I spoke too soon. Or maybe I jinxed it. Perhaps I was just confused. Whatever the reason, I think I gave I'm A Celebrity a bit too much credit for last Thursday's episode in my last post, because Monday's two-hour fiasco was a marathon of inconsistencies, meaningless challenges, and worthless conversations.
The worst part is that nothing means anything anymore. I've discussed in the past how there are very few consequences for the celebrities' actions, something the producers have tried (unsuccessfully) to fix. It seems now that they've given up all hope of creating a coherent structure for each episode and rules for the "game." I'd like to call this an extension of a show like The Real World, set in the jungle and starring celebrities, but that would be an insult to the semi-logical, mildly effective techniques that The Real World has slowly perfected over twenty-one seasons. I'm A Celebrity makes no sense. And so, in lieu of the typical recap, I'd like to use today's column to give some advice on how to fix the show, both to the celebrities and the producers.
To the celebrities:
Recognize that this is a game, and try to win.
It seems like no one cares what happens. Everyone wants to be friends and help each other. Nobody wants to see anyone else go home. Nobody but John even wanted to be the camp leader, and--gasp!--he ended up winning the camp leadership challenge. Are you kidding me? If this were Survivor, you'd all lose. Are you people doing this for your charities, or for yourselves? Sorry, that was a stupid question.
Start competing for your charities.
Yes, it's obvious you're all doing this to revive your careers (or in Patti's case, to attempt to cover up all those lies with even more lies), but you can at least pretend to try to win the top prize for your charity. To do this, refer to my first recommendation.
Stop quitting the show and threatening to quit the show.
So far, more celebrities have quit of their own volition than have been voted off. Spencer, Heidi, and Frances have decided to leave, and John came very close. Only Angela and Daniel Baldwin have been voted off, and Daniel was only brought on the show in the first place because too many people were quitting. When you quit and threaten to quit, it cheapens the entire show, and it proves to us that you don't care about making it to the end, you just care about getting some screen time. Of course that's true, but the producer's are making an effort to maintain the illusion of competition; you could at least try to play along. John, if the entire segment where you threatened to quit was just a strategy to win, I applaud you, but if you were actually thinking of quitting for absolutely no reason (other than that you could be eating pizza and drinking wine if you went home that day--really? pizza? that's what you're most looking forward to?), then I've lost what little respect you gained from me when you blew up at Janice. You're not a quitter. Stop quitting.
Everyone hates you. This show is not helping your image, unless your goal, like Spencer's, is to have a negative, antagonistic image. Even if that's true, we've all seen enough. You tried to redeem yourself, and the celebrities bought it, even if we at home didn't. Now's a perfect time to leave, before we all remember everything you did and said last week, including stealing the damn granola bar. Just unforgivable, really. I know you spent a whole segment in this episode describing what a tough life you've had, but it doesn't give you the right to lie and steal. And nobody wants to watch you puking and hear about your multiple-day constipation. It was momentarily enjoyable, but I've had enough. Go home.
Lou: Stop being so damn nice.
We get it. You're a father figure. You made Sanjaya cry 'cause he loves you so much. You're the only celebrity who's never had a negative outburst. You clearly deserve to win, but you won't because Sanjaya has more fans that watch shows like this. If you caused some controversy instead of mediating them, I'd be marginally more interested in the show.
No more late-night touchy-feely sessions around the campfire.
First it was your big break. Then you went around the circle to say something nice about everyone else. Now you're talking about your best friends. I feel like I'm at a seventh grade girls' slumber party. Nobody cares, and the five minutes we spent watching it pre-empted the live immunity challenge at the end of the episode.
To the producers:
Start thinking of more meaningful rewards and consequences for challenges.
An entire challenge to see which two celebrities would get massages? Who the hell cares? And some of them couldn't even participate! The food trials are pointless, too. Massages and food are not things that can be experienced on TV. Let's have some consequences that are relevant to the home viewer.
Remove the roof over their heads.
Talk about being sheltered, a conversation about how terrible a rainstorm is just seems disingenuous when the celebrities aren't getting rained on. It's the jungle! There shouldn't be a lighting designer! There shouldn't be packages dropped from overhead ropes! There should be rain!
No more two-hour episodes.
Does this recommendation really need an explanation? One hour is more than enough.
Show a live timer during timed challenges.
During this week's challenge, the timer appeared and disappeared from the screen, and the footage was clearly edited. It looked like Torrie was moving much slower than Sanjaya, and yet they both finished in time. I'm sorry, but I just don't buy it, and based on some of the other shady techniques you've employed in the past, I don't trust that the timer was accurate. It made the challenge anti-climactic, even if the final score was 18 to 19.
Budget your time.
You can't build an entire two hour episode around a live immunity trial at the end and then not show us the immunity trial. I don't care what the weather is like, if you're going to tease it before every commercial break and design a unique format that includes a live segment, you must show us the entire segment. This is at least the third time this has happened.
I hope this helps. I doubt it will.