Karyn L. Barr
May 28, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Reality shows hardly bite for contestants these days. Consider ”Survivor”’s regular influx of creature comforts, from Herbal Essences shampoo to those oh-so-handy tools from the Home Depot. So on May 17, when PBS debuted ”Colonial House,” a new series that challenges 26 modern-day ”colonists” to make like John Smith and build a successful 17th-century community on the coast of Maine, we had to ask the producers if any un-1628 goods made the trip back in time.

SAY CHEESE After one week of scraping their teeth with era-appropriate licorice sticks, the cast begged, via semiprivate ”diary cams,” for one modern luxury: toothbrushes. In lieu of paying exorbitant dental bills for era-appropriate rotting teeth, producers gave in.

GETTING AXED When Giacomo Voorhees, 11, put a hatchet through his hand, an on-set EMT whisked him away to a local ER for treatment.

TMI DEPT. Chowing regularly on whole oats and peas made the colonists’ digestive systems a bit, shall we say, troubled. So to cut the fiber diet, doctors supplied the cast with rice — a commodity unavailable in 1628 Maine.

TAKE THAT, ‘SURVIVOR’! To decrease the risk of West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses, the settlers received an endless supply of bug spray.

FOR EMERGENCY USE ONLY! RIIIGHT…In addition to a radio, every colonial house was given a flashlight, to be used only in times of desperate need — which apparently included midnight bathroom breaks.

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