Archive for September, 2011

‘Survivor’ Castaway Interview: Semhar Tadesse

September 29, 2011

When describing “Survivor” contestants, Jeff Probst uses the word “if” a lot. Jim can win if he can get people to trust him. Ozzy can go a long way if his social game has improved. Cochran can be a mastermind if he gets in with the right alliance.

There was no “if” with Semhar Tadesse. On day two of the filming of “Survivor: South Pacific,” Jeff Probst told me that Semhar would be the first person to go home. He was right.

Did he have some magic Emmy-powered crystal ball? No. He probably realized that she just isn’t right for the game. Semhar’s simply too kind hearted for “Survivor.”  For her it isn’t OK to lie, even for a million dollars, even if it is just a TV show…

I spoke with Semhar the morning after her Redemption Island elimination to find out her thoughts on her Savaii tribe mates, how rough things were all by herself, and the truth about her all-natural dental hygiene products.

Gordon Holmes: What happened before last week’s Tribal Council?
Semhar Tadesse:
I really didn’t know what to expect walking in there. I had been told different things by everyone. Pretty much the only people that really kept it honest with me were Ozzy, Dawn, and Papa Bear, who were like, “You know, we’re going to vote you out.” And everyone else told me I was completely safe. So I didn’t know what to think having only known these people for three days at this point. According to Keith, Jim, and Whitney I was totally safe. But right before we left, Ozzy looked at me and said, “Sorry, I tried.”

Holmes: I was just thinking that most people view Redemption Island as a punishment, but how often do you get a few days alone to just let your mind run free? As an artist, did that help you at all?
Tadesse:
Absolutely. I didn’t mind my time on Redemption so badly. There were some benefits.  I found bananas and I didn’t have to share them with anyone. (Laughs) I started a fire three times. I was proud of myself. But emotionally it was very difficult.
Holmes: You’d touched on that a bit about it bringing back feelings of rejection. Were you able to work through that at all?
Tadesse: It triggers things for everyone at Redemption Island. It just reminds you of things. You’re sitting there alone for days. And Redemption Island is scary, it’s dark, everything’s wet. It’s super difficult to start a fire. And it’s really quiet. You have plenty of time to think.

Holmes: I was talking to Jeff Probst on day two, and he immediately pegged you as the first person to go home. Any idea what it was about you that set him off?
Tadesse:
(Laughs) I wanted to braid my hair. And he told me, “Don’t braid your hair, we like your hair, keep your hair out.” And I was pretty concerned about my hair. I’m sure he thought, “Why is this girl concerned with her hair and not the game?”
Holmes: Were you happy with how your hair turned out?
Tadesse: Yeah, I wasn’t out there too long. If I had been out there for 40 days I couldn’t have kept it like that for long. It would’ve just turned into dreadlocks. And like I told Jeff in my interview, “You couldn‘t pay me a million dollars to cut my hair off.”

Holmes: You are famous for popularizing your own brand of Samoan toothpaste.
Tadesse:
(Laughs)
Holmes: Now I haven’t had a chance to try it yet, I’ve been busy, but how does that taste?
Tadesse: I did do a lot of research before I went out there. The toothpaste I picked up in a book I read about survival. I double-checked with an environmentalist and they said that it’s complexly safe to do. You basically take ash and put a little bit of water in it and you mix it around.
Holmes: Sounds delicious.
Tadesse: I never actually did it on the show because I felt like I’d only do it if it really came down to it.
Holmes: So you’re telling people to jam ashes into their mouths and you hadn’t tried it yet?
Tadesse: I said this is what we CAN do.
Holmes: Fair enough.

Holmes: Let’s talk about your fellow Savaiians. Jim strikes me as someone who’s super sharp, but I worry that people won’t trust him. Would you agree with that?
Tadesse:
I knew from the very beginning that I wasn’t going to trust Jim. He was telling us he was a teacher, and he was talking about his female students in inappropriate ways. I don’t know if it was his goal to make us not like him, but from the beginning I didn’t feel comfortable around him. It was creepy things like, “Hey, come sleep over here, Sem.”
Holmes: In all fairness to Jim, if I were on Savaii beach I’d be saying similar things.
Tadesse: (Laughs)
Holmes: So, I will not cast stones.

Holmes: Tell me about Papa Bear. He seems like the sweetest guy, but I can’t get behind someone who gives himself a nickname.
Tadesse:
I love it. I love Papa Bear. I think that it worked well for him because he was a Papa to us. He’s just a love bug. I think the nickname is awesome for him.

Holmes: I have a theory that Whitney might be a genius.
Tadesse:
Really?
Holmes: Last night when Keith was telling her about Ozzy, she was gently rocking him in the hammock. She didn’t have to ask things, he was just telling her. Am I reading too much into this?
Tadesse: I didn’t get a genius vibe from her, but I don’t know. Time will tell.

Holmes: It’s time for the word association. Let’s start with Ozzy.
Tadesse:
Sweet, good heart, caring, and loyal.
Holmes: Elyse?
Tadesse: Quiet, reserved, and sweet.
Holmes: Cochran?
Tadesse: (Laughs) Funny, in fact hilarious, sweetheart, and dorky.
Holmes: Papa Bear?
Tadesse: Loving, caring, and dramatic.
Holmes: Dawn?
Tadesse: Complete motherly attitude, organized individual, and super good heart.
Holmes: Whitney?
Tadesse: Whitney…not so bright in my opinion. A little on the ditsy side.
Holmes: Alright, let’s explore this. What was she doing that seemed ditzy?
Tadesse: She’d just make little comments from time to time. Things like saying she needed to lose weight. Or, one time she said something about Moses going through the Red Sea for forty days and forty nights.
Holmes: That doesn’t sound right.
Tadesse: But she may be really smart and pretending to be ditzy.
Holmes: You’re killing my theory, Semhar!
Tadesse: (Laughs) Right there with you, Gordon.
Holmes: OK, let’s try Keith.
Tadesse: Neutral, chill, surfer-dude attitude.
Holmes: And finally, Jim.
Tadesse: Disgusting, pervert, heartless.

Holmes: Was your experience in Samoa a positive one? Did you learn from it?
Tadesse:
Absolutely, I grew from the entire experience. I’m really happy that I went. It taught me that I can do things on my own, and that’s a very comforting feeling to have, especially with all of these natural disasters. It’s nice to know I could start a fire on my own. I never thought in a million years that I could do that.
Holmes: Well, here’s hoping you never have to start a fire again, but it’s good to know that you can.
Tadesse: (Laughs) Like I said when we interviewed in Samoa, I’m not an outdoorsy person. This girl has never been camping before.

Any Questions? Drop Gordon a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Watch Full Episodes of “Survivor: South Pacific”

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An Open Letter to Fans of the Philadelphia Phillies

September 29, 2011

So here we are; the St. Louis Cardinals are squaring off against the Philadelphia Phillies in a five-game series to determine who will advance to the NLCS. The timing might be odd, but I’ve decided to reveal a dirty little secret…

I like the Philadelphia Phillies.

Seriously.

Ever since they saved the grounds crew in Colorado I’ve been a closet Phillies fan. I think Jimmy Rollins is hilarious and has a promising future as a sports broadcaster after he retires. Chase Utley seems like a stand-up guy and I appreciate his attitude about animals’ rights. Ryan Howard is a St. Louisian (not sure if that’s a word), so I love that. (more…)

‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Recap: Oh Miki, You’re Too Fine…

September 29, 2011

Last Week: The word “hantz” has many definitions…

1. To find an idol without a clue. (ex. Ozzy hantzed an idol.)
2. To say one thing, then do something else. (ex. Brandon really hantzed when he lied to Coach after telling him he was trustworthy.)
3. To be caught hunting for immunity idols. (One of the reasons Christine was voted out of the game was because she was hantzed on the first day.)

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here are the tribes as they currently stand…

The Savaii Tribe (wearing red)
Cochran – 24, Harvard Law Student
Dawn – 41, English Professor
Elyse – 27, Dance Team Manager
Jim – 35, Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner
Keith – 26, Water Treatment Tech
Mark – 48, Retired NYPD Detective
Ozzy – 30, Slayer of Challenges
Whitney – 27, Country Music Singer

The Upolu Tribe (wearing blue)
Albert – 26, Baseball/Dating Coach
Brandon – 19, Oil Tanker Crewman
Coach – 39, Slayer of Dragons
Edna – 35, Anesthesiologist
Mikayla – 22, Lingerie Football Player
Rick – 51, Rancher
Sophie – 22, Medical Student
Stacey – 44, Mortician

Currently Residing on Redemption Island (wearing steely determination)
Semhar – 24, Spoken Word Artist
Christine – 39, Teacher

We kick this party off over at Redemption Island where Christine lets us know that Coach had it out for her from the beginning. Yeah, that’s on Coach. It was so weird when he forced her to call him a “temporary player.”

