The season premiere of Expedition Impossible airs tonight on CTV and ABC and it has been described as everything from Survivor‘s successor to the second-coming of Pirate Master to a 3-person Amazing Race.
After previewing the premiere episode, the main question for the series is whether or not it will be able to find its own Voice (and no, that was an unintended reference to CTV’s other hit series).
Hosted by zoologist and former host of Animal Planet’s Into The Pride and World’s Deadliest Towns, Dave Salmoni leads Expedition Impossible which features 13 teams of 3 racing across ‘vast deserts, over snow capped mountains and through raging rivers’ as the press release indicates. Each team is given its own moniker.
There are the:
The Country Boys
The Fab 3
The Football Players
The teams are told that there are 10 stages (you can easily deduce that it will be a three team finale) and that each stage has a series of checkpoints. The last team to check in at the end of each stage is eliminated. First place wins $150,000 and 3 brand new Ford Explorers.
In tonight’s premiere, you get a real sense of what the show is about. It isn’t so much the interaction between the teams, as much as it is about the interaction within the team. If any team member quits, the entire team is sent packing.
Executive producer and reality legend Mark Burnett is the brains behind the show and his signature is all over the first episode. There is a particularly delicious moment of editing in the beginning where a team is heavily underestimated by another only to be seen passing the ones that underestimated them. Classic Burnett.
There is also an immediate person to root for which Burnett loves to instill in all of his programs. Erik Weihenmayer is competing on the show even though he is blind but unbelievably has already climbed Mount Everest making him more of a threat than an underdog (although it doesn’t appear that way at initial glance. It is actually in this regard that I liked the premiere as much as I did, because it becomes very obvious with a couple of the challenges that things were not watered down for Weihenmayer because of any perceived disadvantage which will make his story arc even more compelling. Classic Burnett.
When people ask why they will never do a cold weather version of Survivor, the answer is actually very simple. They can’t have girls in bikinis in the Arctic. It’s a staple of reality television and one that is omnipresent here. There are lots of hot girls. Kari Gibson on Fab 3 comes immediately to mind. There are the California Girls including Christina Chin, Brittany Smith and Natalie Smith. The sisters from Kansas… Classic Burnett.
Ultimately, the show will live and die by the heroes and villains on the series. And that is actually what I was looking out for the most in the series. While host Dave Salmoni talked about rooting for everyone (like every host should in my interview with him), reality television is reality television because viewers like to root for and against people. It is in this regard that I thought the premiere did a good job. It established this as best as it could on a network competition show that has more contestants than anything I have seen before (13 teams of 3 = 39 names for Dave to remember). As teams start to get eliminated, I think it will naturally become easier to separate the good guys from the bad. What I think I will find the most compelling personally is to see if one team has somebody that I like, somebody that I can’t stand and a mediator. Having three-person teams opens up a new dynamic. While the Amazing Race did attempt a family edition (which tanked) and there was that shortly lived There Goes The Neighborhood show, I think both of these examples had too many people. Three can definitely work if used correctly.
At the end of the day, I think this show will do what it is supposed to and give people something to get into for the summer. And honestly? Even if you are of the opinion that it is just The Amazing Race for 3, what’s so bad about that? It’s a good show.
Check out my exclusive interview with Dave Salmoni below if you missed it.
Expedition Impossible premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on CTV & ABC
Murtz Jaffer is the world’s foremost reality television expert and was the host of Reality Obsessed which aired on the TVTropolis and Global Reality Channels in Canada. He has professional writing experience at the Toronto Sun, National Post, TV Guide Canada, TOROMagazine.com and was a former producer at Entertainment Tonight Canada. He was also the editor at Weekendtrips.com.