Well, Survivor: Nicaragua certainly has its work cut out for itself, following arguably the greatest season in the series’ illustrious history. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, AKA Buried Knives and Burnt Hats: Boston Rob vs. Russell, brought us back from several seasons of indifference. Really, our interest in the show had waned years ago, and we really only returned to see Tom Westman defend his title. But we found ourselves sucked back in, charmed by Russell, strangely tolerant of Boston Rob, amused by Coach, infuriated by Sandra, disappointed by Colby, baffled by JT, and it ended up being one of the strongest, and probably most enjoyable, season in memory. But how will Survivor: Nicaragua stack up? Without the familiarity of the castaways, the pang of nostalgia and the promise of alpha male vs. alpha male vs. alpha male vs. alpha male fireworks, will this new season hold our attention?
Well, the show is not All-Stars, but it does have one star, that being perpetually erect Super Bowl Champion coach Jimmy Johnson (not to be confused with his former boss, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, or 90s talk show host Jenny Jones, or top race car driver Jimmie Johnson or former wrestler and member of the Fabulous Freebirds Jimmy Garvin). Turns out that Jimmy Johnson (or “Jimmy J”) is kind of a bizarro Tom Westman. They’re both silver-topped elder statesman, but where Westman excelled in physical prowess and strong morals, Johnson oozes charm and good ol’ boy wit, matching his elite leadership skills with just enough self-deprecation and humor (although, no indication yet of how Johnson’s beard is going to fill in). Turns out that this season might be worth watching just for Jimmy Johnson alone.
Which is why it was good that the Espada Tribe, comprised of competitors 40 and over, chose to abandon skirt and cowgirl jacket-wearing, latent chatterbox Wendy instead of Coach Johnson. We were sorry to see Wendy go, especially after her impassioned speech at Tribal Council, and regrettably now we’ll probably never learn how a cattle rancher from Montana acquired a New Jersey/Minnesota/cartoon character accent (or whatever that is), but we weren’t going to lose Jimmy in favor of her, especially after this speech.Vodpod videos no longer available.
Jimmy might be weak, and Wendy might not have any blisters on her feet, but she doesn’t have the charisma, the championship pedigree, and most of the all, she doesn’t have the fantastic array of faces and hairstyles (who knew that Jimmy Johnson’s hair even moved?!). With his facial contortions it appears that Johnson has, what we’ve lovingly coined, “Jimmy Johnson Palsy.” Inspired by The Faces of Oprah, we proudly present, what we hope to be a weekly feature, The Faces of Jimmy Johnson:
We’re going to continue with the episode-summarizing A-B-C phrase that we instituted for Heroes vs. Villains. And for the first episode we’re going to reuse a line from last season, but only because it’s so fitting. Thus, the premiere phrase for the premiere episode of Survivor: Nicaragua is:
Always Be Coach Jimmy Johnson
Because a) don’t every change, Coach Jimmy J, you’re a delight, and b) other castaways, please don’t vote him off. As Jeff Probst so eloquently argues in his blog, don’t get rid of Johnson because he’s a great leader and you’re afraid of him, let him lead you! And then you can cut his throat down the line. There will be plenty of time for that, but for now exploit his expertise, don’t resent it (one note: as much as we’ve enjoyed Coach Johnson so far, we really do hope he’s there to win, and not just present for the adventure as he tells his tribemates. I don’t love the idea of Johnson using the “I’m not here to win, there’s no way the Jury will give me the million, so let me help you win” ploy to win the million, but I prefer that to the idea of him taking the spot of an able-bodied survivor who would be there to win first and foremost).
I wanted provide brief thoughts on each castaway, but with the second episode just hours away we’ll save that for the next recap. And, that’s probably for the best, because maybe by then I’ll know everyone’s name and they’ve had a chance to get some all important facetime.
Until then, what’s up with this? Werewolf Bar Mitzvah, spooky scary!
Good luck, Wendy! If any ghosts attack you just talk them to death! Toot your horn!