Meanwhile at Upolu, Mikayla is trying to figure out why Brandon is gunning for her. Her and I both.  Also, Brandon is disappointed in himself for lying to Coach. He isn’t quite sure why he did it. He and I both.

Seriously though, Mikayla. He’s just threatened by your good looks. Happens to me all the time. OK, feel free to stop laughing now.

Next up, it’s Redemption Challenge time. Coach and Stacey are attending the festivities for Upolu while Ozzy and Elyse are the Savaii representatives.

Redemption Island Duel: Each player will balance a wooden totem at the end of a pole. At regular intervals they will have to extend that pole with another pole. The last person to keep their totem on their pole wins.

Note: This is very similar to the challenge Russell Hantz won to advance to the final three in “Survivor: Samoa.”

Before the duel gets underway, Semhar kneels and says a poem as if she was praying. Dude, she’s fun. I’m already considering her for next season’s Power Rankings so we can do rhyming captions.

Not a lot to describe here except for some super-intense balancing faces. In the end the calming poetry wasn’t enough to do the trick as Semhar’s totem crashed to the ground. Before Semhar is sent on her way, she broke down a bit and said she was very proud of herself for not giving up. I know a lot of people were worried she wouldn’t last by herself on Redemption Island, so good for her for hanging in there. She burns her buff on the way out in what may be my least favorite part of Redemption Island.

Afterwards, Christine tells us that she’d like to “Pull a Matt” and get back into the game. Well, that depends on if God likes her best.

Back at Upolu, Brandon explains that God and his family aren’t pleased with him because of the lying. Well, one member of his family might be cool with it. Brandon pays his penance for lying by taking off his shirt and showing off his Hantztoos to the rest of Upolu. Stacey has an Eliza Orlins-eque reaction to this news. I seriously thought her eyes were going to pop out of her head.

For some reason, this revelation isn’t enough to redeem Brandon in Mikayla’s eyes.

Coach thinks the grand reveal was a mistake. I agree. I’m not sure how it helps anything except for his tanlines.

Meanwhile over at Savaii, Papa Bear is worried that he’s the low man on the totem pole. Shortly after, Ozzy confirms Papa Bear’s suspicions.

Ozzy also lets us know that he completely trusts Keith. He proves this by telling him he found the idol. Keith then shows how trustworthy he is by promptly telling Whitney. And in an amazing moment, Keith lays in the hammock while Whitney rocks it for him. Am I reading too much into that? Is Whitney playing Keith?

Next up, it’s throwdown time over at Upolu as Mikayla takes Brandon aside to figure things out. Brandon, keeping to this week’s no-lying policy fesses up that he wanted her gone because of her super sexy attitude.

Brandon brings this little discussion back to the camp and gives a speech to the whole tribe that I simply couldn’t follow. Seriously, I rewound it three times. Either the editing was wonky or Brandon’s losing it.

Sophie does me a solid and tries to sort it out for us. She says Brandon is torn between following his religious beliefs and following his lying Hantz DNA.

Note: Man, we’re seeing a lot of Upolu this episode. Ten “Survivor” points says they lose the immunity challenge.

Another Note:
“Survivor” points still have no cash value.

Immunity Challenge Time: One person from each tribe will race across a floating bridge carrying a body board attached to a long rope. When they reach a platform they’ll grab a bag and hang on to the body board as the team uses a wench to pull them back to the beach. Once all five bags have been retrieved, two players on a wall will use grappling hooks to retrieve the puzzle bags. Inside the bags are puzzle banners. The first tribe to put their banners in the proper order wins immunity, a clue to the hidden immunity idol, cookies, coffee, four calling birds, three French hens…

The first portion of the challenge was entertaining as the lead changed hands several times. However, Upolu took a slight lead at the end as Ozzy lost control of his body board.

Coach and Edna were on puzzle duty for Upolu while Whitney and Elyse did it for Savaii. Team Upolu got their bags first as Coach killed the grappling portion.

Then, Mikayla and Sophie shouted instructions to Coach and Edna helping them tear through the banner puzzle, thus winning immunity, reward, and an idol clue for Upolu.

OK, I owe you ten “Survivor” points.

Before we head off to break, Jim lets us know that Papa Bear is slowing them down. My “Survivor” editing training tells me there’s no way Papa Bear goes home tonight. Double or nothing on the “Survivor” points?

Politicking around Savaii seems to center on Cochran vs. Papa Bear. Apparently Dawn has earned some respect with her challenge prowess and is now Savaii’s Edna.

Cochran is worried that he’s in trouble because he’s not in “The Group.” Seriously? Worst allaince name ever. Since they’re not being creative, let’s call them Alpha Beta instead. That makes Cochran and Papa Bear the heads of Lambda Lambda Lambda.

The Alpha Betas have decided that Papa Bear’s time is done. They tell Cochran he’s safe, but he isn’t buying it.

Papa Bear, sensing he’s a marked man, goes on a wild hunt for the immunity idol. He has no luck, so he creates a fake idol. He does a crap job, too. Runaround Bob he ain’t.

That night at Tribal Council, Cochran makes a case that he held his own during the immunity challenge.

Papa Bear thinks that Cochran is a physical liability. He then calls out the Alpha Betas for not letting him into the clique. No big deal, just win the head seat of the Greek Council by winning the Greek Games. Doy.

Dawn feels like the Alpha Betas have been more open lately, Papa Bear disagrees.

Jim retorts, saying that Papa Bear is just being defensive because he feels like he’s on the chopping block.

Cochran makes the point that searching for the immunity idol makes it look like you don’t trust your tribe. C’mon, Mr. “Survivor” fan, you know that strategy cost Brenda in Nicaragua.

Voting Time: Jim votes for Cochran, Cochran votes for Papa Bear, and the rest are super secret.

Probst does his tallying business and returns; one vote for Papa Bear, one vote for Cochran, one vote for Jim, two votes Papa Bear, and the third person to receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Redemption Island is…Papa Bear.

Seriously?! I owe you twenty “Survivor” points?!

Verdict: Not the most exciting or surprising episode, but it’s creating a solid build. I’m psyched for the next chapter in “The Passion of Brandon Hantz” and Keith is keeping things interesting over at Savaii. Good times.

Who’s Going to Win: I don’t know what it was about Whitney rocking the hammock for Keith, but it stuck with me. Watch out for her.

Power Rankings Update: Andrea Boehlke came back swinging, picking Papa Bear in spot sixteen while I had him in spot fifteen. We both earned a bonus point for picking Christine to win the duel. The score is now Team Boehlke 32, Team Holmes 33.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Power Rankings – Round 2

September 27, 2011

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 Sophie is voted out this week, Andrea will receive 4 points and Gordon will receive 3 points. Also, each player will pick who they think will win at Redemption Island. If they choose correctly they will receive a bonus point. At the end of the season, the person with the most points will be named the “Survivor: South Pacific” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.

Last Week: Gordon nailed his first pick, placing Christine in spot seventeen, while Andrea had her in spot fifteen.

Wanna Play? Tag Gordon (@gordonholmes) in your own Twitter Power Rankings. If you do better than Gordon does, (which is highly likely) he’ll give you credit in his weekly recap.

teamboehlke . TEAMHOLMES
Current Score: 15

Got any advice for Andrea? Drop her a line on Twitter.

