Friday, January 14, 2005

I Can't Take Another Tribal Council!

The folks over at the CBS Network have started revving up the hype machine for the next installment of the "Survivor" franchise. This time it's Survivor: Palau and is set in the South Pacific where a stunning twenty hapless contestants will be dropped off and left to fend for themselves on and amidst tropical jungle islands. I don't know how well it will compete with that other real reality show, you know, Survivor: Tsunami that used to be on the television alot more than it is now. That production has a cast of millions and, unlike their counterparts in the artificial reality department, they won't be going home to their comfortable ranch-style bungalows in Phoenix or Denver or Jacksonville in thirty-eight days.
I watched that first Survivor series. I think it was called Survivor: Fat Naked Gay Guy. It was entertaining because it was new for me and it was still new to the contestants. Even the series that followed immediately after that first one (does CBS put out two series per year? It must be something like that because the next run is number ten...) had lost some of its charm because the people they threw into that mix had already watched the first bunch. No matter how many unexpected little wrenches the producers toss into the works, every cast of castaways has some inkling of what they might expect. That loss of freshness and the myriad of derivitive copycat shows that litter the primetime schedule has diminished my enjoyment of the program to the point that I no longer even keep tabs on the show, let alone watch it.
What has happened to scripted television? All of those poor, unemployed television writers out there flipping burgers. More art, less artifice. We have allowed so many television channels to propegate that there is simply to much time to fill to bother with the expense of hiring actors and building sets and so on. Hey, what would Fox be without COPS?
Has our culture deteriorated to the point that we have to denude our entertainment of all culture and creativity? If I wanted that, I'd be watching sports. The next time we sit selfish and slack-jawed facing the mindless, meaningless radiation that eminates from our television sets, maybe we should take a second to wipe the drool from our chins and give some real thought to some of the folks around the world (and even in our own backyards) who don't have television. Or a home. Or food, clothing, work, money, shoes, parents or many of the other things that most of us are fortunate enough to take for granted.
Take a minute to think about the survivors.