(Noted actor Stephen Baldwin enters the room)
I cannot adequately express my soaring adoration for DirecTV. I love the movies. I love the sports. Most of all, I love the local channels. Except CBS, that comes in all fuzzy. I can't watch my grandson on his reality show. He said he'd give a shout out to me, but it's so hard to get a signal that I just give up and switch to Jerry, who comes in just fine.
Thank you again, sincerely,
Jean Cooke (Nana Dalton)"
. . .
It was the night of Day 27. The Balboa tribe was still reeling from the surprise coup against Rupert and the Amazing Technicolor Tank Top. Now that the heart and soul of the tribe had fallen into shadow, friendships and alliances were beginning to fray and tensions were starting to boil. Sandra was showing her Irish side, kicking sand and breaking twigs and scowling with all her might at Jon. "He's not to be trusted, ladies!" she squawked, jabbing a finger at Sir Fairplay, who calmly returned his innocent "what, me worry?" grin before winking seductively at Darrah.
Burton spoke up. "Who threw the fish out?" He held up an empty bucket. "Who threw the fish out? Whoop! Whoop! Whoop whoop!" Jon chanted in reply, until he received a sharp cuff from Tijuana.
Everyone looked at Sandra.
"Wasn't me," she cried indignantly. "You'd have to be really stupid to throw the fish out!"
Everyone looked at Darrah.
"Weren't me," Darrah drawled. "Yall'd have to be really stoned to throw the fish out."
Everyone looked at Christa.
"Huh?" she asked calmly.
"Christa stole the fishies from the fishy jar," Darrah yelled.
"Not me!" Christa retorted nasally.
Christa looked around frantically. "Jon!"
Jon shrugged. "Wasn't me," he muttered, grinning again.
"Well that settles that," Burton said. "Jon's nothing if not honest. It must have been Christa."
Christa was quite upset at this inquisition against her. It was just the latest in a series of emotional injuries, starting with Rupert's dismissal. Rupert had been her closest friend and ally, and was kind enough to hide her "medicine" in his beard. Now he was gone and the last two weeks were not going to be easy. Being accused of fish-dumping was not helping.
Meanwhile, Sandra was admitting in a confessional that she was actually the one who threw the fish out. "I was angry, and didn't want Rupert's hard work to be exploited by his betrayers." She then explained she had let the fish themselves decide whether to die of asphyxiation alone in the bushes or to be devoured by seven money-grubbing Americans. The fish leaped into the bushes of their own accord.
The next morning seven hungry money-grubbing Americans arrived at Challenge Beach to see what lame reward the producers were flinging at them this time. Jeff pointed out the row of planks and explained that this would be yet another eliminate-your-opponents game... with... a... twist.
"Sandra, here's your husband Marcus." Jeff gestured to a conveniently-placed boulder. From behind the boulder appeared Darrah's boyfriend. "Not you," Probst muttered and pushed him back out of sight, pulling Marcus out into the open. Sandra ran to meet him and the music swelled.
"Tee, here's your high school sweetheart, and still good friend, William." Burton leaned over to Jon and whispered, "'Still good friend'...we know what's goin' on there." Darrah's boyfriend peeked out again but William shoved him back and ran out to meet Tee.
"Burton, here's your mom, DeeDee." Burton embraced his mother, who once played one of the background women in the "Addicted to Love" video.
"Lill, here's your husband, Lonnie." Out stepped Lonnie, an air traffic controller from Chicago who was actually Rupert's alternate on the show.
"Darrah, your boyfriend, Bradley." Nothing happened. Probst turned and said loudly and distinctly, "Your boyfriend, Bradley." Nothing happened. Suddenly Bradley was pushed out from behind the boulder with a metal pole. He hugged Darrah and immediately apologized for something, explaining only that she had been gone so long the memory of her had escaped his mind.
"Christa..." Christa looked up eagerly. "We're very sorry, but your loved one couldn't make it here in time. Osten will be filling in for him." Christa's heart stopped and she nearly passed out before Jeffy added: "Nah, just kiddin', here's Pete." Pete ran out and embraced Christa, slipping something into her back pocket.
"Jon...here's your buddy, Dan." Dan, if that was his real name, pranced out, waving his hands like a maniac. Jon flashed him eight fingers and exclaimed, "Can you say, final seven?" They embraced, and then Jon stepped back and gazed into his friend's eyes.
"Dude, how's Grandma?"
Dan blinked stupidly.
What's that again, Dan? They rejected my audition video for Tough Enough? Again? *sob*
"Dude...how's Grandma?" Jon said again, through clenched teeth. Understanding flooded back into Dan's face. He turned somber.
"She died, dude."
There was a beat of silence, and then Jon looked to the heavens and screamed "GRANNNNDMAAAA!!!" The music score swelled into an orchestral rendition of "Exodus" as the camera slowly panned up and away from Jon, who fell to his knees and broke down into sobs.
Order was restored a few minutes later, as the Survivors sat on the bench consoling Jon, whose black eyes churned out black tears, and the loved ones took their places on the planks.
"Sorry to hear about your grandma, Jonny," Probst deadpanned. "Now. Here's how it's gonna work. You will compete as a tribe against your loved ones. If they win, they will vote two loved ones into the game." Everyone looked around, shocked. "Nah, just kiddin'," Probst continued, grinning.
The challenge began. Probst asked the first question: "What is your Survivor's nickname?" Everyone answered correctly, except William, who wrote "Woman," and Bradley, who wrote "Kat" when the correct answer was apparently "Nubnut," which is no doubt some form of varmint. The questions continued on this level but it didn't matter, as sympath the castaways pushed each other's loved ones off the plank until just Dan remained. Jeff explained that the losing players would have to spend the night marooned on Isla De Muerta and receive the pirate's curse, while Dan and Jon would get Balboa camp all to themselves.