. Current Score: 17

Got any advice for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter.

albert . albert
#1 Albert: Albert is safe and nestled in Coach’s C.R.A.B.S.  (Alliance of Coach, Rick, Albert, Brandon and Sophie).  I predict he is safe until merge and therefore I can continue to swoon over him for weeks to come. . #1 Albert: The other coach keeps the top spot this week for three reasons. First, he’s Upolu’s strongest challenge competitor. Second, he’s in the dominant alliance. And third, he came to the primary Coach’s defense at Tribal Council. Albert isn’t going anywhere.
kEITH . kEITH
#2 Keith: Keith is another hottie…I mean Keith is safe this week. They need this young strapping lad for challenges and he is also a part of the cool kids’ alliance over on Savaii. . #2 Keith: Keith and Albert are in the same boat in my book, except replace the Amazon-trekking, symphony-conducting, soccer coach with a marijuana-dispensary-owning, business-creating, poker player. (Actually, those two would make quite a sitcom pairing.) Anywho, Keith’s super safe until mergeville.
COACH . SOPHIE
#3 Coach: Let’s face it, Coach has his C.R.A.B.S. intact. He also has a little something…something going on with Edna. I could be taking a risk by putting him so high, but I honestly think Coach has got a lock-down on his tribe. . #3 Sophie: Didn’t see much from Sophie last week. I’m sure she was off somewhere being brilliant. Surprised me a bit that she got a vote at tribal though, that makes me think that she’s more subtle with her alliances than others are. Genius.
SOPHIE . JIM
#4 Sophie: This strong, smart member of the C.R.A.B.S. is too valuable to be going anywhere soon. Plus, watch her insider clips, she is doing some alliance building of her own that hasn’t made the show yet. . #4 Jim: I’m not sure if I’m on board with Jim’s “Three Plus Two” strategy. (Although, I’m always on board with players giving their alliances and strategies cool names.)  Does he hope to get to the final five then cut Keith and Ozzy? Those guys are immunity monsters. Does he want to go to the final three with Keith and Ozzy? Why’d he win a jury vote? Seems messy to me.
ELYSE . RICK
#5 Elyse: In an extra clip, Ozzy says Elyse is doing very well in the challenges. She is also a part of the savvy Savaii cool kids’ alliance. But Elyse has something extra going on—Native American ancestors. If great-great grandfathers can keep Phillip Sheppard safe on “Survivor,” I have faith they can do the same for Elyse. Go find your feather, girl! . #5 Rick: I have a theory that it’s pretty hard to be the first person voted out of “Survivor.” If you can contribute around camp and in challenges you should be safe for a bit as long as you keep your mouth shut. Rick is a perfect example of this.
WHITNEY . WHITNEY
#6 Whitney: She isn’t doing anything wrong. According to the edit she also isn’t doing anything besides laundry, but I think we will be seeing more of Whitney soon. . #6 Whitney: Oh Whitney…what can I say about Whitney? Um…I hope the inevitable Chase Rice/Whitney Duncan country cover of “Islands in the Stream” is nice. There, I’ve probably written more words about her in this blurb then she’s said on the show so far.
RICK . ELYSE
#7 Rick: Rancher Rick was pretty invisible last week, but he is in the majority alliance on his tribe and isn’t causing any waves. Yep, that’s about it. Cricket. . #7 Elyse: See Whitney.
JIM . COACH
#8 Jim: Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I sense a power struggle brewing between Jim and Ozzy. Like, real soon. Call me loca, but I think Jim is going to come out on top. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself, bro—you ARE a cool kid! Embrace it! . #8 Coach: I dropped Coach a bit this week because I’m worried about the leadership role he seems to be taking on at Upolu beach. I hope that prominence doesn’t make it too easy to pull off that “Vote All Stars Off After the Merge” strategy.
EDNA . EDNA
#9 Edna: Edna may not be in the C.R.A.B.S. but she has a secret alliance with Coach and is smart enough to know she needs to use him and vice versa. Coach could always switch her with somebody from the main alliance down the road. . #9 Edna: Oof…you’re lucky Coach likes you, because that obvious lie you told Stacey and Christine would land you in serious trouble on a more strategically competitive tribe.
BRANDON . OZZY
#10. Brandon: This kid is all over the place. Hiding his tattoo. Selectively showing his tattoo. Being tempted. Making confessions at Tribal Council. Did you see Coach’s eye roll when Brandon spilled that he was the one gunning for Mikayla at Tribal Council? His wish-washy good vs. evil stint might be enough for his tribe mates to want him gone. . #10 Ozzy: You Hantzed an immunity idol and you’re in the dominant alliance. Good times for Ozzy, right? Maybe not. Ozzy was in a similar dominant position in Micronesia and was sent home. Here’s hoping he’s learned from his mistakes.
OZZY . BRANDON
#11. Ozzy: I do think Ozzy will be safe this week. He will probably be safe next week. I just have this daunting feeling that Ozzy won’t be lasting on Savaii forever with Jim in the picture so I am slowly pulling him farther down on my list. Storm’s a coming! . #11 Brandon: Wow. Just wow. You gave Coach a nice “I’m not a liar like Russell” speech then followed it up by lying. You remind me of Dreamz from “Survivor: Fiji” in that your erratic behavior makes you a very dangerous alliance partner.
COCHRAN . Mikayla
#12. Cochran: It is probably in his (and his mother’s) best interest that Cochran doesn’t go to Redemption Island to fare for himself. I hope the new Cochran finds a way to stay safe, channel his inner genie and get some sort of awesome alliance going. Ozzy and Keith recognized that Cochran may be good at puzzles, so this could help him stick around a bit longer. . #12 Mikayla: You’re low on the list, but not because of anything you’ve actually done. Hopefully Coach and crew can talk Brandon out of his bizarre vendetta against you. Or, maybe they can send Brandon back to Hantzylvania and bring you on board.
Mikayla . DAWN
#13 Mikayla: I definitely had a mini-freak out last week when I had Mikayla so high and watched her name be tossed around. For some reason, Brandon wants Miki GONE, and unless she stops fishing and ‘wingleing’ around in her panties she may be yet again an underserving target. Maybe she can weave together a burlap sack. Might help. . #13 Dawn: The bottom of the Savaii totem pole was nicely laid out by Jim. The question is; what’s the order? I’m thinking Dawn can find ways to keep herself useful and avoid the chopping block for a while.
DAWN . COCHRAN
#14 Dawn: We didn’t see much of Dawn last week, so I get the sense she is pulling it together. There is an insider clip where Dawn says she isn’t as tight as the others with Ozzy. If Ozzy is the one pulling strings, this mama could be in trouble soon. . #14 Cochran: So, it looks like they took care of last week’s puzzle without you. That can’t be good news. Unless somebody sees you as a vital piece of their strategy, you’re going to be expendable until the merge. You need to find an angle and find it quick.
STACEY . papabear
#15 Stacey: With her friend Christine gone, Stacey has to do work to be spared this week. Although I loved Stacey’s sassy little comments at Tribal Council, I don’t think they helped her get on Coach’s good side. . #15 Papa Bear: OK, you lasted another week, so I held up my end of the bargain and updated the name on your image. That being said, I still think you’re going to be the first person sent packing when Savaii loses immunity.
papabear . STACEY
#16 Papa Bear: I feel that Papa Bear’s days are numbered and it saddens me. If Savaii loses this week they are going to be looking for a way to keep their tribe strong physically and unfortunately Papa Bear is low on the totem pole. . #16 Stacey: It’s probably not fair that you’re going to pay for Christine’s missteps, but here we are. For your sake, I hope Christine shared that immunity idol clue with you.
CHRISTINE . CHRISTINE
Redemption Island Pick – Christine: I think Christine has a bit more feistiness left in her, whereas the poet Semhar may be calling it quits. I’m not even sure if Semhar will wake up. That’s the first step. . Redemption Island Pick – Christine: When two competitors are evenly matched physically, I’ll go with the player who wants it more. Christine definitely wants it more.

‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Recap: Liar, Liar, Hantz on Fire

September 21, 2011

Note: Bad news, we’re flying without a DVR tonight. So, get ready for a quick and dirty recap.

Last Week: Coach found CRABS* on the beach, Cochran gave a long-winded speech, and Semhar found words that rhyme with “Don’t vote me off” to be well out of reach.

*CRABS is the nickname of Coach’s new alliance (Coach, Rick, Albert, Brandon, and Sophie). Full credit for this nickname goes to “Survivor” Power Rankings competitor Andrea Boehlke.

