We don’t watch fly on the wall reality TV shows in Mudville. There is no place in our life for Big Brother, celebrity or otherwise and, to be frank, I couldn’t care less whether a bunch of so called celebrities can survive a few weeks in an over scrutinised, thoroughly monitored and completely safe jungle environment. As for the attractions of life in Essex or Chelsea – well have the same appeal to me as a trip to the dentist. So when I saw adverts for Channel 5s latest offering, I wasn’t unduly worried, paid no heed at all and got on with life in Mudville.
Then Mud saw the trailers and something unforeseen happened, something I wouldn’t have considered a possibility even for a nano second, a hitherto unheard of event …….. the ‘I don’t know why we pay for a TV license because it’s all rubbish‘ Mud, suddenly announced that he actually quite fancied the look of that program and we must remember to watch it!
Pardon? Run that by me again? You are actually planning on sullying our TV screen with a reality show!!! Okay, where is my husband and what have you done with him?
You have to understand that Mud doesn’t do TV and spends most of the year complaining about the ‘dross’ (not his actual choice of adjective but it is at least printable) that I like to watch – mostly murder mysteries, NCIS, CSI etc. Mind you when you consider that of all the potential viewing options available through the year, the one that Mud has programmed into his calendar and is, according to him, compulsory viewing for the whole of Mudville is the Eurovision Song Contest, I really don’t think he has any grounds upon which to make derogatory comments about my viewing habits.
But I digress.
“I reckon that’d be a really interesting experiment to watch,” Mud announced, to my stunned amazement.
So the premiss of 10000 BC is that 20 modern day Brits are dropped into the middle of a Bulgarian forest and have to survive as a Stone-age tribe would have done, foraging and hunting etc. We assumed that no sane producer would select a largely none outdoorsy set of people for an experiment such as this and so it could be an interesting watch.
However, it soon became apparent that under the guise of this being a ‘representative group‘ of modern day individuals, the vast majority of those selected seemed, to me at least, to have no discernible experience or skill to bring to the project and a fair few of them only seemed to be able to offer the ability to eat all the emergency rations, whilst lolling about all day moaning about the conditions and watching the rest of the ‘tribe’ working to try and catch food, build waterproof structures etc.
We were absolutely speechless when a large portion of the deer carcass that they had been given to process for food at the start of the experiment, went to waste because they hadn’t prepared it properly and watched in bemusement, the hapless attempts of the ‘tribe’ to trap animals and catch fish. Oh and talking of meat and fish, can some one please explain to me how a vegetarian made it into the final group? I am no expert on Stone-age life but I think I can confidently say that Vegetarianism was probably not an option back then. Surely, it was a case of either eat meat or died.
The presence of a vegetarian in the group has had more of an impact, in my opinion, than I think was initially considered. She doesn’t help hunt and she certainly hasn’t helped process the deer carcasses, crayfish and the mouse (yes they really did catch, cook and then eat a mouse) but she did give a piece of the tribes precious smoked meat ration (jerky) to a stray dog which wondered into the village in episode 6 (day 25ish I think), in spite of the protests of her own daughter and another tribe member, both meat eaters, who were with her. Putting aside the thoughtless and inconsiderate nature of her actions, in respect of the rest of the tribe, this was probably the single most stupidist action of any we have witnessed over the 6 episodes so far because the obviously hungry and potentially unfriendly dog, now knows where there is a meat source, not to mention the fact that someones meat ration is now 1 piece short! So by the end of play last night:
- 20 had been reduced to 6;
- The fur covers they had been provided with at the start, were replaced with modern day blankets because they had become infested with maggots, no doubt as a direct result of the deer carcass they had failed to process correctly at the start which had attracted the entire local population of flies to the area;
- The tribe had very nearly starved to death within the first 10 days due to the loss of the now maggot infested and putrid deer carcass and their failure to replenish their meat supplies – a couple of crayfish, a mouse and a load of greens, nuts and berries aren’t, it turns out, enough to sustain a tribe of (by that point) 12; and
- The production team had supplied food and high protein drinks etc to reverse the effects of hunger now being shown by all the remaining members of the tribe.
