It's All In The Editing
is a big gaping hole in my life -- and my Thursday night TV schedule --
now that "Survivor: Amazon" is over.
is something you get to hear me complain about two or three times a
year: the inevitable post-'Survivor' crash-and-burn phase. For a few
days after they hand over that million-dollar check to one lucky
winner, I wander around the television universe feeling bereft and
aimless ... wondering how I'm going to *survive* for the next little
while without my weekly fix of
manufactured drama and ersatz reality. It's silly, I know. I'm
embarrassed to admit that I feel this way. I'm a mature,
grounded, reasonably well-educated woman, forcryingoutloud. My days of
worshipping television shows should have ended when Barnabus and
Angelique went off the air. And it's impossible to explain the appeal
to anyone who isn't as enamored of quasi-reality programming as *I* am.
(My mother ... my children ... my boss ... 97.3% of the *FootNotes*
audience, if my mailbox tomorrow morning is any indication.)
it's how I feel.
critics lauded "Survivor: Amazon" as the best of the 'Survivor'
franchise so far. I agree. Right from the very first episode -- when
they herded all of the female contestants into one boat, and all of the
male contestants into another, and sent them off into the jungle to
duke it out with each other -- David and I found ourselves emotionally
engaged to a degree we hadn't enjoyed since "Survivor: Australia."
'Amazon' had something for both of us: drama, romance and Jeff Probst's
dimples (for *me*), full frontal nudity and flaming explosions (for
*him*). Plus the human dynamic seemed especially interesting and
effective this time around. We had somebody to admire (Christy, the
Plucky Deaf Girl) ... somebody to loathe (Heidi & Her
Breasts of Scorn) ... somebody to pity (Jenna, whose lovely dark eyes
puddled with tears whenever someone mentioned her Sick Mom and/or her
incinerated sorority jacket) ... even somebody to feel smugly superior
over (anybody who drank too much and sang Lionel Richie on national
TV). Plus -- thanks to the most skillful editing this side of "Michael
Jackson's Private Home Movies" -- I found myself actually
rooting for The Bad Guy this time.
Ordinarily I fasten my hopes and my 'Survivor' Office Pool money
the contestant oozing the most
integrity and likeability and all-around-good-personedness. But the
character of Rob was so deftly drawn -- he was edited with such duality
of purpose: amusing/astute/articulate narrator on the one hand,
lying/manipulative/backstabbing subhuman on the other hand -- that you
couldn't help but like the guy.
while you were hating him.
that's what 'Survivor' is all about, anyway: the editing. It's not the
scenery, or the money, or the absurdly complicated Reward Challenges
involving mud and puzzles and wriggling insects the size of small
cruise missiles. It's not even Jeff Probst and his dimples, zooming
across New York Harbor on a jet ski. It's all of these disparate
elements, expertly and seamlessly woven together. And even
importantly, it's the characters,
and the finely nuanced way that
they're edited. Unlike my other favorite 'reality' show, "The Bachelor"
-- which basically reduces the contestants to black and white: you're
either a Slut or you're a Nice Girl, just like high school --
'Survivor' allows us to see shades of gray (and pink, and brown, and
beige) that other reality shows don't even come close to developing.
For that, you've got to give credit to the 'Survivor' editors. Just
think how daunting a task that must be, sifting through all of the
mundane, unremarkable details of daily life -- eating and sleeping and
farting and blinking and fighting and laughing and long aimless
conversations that go absolutely nowhere -- and trying to distill all
of that human minutiae down into one focused, compelling, ongoing
narrative that people will enjoy and remember and come back to, day
after day. I can't even imagine how tough that must be.
again: maybe I can.
throw a rock?