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Here are the tribes as they currently stand…

The Savaii Tribe (wearing red)
Cochran – 24, Harvard Law Student
Dawn – 41, English Professor
Elyse – 27, Dance Team Manager
Jim – 35, Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner
Keith – 26, Water Treatment Tech
Mark – 48, Retired NYPD Detective
Ozzy – 30, Slayer of Challenges
Whitney – 27, Country Music Singer

The Upolu Tribe (wearing blue)
Albert – 26, Baseball/Dating Coach
Brandon – 19, Oil Tanker Crewman
Christine – 39, Teacher
Coach – 39, Slayer of Dragons
Edna – 35, Anesthesiologist
Mikayla – 22, Lingerie Football Player
Rick – 51, Rancher
Sophie – 22, Medical Student
Stacey – 44, Mortician

Currently Residing on Redemption Island (wearing plenty of time to work on poetry)
Semhar – 24, Spoken Word Artist

We kick this party off with Semhar arriving at Redemption Island. She feels abandoned by her tribe. Maybe if she’d tried a little Semharder? (Oof…sorry about that.)

Semhar admits to having abandonment issues and even busts out a few stanzas of some of her spoken-word jams. Poor kid, it’s not often you get dumped by five dudes in one night.

Back at Savaii, Cochran admits that his Tribal freakout probably wasn’t good for his game. He promises to turn on the cool. I love me some Cochran, but I’m not sure his faucet turns that way.

That night, Ozzy tells Keith that he hopes they can team up with Jim. Cue the power struggle. No way Jim wants to pair with challenge monsters. Keith and Ozzy also hope Cochran can step up in the challenge puzzles. That’s not great news for Cochran as he told me he wasn’t much of a puzzle-doer during our pre-game interview.

Over at Upolu, Edna lets Coach know what Stacey and Christine are up to. Side alliance for the Dragon Slayer?

Coach also tells Edna that he’s looking for honest people, but that always comes back to bite him. Coach is playing this really cool lovable loser thing. I’m digging it.

Back at Savaii we catch up with Cochran 2.0 as he’s cutting through coconuts like a level 12 orc cuts through mages. He lets us know that his mother wouldn’t be happy with him using a machete unsupervised, but she’s not there to get him his Lunchables, so she’ll have to deal with it.

Ozzy takes a break to go idol hunting and manages to find it without a clue. What happened to Hantz-proofing these idols? Bury them!

Over at Upolu, we learn that Coach covered up Brandon with a blankey or something during the previous evening.
Brandon feels like a hypocrite lying to someone who’s so generous with his blankies, so he lets the sock-burning cat out of bag and shows Coach his Hantz tattoo.

Coach is understandably freaked out, going so far as to call Russell his number one nemesis. However, he relaxes when he realizes that Brandon had nothing to gain by telling him that.

On Savaii Beach, Elyse asks her ancestors for advice about fishing nets. She’s like a super hot Phillip.

Meanwhile, Keith and Ozzy take Jim on a fishing trip to talk strategy. Apparently Jim has what he calls the “Three Plus Two” Plan which involves the three alpha males taking Elyse and Whitney to the end. Jim thinks he’s the architect of this alliance, but it’s exactly what Keith and Ozzy wanted. I’m thinking Keith is way smarter than he originally let on. Glad to see it.

At Upolatia we see the return of Stalker Hantz. It looks like Mikayla is his number one target right now. He doesn’t give a good reason for not liking her other than that she’s attractive. He calls her “Parvati” because of how seductive she is. Funny thing is, we see no footage of this alleged seduction. I’m thinking if it existed, the “Survivor” producers would be tripping over themselves to show it.

Later, Christine discovers a clue to the hidden immunity idol. Dun dun dun. Clearly time is wasted looking for clues when the idols are poorly hidden.

Immunity Challenge Time: Four players will unwrap ribbons from a pole. This will release a key. Once they have the key they’ll unlock the other players. The released players will then move crates around a course until they can release a large crate. First team to put their big crate on a platform wins immunity, pillows, blankets, a hammock, a mat, and an immunity clue.

Note: Upolu enters eating fruit. Coach claims that the team that eats fruit together wins together. What happened to humble Coach?

Edna will sit out for Upolu.

Cochran, Dawn, Whitney, and Elyse will untangle the ribbons for Savaii, while Stacey, Sophie, Christine, and Mikayla will do the same for Upolu.

Fun Fact: When Probst was describing this, he referred to the players as being, “On the pole.” I may have giggled.

Upolu jumps out to a huge lead as their ladies did a fantastic job unraveling the ribbons. Savaii doesn’t do as well, with Cochran getting tangled up at one point.

Upolu gets to their keys first. Stacey unlocks the players.

Savaii is slightly behind and Dawn takes a while to get keys off of her ribbon. Elyse takes the keys and unlocks her players.

Savaii kills the puzzle portion passing Upolu and winning immunity and reward.

Guess the fruit didn’t help.

Politicking around camp centers around Coach wanting CRABS and Edna to send three votes to
Christine and three votes to Stacey. Brandon, however wants to vote out Mikayla. That of course lead to this exchange…

“Parvati screwed many a man.” – Brandon Hantz
“That’s for sure.” – Coach

I may have giggled again.

Coach and Sophie both think Brandon has some weird issues. Add me to that list too.

Later, Mikayla walks up on a CRABS team meeting, Coach not-so-subtly brushes her off.

Christine and Stacey grill Edna about the CRABS meeting. Edna tells a terrible lie, saying they were thinking of voting out Sophie. Christine quickly points out that Sophie was a part of the meeting.

Wow, it’s a mad scramble at Upolu.

Christine and Stacey approach Brandon to find out what the deal is. He tells them to vote for Mikayla. Then he lies to Coach (kind of), telling him that Christine and Stacey are gunning for Mikayla.

Coach realizes Brandon’s willing to do anything to get what he wants. Hantz me once, shame on you…

Why Brandon Hantz Is Creepy
By Gordon Holmes

OK, here’s my main issue with Brandon. It’s Mikayla’s fault for being attractive, not Brandon’s fault for being tempted by her. That’s just super wrong, right?

The End.

If I were Coach I’d consider booting Brandon in favor of Mikayla and starting a SCRAM alliance.

That night at Tribal Council, Brandon thinks he’s made a good first impression.

Coach thinks his first impression was bad as he lost the first challenge. Coach throws Stacey and Christine under the bus for gunning for Mikayla. They deny it.

Probst is glad Coach is back. Nice for he and I to finally agree on something.

Christine and Stacey want to know where Coach heard that from. He refuses to say. Albert thinks Coach is showing loyalty by not telling them who told him. Go Albert. He and Keith may be dark horses in this mess.

Coach calls Christine out for looking for the idol.

Christine thinks what she said about Coach being disposable on day one may have gotten her in trouble. Can we just call that Pulling a Francesca?

Mikayla asks Christine and Stacey if they were gunning for her. They swear they weren’t.

Then, Brandon’s guilt forces him to come clean that he was the one gunning for Mikayla. He’s like a half-Hantz. He can lie, but only for a little while. It’s like he has a fibbing egg timer.

Somebody with that weird half-conscience has got to be dangerous to align with.

Voting Time: No votes are shown.  Oooooooo…

The Emmy hog tallies and returns and we have one vote for Sophie, one for Edna, one for Christine, one for Stacey, one for Christine, one for Stacey, one for Christine, one for Stacey, and the second person to be sent to Redemption Island is…Christine.

Verdict:
Jeff told me that he would have cast Brandon even if his last name wasn’t Hantz. I thought that was crap. I’m learning now never to doubt J-Pro.

As for this season? Both tribe dynamics are fascinating. Keep ‘em coming!

Who’s Going to Win? Buh…not Semhar.

Power Rankings Update: Welcome to the Terror Dome, Boehlke! Gordon had Christine in spot seventeen, while Andrea had her in spot fifteen. The current score is Team Not-From-Green-Bay Beauty 15, Team Holmes 17.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

Andrea Boehlke Accepts the ‘Survivor’ Power Rankings Challenge

September 19, 2011

Last Season: In a performance matched only by “Boston” Rob Mariano’s dominance over the Ometepe tribe, Matthew “Sash” Lenahan took an early lead over Gordon “Can’t Decide on a Nickname” Holmes and never gave it up. This defeat brought Gordon’s professional Power Rankings record to two wins and three losses.

This Season: Gordon’s Twitter followers were given the opportunity to pick this season’s challenger. The overwhelming choice was a contender who is as cunning as she is lovely, the last Survivor to return from Redemption Island, Andrea Boehlke. Will the Green Bay beauty get the best of XFINITY TV’s “Survivor” Know-It-All?

