Column: Please don’t vote me off the island
Trash TV has a new standard to live up to -and if you don’t know what my headline to this column is referring to, then you’ve been hiding in a cave somewhere this summer and missed the Survivor explosion.
The premise is elementary and irresistible: you toss a crew of “average Americans” on an island, and last one on the island wins a million bucks.
My wife and I got into Survivor a few weeks late, when it became apparent that every person on the planet but us had seen this show.
We casually tuned in for episode five, expecting to watch for a few seconds and then turn the TV off, much like we did with the inexplicably popular Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? (Is it me, or should Regis be selling used cars?)
Of course, within 10 minutes we were hooked, and now 7 p.m. on Wednesday is known as Survivor time. The cat cannot meow, the phone cannot ring, the doorbell cannot be answered.
It’s depressing how into this show we’ve gotten. I realized the other day that my wife and I had a straight-faced half-hour discussion about that punk Greg’s getting kicked off the island on last week’s episode. All across the country, people everywhere are having these water-cooler discussions about the Survivor crew, with the same addict’s glare in the eyes that soap opera lovers have.
And I’ll admit right off I’m rooting for Richard Hatch, the fish-catching often-naked gay guy. This Machiavellian plotter reminds me a heck of a lot of Iago in Othello for some reason, or maybe Michael Douglas’s Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.
Richard wants to win, and he’s willing to be a bit slimy to do it – he’s a modern American through-and-through. Or evil incarnate, depending on your views. Whichever, Richard’s compelling TV, and I’m rooting for him to get his own spin-off show – perhaps a new millennium update of Three’s Company, featuring Richard as Jack Tripper and perhaps someone like crotchety former Senator Bob Dole as downstairs landlord Mr. Furley.
Now, I haven’t watched more than a couple of minutes of Survivor’s duller, less scenic sibling Big Brother, a show whose fundamental concept seems flawed.
Take a dozen or so people and lock them in a house with video cameras on them at all time, cramped quarters and near-brawls – am I wrong, or isn’t this known under another name as “prison”? If I wanted to watch inmates getting stir crazy, I would pop Shawshank Redemption in the VCR again.
I do confess to watching the first and second seasons of MTV’s venerable Real World reality show, which had the grim appeal of watching a wagon of circus freaks get into a traffic wreck. I lost interest somewhere around season seven, The Real World in Des Moines or somesuch, the one with the blind crack-addicted nun/auto mechanic as the cast member.
Now, given the choice between Gilligan’s Island and the Survivor island, I would be hard-pressed to make a decision. Sure, Survivor has Rudy, the crusty ex-Navy SEAL who always seems about five seconds away from disemboweling his fellow castaways, but Gilligan had the statuesque redhead Ginger, who managed to be stranded on a remote desert island and yet was never seen without high heels and a slinky cocktail dress.
If Ginger was on Survivor island, we all know who’d walk away whistling to the bank at the end of the day.
Maybe Richard should invest in a pair of high heels, just to be on the safe side
Sierra Sun Editor Nik Dirga grew up in Nevada County.
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