September 19, 2009

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The Fun Has Already Started posted by Leann Sweeney I love the beginning of the new fall TV season, especially since I turned in my book and can actually relax and enjoy--at least a for a few weeks, anyway. Thursday night, "Survivor" went back to school on what made the show successful in the first place. No choosing tribe members by the seat of their pants, which has been the way the last couple years. Nope, the producers decided that after several seasons where one team gets picked down to the bone and the other team gets all the rewards and never has to vote anyone off (thus strengthening their alliances day by day) they had to make sure things at least started out more fairly. The producers did the dividing. Good move, Survivor brain trust. There's the smart, muscled young men and just as smart pretty young women with ample cleavage as usual. There's a doctor and a lawyer, an outdoorsman, a female cop, all the usual suspects. But from the beginning of this first show I could tell this will be a very interesting season. Mostly because there's already a villain. How can there be a good story without a villain? Being a writer, reality shows are so much grist for the mill. The editing, of course, makes all the difference, because characters are created on "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race," my two favorites in this genre. The producers and the editors on these shows are creating characters, building what I like to call semi-fiction. Their personalities are changed to protect the innocent. And the most innocent will make early exits. The motto is "outwit, outlast, outplay" on "Survivor" but they could just have easily exchanged that for "lie, lie, lie." I think that because a novel is a big long lie--an acceptable one, but still a lie--that is why I am drawn to this show. I can lie on paper and turn it into my editor but I could never do it right to someone's face. And since we, the viewers, are flies on the Survivor wall, we know who's lying the most. I watch their expressions, their intonations, their phrasing as they lie to each other. Yes, it a great school for a writer, this show. And I am taking notes. I don't think there's been a season since the first one, where a few of the characters were drawn so well and so quickly. Two stuck out for me right away. There's the female ex Marine who doesn't think of herself as "smart." But I saw a very wise person right off the bat. I hope she sticks around. She's tough enough to win. And then there's that villain I talked about earlier. We could have the biggest liar ever, even a bigger liar than Richard Hatch who even thought he could lie to the government about his taxes. Oh yes, when this new villain talked to the camera Thursday night and told us he was creating his "dumb ass girl alliance" I knew this might be the best season yet. We'll see who's the real dumb ass.

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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