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 Sophie is voted out this week, Andrea will receive 2 points and Gordon will receive 4 points. At the end of the season, the person  with the most points will be named the “Survivor: South Pacific” Power Rankings Challenge Champion.

teamboehlke . TEAMHOLMES
Current Score: 0

Got any advice for Andrea? Drop her a line on Twitter.

. Current Score: 0

Got any advice for Gordon? Drop him a line on Twitter.

albert . albert
#1 Albert: Albert is a challenge beast and I don’t think he is going anywhere soon unless he gets Matt Elrod-ed. Whoops..that sounds dirty. He is a crucial part of the Upolu first-night alliance, which I like to call Coach’s CRABS. (Coach, Rick, Albert, Brandon, Sophie—See what I did there?) I’m in love with this alliance if it sticks together. . #1 Albert: Something that may have been glossed over during Wednesday’s premiere episode was the Ballad of Albert and the Wall. The dude scaled it by himself. Then lifted Brandon up using only his arms. Dude’s a monster.
SOPHIE . kEITH
#2 Sophie: Sophie is smart, aware, and strong. She also seems to be in the majority alliance of her tribe at this point, so she will be safe for a while. Most importantly, she speaks Russian! . #2 Keith: He’s laid back, he’s an asset in challenges, everyone seems to like him. Keith is beyond super safe…until the merge.
kEITH . COACH
#3 Keith: We didn’t hear much from this hottie, but Savaii seems to be the physically weaker tribe, so they need to keep Keith around for challenge purposes. He seems to be going with the flow and not ruffling too many feathers. . #3 Coach: Warrior Alliance 2.0, baby! It seems like the Upolutians realize that Coach is a good guy, who really isn’t that big of a challenge or strategic threat. Who knew that Coach’s biggest asset could be some humility.
JIM . SOPHIE
#4 Jim: Jim’s tribe needs him for challenges. I also predict Jim emerging as a possible leader and challenging Ozzy for power of the tribe. This stepping up to the plate could be dangerous, but Savaii can’t really afford to lose a strong man like Jim this early in the game. You also can’t vote out a man with such great one-liners! . #4 Sophie: Loving her. It feels like she’s already three steps ahead of everybody else on her tribe. And now she’s like Nancy Drew in the Hunt for the Hantz Tattoo.
Mikayla . RICK
#5 Mikayla: Watching Mikayla’s extra clips I find her to be charming and game savvy. She may not be in the Coach’s CRABS at this point, but she is way too strong and social to be voted out any time soon. Delilah is here to stay. . #5 Rick: Rick is not a Coach fan. He made that much clear during our pre-game interview. However, Coach is a solid part of Upolu’s dominant alliance right now. If Rick’s smart (and I think he is) he’ll ride that alliance till the merge, then try to boot Coach.
BRANDON . WHITNEY
#6 Brandon (aka Hitler’s Nephew): I am on the fence with this dude. It seems as if Coach is taking Brandon under his wing — but when do we find out he is a Hantz? And is this going to hurt him? For now he is safe, he is important for challenges as well as camp life. Props to this kid for fishing, helping out, and not burning socks. . #6 Whitney: Whitney is beautiful, quiet, and inoffensive. We’ll probably hear from her as much as we heard from Purple Kelly Purple.
COACH . EDNA
#7 Coach: Although Coach seems to have an early alliance of five, it is still new in the game and his tribe could very well turn on him a la Russell Hantz. He seems to be coming in with a much more humble approach and so far it seems to be working. So far so normal. . #7 Edna: We didn’t see much from Edna after she helped Coach with his gear. I’m sure she’s safe for now, there are a few people below her on the totem pole.
WHITNEY . ELYSE
#8 Whitney: We hardly heard from blonde cutie, which tells me she isn’t going home. I think Whitney could definitely pull a Natalie White and coast to the end.  She is too athletic and sweet to vote out pre-merge and she is not enough of a threat to be worried about post-merge. . #8 Elyse: Not too much from Elyse in the first episode, but she seemed to be getting along with everybody. Right now she’s in the same boat with Edna; if Savaii heads back to Tribal Council, there are many people lined up for the chopping block before her.
ELYSE . BRANDON
#9 Elyse: I love this bubbly ball of joy. She is strong enough to keep around for now, but if Savaii goes on a losing streak she will really have to prove herself as a crucial tribe member to keep around. . #9 Brandon: Brandon’s a hard worker and he’s very valuable in challenges. My only concern about him is the bizarre non-reason he has for targeting Mikayla. Such flaws in strategy and logic could put a target on his back.
OZZY . JIM
#10. Ozzy: I’m worried about Ozzy. I think Jim will be gunning for Oz soon, however at this point it would be ridiculous to vote out such a challenge beast. He has some politicking of his own to do now that Semhar is gone. He will be safe for a few rounds but watch out for Jim! . #10 Jim: So, it looks like we could be seeing a Jim vs. Ozzy power struggle. I’m saying “could be” because Ozzy obviously trusted Jim enough to float the idea of getting rid of Cochran. I’ll rank Jim higher when we have more proof that he’s pulling the strings at Savaii.
RICK . Mikayla
#11. Rick: Did you see Rick chop those ropes?! Rick proved himself with his rope-hacking skills, but he still is lower on the totem pole when it comes to being a physical asset. Nice mustache though.  He is the R to the CRABS. . #11 Mikayla: It would be a crime if Brandon tried to get rid of Mikayla because she’s attractive. Besides, if Mikayla is Delilah, Brandon has nothing to worry about, he already doesn’t have any hair.
EDNA . OZZY
#12. Edna: She doesn’t seem to be “IN” with the CRABS but I think there may be a side alliance going on between Coach and Edna. They made a point to show Edna stay back and help Coach and him take note of that. . #12 Ozzy: Ozzy should be perfectly safe until the merge, but people have sacrificed challenge strength for tribal unity before. If a power struggle does go down between Ozzy and Jim, my money’s on Jim. However, if anybody’s capable of making an Elrod-esque run at Redemption Island, my money’s on Ozzy.
DAWN . COCHRAN
#13 Dawn: Dawn seems so sweet and I would have loved to have her as a “Survivor” mom! With that being said, Dawn needs to get it together and channel her inner Holly Hoffman and emerge as the lovable mom figure. She needs to start building relationships with the younger kids and do what she does best: Momming. Yes, I like to make up words. . #13 Cochran: I love this kid, but he scares me. You find out Ozzy’s gunning for you and you buckle? Jim warned you, Papa Bear was with you. You just needed two more votes to keep the numbers. If you love “Survivor” so much, you’ve got to fight when you’re in trouble.
COCHRAN . STACEY
#14 Cochran: Even though I have a nerd crush on Cochran and really want him to do well, he is not in a safe position this week. It is well known that he isn’t the most athletic, is not great with “walls,” and was a bit of a paranoid hot mess last week.  I do have faith he is going to turn it around, but for now he has some work to do and has to build a strong alliance stat. . #14 Stacey: Oh, Stacey. If there’s a tree near your camp with a hole in it, odds are something important is inside. Also, why are you buddying up with Christine? Weren’t you around when everyone caught her wandering off to look for the idol?
CHRISTINE . DAWN
#15 Christine: She reminds me a bit of Kristina from my season, looking for idols right out of the gate. It is one thing to look for idols, it is “Survivor” suicide to be caught looking for idols. It would be pretty bomb if she finds an idol this week and does something crazy with it. . #15 Dawn: Sometimes all people need is a reason. Dawn’s meltdown on day two was a perfectly good reason. If she can survive the next vote she should be fine. After all, her little freak out was only a .2 on the Holly Hoffman Scale. Everyone’s shoes are safe…for now.
STACEY . MARK
#16 Ozzy Lusth: We didn’t see a lot of Stacey — we just know she doesn’t have the Hantz (or Ralph Kiser apparently) secret power of snatching idols. She may be first to go on Upolu just because of the physical aspect. . #16 Papa Bear: Does everyone in Savaii like Papa Bear? Probably. What’s not to like other than the blatant self-nicknaming? But, if they drop the next challenge they’ll be down by two. That’s when personalities and tribe unity take a backseat to challenge strength. I’ll make him a deal though; if he’s not voted out this week, I’ll update his image to say “Papa Bear.”
MARK . CHRISTINE
17. Papa Bear: I can’t wait for the day I inevitably get to meet and hug Papa Bear. I hope somehow he can find a way to last longer, but his tribe will probably see him as a weak link for challenges on Savaii. I really want Papa Bear to stay, maybe he can start something up with Dawn, Jim, Keith, Cochran and target the girls? I do predict a Savaii loss this week though unfortunately. . #17 Christine: Did Christine watch “Redemption Island?” Francesca was voted out for bad mouthing returning All Stars and Russell was voted out for focusing on finding the hidden immunity idol instead of gathering wood. Give my best to Semhar when you get to Redemption Island.

