Quick Note: I had a chance to sit down with all twenty of the “Blood vs. Water” competitors before the game began. I’ll be posting exclusive interviews with each pairing in the days leading up to the September 18th season premiere. Be sure to follow me on Twitter (@gordonholmes) for those interviews, behind-the-scenes exclusives, and more…
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There was no time for gloating after my Redemption Island triumph as I was immediately tossed into a van and carted off to the traditional Dream Team vs. Press Members immunity challenge run.
Note: The Dream Team is a group of production assistants who test out all of the challenges. Basically it’s the best summer job you can ever have.
However, because of the large amount of press at this season’s junket, we weren’t able to do a straight-up press vs. Dream Team challenge. So, we ended up with two Dream Teamers on our side and two Dream Teamers on the opposing side.
The challenge shakes out like this; one unfortunate tribe member will cram his or herself into a tiny barrel that wreaks of glue. Then, three of his or her tribemates, who are attached at the waist, will roll the barrel up and into a special barrel-shaped cradle. The barrel dweller will then hop out, climb onto the barrel, and untie a bag of balls.
From there, Mr. or Mrs. Unlucky will hop back into their barrel. The rollers will back the barrel out of the cradle, proceed to the next stand and continue the ball-retrieving process. There are four cradles in all and they are arranged in a zig-zag pattern along the course. Needless to say, this could cause some barrel-related collisions.
Once all four bags have been retrieved, the barrel will be rolled into a final cradle and the inhabitant will burst forth to present the rest of the tribe with his or her bounty. The four remaining players will then roll the balls up a skee-ball-esque structure. The first tribe to land six balls in place wins immunity and the adoration of everyone in attendance.
When given the choice of Dream Team members, I was quick to choose my nemesis from the Redemption Island challenge, Andrew. I knew he had the goods. Our second pick was much more strategic as we went with Dexter, the smallest Dream Teamer available (some might even call him barrel-sized).
The rest of my team was made up of “Survivor” Hall of Fame executive committee voters Dalton Ross, Dru Moorhouse, Shawna Malcom, Mara Reinstein and “Survivor” Hall of Fame Inductee Parvati Shallow. “Team Survivor Hall of Fame” might not have been the most clever name, but that’s what we went with anyways.
We did some quick strategizing and decided that a trio of myself, Dalton, and Parvati handling the barrel pushing was the best way to go. I think our logic was that because Dalton and I are similar heights and Parvati is slightly shorter, that somehow our reach would match the contour of the barrel. Meh…it sounds kind of ridiculous now, but it made sense at the time.
Anywho, we took our positions and Jeff Probst asked, “Survivors, ready?” Then, without even waiting for our answer, he said, “Go!”
Dexter hopped into the barrel and we were off. When we hit the first cradle, we had some trouble going straight up the ramp, so Dalton and I just lifted it up and plopped it into place. Illegal? Maybe. But, nobody said we couldn’t.
Dexter popped out of the barrel and quickly went to work. We steadied him on the barrel while he attacked the knots and retrieved our first bag.
Quick Aside: Dexter is a champ. It was a billion degrees out there and that barrel stunk.
We were able to complete the rest of the course ahead of our opponents utilizing a mixture of Dexter’s agility and the quasi-legal lift-and-drop method.
For the skee-ball portion, it basically came down to figuring out who our ball-rolling talent was and sticking with them. (This wasn’t a tough call as one of our skee-ball tossers…who shall remain nameless…missed the ramp entirely.)
The other tribe was game and even managed to take the lead at one point, but our ball rollers were able to come back and win it. Team “Survivor” Hall of Fame had lived up to their name.
And having completed two challenges in the scorching sun in less than two hours, I finally had time for the gloating I’d missed out on earlier. But, I went for a nap instead.
Any Questions? Drop me a line on Twitter: @gordonholmes
Don’t miss the special 90-minute premiere of “Survivor: Blood vs. Water” on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 8 p.m. ET.