As they say, these things come in thirties, and yesterday Ernest Borgnine joined the ranks of the many actors, celebrities and famous figures to leave us this year, passing away at ninety-five less than a week after Nora Ephron and less than two weeks after Andy Griffith. Borgnine was one of those life-time, living legend actors, sort of a male Betty White, a performer whose career spanned more decades than most marriages, a half-century of a work on his resume. By the time we knew who he was, or at least knew his name, he was already into the golden age of his career, a silver-headed silver back. And we came know him best – for better or worse – as Manny the doorman onNBC’s The Single Guy. Certainly, this is not the crowning achievement of his career, that would be his Oscar for 1955’s Marty, and the NBC sitcom is more of a footnote on his illustrious filmography, but it is the role with which we most associate him. We didn’t choose to be twelve-years-old when The Single Guy came on the air, it choose us. And how were we not supposed to watch the show between Friends and Seinfeld? But that’s where The Single Guy was, 8:30pm on Thursday nights, the cushiest spot for any fledgling sitcom in all of television, and there on that show was an adorable, bushy-haired old man. And that’s how we remember Ernest Borgnine.
In lieu of any choice excerpts from The Single Guy (if such a thing exists), here’s Borgnine talking about that show and its rapid demise. His quiet bemusement over the show’s sudden cancellation and the questionable machinations of showbiz indicates that Borgnine the person was not so unlike the Borgnine characters: upbeat, gentle, and genuine.
We did it guys! We made it to the end of another season of Survivor. And we’ll tell you what, despite what the general consensus seems to be, we found this to be a thoroughly entertaining season. Filled with a disconcerting number of weak, unlikable players, yes. Lacking a truly great storyline, showdown or blindside, perhaps. Nearly ruined with the loss of Jimmy Johnson, you bet. A total failure in attempting to change the game with the Medallion of Power, for sure. An all-time great Sole Survivor, not likely. But coming on the heels of All-Stars, we feared the worst. And, thanks in part to one of the more gratifying wins in recent memory (it certainly helps make up for giving the million to Sandra), Survivor: Nicaragua restored our faith in the franchise, proving it could still entertain and astonish, even without Russell Hantz, Tom Westman, or water-based challenges.
But before we get to the finale, we need to first revisit the trend that has dominated the most recent episodes.
We think Marty may need to brush up on his English Lit. When the ousted Survivor competitor arrived at Ponderosa, the lodging for jury members, he catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror for the first time in weeks and compares his visage to that of “Robinson Caruso.” Although, that might have been a better career choice for David than Jade.
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We’re surprised that Marty didn’t describe to his time in Espada camp as reminiscent of Swiss Family Holly Robinson Peete.
Boy, it’s really getting rough out there in Nicaragua, ain’t it? Gone are the halcyon days of last week when everyone basically agreed to vote out Alina. No, there are fractures in this group, and as Jeff astutely notes after Tribal Council, they are clearly a “Libertad” divided.
After Marty called out Jane at Tribal Council last week (well, not so much called her out as pointed out how much of a threat she is), it was clear that the battle lines were drawn, with Jane now obsessed with not just beating Marty, but humiliating him (for example, she calls him “Farty” now. GOTCHA, MARTY!). Jane, relax.
Maybe we were spoiled by the last season of All-Stars. Not just that it offered unmatched drama, familiar characters, surprise twists, but also that those guys knew how to play the game. Granted, that’s a benefit of playing the game for the second, and in some cases, third time, and there were still plenty of dummies out there (Tyson and JT committing two of the all-time unforgivable blunders in Survivor history), but the people running the game, at the top of the food chain – Russell, Parvati, Boston Rob, even Rupert – did so with intelligence and cunning. It truly was a game managed by all-stars. Heck, even Sandra knew how to play game. And she also knew to save the vindictive vandalism for the last day, and when Russell steals other player’s shoes he doesn’t tearfully confess an hour later (lessons to be learned, NaOnka, Holly). But over here on Nicaragua, even though there are clearly leaders on each tribe, they’re not nearly as crafty and clever as they think they are. And, now, you can’t even blame it on youth, because Marty, self-proclaimed master of the game, is racking up the mistakes along with the kids. Who among the tribes is truly grasping this game, making smart, logical moves, not just tricky, creative ones? Right now, it’s hard to say.