At this point, as far as we were concerned, the experiment had failed because the contestants had NOT been able to survive without modern day intervention but the producer saw things differently and constant references were made by the narrator, as to how this intervention had saved the experiment and it could now proceed as planned. Unfortunately for the producer, Mud and I are quite intelligent people and, while once again acknowledging that we aren’t experts in Stone-age living and life, we are fairly sure that if your average stone-age tribe had failed to catch enough meat or fish to feed the tribe members 10000 years ago, then they wouldn’t have survived for long.
But the producer ploughed on and with the remaining tribe members fed and watered and the medical staff happy with their overall condition, Stone-age living began again …….. and then the snow fell!!!
Okay you have a plan to put 20 unprepared, modern people into a hostile environment with only very basic facilities. You want to see if they can survive like Stone-age man. You want to give them the best chance to succeed so do you:
- Drop them into the middle of nowhere in the Spring or Summer with warm weather and abundant wildlife etc: or
- Drop them into the middle of nowhere in the Autumn with the wildlife starting to prepare to hibernate so no longer abundant, most of the berries and nuts already being gathered by aforementioned wildlife and the weather getting colder and colder?
A full scale evacuation of stone-age camp was carried out when heavily snow laden tree branches started breaking off and tumbling to the ground uncomfortably close to the lodges and before they knew it, the 12 remaining tribe members found themselves in the comforting surroundings of a hotel with access to showers, beds, food etc etc etc. Not surprisingly, this brought home to some how much they missed such luxuries and the mass departure of a family of 5 dramatically reduced the tribe to 7!!!
Oh my! 7 left out of the original 20! Ouch! Mr Producer I think your experiment is failing big style.
Whilst the production team and safety guys waited for the camp site to become safe again, the remaining tribe members embarked on a more detailed and much needed, 7 day survival boot camp with the resident survival expert. I can’t help feeling that this more in depth training should have taken place BEFORE the original 20 went into the forest, as it would have been more helpful than the mere 24 hours they were given with the survival expert at the very start of the process. Eventually, with the camp site declared safe, the much smaller tribe returned to camp buoyed by their new found comradery and recently honed survival skills. This time the survival expert and another safety guy remained with them for 48 hours to help them settle in and then they were left with new rations, including another deer carcass.
It is strange how you can form opinions about people initially only to have time turned on their heads as time progresses. Such was the case with two of the remaining tribe members. The tribe leader had initially come across as being switched on, knowledgeable and hard working. He reluctantly (or so it seemed at the time) took on the role of leader at the start of the camp, his decisive nature seeming to be just what was needed to organise the tribe but as the days passed it became painfully obvious that his leadership skills were woeful and he was too busy trying to be friends with everyone rather than a leader. On the other hand there was another tribe member who came across as quite opinionated at the start of the process and it kind of made it hard to like him. However, as the series has progressed this tribe member has proved to be about the only one who truly knows what he is doing. He can and has skinned and then processed a deer carcass and was able to dispatch a rabbit quickly and painlessly and his sense of fair play and honour is such that when he found out that the other 6 members had smuggled contraband back into camp from the hotel, he felt that this cheating and dishonesty was almost more than he could handle. Incensed, he threatened to leave if the contraband wasn’t handed in.
It was only a packet of biscuits and some toothpaste that I took, one of the women had grumbled and the others were no better as they complained about having to hand the stuff back in. All failed completely to understand why the other man had been so upset by their actions. Middle Mudlet summed it up quite nicely when we were discussing it the next day: “That’s cheating,” she said.
Absolutely! You want to have biscuits and toothpaste then leave the show and go back to civilisation. As luck would have it, the ineffectual tribe leader threw his teddy into the corner and left the show when the rest of the tribe decided to follow the advice of the ‘honest’ man in respect of dealing with the new deer carcass the tribe had been given to process.
So now the tribe has 6 members but at the end of last nights show, the knowledgeable Mr Honest had been evacuated to the medical centre due to concerns about his health and it is not yet known whether or not he will return. For the sake of the tribe (now temporarily reduced to 5) and the show, I hope he does.