Tuesday, July 9, 2013

TV First Impressions: Siberia

I’ve been in a funk lately. Since I’m an introvert who lives in a fairly isolated area and I’m constantly analyzing for the sake of writing, entertainment media is pretty important to me. However, I’ve been having a hard time really getting excited about anything lately. I’ve done most all I can in Fire Emblem: Awakening. I’ve rewatched Season 4 of Arrested Development to catch what I missed the first time. I’m waiting on more dubbed episodes of One Piece and Fairy Tail (since I refuse to watch shonen anime subbed) and don’t have the money to continue in the manga. The Assassin’s Creed series has been more and more of a letdown with each installment, but I want to finish ACIII before I move on to other games. I was excited for Attack on Titan before it decided to hammer me over the head with the fact that the world sucks. the audiobooks I’ve been listening to are generic fantasy novels. The Slender Man Mythos has been oversaturated by Sturgeon’s Law. New seasons of the stuff I like is still a ways of. Everything I’ve been watching or reading or playing lately has just given me a “well, it’s okay, I guess” response, and rewatching things often just doesn’t have the same impact.

I was feeling apathetic and disappointed and all sorts of other negative feelings, lacking any sort of enthusiasm. I needed something worth fanboying over, I realized.

That’s why I’ve been so thrilled to find out about NBC’s new “reality game show” Siberia. It’s given me back a lot of what I’ve lost, and from what I can tell, almost nobody’s really even heard of it.

I got lucky. A friend told me to check it out after he decided to give it a try on Hulu. He said it was described as “a cross between Survivor and LOST,” and that’s pretty accurate, though I’d throw a little Blair Witch Project in there too. While I could act like the show is real (it isn’t) to give you some surprise when it isn’t, I think I’ll just be up front because pretending that it’s a wilderness survival reality TV show isn’t going to hook as many people, and the people it does hook won’t be the right crowd. So here: it’s fake. Scripted. The contestants are actors/actresses. But that doesn’t make it any less good.

Siberia is a “game show” where sixteen people are sent into the Siberian wilderness to survive for…I don’t remember how long. Whoever’s left at the end of the [time period] gets $500,000 to split amongst themselves. They have to be completely self-sufficient. The only way to leave the game is to cross a line and press a button to call the helicopter. Apart from that, there are no rules. From that point on, everything’s fun and games until a cameraman comes out of the woods bleeding from the head and the host shows up to tell them that there was an accident and one of the contestants has died. Around that point, it becomes clear that there’s some sort of conspiracy going on that the producers may or may not know about. There are hints that some contestants are more than they seem. Above all, one thing is clear: this is not an ordinary game show.

Siberia is still in the buildup phase and is not quite to that peak where the show could tip between greatness and crap. I think that it’s currently dropping just enough hints, and from what I can gather, it definitely knows where it’s going and can get there. This is a huge advantage. LOST may have known where it was going, but getting there was a different matter. Most of what we saw in the first season didn’t get payoff until the sixth, and those expecting everything to suddenly magically make sense were put off. It didn’t move fast enough. Siberia, on the other hand, is already starting to provide answers, or at least hints of answers, to those looking for them. What’s going on? We don’t know. But we have ideas, and these ideas make sense.

Basically, I think Siberia’s going to keep going strong and continue on to be great. I might be wrong, but my optimism isn’t unfounded at this point. I’m going ahead and recommending that everyone check it out. You can stream it free on NBC’s site, for now at least, and it’s definitely at least giving a chance. It does have its flaws (“No rules” pushes willing suspension of disbelief quite a bit, and the characters are fairly blatant archetypes), but they’re more than made up for by the premise and beginnings of a plot that the show’s setting up.

Watch it. Now. I need someone to talk about this with.

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