For a while there it looked as if, for the fourth week straight, we’d lose one of the older males from Survivor: Nicaragua. All signs pointed to Marty joining the parade out into the graveyard, following in succession former Espada tribemates Jimmy Johnson, Jimmy T and Tyrone. Traded two episodes ago to the La Flor tribe, Marty had only his Immunity Idol (and Fabio, for some reason) to protect him. And when, at Tribal Council, he elected not to use it, he had nothing to left. He was a goner.
Marty started off last week’s episode of Survivor: Nicaragua telling us how he’s got it all figured out. The game is going exactly as he planned it, he’s completely masterminding the Espada tribe, and he can see two or three tribal councils ahead, so they might as well just give him the million dollars now.
Unfortunately, Marty failed to realize that this strategy doesn’t work when you systematically vote off the alpha males in your tribe, leaving your team of geezers severely weakened to the point that the producers have two choices a) take the Espada tribe behind the barn and put them out of their misery or b) mix up the tribes. Not surprisingly, they chose option B. Should have seen that one coming Marty. We take back the million dollars.
So with Marty shifting over to La Flor, along with Jill and Jane (whose unabashed glee at the swap was the first annoying thing she’s done all season), Tyrone took up the mantle of chief of Espada, giving the new arrivals the lowdown on camp protocol. While Tyrone was clearly the premier physical player for Espada, Marty was the bigger vocal presence, so it was interesting to see Tyrone step into the breach, especially after he seemed content to let Jimmy J, Jimmy T and Marty fight amongst themselves. But Tyrone, perhaps feeling a bit paternal, decided to be the silverback, and tell the new guys how things are done. Honestly, the rules and regulations for Espada camp didn’t sound all that outrageous, pretty practical really, and Tyrone didn’t deliver the orientation with a condescending or hostile tone. But the younglings, led by Benry and Chase, were going to take any excuse to vote off their biggest male competitor, and when Tyrone appeared to overindulge on the chicken he initially protested killing and cooking, he put the final nail in his own coffin. Always remember, Tyrone: LOOSE TYRONES SINK SHIPS.
Well, Jimmy T, you got what you wanted last week, ousting TWO TIME SUPER BOWL WINNING NFL COACH Jimmy Johnson, because he was, in your own words “not a Jimmy T fan.” Well, be careful what you wish for Jimmy T, because with Jimmy Johnson out of the picture you sealed your own fate by NOT shutting up about how all you wanted was “one shot” and you just wanted “to be put in there” and see “some game time” and other things you say when you’re 6 years-old and terrible and your t-ball coach rightfully puts you in the outfield. The sports analogies sort of made sense when Jimmy Johnson was still around, but now that he’s gone they’re just plain grating, and pretty much illogical. As was Jimmy T as a whole in this episode, as he failed to grasp that he was digging his own grave, and followed Jimmy J right into the, well, graveyard.
So, Jimmy T, we hardly knew ye. Let’s look back at some of your finer moments:
Well, Survivor: Nicaragua just became a little tougher to watch every week. While we were initially skeptical of the inclusion of former NFL head coach Jimmy Johnson’s in the cast, we were quickly won over by his charm and gung-ho attitude. We still think it was a questionable decision by the producers, big picture-wise, but it enabled us to enjoy his positivity, humor and variety of faces every week. That is, until the Espada tribe made the curious (aka egregious, outrageous) decision to cut Coach Johnson, engineered by Jimmy T and Marty’s testosterone-driven need to prove that they can be a better leader (than a Super Bowl winning NFL head coach). Why Jimmy T felt threatened by Jimmy Johnson, or why he desired to usurp the leadership role when it makes more sense to let Jimmy J maintain the mantle and thus the pressure, is beyond us. And why Marty feels compelled to “accelerate” the game is even more baffling. Now they’ve put themselves both in the cross-hairs, while they could have let the bullseye rest on Coach Johnson. It was way to early for a power grab, and completely unnecessary, and they’ll likely realize this sooner rather than later. At least vote out the dude who can’t even walk (Danny).