Things My Future House Will Have

September 16, 2011

The alliance partner and I have been discussing looking for a new place to live. We love the ancient house we’re in now, but it’s become less practical for a few reasons I won’t go into here.

So, I guess the first thing on my to-do list is to figure out what kinds of things I’d want out of a new house. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

(more…)

‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Recap: Coach Sent to the Bench?

September 14, 2011

The days are shorter, the leaves are changing, and “Survivor” is back. All’s right with the world.

Quick Note: I hitchhiked my way to Samoa to catch the filming of tonight’s premiere episode. Throughout this fun-filled recap I’ll be tossing in little behind-the-scenes tidbits. You’ll know where they are because I’ve conveniently tagged them as “Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits.” I may even bold them.

We kick this party off with All Stars Ozzy and Coach making their way to Redemption Island in a helicopter. Next up we meet the new contestants as they row their way to Redemption Island on little bamboo rafts. That hardly seems fair. They’re coddling those All Stars.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: The Savaii raft must’ve gotten stuck on a reef or something because they were stuck out there for about twenty minutes. Hilarious.

Cochran claims that he’s never missed an episode of “Survivor.” Elsewhere, the Internet high fives itself.

Elyse goes with the Phillip strategy, hoping that her ancestors will help her survive the wilderness. If this involves her wearing outfits like Phillip wore, I’m all for it.

Russell Hantz’s Nephew compares being Russell Hantz’s nephew to being Hitler’s nephew. Feel free to make your own jokes about that one.  Also, Russell Hantz’s Nephew has a few “Hantz” tattoos. That won’t possibly come back to haunt him.

Finally, four-time Emmy-award-winning host Jeff Probst says something about…

39 Days, 18 People, 1 “Survivor” Blog

Quick Aside: What would I do with four Emmys? Build an Emmy table.

Let’s take a gander at these tribes…

The Savaii Tribe (wearing red)
Cochran – 24, Harvard Law Student
Dawn – 41, English Professor
Elyse – 27, Dance Team Manager
Jim – 35, Medical Marijuana Dispensary Owner
Keith – 26, Water Treatment Tech
Mark – 48, Retired NYPD Detective
Semhar – 24, Spoken Word Artist
Whitney – 27, Country Music Singer

The Upolu Tribe (wearing blue)
Albert – 26, Baseball/Dating Coach
Brandon – 19, Oil Tanker Crewman
Christine – 39, Teacher
Edna – 35, Anesthesiologist
Mikayla – 22, Lingerie Football Player
Rick – 51, Rancher
Sophie – 22, Medical Student
Stacey – 44, Mortician

The tribes meet up with Probsty (and his green shirt) at Redemption Island. He welcomes them and lets them know that they’re about to be joined by two All Stars.

As the helicopter lands, Edna turns to Russell Hantz’s Nephew and says, “I just hope it’s not Russell.” He replies, “That would suck.” This kid could grow on me.

Ozzy and Coach pop out of the helicopter and it’s pretty much unanimous that everybody wants Ozzy on their team. What?! Does Ozzy even have any cool stories about being captured in the Amazon?

Christine even disrespects him by calling him “The Dragon Warrior.” She follows that up by referring to them as temporary players. Way to make friends there, Christine.

Cochran then gets on Probst’s good side by asking to be referred to by his last name. Why? Because Probst calls all the greats by their last names; Mariano, Penner, Donaldson.

Sadly, XFINITY TV’s standards and practices won’t let me print what Probst calls me.

To determine which tribe the All Stars should be on, Probst has each player smash a paint-filled egg. Ozzy ends up wearing red, while Coach was doused in blue. Savaii is thrilled, Upolu…not so much.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Probst made the suggestion that if someone was really passionate about his tribe, that he’d smash the egg against his forehead. Neither guy took him up on that.

Redemption Island Hero Challenge: Ozzy and Coach will have to climb a 12-foot pole to retrieve a wooden turtle. From there they’ll have to dig under a log and shimmy underneath it. After that, they’ll have to complete a pyramid puzzle. The first person to complete their puzzle will win flint and Samoan potatoes (taro).

Ozzy jumped out to an early lead as he was able to scale the pole quickly. However, Coach wasn’t too far behind him. Ozzy was also able to get under the log first.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: This puzzle took forever. As in for-ev-er. And, Probst had to describe how the puzzle worked a dozen times. It was ugly.

Eventually, both tribes started shouting tips to the players. After what seemed like a month, Ozzy was able to bring home the win for Savaii

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: One of the challenge producers told me that Coach was super close to making a move that would’ve given him a huge advantage over Ozzy, but he got confused and used the wrong tactic.

In a very telling moment, Ozzy was greeted with open arms by his tribe. Coach? Less so. In fact, the only person to help him gather his things was Edna.

Jeff Probst’s Thoughts on the Opening Challenge: “The puzzle was way too hard for any human to solve. What I love about that is it speaks to ‘Survivor’s’ unpredictability. You really don’t know what’s going to happen. We rehearsed this thing and it went perfectly. We have two people do it and I stand over there and say interesting and witty things. Then the real challenge comes out and the tribes take over and you have no idea what’s going to happen. In the end you have a dynamic where Ozzy is welcomed by his tribe and Coach is really blocked off. Not only verbally but visually. It was very telling.”

Later at Savaii beach, the Savaiians let Ozzy know that they’re going to be relying on his experience. However, before they can get to building a shelter or starting a fire, they decide to take a break to listen to some of Semhar’s poetry. It wasn’t all for naught though, as Ozzy found himself inspired by her words.

Next up, you know, before fire or shelter, Ozzy decides they should go for a swim. However, Cochran isn’t crazy about taking off his shirt in front of everyone. He claims it’s because he has pale skin. I’m assuming it’s because he has “Mariano” tattoos.

Meanwhile at Upoluisiana, the Upolotians are getting to know each other. In a jaw-dropping moment, Coach and Sophie communicate in Russian. Holy crap.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: While I was at the Upolu camp I followed Sophie and Coach when they wandered off. They weren’t discussing specific strategies but they were talking as if they hoped to work together in the future.

While everyone else is building the shelter, Christine goes on an immunity idol hunt. She doesn’t find anything, but everybody figures out what she was up to.

Back at Savaii, Jim busts out his first lie of the season by telling everyone that he’s a science teacher. That’s a pretty bizarre thing to pick. What if someone calls you on it? Might be tough to come up with science facts on the fly.

Mark lets everybody know he’s gay. Nobody seems to have a problem with this. I certainly don’t. What I do have a problem with is the way he gave himself a nickname. You just don’t do that. However, since nobody called him on it, he’ll now be known as Papa Bear.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: During our visits to the tribe camps, Upolu was getting along much better than Savaii. Upolu seemed to do things as a tribe, while Savaii was split up with some people working on projects while others were just hanging out around the fire. Upolu also had a shelter up much quicker than the Savaiians.

Later that night, Coach tells Russell Hantz’s Nephew, Mark, Sophie, and Albert about his radical strategy of trying to win every immunity challenge. Dude makes sense. Everyone else seems into it, and it looks like we have the season’s first alliance.

Quick Note: I know I’m supposed to be impartial, but “Go, Coach.”

The following morning at Savaii, things aren’t looking good for Dawn. She’s not drinking enough, she’s cramping up, and she totally wiped out while trying to break branches off of a tree. Ozzy shows some All Star flavor by talking her down and letting her know that she has what it takes to make it in the game.

Another Quick Note: Ozzy has a ton of the Savaii red paint on his shirt. It looks like a gunshot wound.

Over at Upolu, Russell Hantz’s Nephew is doing his best to prove that he’s nothing like Russell Hantz. This includes catching the tribe’s first fish, not putting the moves on Mikayla, and not burning anyone’s socks.