Mark Burnett sat at the desk in his office, looking suspiciously at Jeff Probst.
"That's what the kid said," Probst replied.
Burnett scowled and thought for a moment. "Whose loved one was this again?"
"Something's going on here, dammit, and I'm going to find out what it is. Sooner or later I'm going to get that Jon Dalton punk right where I want him."
"He's quite popular with the Survivors," Jeff added. " Leaders, followers, eye candy, token black guys, dweebos, wasteoids...they all adore him. They think he's a righteous dude."
"Get me Mr. Dalton's daytime number," Burnett ordered. Suddenly the phone rang. Probst picked it up.
"Mark Burnett's office," he said cheerfully, then turned and handed the phone to the producer. "Well whaddya know, it's Mr. Dalton!" Burnett took the phone. Probst added: "Do you still want his daytime number?"
"Mark Burnett here."
The voice on the phone sounded gruff and hoarse. "Mr. Burnett? Ahem. This is George Dalton. We've had a bit of bad luck today, as you may have heard."
"Yeah, we heard, yeah, and we're all choked up," Burnett said confidently. "Boy...what a blow."
"...Yeah," continued the voice. "So, um, we've got a lot of family business to tie up, so, um, if you wouldn't mind letting Jon win, we'd, um, really appreciate it."
"Sure," Burnett began. "If you'd just produce a corpse, we can dig up the million."
Probst looked shocked. Burnett covered the mouthpiece and whispered, "It's all right, Jeff, it's Greg Buis. Little twerp, thinks he can fool me and get one of his fellow instigators to win. Probably on his Nature Phone right now. I'll set up a trap."
Mr. Dalton cleared his throat. "Um, I'm sorry, Mr. Burnett, did you say you wanted to see a body?"
"That's right, company policy. I wanna see this dead grandmother firsthand."
The other phone rang. Probst picked it up, and his face turned ghostly white. Burnett was still chastising the first caller.
"If you have a problem with that, you can just come over and kiss my bony old butt." Probst was waving frantically at him.
"Pucker up, buttercup." Burnett cupped the mouthpiece again and hissed, "What?"
Probst handed him the other phone.
"Greg Buis is on line two!"
Needless to say, the grandmother scheme was a ruse, concocted by Jonny Fairplay and his buddy to gain a sympathy card as the endgame approached. "I will do anything and everything to win this game," Jon rationalized, musing that eternal damnation was quite worth three more days on the island. "My grandma's sitting at home right now, watching Jerry Springer."
This sounded interesting to me: if this Jerry Springer fellow was so engaging that an old lady would rather watch him than her own grandson, it was good enough for me, and I flipped channels. I spent ten or fifteen minutes surfing the dial, and though I found a very exciting Knicks game, and a Presidential press conference (that's odd, Dubya and Jon have the same eyes), I found no trace of Springer, but by the time I returned to Survivor it was time for the immunity challenge.
The immunity challenge was Scrabble. Players had to form new words from SURVIVOR PEARL ISLANDS. If they spelled a word wrong they were out. Christa was the first to finish, and Probst inspected her words. SANDRA, IS, and A were acceptable, but TRAITOR was not, and Christa was gone. Tee finished next, and most of her words were good, until Jeff circled one and said, "No plurals." Tee took a seat but started grumbling; she didn't see why the word PLURALS wasn't acceptable. Jon followed Tee, entering words like DAN, AND, I, RULE, U, ALL, but misspelling LIE. Then Burton finished, and after inspecting his list, Jeffy declared Burton the winner. Burton took the sword, the music started, and everyone started walking back to camp in slow motion.
Okay, I've got "EAT" "ASS" "LOSER." I sure hope Probst reads this out loud.
Then Probst glanced again at Burton's board. Burton had the following words: WHAT, DOYOU, GET, IF, YOU, MULTIPLY, SIX, BY, NINE. He had spelled one word wrong. "Aw, crap," Jeff muttered, and the horrific memories of bungling dozens of episodes of Rock n' Roll Jeopardy came flooding into his mind. He called the Survivors back and made them start over, this time using "OUTWIT OUTPLAY OUTLAST" as a letter base. The second time around, it was Darrah who pulled off an improbable immunity win. Little did the others know that all this time, as she spent day after day curled up in the shelter with no hint of movement, she was staring at the logo on her buff and silently thinking of words she could make from the show's motto. And now she could do it for three more days.
Back at camp, the round-robin Wheel O' Scheming had landed on Sandra this week. Sandra hated Jon, even though her fights with him lacked the heartfelt authenticity of a pro-wrestling "feud," even though she knocked Rupert out of the challenge and then denied him a tie, even though she was willing to let her supposed alliance partner take the blame for losing the fish, even though her confessionals contained nary a trace of animosity toward Fairplay at all. Oh yes, she hated Jon, and to prove it she was going to set up Tijuana to think Burton was next to go.
When the players entered Tribal Council they were all pretending to target Burton, as though a Pagonging really needed a disguise. Ryno entered, followed by Rupert, who looked exactly the same as he did when he was voted out, though he had switched his Grateful Dead tie-dye with his Dave Matthews tie-dye. Sandra brought up the fish incident, if for no other reason than to be mercilessly cruel. Jon pulled his grandma card, if for no other reason than to be mercilessly tacky. Tijuana answered an unusually large number of questions, if for no other reason than the fact she had about five minutes left on the show.
Tijuana was voted out.
Well, she might not have been. I heard it from Jon.