Survivor Vanuatu: Monty Brinton
Dalton Ross
October 07, 2004 AT 04:00 AM EDT

”Survivor”: The women win Da best reward yet

I know what you’re thinking. And I’m thinking the exact same thing: How do I score a 24-hour visit from Da? How sweet would that be? Next time I need someone to unclog the gutters — no problem! Send Da up! Next time I’m having trouble cracking open a walnut — no sweat! Here comes Da with the machete! Next time I’m struggling to come up with some Hit List items for work — easy! Da lives for writing about Britney Spears and Martha Stewart! Is there anything Da can’t do . . . I mean, besides speak English?

I don’t know why I took such joy in the Vanuatu native’s visit to the Yasur tribe. Maybe it’s because he didn’t even stop to say hello to the ladies when he first arrived, opting instead to walk up a coconut tree. Maybe it’s because he came up with more food in nine seconds than the women had found in nine days. Or maybe it’s just because he was able to somehow keep cool even though he was surrounded by a bunch of idiotic honkies. Whatever the reason, I’m down with Da.

Apparently, so was Jeff Probst, who I caught not only referring to Da as ”a rock star” but also fondling him on a few occasions. Okay, not blatant fondling, but there were a few love taps going on there.

Speaking of Probst is something we do a lot of here. Sure we have fun dissecting his wardrobe choices and assortment of go-to phrases (”Wanna know what you’re playing for?”), but we mainly do it for two reasons: (1) We know he can take it. Probst is one of the best sports around, and doesn’t even come close to taking himself too seriously. (Don’t believe me? Just check him out posing in his Tasmanian Devil underwear in last summer’s Must List issue.) And (2) he is the best reality host on the planet.

He proved it again at Tribal Council with his brutal — and well-deserved — bashing of the Lopevi tribe. ”Rory, you got zero respect today,” he blurted out. Can you imagine freakin’ Chris Harrison saying that to one of the bimbos on The Bachelor? He then continued to blast Rory and company: ”You’re leading the tribe, which is odd to me. And then, even weirder, nobody listens.” This is the type of observation you never would have caught him making in the first few seasons of the show, but ever since Thailand, he’s been mixing in a little tough love, and I, for one, love it. Especially after Travis . . . or Bubba . . . or whatever the hell his name is started talking about how the men were gonna pull together, and Probst shot back, ”Based on what I’m looking at, I don’t buy it at all.” This wasn’t mean. It wasn’t calculated scorn à la Simon Cowell to gain ratings. It was just calling it like you see it. And we all saw it, too.

So, anyway, there you go, Jeff. Now I can go back to making fun of you for the next two months. Sorry, dude, it’s my job.

While most of the hour was The Jeff & Da Show (I smell spin-off!), there was some typical contestant hilarity to contend with as well. First off we had John K. wondering out loud, ”Why are we letting fat dudes run the show?” which immediately became worthy of entering my book of all-time favorite Survivor quotes . . . if I even had such a book. I hate books. They get in the way of me watching crappy reality TV shows. (Again, my job!) Then we had Ami commenting on Eliza’s ”nice grapefruits” at the reward challenge.

Said reward challenge won the women Da for 24 hours, after which they drove him away with their awful singing. Apparently, all their new food sources gave them the strength to whup the fellas in the immunity challenge. Either that or the guys were just stupid as hell to choose Rory as their leader. (Probably a little from column A and a little from column B.) This also, it should be noted, was chosen as the Pontiac Game Changing Moment, as we learned in an ad break a few minutes later. Do we really need freakin’ Pontiac to inform us that immunity challenges are game-changing moments? Wow, I never thought I would long for the glory days of the Tylenol Push Through the Pain Award.

Mark Burnett didn’t even try to fake us out too much with the ”Rory might go” angle. We all knew it was Brady’s turn. ”How much did that suck?” he said upon being voted out, and scores of women and gay men immediately agreed. Not me. The Sarge vs. Rory tension is the best thing going on at that tribe in terms of drama. At least until Jeff Probst shows up again to whup some ass!

What did you think? Are the guys pursuing a losing strategy? Is Jeff being too hard on them? Did Da steal the show?

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