39 days, 20 people, 1 survivor. And with that, Season 21, Survivor Nicaragua was officially launched. One hour later (okay, 45 or so with skip time) and we had this season's Sonja, the first voted out. The ignominious fate could not have landed on a more deserving person as Wendy weirded and chattered her way down the tribal council path to oblivion. While she had a tailor-made for Survivor profession of goat rancher (a sure bet to make it on the show along with gravedigger and stripper), she also gave the Mark Burnett trained producers enough material to guarantee she would make an early exit.
Discuss how you have no social game. Check. Show her making an immediate alliance with someone who just as immediately regrets that decision. Check. Have the person say the one thing they will not do lest they become a target and then follow it up with them doing it, repeatedly. Check. Only Wendy could keep the huge target on football's Jimmy Johnson from drawing fire. But he is going to have to take a more laid back approach to his team, and appear much stronger, if he does not want to be the next out of the Espada (Spanish for wrinkly, perhaps?) tribe.
This season opener provided two new twists to rattle the contestants early on. After having them marched to the beach and placed on mats in two separate groups, Dimples (aka Jeff "Why did they need to put my name up, who doesn't know me by now" Probst) sent them off in search of the newest unfortunately named item -- the Golden Medallion -- which would provide the winning team with an unidentified advantage. Golden Medallion sounds cheesy, like something you inherited from your Uncle Salvatore that you'd hock at a New Jersey pawn shop. But unidentified advantage still sounded good enough for everyone to throw themselves into the challenge to find it for their team.
After Brenda located the item by climbing up a tree, Jeff let them in on the little surprise. The teams they thought existed did not. He reshuffled the groups by telling those old enough to remember Kirk Gibson's home run in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series to go join the Espada tribe and those who think Lady Gaga invented outrageousness to go to the La Flor tribe. There was a bit of a Let's Make a Deal moment and Jeff offered the young'uns the option of keeping the GM or trading it in for flint and fishing equipment. They decided fire and food were more important than an advantage at a later challenge and handed off the GM to the geriatrics.
The oldsters had a trick up their sleeves -- actually a smart player named Jane who is now on my radar for doing the one thing that immediately endeared her to Jeff. She listened to what he said. In a previous interview, Jeff wondered why anyone would go on Survivor without learning how to make fire. According to Jane, she heeded his advice and spent two months learning how. Being in the advanced age group meant that finding the one item she'd need would not be a problem. No, not a pair of Depends, a set of eyeglasses. With those, a bright sun, and thirty minutes baking down on some shredded tinder, she was a fire-making machine.
So what else happened? Two women on La Flor found a cryptic clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol as opposed to the clues last year that said, Psst, Russell, over here! One contestant revealed that she has a prosthetic leg (and I revealed that I can spell prosthetic without the aid of spell check), Jimmy Johnson gets a lot of air time for someone who has a show on a rival network, Wendy is one of those annoying women who want to be told how much younger they look than their age, I got a good laugh at the fact that the girl my husband thought was hot ended up on the old person's team, Shannon is a pig and Jimmy T. has no game. I like Tyrone, Jill, Marty and Chase.
So I watched the last episode of America's Got Talent, primarily because I was trying to get some skip time on my recording of Survivor. I saw a snippet of cute opera singing girl who I swear has to be a bot of some kind or the world's best lipsyncer because I cannot for the life of me figure out how those sounds come out of that girl. But then I saw some cute guy in a rakish hat strumming and singing and I thought -- when did this show become American Idol? I thought everyone on AGT were odd balls of some sort, ballet dancing jugglers or fire eating mimes or possessors of some other bizarre Ripley-esque skill that made them ineligible for all other talent shows. But this guy was a very good, bluesy singer.
His name is Michael Grimm. Yeah, I hadn't heard of him before either. He had a nice tone to his voice, a good look, and a great connection to the song and the audience. I turned the show off (nothing can separate me from my Survivor addiction) but later found out (courtesy of my friend MNCyn) that he was the winner. I also discovered that he has been performing for years in Vegas but had yet to hit it big. Which, again, begs the question I put to you after "discovering" Casey James. Just how many good singers are there out there who have yet to be discovered. And what is that unknown quality that separates them from stars? The "it" factor. Why do some make it and others fade away? Is it the power of the medium of television that the simple act of putting someone on it elevates them, singles them out, makes them more than they would otherwise be? Or are these talent shows providing a needed service to shine a light and illuminate something that is deserving of the attention?
Thanks to your comments, I've decided to add some more video of the newly-crowned winner. Nice to see someone with a fantastic voice (who sings on key as well!) win for a change. He already has some CDs and MP3s for you to purchase, so check him out on the link of his name above and here.