Boston Rob and Russell Show.”

How I Think It’ll Turn Out: If Russell can remind his tribe that he turns people into millionaires, he has a shot. If not, he doesn’t see the merge.

On the other hand, Boston Rob’s best bet is an extended stay at Redemption Island.  He’ll probably pay a visit there shortly after the merge.

Pre-Game Twist Ranking?
A four out of ten. Boston Rob and Russell will have the same affect on “Redemption Island” that Jimmy Johnson had on “Nicaragua.”

Video: Jeff Probst previews the “Survivor: Redemption Island” cast.

The Twist: Redemption Island

How It Will Work: After someone is voted out of the game, they’ll go to Redemption Island. There they’ll have to survive with the same equipment and supplies the tribes use. When a second person is voted out, they’ll go to Redemption Island to face the first person in a duel. The winner stays, the loser goes home.  Eventually, the last person remaining on Redemption Island will be allowed to return to the game for a shot at the million dollar prize.

It’s Kinda Like: When Burton Morris and Lillian Morris were allowed to return to “Survivor: Pearl Islands” after being voted out.

How That Twist Worked Out: It was a disaster. The “Outcasts” twist is generally considered to be the worst twist in “Survivor” history. Many fans hated that the twist violated the basic rule of “Survivor” which is “When you’re out, you’re out.” Also, the returning players hadn’t been living in the wilderness during their time out of the game. This caused some serious resentment between the returning players and those who’d been out there the whole time.

How “Redemption Island” Is Different: The players who are voted out of the game will still have to survive the elements. Also, the Outcasts returning to Pearl Islands were a surprise. All of the players will know about Redemption Island in advance.

How I Think It’ll Turn Out:
I’ve never been a fan of how being strong is a detriment after the merge. This will give the more competitive players a chance to win the game, which isn’t a bad thing.

Also, the idea of starting off every show with a sudden death elimination immunity challenge has a world of cool possibilities.

However, whether this twist lives or dies is all going to depend on how the other players view surviving at Redemption Island. If they think it’s a joke and aren’t willing to reward a player who survived on their own, then it’s the Outcasts all over again. If they appreciate someone battling their way back into the game, it could have legs and become the show standard.

Pre-Game Twist Ranking?
A potential ten if the players respect it, a three if the player who returns to the game from “Redemption Island” becomes cannon fodder.

“Survivor: Redemption Island” premieres, Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Follow me on Twitter for up-to-the-minute “Survivor” news and lame jokes: @gordonholmes.

The Single Greatest Thing at NY Toy Fair 2011

February 13, 2011

Click to Enlarge

So, after walking up and down the halls of New York’s Javits Center for twelve straight hours, I’m comfortable in saying that the greatest new find wasn’t on a shelf or in a cabinet…it’s was buried in a Kotobukiya brochure.

Now, I’m not sure how a Ghostbusters jumpsuit would get so horribly mangled, but I’m sure they have some clever backstory.

And yes, I may have only been half kidding about that Sassy “Ghostbusters” Costume article a while ago…

‘Survivor’s’ Mark Burnett on Quitters, Spoilers and a Possible Celebrity ‘Survivor’

February 10, 2011

“Survivor” Executive Producer Mark Burnett participated in a conference call this afternoon to discuss next Wednesday’s premiere of “Survivor: Redemption Island” and the future of the “Survivor” franchise.

How Will the Redemption Island Twist Work?

Mark Burnett: The very first person (voted out of the game) goes to Redemption Island. There on Redemption Island they live alone. The same conditions, the same amount of food, almost nothing to live with except it’s even worse because they’re completely lonely and alone. And they’re waiting for what happens next in episode two when the next person is voted out of their tribe and joins the first person at Redemption Island. In episode three, person one and person two compete in the first challenge of the episode. It’s a face-to-face duel. And some of the members of their tribes who had voted them out get to be spectators and watch the one-on-one duel.

The winner of Redemption Island stays on Redemption Island, the loser now actually goes home. Week four, there’s another duel, spectators come from the tribes to watch, and it goes on.

Video: Jeff Probst previews the “Survivor: Redemption Island” cast.

How Will “Boston” Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz Factor Into the Game?

Mark Burnett: The two of them probably have an advantage. In the first episode, when they arrive it’s a surprise to the tribe. The tribes are there, there are sixteen of them there. And then Jeff says, “But the game hasn’t started yet. By the way, there are two more players.” And a helicopter lands and out steps Russell and Rob. And their (the contestants) faces are like, “Oh my God. I can’t believe these guys are back.”

