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What I Watched Last Night: Bungle In The Jungle

By Scott Buckner

At first, I thought NBC's I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here was going to be the same sort of VH-1 resurrection of D-list celebrities shoved into in the same confined space long enough to kill each other for our amusement. Sure, I started out watching Celebrity to see how quickly Patti Blagojevich would end up as roadkill. For the first week or so, the campground kept reminding me that this is how Jonestown must have had started out, and like most everyone else, I pegged Patti to become dead meat within a week. But she wasn't, so I kept watching.

I'm not entirely convinced she deserved the very special, five-minute (seemed way longer) retrospective of her time in the jungle after she got booted earlier this week, but I found myself surprised to discover that I really liked her. I'll leave the media vultures to debate whether she deserves whatever chamber of horrors the U.S. Attorney's Office might have in store for her and her husband, but I really liked her.

The other thing that occurred to me over the show's three-week run is that jungles and rainforests are horrible, sweaty, steamy, critter-infested places that tourists have no business being in. The World Wildlife Fund and Greenpeace can have the place and every creepy-crawly thing in it. Give me a beach where I can have a stiff drink, a good maduro cigar, and something that looks pretty good in a bikini.

Cash Combo
I actually liked Celebrity because someone found a way to combine the best elements of Survivor and The Surreal House. That is, until Wednesday night's lame and totally unnecessary hour-long retrospective of the 24 days leading up to the announcement of who was going to be crowned head honcho of the Costa Rican jungle, net their charity a whole boatload of cash, and get - at least if the media can be believed - $48,000 in their own pocket for their time, trouble, and misery.

I've been at the mercy of lawyers myself. That's why I know it would piss me off to no end if I was Patti Blagojevich and knew I just spent 23 of the most godforsaken days of my life half-starved on a diet of beans and rice and tarantulas just so I can hand 50 grand to a bunch of suits the second I stepped off the plane.

Meanwhile at home, some of us spent the past three weeks (more or less) being in the jungle too, so we didn't need a cast reunion and recap of the whole damn show. NBC could've spared everyone an hour of our lives we'll never get back Wednesday night by just taking an extra minute at the end of Tuesday night's show to tell everyone - count to five reeeeeaaaaalllllllyyyyyyy slooooooooowwwwww to build the stupid, dramatic tension - who . . . the . . . hell . . . won.

So who the hell won? Lou Diamond Phillips, who demonstrated that anyone can dispose of 30 pounds of lard and magically grow a six-pack by subsisting on beans and rice instead of going down to Walgreens and spending $40 a month on Metabocrack, that's who! My second favorite - ex-wrestler and most awesome tits-and-ass showcase Tori Wilson - was runner-up.

Other than that, neither of the Baldwin brothers (who I didn't think much of before the show, but I like now) hung around nearly long enough. And I saw enough of Janice Dickinson's modeling-agency show on cable to know from the beginning that she's the bitch-spawn of Satan who would've eaten monkey-boy Sanjaya if she got hungry enough. She kept referring to herself as a supermodel, so I was seriously disappointed that neither of the Baldwins took the snarkotunity to remark, "A supermodel? Here? Fuckin'-A! Let us know when she shows up!"

It wasn't just me. My 10-year-old son Ian reacted like he got smacked in the forehead with a bag of concrete the first time we tuned into Celebrity and laid eyes on Dickinson. To be fair, I afforded her every shred of respect that she otherwise threatens to beat out of everyone she encounters by informing Ian that she was once an awesome supermodel.

His reply was - I kid you not: "When? Eighty years ago?"

America's Talent
NBC's America's Got Talent has been on the air for three or four years without me even noticing. Back then, I had satellite TV, so it's not surprising I didn't notice. But now, I don't even have air conditioning, so I noticed the two-night premiere of Talent Tuesday and Wednesday.

If nothing else, the three-judge panel (including David Hasselhoff and Sharon Osborne) have an easier life than the American Idol judges because spending days on end watching a never-ending parade of horrendously untalented people setting themselves on fire is astronomically more amusing than having to listen to a never-ending parade of horrendously untalented karaoke singers. Plus, Talent host Nick Cannon is everything Ryan Seacrest isn't. Thank. Fucking. God.

My early predictions of talent to last into the final few rounds, at least: The dude with the flying Frisbee dog, the rock 'n' roll Barack Obama guy, the three kids who sang "God Bless America" (their version choked me up huge time, I'm not ashamed to say), the yodeling dominatrix, and the three fiddle-playing babes in white. Honorable mention to the guy who stuck a huge meat hook and a boat anchor through his nose and then power-drilled his nostril. If nothing else, I see a profitable future for him playing Las Vegas with The Amazing Johnathan.

Welcome to the land of opportunity, brother. Swim in it.

Conan's World
It's not a question of whether Conan O'Brien is a funnier Tonight Showhost than Jay Leno. It's a question of how many of us alive during the 1980s are sitting there every night having Conan make us wonder whatever happened to Max Headroom.

Cricket Chirps
The funniest commercial still floating around on TV: The Samsung Jack. So easy, even a zombie can do it.

On the other hand, the "Respect" commercials for Cricket that someone insists on airing every two seconds during the overnight hours on every UHF channel in this city have convinced me to spend $20 a month more than I apparently need to for cell phone service if it'll just make those commercials go away.

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Visit the What I Watched Last Night archives and see what else we've been watching. Submissions welcome.



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Posted on June 26, 2009


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Complicit With Segregation.
SPORTS - USA Gymnastics Bans Illinois Coach.

BOOKS - The Randomness Of Harvard Admissions.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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