Survivor
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Burton's Plan Is All Wet

Hillbilly music plays as we enter the next phase of the show, known as Jon Gets Drunk Off His Ass Before Tribal Council. Basically, Jon spends the next little while yelling, shouting, showing off, laughing like a hyena, swilling whiskey, and basically making a giant ass out of himself. In an interview in which he also appears to be boozed up, he talks about how stoked he is about going to tribal council, and how he thinks it's going to be "awesome." He goes on to brag about all his alliances with various people, blah dee blah, not realizing that making everyone hate him is not going to serve him well as the numbers dwindle. Ah, well. "I'm a freakin' puppetmaster," he brags. Mm-hmm. I think that last word needs less "uppetmaster" and more "unk." Oh, and we get to see Jon running around naked and frolicking with Burton. Yeah, I'm not even making that up.

Tribal council. Jeff solemnly watches the tribe enter. He has them each dip their torches in the flame and get fire. They all follow instructions -- for now -- and sit down. He talks to them about the fact that Drake is seeing its first tribal council. He levels his eyes at Jon. "Give me the state of affairs of this tribe." "Awesome, awesome, awesome, awesome. Happy tribe," says Jon, every bit the idiotic drunk. Jeff nods and glares at him. "That's it -- good tribe, couldn't be happier," Jon says, grinning like the pickled nitwit he is. Back to Jeff, still glaring. Without breaking his game face, Jeff looks straight at Jon without a trace of amusement and says, "Are you loaded?" It's really hard to explain how totally, preposterously awesome Probst was at this moment unless you saw it yourself -- he managed to pull off a flawless combination of disgust, fury, and...something else I can't quite put my finger on. ["Contempt?" -- Wing Chun] "Yeah," Jon says, grinning and then cackling like an ass. Michelle and Shawn grin, because drunken fools are really funny. Jon maintains that the occasion isn't happy, but that "you might as well make it as happy as possible."

I just loved that exchange so much that I want to wrap it up and tie it with a ribbon and mail it to myself on my birthday every year. I think it was because normally, they do a really good job on these shows of making you forget about the enormous amount of work it takes to put them together. They don't harp on how much work it is to stage tribal council or to put together the challenges, and it's not like the camera guys are the ones getting their pictures in People. But tribal council is one of the few predictable parts of the time you're on a show like this when you, as a contestant, actually have responsibilities. You need to show up and you need to be able to participate, partly because if you can't, you make the jobs of a whole lot of non-famous people a hell of a lot more difficult. These people are working; they don't need a drunk making their jobs harder, any more than anyone else does. Now, of course, the show has only itself to blame in many ways for allowing them booze and giving them booze when it suits production's whimsy on other occasions. But most people reach an age where they have some awareness that your big-time drinking has its time and its place, and people who lack that awareness get very tiresome, for reasons just like this: they're a lot of work to maintain, and they become the responsibility of everybody else there.

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Survivor

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