“Don’t trust anyone over 30,” the Chinese proverb goes, and thanks to the wizards at WCFM’s hit show “Take Our Word For It Survivor: Ben’s House,” we may finally have some proof.
Brooks “Bobby Clarke” Foehl ’88, College employee and alleged hockey player, was caught in an untruth on this week’s episode of “TOWFI Survivor,” the first installment of the show featuring a unified, eight-person tribe. With the snow coming down in Adams, Mass. – the taping site of this season’s radio reality game show – the group was certainly kept busy, picking a new name, playing a new game and sorting out odds and ends from the merger of what remained of the Arla and Pencer tribes.
The result, unfortunately, was an episode that was far less than the sum of its parts, offering a few memorable moments cloaked in swaths of unremarkable broadcasting. Bogged down by an Immunity Challenge of questionable format and value, it was that rare thing – a “Survivor” episode that missed the mark completely, squandering charismatic moments from James “Beethoven” Kingsley ’02 and Terri “Raccoon Magnet” O’Brien ’02 in a disappointing showing.
The episode opened with scenes of both tribes preparing for the merger, offering a fleeting, final glance at separate tribal lives. The soon-to-be-former Pencer Tribe seemed to have retained its semi-shocked state following the Tribal Council of the previous week, the first incurred by the heretofore-unchallenged group. The ex-Arla Tribe members, on the other hand, were in a bit more of an irate mood, bashing cheerleaders and taunting Pencers with abandon.
It was good humor from Kingsley and O’Brien, who displayed a nice chemistry in letting loose with a little underdog vitriol. “We’re screwed,” said the tough-talking O’Brien. “They won’t even read a clue without being together. It’s really cute and everything.”
“They’re just a happy family,” chimed in Kingsley, who had previously nearly blown out the speakers with a booming identification of his purchaser – a co-ed by the name of Ashley Carter ’04 – from last year’s infamous Cheerleader Auction. “She’s a good girl,” said Kingsley – just apparently a bit deaf.
Included within these segments was the interview with the talented Mr. Foehl, the older gentleman on “TOWFI Survivor” who increasingly seems to be less Tommy Salo and more Tom Ripley. This particular lie involved Brooks denying the responsibility for targeting Rachael Seltman ’05 in last week’s Tribal Council – a denial rendered somewhat ludicrous by Topher Goggin ’02, who seemed to take particular delight in presenting the damning evidence: an audio clip with the incriminating utterance “Let’s go, freshman” from Foehl. The frosh is gone, Brooks, but so is your credibility.
As for Goggin, it might have behooved the campus icon to spend less time digging up dirt on the old guy and more planning the episode’s Immunity Challenge. It was a protracted, pointless affair, a verbal auction in which the eight contestants bid portions of the yet-to-be-awarded $500 cash prize in order to stay alive. The lowest bidder in each round would be knocked out of the game, while he or she with the biggest bank when only two bidders remained would claim the Immunity Idol.
In addition, the stash a contestant had left when eliminated could be used to buy candy in a short-stocked “TOWFI Survivor” store, a concept presented often in the CBS version of the show. The intent of the producers, then, was clear – to balance the players’ desire for a candy treat against the need for Immunity, to see who would risk exposure for a snack.
Failing to conduct the auction in secret ballot fashion, however, was a massive mistake, rendering the game devoid of any suspense or drama. It would have made far more sense for all contestants to submit their offer without knowing what anyone else was bidding, a scenario that forces strategy to become heavily involved. What the producers needed was a battle of nerves, a test of wills – seeing who would be ballsy enough to bid low early but tough enough to survive with the most cash at the end.
What they got was a series of exchanges with essentially no meaning, as the rules of the game were clearly not explained enough to the contestants. It was positively criminal of Goggin not to point out to the former Arla Tribe their pressing need for immunity. Convincing Kingsley and O’Brien to try and screw each other over is the mandate of a Survivor host, and it would have made for radio far more compelling than anything else. As it was, Drew “Forbes” Newman ’04 cruised to victory by bidding low, which was made overly simple by the nature of the game.
It was a shame because there were several other fun things contained within the episode that were buried by the ineptitude of the challenge. Karla Chaffee, the sister of “TOWFI” magnate Ben Chaffee ’02, made her first appearance on-air and became an object of desire for Newman. Listeners were also treated to the naming of the new, unified tribe, in a comically droll affair in which Julia “Totally Krossed Out” Karoly ’03 designated the fledgling group “The Ribe Tribe.” You know, like “Tribe,” but without the “T” on the front.
“Ribal” Council labeled O’Brien as the target of the ex-Pencer voting contingent, and with all six against her, she never stood a chance. She and Kingsley dutifully placed their votes for the scheming Foehl, but it wasn’t enough on this day, as Terri became the seventh Arla eliminated, leaving the Big Dog as the sole survivor of his tribe.
Next week: will Kingsley pull a Daniel Day-Lewis, and successfully defend the honor of his people, or will the rest of the Ribe Tribe expunge the sole dissenter from within their ranks? Will the episode live up to its billing as “The Most Shocking Survivor Ever?” Tune in this Thursday at 9 p.m. to find out, only on WCFM 91.9.