Immunity Challenge Time: All nine players from each team will run through a series of beams. At two points, the beams cross each other. The players will have to crawl under the beams at those intersections. From there, they’ll have to navigate their way through a cube that is filled with strands of tribe-colored coconuts. After that, they’ll have to scale a 10-foot wall. Once everyone is over the wall, one player from each team will have to dig in a pit for a machete. After they’ve uncovered their machete they’ll have to chop through five ropes. Those ropes will release hundreds of tribe-colored coconuts. From there, three tribe members will have to shoot coconuts into a net. Once the net is full, it will lift a counterweight and raise a tribe flag. First tribe to raise their flag wins immunity and a clue to the first hidden immunity idol.

The challenge starts off and both tribes get through the beams with little to no trouble. However, Upolu jumped out to a slight lead.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: The press’s exhibition running of this immunity challenge was so violent that they changed the rules so players couldn’t return to the beams after they were out.

Upolu maintained their lead through the coconut curtain and did a great job getting over the wall. However, Savaii was only slightly behind them.

Rick and Ozzy took pit digging duties for their teams. They were neck-and-neck getting the machete, but Rick tore through the ropes.

Ozzy, Semhar, and Keith were shooters for Savaii while Russell Hantz’s Nephew, Mikayla, and Albert shot for Upolu.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Every “Survivor” challenge is edited to make it look like a squeaker. This one required no such editing. My heart was pounding through my chest.

Unfortunately, Semhar wasn’t doing well. She wanted to tag out but apparently that’s against the rules. Eventually, Upolu pulled it out, winning the season’s first immunity challenge. The margin of victory here was maybe a coconut or two.

Afterward, Probst tells Upolu that there’s a clue to the hidden immunity idol hidden at their camp.  What? That’s a bait and switch.

Then, Semhar tells Probst that she feels “sort of bad” that her tribe lost. Jim isn’t pleased. He feels “sort of bad” when he’s out of milk.

Back at camp, Stacey and Christine go looking for the idol clue.  Stacey is worried that it could be right under her nose. She searches in a hole in a tree and comes up empty. A helpful cameraman lets us know that it was indeed right under her nose.

Later, claws came out at Savaii when Semhar called Jim out in front of everyone for mouthing off in front of the other tribe. Jim apologized, but I doubt he meant it.

Politicking around camp seems to revolve around Dawn and Semhar. Ozzy also makes a case against Cochran because he isn’t the most physical player.

Jim doesn’t like the fact that Ozzy wants to keep Semhar around. He’s worried that Ozzy might be gunning for a female alliance. Jim spills the beans to Cochran, and he doesn’t take it well. For a hardcore “Survivor” fan, being the first boot has to be his worst nightmare.

That night at Tribal Council, Dawn lets everyone know that she’s over her early-game jitters.

Elyse pegs Semhar as someone who is concerned about going to Redemption Island.

Semhar takes responsibility for stepping up in the challenge and failing, but she doesn’t think having heart should count against her.

Dawn points out that Cochran might be another target.

Mark also chimes in, telling Cochran that he had trouble with the wall. He also made a point to tell Probst to call him “Papa Bear.”

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Mark had about a dozen bear-based nicknames picked out. Probst finally made him decide on one for fear of too many nicknames confusing the folks at home.

Another Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Tribal Council goes on for about two hours. Half of this Tribal Council was spent with Cochran making the case for why he should stay in the game. He was driving everyone nuts. What’s worse is; it was clear that everyone wanted Semhar to go. But the fact that his name was even brought up sent Cochran over the deep end. Whitney and Keith were going out of their way to let him know he was safe, but he just kept on talking.

Voting Time: Semhar votes for Cochran, Cochran votes for Semhar, and the rest of the votes gotta wait for some tallyin’.

J-Pro does that tallyin’ and returns…one vote for Cochran, four votes for Semhar, and the first person to be sent to Redemption Island is…Semhar.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbit: Probst totally called Semhar as the first boot on day two.

Verdict: OK, everyone who thought Coach would be in a solid alliance and Ozzy would be on the outs after one episode, raise your hands. Put ‘em down, liars.

Anywho, that was a good, solid start. Which is encouraging after two sub-par seasons.

Who’s Going to Win? Coach. Doy.

Power Rankings Update: Join us next week when we kick off this season’s “Survivor” Power Rankings. I let my Twitter followers pick my opponent, and they overwhelmingly chose the last person to conquer Redemption Island, Andrea Boehlke. I’m super psyched to have her on board.

Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Pre-Game Rankings

September 14, 2011

When I went to “Survivor: Gabon” I pegged Michelle Chase as my pick for sole survivor. She went home three days later. When I went to “Survivor: Nicaragua” I picked Marty Piombo as the player who would go the distance. He went a bit further, but was still the tenth person to leave the game.

Why do I torture myself with these predictions? Why do I mislead you?

I assure you it isn’t intentional. Maybe I’m a poor judge of character. Maybe it’s impossible to know how someone will react to food and sleep deprivation. Maybe the game of “Survivor” is too complex to predict at such an early stage.

But I will tell you one thing I know for sure; Jim Rice is not going to win “Survivor: South Pacific.”

How do I know? Because he’s on top of my pre-season rankings…

JIM . DAWN
1. Jim Rice: There is a lot to like about Jim Rice’s game. He’s super smart, but personable enough so it isn’t off putting. He’s in good enough shape to be an asset in challenges, but not a muscle man who’s going to be an obvious post-merge target. However, I agree with Probst that he might have trouble getting people to trust him. . 2. Dawn Meehan: Dawn’s another one who is going to coast in the middle of the pack. She’ll be a hard worker around camp, and she’ll probably fill the “mom” role for whoever is having a rough time out there. She’ll hit the merge and coast for a while. If she’s in the majority alliance she could ride that to a million dollars.
Mikayla . ELYSE
3. Mikayla Wingle: She’s fit, she’s strong, she’s beautiful, and she’s funny. Also, she charmed me in the brief twenty minutes we spent together in Samoa. What’s to stop her from doing that to her entire tribe? . 4. Elyse Umemoto: Elyse is very similar to Mikayla in that they’re both beautiful, personable, and in great shape. The difference? Elyse has a bit of a dark side to her. That could be a negative or a positive depending on how she uses it.
albert . COCHRAN
5. Albert Destrade: Albert is another one I liked during the interview process, but I have to wonder; is he too smooth? I asked everyone what they thought of the other players and a few people mentioned that they found his smiling to be very disingenuous. . 6. John Cochran: John Cochran is one of this season’s biggest question marks. Is he a strategic whiz in the same mold as Rob Cesternino, Stephen Fishbach, and Todd Herzog? Or is he challenge-liability voting fodder? Here’s hoping it’s the former.
RICK . BRANDON
7. Rick Nelson: The token “older guy” usually goes one of two ways. He either alienates everyone and is a quick boot or he gets along with the youngsters and sticks around. Rick’s a good guy. If he makes the merge he could go all the way. . 8. Brandon Hantz: Should it count against him that he’s Russell Hantz’s nephew? No. Will it count against him if they find out? Yes. You don’t need a good reason to vote someone out of “Survivor,” you just need a reason. If Brandon is smart, he’ll be keeping that “Hantz” tattoo covered in the same way I keep my “Digital Underground” tattoo covered. If he does that, he could go far.
SOPHIE . COACH
9. Sophie Clarke: I like Sophie a lot. She’s as sharp as a tack. My only concern for her is the same concern I have for most young players; will she be taken advantage of by someone with more life experience? She seems like an old soul, hopefully that’ll help her out. . 10. Benjamin “Coach” Wade: “Get rid of the new guys” seemed to be the popular sentiment among the new players. You get rid of Russell Hantz because he pulls idols out of thin air. You get rid of Ozzy and Boston Rob because they dominate challenges. You get rid of Coach because… Well, there’s no real reason to get rid of Coach. Maybe someone else will notice this?
WHITNEY . kEITH
11. Whitney Duncan: Whitney didn’t strike me as someone who has the stomach for backstabbing and throat cutting. (So much violence in the show’s terminology…) However, she did strike me as a perfectly adequate coattail rider. It may not be the most admirable strategy, but I know a few millionaires who are cool with it. . 12. Keith Tollefson: He’s young, he’s handsome, he’s ripped. He’s probably out shortly after the merge. Good luck at Redemption Island.
EDNA . STACEY
13. Edna Ma: I’m not sure Edna knows what she signed up for. She was a late add to the cast and may not be up on all the intricacies of modern “Survivor” strategy. If she came to play, she could be a threat. If she’s overwhelmed, she could go home early. . 14. Stacey Powell: It’s bad news for Stacey that her and Christine are probably Upolu’s two biggest challenge liabilities. She’d better hope Uher tribe jumps out to a big lead and that Coach rubs people the wrong way.
OZZY . SEMHAR
15. Ozzy Lusth: When your “Survivor” legacy is “the guy who rocks at challenges” you’re going to be in some trouble after the merge. Could he work his way back into the game after a Redemption Island run? You bet. Would they immediately send him packing again ala Andrea Boehlke? Totally. . 16. Semhar Tadesse: I’m putting Semhar in the same boat as Edna because I’m not sure if she knows what she’s in for. Also, I feel like there’s less of an upside to Semhar. Could she turn the switch and make a run for it? I’d say it’s possible, but highly unlikely.
CHRISTINE . MARK
17. Christine Shields Markoski: Christine knows she’s going to have to hold back her stubborn personality if she wants to go far in the game. That’s a nice strategy to have in pre-game interviews, but it’s quite another thing to pull if off when you’re starving. . 18. Mark Caruso: I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Nice guys finish last.” Well, Mark is a nice guy, and he’s going to finish close to last. Mark’s a major challenge liability. If Savaii falls behind in the numbers, he’s a goner.

