Friday, July 26, 2013

They would never get out alive.

The very worst thing about NBC’s abysmal ‘reality’ competition show Get Out Alive With Bear Grylls surprisingly is not that it features a bunch of crybaby yuppies for its cast, shamelessly rips off other programs that preceded it, has a complete lack of physical or psychological strain, or subjects its participants to the most humiliating and pointless labors, but that it takes the very best thing about another show pitting man vs. wild and inadvertently perverts it into little more than an indicator of this spinoff’s comparative absurdity, so laying bear its own shallowness and low respect for the viewer’s intelligence.  To reduce one of the most charming and witty survival guys on television to a condescending, egotistical parody of himself demands an uncommon talent, but Get Out Alive accomplishes said feat with ease, making it the most amusing and paradoxically depressing hiking and camping – I mean survival – show in a long time.

Get Out Alive tries to be Survivor meets The Amazing Race without any actual surviving or physical exertion; it tasks ten teams of two with walking to some arbitrary destination every episode and collecting assorted survival materials and meals along the way, e.g. deers that just happen to be lying dead in a designated cave, all trussed up and ready to be butchered by some resourceful ‘hunters’.  The host, Bear himself, stalks them all this while and spies on them from afar with binoculars, giving commentary on their morale or progress and pointing out what they’re doing right (what he would do on his show) or wrong (what he would never do on his show).  Every now and then he gives his pupils – his fellows to be more respectful but less realistic – a ‘challenge’ designed to test their survival skills, including but not limited to purifying their urine and using a slingshot to fatally strike an ox in the skull, the ox being fake, of course, in order to avert the critical gaze of respected ‘animal rights’ organizations like PETA.  “Campers ready… Go!”  The victors of said challenges win a trip to some oasis-like getaway where they feast and pamper themselves with the luxuries of civilization not granted by the wilderness, receiving amenities such as Crest toothpaste and Gilette deoderant, products so beloved by competitors that they literally tout the exact brand as a symbol of their gratitude.  “This Wal Mart steak is melting in my mouth.”  To entertain themselves in those moments when they’re not drinking their pee, sleeping in a tent, or nearly passing out due to the immense stress of their daily hike, the competitors point fingers at each other for underachivement, complain about the difficulties of being on a well-paying, nationally syndicated TV show, form ‘alliances’ to influence the seemingly autocratic but really democratic eliminations, and lounge about the camp in their underwear, at least the women do, because it’s a truth universally acknowledged that the optimal way to relive anxiety in the mountains and improve ratings is to saunter about half-naked in an environment that provides no logical rationale to do so.  At least there’s a beach on Survivor.  Each episode concludes with a firelit ‘council’ meeting presided over by Jeff Probst – I mean Bear – who asks his disciples uncomfortable and divisive questions in an effort to make them rat each other out as the weak link in the troupe.  Upon evaluating the fellowship’s strengths, weaknesses, and most importantly nuisances, he eliminates the losing team of the night, viz. the one that least emulates his show’s persona, and requests that they bring him their torches knives.  The Bear has spoken.

Viewers have the fortunate option to change the channel whenver they like, but those who were gullible enough to apply for this tripe must “deal with the pain”, in the words of their mentor.  “NBC will need more than big muscles and beach babes without a beach to survive.  They need to be smart.  Dumb gets you killed.

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