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I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! Episode 1 Recap: The Trauma Tank

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One episode down, fourteen to go. I almost can't believe I've made it this far. But, even while expecting the worst, I was surprised by some of the crazy, ridiculous, and incredibly engaging drama that unfolded.

I'll do recaps by commenting on each act, although calling them "acts" may be giving the show too much credit. Today's recap has twice as many acts as usual because of the extended 2-hour premiere. Check back after each episode, as I'll be blogging every day (though I'm starting to realize that alcohol may need to be involved). On weekends, we'll delve deeper into the issues at hand for some serious analysis. There's a lot to talk about.

Act One:
The opening titles threw me off right away: "Live" 4 nights a week? I thought it might just be one of those things you can say on TV if it's not true (it may be taped footage, but they do feed it to your TV live!), but then the hosts were actually talking to us live. OK, cool. But then, very quickly, we cut to taped, edited footage. So... why are they doing any of it live? Does it really enhance the hosts' banter? I'm a bit confused.

Also, you gotta love the introduction of Patti Blagojevich. She's already crying in her first confessional. But she does speak the truth: after the last few months of her life, the jungle doesn't sound that scary. Until she got pulled down the river and almost drowned (sort of). True blunder, or just an excuse to show off how good she looks wet?

Act Two:
So both teams have to cross a river to get to their camp? I love it. Way to manipulate the path to the campsite, producers. Just excellent work.

Heidi is becoming interesting very quickly: "Everything that I have and love just got taken away from me, and not in a fun way." What did you expect, Heidi? It's the jungle! And how can people take things from you in a fun way? I wouldn't go as far as saying it's akin to "torture" you would only use on Al Quada... but she would. Brilliant.

And then, just like that, Heidi and Spencer were gone. Wow. Not really sure if they'll be back for act three, but either way Spencer's farewell address while on the phone with Ben Silverman was priceless. It shows just how deluded he and Heidi really are; in fact, it felt like a scene right out of The Hills. I'm just upset Heidi might not be around any more to talk so intelligently about Al Qaeda.

Act Three:
Well, Spencer and Heidi were back, but then left again! This time it seemed like it was for good... until the preview of act four! Oh NBC, a tease should be a tease, not an answer to the question!

Act Four:
Wow, this is really starting to become the Heidi and Spencer show, and I'm thinking it was all part of their master plan. Heidi continues to win the prize for best confessionals: "It's just being so mean! And they completely took off all my labels!" What's she gonna do? How will she know which shampoo is hers? And Spencer made those labels for her himself! How sweet.

Very interesting act-out: a praying mantis devouring some sort of roach. I didn't know I'm a Celebrity was into montage metaphors. Is Spencer the mantis? Maybe Heidi? Or are they the roaches? Or am I thinking about this much more than the editors and producers of the show? Probably.

Act Five:
So the teams mean nothing? Already? On the first challenge? Then what was the point of the teams at all? Just to mix 'em up in camps and create some drama, I guess.

Also, did Spencer liken himself to Heath Ledger in this act? Wow. Whatever mind games he's playing, they're starting to work on me. I can't figure him out, and I kinda like it. This entire first hour without a bug-eating or strength-testing challenge has really been elevated by Spencer and Heidi's antics. If The Hills taught them anything, it was how to induce drama.

Act Six:
Not much to say here, though it is nice to see celebrities subjected to this kind of humiliation. But if John Salley is a vegan and made such a point of it earlier in the show, why was he so quick to eat a rat's tail without objection? At least use it as an excuse!

Act Seven:
Alright, Spencer, if you can't eat a stick insect, you're all talk. Next up: a cooked tarantula. By far the grossest thing I've ever seen. And after hearing that the intestine shake tasted better than his mom's, I think Sanjaya really got off easy. That, or his mom's shakes must be made with cooked tarantulas.

Act Eight:
Getting into politics with Patti is exciting. Apparently Blago's troubles all arose from fighting against special interests! Wow! Who knew? Those damn special interests, why are they so dead-set on taking down politicians who are really fighting for the people, and for children? I've heard rumors that Patti is the woman behind the curtain, running the entire operation, and if so, I'm back on board the Blagojevich train. She's in denial even more than Rod was, and that's the only way to get ahead in politics.

Act Nine:
Jungle slime? What does that even mean? I am baffled.

Act Ten:
Alright, Patti's microphone is messed up, so I'm pretty sure this is actually live. But how is it possible? There are less than five minutes left for the next segment... what if someone lasts longer than that in the Trauma Tank?

Act Eleven:
The action really fizzled and died at the end there. Turns out five of them lasted longer than the show had time for, so we find out the results... on the next episode? They built an entire two-hour premiere around a main event that didn't end. Good work, Ben Silverman.

And what's with that tank anyway? None of the bugs were actually touching the celebrities. They were just crawling around nearby. If you closed your eyes, as most of them did, what's the challenge? They'd better correct this mistake, and fast.

UPDATE: Apparently Heidi and Spencer have quit the show as of last night after the live segment. Wonder how they'll deal with that on the next episode...

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