Survivor: South Pacific” premieres Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Any Questions about “Survivor: South Pacific”? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes

‘Survivor: South Pacific’ Pre-Game Interview: Jeff Probst

September 13, 2011

The first few days of “Survivor” must be ridiculously stressful for the crew. Everyone has their fingers crossed hoping the castaways are interesting, the challenges are entertaining, and the host’s new shirt color pops.

Fortunately for the start of “Survivor: South Pacific,” it seems like they scored on all three fronts.

I spoke to that host, four-time Emmy winner Jeff Probst, on the first day of shooting and had a chance to get his thoughts on how Redemption Island has been received, the contenders and pretenders in the new cast, and the evolution of his shirts…

Gordon Holmes: “Survivor” took a major leap last season with the addition of the Redemption Island twist. What did you guys learn from the way that changed the show?
Jeff Probst:
I think what we learned from “Redemption Island” is that Janet (Gordon’s mom) should be sent there. Because Janet is a mom who deserves a second chance. It’s not Janet’s fault that Gordon turned out the way he did. Janet, from all accounts, was a great mom who was saddled with an unusually large burden; how to raise this kid? He grows up, he travels the world, he uses his brain for insight, observing human nature and writing about it. But at the end of the day he’s a bit of a grumppopotamus.
Holmes: (Laughing) No idea how to spell that…
Probst: So, I think we should send Janet to Redemption Island and we treat her to a spa-like environment. Hopefully we can make her life a little better than it’s been the past 30-something years.
Holmes: It amazes me how we’ve known each other over the years. We’ve only spent a few days together in Gabon, in Nicaragua, and here and yet you can read me and my life like a book.
Probst: It’s instinct.
Holmes: It’s gotta be why they’ve got you hosting this show.
Probst: It’s primal.

Holmes: Redemption Island?
Probst:
Oh yeah, I think what we learned from Redemption Island is you can change a format and still have it work. I really like Redemption Island, I like the idea of a second chance. The idea originally came from the question, “How do we keep the characters we like?” Because there’s nothing we can do, This is not “The Apprentice.” Donald Trump is not in charge of who stays and who goes. So we thought if we had this loser’s bracket we could keep people around.
Holmes: What kind of feedback have you received?
Probst: Anytime you deviate from the norm you’re going to have people who say, “Aw man, I don’t like it.” But, I think it’s worth a second chance. I loved it, I heard a lot of people tell me they liked it. If it doesn’t work after this year and we decide it’s a big bust, we’ll go back to “Survivor” of old.
Holmes: The immunity idol wasn’t a huge hit right off the bat, but you tweaked it and now it’s a great addition. Will there be any changes this season to Redemption Island?
Probst: It wasn’t a big hit off of the bat? There are always people who want to say “no” to anything new. Anything. The thing about “Survivor” is it is an evolving game. Exile Island, hidden immunity idols, whatever it is, there’s going to be somebody who complains. Here’s what I believe to be true; the audience doesn’t always know what they want. And I know these words could come back to haunt me, but sometimes you have to kill off your main character. Sometimes you have to shift the show. The show evolves in a new way. I feel like that’s what’s happening with Redemption Island. We’re not abandoning the show, we’re just trying something new.
Holmes: Ralph Kiser, Matt Elrod, Andrea Boehlke, Mike Chiesl…if any one of those people had come back into the game and won it, they’d be the first person in the history of the game to be the sole survivor after having been voted out. Is there any concern that that could taint the legacy of the previous winners?
Probst: If we play this game long enough with Redemption Island in place, somebody will come back from Redemption and win. And you’ll be able to make all kinds of arguments if it was fair that they won it, whether it was as powerful…some will even say it was more impactful because they were voted out, had to win all these duels, and somehow worm their way back into the game. I really don’t think there’s a whole lot to Redemption Island other than people sitting around and saying, “Well, this is kind of different.” I really just see Redemption Island as a fun twist, nothing more than the hidden immunity idol. That’s the game, we twist it up. Next question, Gordon.

Holmes: Alright, I hate to follow up with another tough question, but a big difference we saw this morning was you wearing a green shirt. What was the thought process behind this dramatic change?
Probst:
The big news that TMZ and everybody seems to want to know about is that I wore…I wore a green shirt. It’s funny…it’s emotional a little bit. It doesn’t mean that the blue shirts and I are over. I’m just trying to expand my world a little bit. I’m trying to get the most I can out of this life. I wanted to wear green…and I don’t regret it.

Holmes: Why are we back in Samoa?
Probst:
There are a couple of reasons. One, there are only a couple of place you can go in the world right now between political unrest and weather problems. It’s not like there are 50 locations out there screaming for “Survivor.” We require quite a bit. We require a government that works with us. We require isolated islands. And we require an infrastructure that can house 325 people for many months. So, it’s a tall order. Another reason is we feel a kinship with this island community and they suffered a pretty lethal tsunami after we left two years ago. We tried to help out as much as we could, but by bringing the whole show back, you’re bringing in a lot of revenue and employment.

Holmes: Who do you like from this season’s cast?
Probst:
We have a great cast this season. I know I’ve said that every year, but 70% of the people this year I would be happy with them going to the end. The rest of them? Semhar? She’s in trouble. Stacey? Unfortunately in trouble. I wish that she’d last, but I don’t think she’s going to. Mark the cop, I think he’s in trouble.
Holmes: Who are the favorites?
Probst: Cochran. This little, nerdish kid from Harvard, who straight out of the gate in front of everybody says,  “Hey Probst, could you call me Cochran? Cause I just want to be like all the greats like Donaldson and Mariano and Penner. You call all the greats by their last names.” It seemed like such a little fanboy thing to do, but what he did psychologically was make himself likable. I think he knows what he’s doing and I don’t think there’s any chance he’ll be voted out first. He’s a student of the game and he’s very smart. I also like Rick the cowboy. I love the mustache, I love the hat, I love the belt buckle. And I love that he’s smart enough to know that even though he can fish and build a shelter, he’s holding back. I like Jim Rice as a villain. And even though he may think he’s not a villain…Jim, you’re a villain. On this show, you’re going to come off as a little untrustworthy, but a great interview. From the women, I like Mikayla a lot. She’s a tomboy. I hope she delivers. I hope she doesn’t dry up and fall away. I hope she digs down and fights to stay in this game.
Holmes: What can we expect from Brandon Hantz?
Probst: Brandon Hantz is one of the wild cards. Russell is his uncle and brought him to us, but we vetted him just like we would anyone else. We made sure to ask ourselves if he wasn’t Russell’s nephew, would we want him on the show? And the answer was absolutely. I think he’ll be a fish out of water. He’s young, he hasn’t done a lot of traveling. Here’s the dilemma. I trust him. I think he’s a nice guy. I think he’s a loving husband and a father. But I’m aware that what’s running through his blood is running through Russell’s blood and he could already be playing me.

Survivor: South Pacific” premieres Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.

Any Questions about “Survivor: South Pacific”? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes


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