I may sound like a hypocrite, but that wasn't fun to watch. This comes from someone who watches pro football even knowing about the risks the players face due to concussions, from someone who did not get morally outraged at Chase Utley breaking a guy's leg in a MLB playoff game, from someone who questions how daring aerial acrobats are if they're wearing a harness. But watching people who haven't had much to eat or drink for ten days digging in the sand in 118 degree temperatures for 45 minutes is not my idea of great entertainment. Someone could have died.
I get overheated when it's in the high 80s and have been known to embarrass my family by pulling out a small battery-charged fan if I'm the least bit uncomfortable in the summer. And this is when I'm standing still. The survivors were physically exerting themselves beyond the point of collapse while just out of camera view, the crew filming the show have chilled water, fans and umbrellas to stave off the sweltering weather. But the Survivors had no respite from the intense direct sunlight, ambient heat, crushing humidity and the solar radiation soaked sand. It must have been like being trapped in the seventh circle of hell while running and digging. And for what? A million dollars? No. For some salt and pepper.
It was a low moment for Survivor and showed a cavalier attitude towards the survivor's safety and a startling lack of awareness that these are human beings who have normal physical limitations and not TV characters immune to their surroundings. The show is not live, like Big Brother, but shot on film for later broadcast. If it was too damn hot to run the reward challenge, you don't run the reward challenge. No one needs coffee and spices that badly. If you were wedded to having that challenge run, then put up some lights and run the challenge at night. We understand that Survivor is punishing and grueling, but even within those parameters, there needs to be some common sense.
What's disturbing is that last season -- which was filmed AFTER this brutal season -- there was a challenge held during the middle of the day with the sun bearing down on the contestants as they held a pole aloft, looking straight into the blinding, cloudless sky. Joe Anglim, the buff young stud, collapsed during that challenge. So even after three contestants went down in one challenge, during the very next Survivor -- filmed at the very same location -- the powers that be again scheduled and ran a competition in spite of the conditions and one of the contestants again passed out. So not only did Survivor not learn its lesson from the evacuation of Caleb Reynolds and the heat-induced collapse of two others (Debbie Wanner and Cydney Gillon) but they actively put more contestants into harm's way, pushing them beyond their limits while the cameras rolled.
It is not enough that Jeff Probst sounds concerned or that Dr. Joe swoops in to save the day. The contestants should not have to risk death to be on a reality tv show. Should Survivor be hard, sure. But living on restricted rations, with little shelter, exposed to the elements, feasted on by all matters of bugs and physically and mentally challenged is enough. Doing so in 118 degree weather is inexcusable.
There won't be a recap of this episode. Caleb was pulled out of the game, airlifted to a hospital where he spent five days. According to his post-show exit, it took him months to fully recuperate. Alecia Holden was voted out with no help from Jeff who took her boot as a fait accompli. Caleb is fine now and will likely make a return to Survivor. Alecia is having fun on Twitter poking at her island tormentor Scot Pollard by mentioning his not-very-impressive NBA stats. Bur if you want to read more, here are some links:
Caleb and Alecia with RHAP
Caleb with Josh Wigler/Parade
Caleb with Entertainment Weekly
Caleb with Inquisitr
Alecia with Josh Wigler/Parade
Alecia with Hollywood Life
Alecia the day after on CBS