Jeff explains there are 150 days of experience between Russell and Rob. Jeff says, “You can get rid of them if you want, or you can use them to your benefit. There’s 150 days of experience.”  But that means one of two things; either use that experience to get to the end, or fear that experience and get rid of them. It’s up to you, it’s “Survivor.”

Will “Survivor” Continue After “Redemption Island” and Will Jeff Probst Continue as the Host?

Mark Burnett: We haven’t dealt with it. We’re massively in post right now. It’s based upon ratings. It went up in Season 21 (Nicaragua) despite the move to Wednesdays. The assumption is we’ll continue making “Survivors” because hit shows stay on and shows that don’t, don’t stay on. There’s a core fan base of viewers who’ve followed the show from night to night.

Did Russell Hantz Leak Spoilers Online for “Survivor: Samoa” and “Survivor: Heroes Vs. Villains”?

Mark Burnett: I found out the same time you found out. I read it online. I had no idea about it. Don’t know if it’s actually true. As of this minute, I still have not had a conversation with CBS about it. I should probably call someone and ask someone.

How Frustrated Were You by NaOnka Mixon and “Purple” Kelly Shinn Quitting “Survivor: Nicaragua”?

Mark Burnett:
I was frustrated. I think Jeff (Probst) was more frustrated, just because Jeff’s actually on the show and living that journey with them. It’s surprising. The one thing I’d tell you, the biggest struggle we had was based upon precedent, and legally there was no way to kick them off the jury. Believe me, Jeff would have done that in five seconds and I would’ve approved that.

We’ve made a change, that going forward if indeed someone was to quit, it’d have to be pretty extraordinary circumstances that they’d stay on the jury.

Would You Consider a Celebrity “Survivor”?

Mark Burnett: Would I be thinking about an all celebrity version? For charity. If CBS wanted to and it was a really good reason and like a shortened version for charity at some point? Yeah, that wouldn’t be such a bad thing.

How Do You Feel About Casting Fans vs. Casting People Who Are Recruited?

Mark Burnett: All sorts of casting things come our way and we try to make the most balanced cast we can. You’d probably think that someone who really knows the game would be better at it. It’s one thing contemplating “Survivor,” a whole other thing being out there and not eating and being in that temperature.

Video: Watch full episodes of “Survivor: Nicaragua.”

“Survivor: Redemption Island” premieres, Wednesday, February 16, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

One Reason Why ‘Glee’ Doesn’t Annoy the Crap Out of Me

February 9, 2011

WordPress has a function that allows you to see the search terms people have used to find your site. For the past seven days, this is what my top ten list has looked like…

1. Reasons Why Glee Is Rubbish
2. Marshmallow Woman
3. Marshmallow Sailor
4. Senor Chang Elf
5. Stay Puft
6. Glee Is Rubbish
7. Glee Annoys Me
8. Glee Club Sucks
9. Glee Is Crap
10. Glee Crap

The reason for ‘Glee’s’ multiple showings on this list is clearly the piece I wrote entitled ‘Seven Reasons Why ‘Glee’ Annoys the Crap Out of Me.’

Now, while I don’t think ‘Glee’ has done much to alleviate my concerns I will give them credit for one thing; every now and then they do show you something you’ve never seen before.

(more…)

Food Review: Wells Banana Bread Beer

February 4, 2011

“I like ketchup, I like milk. You put ketchup in milk? I don’t like it.” – Nathan Trate

That was the first quote that popped into my head when I saw a four pack of Wells Banana Bread Beer in the fridge at my local liquor store.

I do have a rule, however,  that I will try anything that’s an actual food. By that I mean, if some group of people somewhere actually eats something, I’ll give it a try. If you just give me some random piece of crap, I’ll pass. It’s like “Survivor.” They may eat gross things, but they’re gross things that are eaten by people who live in that area. Maybe that’s why I like the show so much.

Note: That’s a lie, the reason I like “Survivor” so much is because I’m convinced I could win. I get along with most people, have a knack for strategy, and am not afraid to get my hands dirty. Watch your back, Richard Hatch. (more…)

Scenes from a Barnes and Noble

February 1, 2011

My alliance partner and I were going over some business matters at the local Barnes and Noble when we noticed a stack of books (pictured to the left) on the table next to us.

It’s hard to tell from my crappy camera phone, but the titles included “Toxic Men,” “Emotional Freedom,” “The One-Way Relationship,” and “Why Does He Do That?” Never before had such a selection of titles painted such a clear picture of the mood the person must’ve been in who was reading them.

Is it wrong for me to judge this book (reader) based on their covers? Probably.

After all, I’d hate for anyone to make judgments on me based on the book I was thumbing through…


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