Sunday, November 27, 2011

Confessions of a Reality Show Junkie

I confess. I am a reality show junkie. What does that mean? It means that I'd rather watch someone climb Mt. Everest than do it myself. I'd rather watch Laird Hamilton surf down a 30-ft wave at Waimea Bay than be out there myself. Are you kidding me? That would be suicidal! I guess that means I would rather live life vicariously. Yes and no. I like to watch others push themselves to the limit and it amazes me at their athleticism and ability to do whatever it is that they are doing. But I'm content to sit and watch them on my flat-screen TV. Having said that, there are a few reality shows that I would consider signing-up as a contestant--you'll find out which ones as I go through my list. Don't think for a second that I am a total "couch potato."

Reality television is a genre of television programming that presents purportedly unscripted dramatic or humorous situations, documents actual events, and usually features ordinary people instead of professional actors, sometimes in a contest or other situation where a prize is awarded.

Here are my favorite reality shows. I've also linked to their respective websites so you can check them out with photos and videos from recent episodes. Who knows, you might get hooked on one of these reality shows. You could be addicted to things far worse. Since my list includes 9 shows, I'll continue this post on Thursday.
Survivor. This is the granddaddy of all reality shows. Survivor  premiered on May 31, 2000 on CBS. It is hosted by veteran television personality, reporter and one-time game show emcee Jeff Probst who has one of the best jobs in the world. 
Survivor maroons a group of strangers (as one or more tribes) in a desolate locale, where they must provide food, water, fire, and shelter for themselves, while competing in challenges to earn either a reward, or an immunity from expulsion from the game in the next of the successive votes for elimination. While much rarer than elimination by vote, medical conditions, such as injury or infection, have eliminated several contestants. The last two or three survivors face a jury composed of the last seven, eight, or nine players voted off. That jury interrogates the final few, and then votes for the winner of the game, the title of Sole Survivor and a million dollar prize.
 I've seen almost seen almost every one of the 23 seasons of Survivor. I don't think I could ever be on Survivor because I'd probably be voted off early on. But you never know, maybe I would be a stealth contestant "under the radar." 

Ozzy Lusth and Benjamin "Coach" Wade
At my physical exam 3 wks ago, my doctor said I was in excellent shape but  my cholesterol level would be better if I lost just five more pounds. Survivor is an excellent way to burn off some calories--you're usually guaranteed of losing 10-30 lbs. of weight depending on how long you "survive."

In the current season, my favorite is Ozzy who is a Survivor-veteran from Venice, California. Ozzy's game changer this season has been to voluntarily allow himself to be voted off twice, and sent packing to Redemption Island. If Ozzy doesn't win Survivor South Pacific, he could play Jesus in an upcoming Christian film.
Expedition Impossible aired this past summer to tepid ratings. Why it didn't catch on with the viewing audience is a puzzle to me. Renee and I thought it was a unique and interesting reality series. Produced by Survivor's Mark Burnett, Expedition Impossible followed thirteen teams of three competitors as they "solved problems while racing across deserts, over mountains and through rivers" across the nation of Morocco. 
Team "No Limits": Erik, Ike and Jeff
One of the most fascinating teams was "No Limits" with friends Erik, Jeff and Ike. What made this team unique is Erik who became blind at an early age and has climbed Mt. Everest. Jeff serves as Erik's "eyes in the field." Ike is a combat engineer officer in the military, earning two Bronze Star Medals and a Purple Heart. "No Limits" came in second and crowned the Gypsies from San Diego, the winners of Expedition Impossible. All the other 12 teams kept measuring themselves against the team with the blind guy and they always came up short. Erik truly is an inspiration and you realize that even with eyesight, we often put such needless limits on ourselves. I doubt that there will be a second season of Expedition Impossible, but if there were, I'd do it.

There were some challenging obstacles, but I think I could do most of them. Also, the chance to see so many facets of a country like Morocco would make it all worthwhile.

America Ninja Warrior. Here's the opening to this show which airs on the G4 Network (I can hear some of you saying, "G4 Network?? What's that?" which goes to show that you are not a "gamer." Neither am I, but I still know where G4 is on my satellite system): "Japan's ultimate test of speed, strength, and stamina has finally come to America. Now the nation's toughest athletes battle in a series of grueling physical challenges. Only ten will survive and head to Japan to face the legendary Mt. Midoryama. Who has what it takes to become the first...American Ninja Warrior?"
The tryouts are held at Venice Beach, CA. where entrants are tested for strength, speed, endurance, and agility. It's an open competition and anyone can tryout. You have olympic athletes, K-1 fighters, gymnasts, physical therapists, IT engineers, soldiers, etc. competing for a chance at the world's ultimate obstacle course.
Renee and I love this show. These guys push their bodies to the limit, and what you discover is that it's not about muscle but rather overall fitness and mental toughness. Guaranteed I wouldn't even make it through the first obstacle. This is one reality show where youth prevails every time!

MasterChef hosted by Gordon Ramsey along with two other judges: Joe Bastianich and Chef Graham Elliot. Each judge takes a taste of the dish and gives his opinion before voting a "yes" or a "no." At least two "yes" votes are required to earn a white apron to be in the competition. A few years ago, if you would've told me that I could get hooked on a cooking show, I would've said "No way." But Renee and I really enjoyed this show which features a softer, gentler Gordon Ramsey. Some of the challenges are grueling, especially with amount of time given to prepare the dish. Too much stress and pressure for me, but fun to watch.
The contestants who advanced out of the preliminary round next compete in two challenges. In the first, contestants complete a certain task, to the specification of the chefs, such as cutting and dicing onions or slicing apples. The chefs who are not eliminated while performing the task immediately proceed to an "invention test". A theme is given to the remaining contestants, who have thirty minutes to create and cook a dish relevant to this theme. The contestants can cook with any ingredient they want, as long as the theme is prevalent in the dish. Once the dishes are cooked, they are all presented to the judges for tasting —presentation, taste and the prevalence of the theme ingredient is considered.
In the Mystery Box challenge, contestants receive a number of ingredients of which they are to make a dish of their choice. The contestants are allowed to use any number of the ingredients they wish, and are free to leave any ingredients out. Once the dishes are finished, the judges choose three of the dishes to taste. The winner receives an advantage in the following elimination challenge.
I'll continue this post on Thursday with the remainder of my favorite reality shows--including an "oldie but goodie" which is making a comeback this December. Care to guess? You'll find out on Thursday.

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