Well, “Survivor: All-Stars” came back last night for a little denoument action with an enjoyable “American Idol” twist. No, Ethan didn’t flat-iron his hair, but we, the loyal audience, got to vote on which “All-Star” should win a million dollars. Unfortunately, I did not fulfill my civic duty, and therefore Kathy Vavrick O’Brien and Shii-Ann were deprived of two valuable votes. Alas. At least Shii-Ann got a car (an ample consolation prize after being chastized in Thailand for her “strange”, non-Westernized chicken eating behaviors). Kathy didn’t win anything, but I bet her friends in Burlington will make her a groovy vegan quiche, so it’s all good.The night started off nicely with a little shout out to Jerry who understandably walked out of the last reunion show when the 5,000 Big Tom lovers in MSG booed her into silence. Now, we know that Jerri can whine, but let the poor woman talk. Some of us have seen “The Surreal Life” and know that she’s actually pretty funny and cool. Although, even I won’t deny her a spot in the Reality Villain Hall of Fame.
Things seemed good for Jerri until Jeff Probst decided to channel “Mean Girls” and confront her about some gossip he had heard her say about him. With that dimpled smile we’ve grown to love, Jeff asked Jerri if she was mad at him, and intoned that she was a bitch if she said she was. Jerri handled it nicely, and actually so did Jeff, and I felt bad for thinking that Jeff may have been acting sort of like an immature 18 year old girl. Moments later, that regret was erased when Jeff Probst dropped a passive aggressive stinkbomb on the show when he proclaimed that he heard that some people were only showing up because they were contractually obligated to. With a testy glimmer in his eyes, he dared the people who didn’t want to be there to leave because if they don’t want to be there, we don’t want them there either. Things seemed awkward – but the faux tribal Survivor music ushered in a freshly minted Probst dimpling, and all was good.
After this – or maybe it was before, forgive me for my timeline haziness – Jeff checked in on our tacky lovebirds, Rob and Amber – or Ramber (or Ambob). They marveled at how much attention they’ve been receiving – with Rob particularly amazed at the craziness of flying to Vegas and back again. Amber just seemed happy to be back in her 1980s outfits. There was some talk about the wedding being televised, and while it most certainly will be better than the Trista/Ryan schmaltzfest, I’m not going to be setting my Tivo for it.
The rest of the show was pretty routine. Probst whittled the contestants down to the four guys who had received the most votes. First up was Colby, and for about fifteen minutes, the show seemed to be the “Dear Colby, I love you. Love, Jeff Probst Show” with Jeff opining Mr. Donaldson first for being so popular, and then after the commercial break, for being so sexy (Colby won sexiest male Survivor). It’s all good though. The two clearly have forged a friendship over the years, and Colby’s a nice enough guy. Sorry – I can’t be snarky all the time!
Next nominee was Tom, who has always been more of an oddball mumbler than a truly compelling character to me. I’m sure he’s a nice guy and a good family man, but he really doesn’t deserve to be upper echelon Survivor material. Nevertheless, he was floored, and it seemed like he was about to breakdown into a bluthery mess.
Fan favorite Rupert was called up next. Giving one of his perfunctory Nordic battle growls, Rupert riled up the audience with his crazy beard and affinity for tie-dye. Ah Rupert. He was so great in “Pearl Islands”, with his swan song episode being one of the most poetic – yes, I said that – “Survivor” episodes ever. This time around, some of that magic is gone. Building a log cabin underground? And by underground, I mean in loose sand next to flowing water. Oh Rupe, what happened? And let’s not forget his poor strategizing this time around. When it came down to Rob, Amber, Rupert, and Jenna, why didn’t he simply explain to clueless Jenna that even if she does side with Amber and Rob, the odds of her winning immunity are less than the odds of her pulling out the rock and getting voted off? Rupert seemed less larger than life and more thick headed this time around.
Our last nominee was Boston Rob who felt he really deserved the million. He did have a point, but then again, maybe so did Colby. After all, the same thing happened to him in Australia as happened to Rob.
Interspersed with this were nostalgic “Survivor” moments: Sue Hawk’s rats/snakes speech (minus the famous “even if you were dying of thirst on the side of the road…” quote. What the hey?), Michael Skupin playing patty cake with the fire – and losing, and Jenna and Heidi’s striptease for peanut butter in the Amazon. We also got fun little awards: Sexiest Male Survivor (Colby), Sexiest Female Survivor (Amber), Best Villain (Johnny Fairplay, who made an unnecessary cameo apperance), Best Fight (Rupert and Johnny Fairplay). I personally would have picked the classic Alicia/Kimmy fight from Australia, and what was up with Brian Heidik being a best villain nominee? He did nothing!
We got a nice little preview for the next edition of the series, bombastically called “Survivor: Vanuatu: Islands of Fire”. The double colon is a bit much for me, as is the crazy dramatic sub-subtitle. But hey, Mark Burnett’s earned his stripes. He’s entitled to a three tier name.
Finally, the moment we’d all been kind of waiting for arrived. Jeff announced the winner of the next million dollars to be… Rupert. Not much of a surprise. Also not much of a surprise was yet another rousing growl from the hirsute one. Some people love Rupert’s gravelly yells, but seriously, it’s like seeing an old joke getting beaten to death. Since when did we as an audience give the social cue that this whole “AHHHH!” thing could become his signature cry anyway? I’m embarrassed for him. That coupled with the ratty tie-dye tank tops make the whole Rupert thing just incredibly old and annoying. But I’d be willing to deal with the tank tops if there were a tie-dye muzzle to go along with them.
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