Bear Grylls’ new NBC reality show (Mondays at 9 ET) is like Fear Factor with hiking, Survivor without bathing suits, or The Amazing Race with at least 75 percent less fun. The remaining eight pairs will continue to traverse the New Zealand wilds for the next six weeks. So, what are you missing?
DOWNGRADE IN GROSS SURVIVAL FOODS: This week’s yucca roots and earthworms were much more manageable than last week’s fish eyes and human urine mixed with muddy water. When I took my glasses off, the worms looked like some poorly prepared pesto spaghetti. And in a gourmet can? I’d totally eat that.
REFRESHING HONESTY FOR REALITY TV: Sure, some of the pairs seem to be “tattling” on each other when grilled by Bear (eww…what would grilled bear taste like? we’ll find out on week 17!) but they’re really just telling the truth about some of the other contestants’ physical struggles. There’s been no significant backstabbing as of yet. Unless you count….
INTRA-DUO BITCHING: “Mama Donna,” 51, basically tumbled down a rocky grass cliff and turned up alive so that she could hear her daughter Canden — a dead ringer for early-’80s Beverly D’Angelo — berate her in front of the others: “Don’t’ make excuses! You gotta work hard and I’m not here to baby you.” That’s a lot of nerve coming from someone who clearly needed a mom to swoop in and fix her long blonde braid so that half of her hair wasn’t just hanging off to one side. Canden tried to redeem herself at the Gryll Session by saying a lot of her mom’s contributions in life have been overlooked, so she wants to be the one to give her credit. Huh.
I still think Alicia and Spencer are my least faces, though. I haven’t seen them do much beyond glare at slower hikers and break down into tears complaining of “tummy aches.” (That was Alicia.)
HUMANS WITH DOG NAMES: Lucky and Louie are a father-daughter set. Lucky’s real name is Andrew. Louie’s? Andrea.
PHANTOM LIMB SCARES: “Is my eye busted open?” Ryan asked Madeline during the slingshot challenge. I don’t think anything had even come close to his eye.
OBSCENE PRODUCT PLACEMENT: When Ryan and Madeline won the slingshot challenge, one of the rewards at the “feast pit” was a huge Procter and Gamble toolkit containing two measly sticks of deodorant. How crazy: He uses Gillette in real life, and she uses Secret! No more Stress Sweating for them! Meanwhile, the other eight couples must soldier on and Get Out Alive With B.O.
A BRITISH, HALFWAY VERSION OF JEFF PROBST: “There are HOFF a million dollars on the table,” Bear reminded his insouciant charges during the Tribal Council-esque portion of the show (it’s not dramatic enough; the teams need to be butt up against each other instead of staggered artfully). “Deal with the pain.”
Eliminated: Esmeralda (who was in a thousand-yard-stare daze before a Bear called her name) and Dominic. “YOU WOULD NEVER GET OUT ALIVE,” Bear decided for them. And then they died. Nope, then they floated up to deodorant heaven.
Are you liking this? Were you, like me, hoping for something a little faster-paced à la Amazing Race?