Going into this 44th season of CBS’s “Survivor,” Heidi Lagares-Greenblatt of Jefferson Hills described a strategy of head-down, don’t-rock-the-boat, no-nonsense play. That worked for almost the entire season.
It was clear from the first episode, where she was barely featured, that Lagares-Greenblatt was likely in it for the long haul. “Survivor” is typically edited to focus first on those who will go home sooner rather than later.
As the show went on, Lagares-Greenblatt was overshadowed by more colorful competitors, including the unpredictable Carolyn, brainy and sweet Carson and the season’s eventual winner, comical Yamil Yam Yam Arocho, who won on his social game.
Lagares-Greenblatt won her first individual immunity challenge in Wednesday’s season finale, made fire the fastest in the show’s history and landed in the final three for the last tribal council where she made her case to the show’s jury. She argued she deserved to win the $1 million prize for the chances she took at the end of the game, that she’d be the oldest woman ever to win and that she sought to represent “people that look different, girls out there who want to be in science.” In the end, she got one vote while the rest of the votes went to Yam Yam.
In a phone interview Thursday morning, first runner-up Lagares-Greenblatt said she has no regrets.
“I am proud to also say that I stuck very closely with my strategy, right?” she said. “I knew that if I was too loud, too outspoken at the beginning, they were gonna kick me out quickly. So it was very intentional to make relationships but also be somewhat on the quiet side while still being truthful with who I am as a person.”
Season 44 was universally acknowledged among fans as a strong season of “Survivor” largely due to the casting of people who were smart, entertaining and genuinely decent humans.
“We were playing to win but we knew it was a game,” Lagares-Greenblatt said. “I am so proud to say all 18 of us have good relationships and we know that what happened there was the game and this is real life so were here for each other and I love that for us.”
It’s been about five years since Netflix’s goals changed from aspiring to be the streaming HBO to wanting to be the streaming CBS, moving away from quality, prestige programming (think: “Orange is the New Black”) to what one Netflix executive described as “gourmet cheeseburgers.”
But Netflix’s latest, “FUBAR” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in his first TV role, is more akin to a McDonald’s Big Mac.
Now streaming, “FUBAR” is thematically a rip-off of Schwarzenegger’s 1994 movie “True Lies,” the same movie CBS just remade as an uninspired procedural that was quickly canceled.
In the eight-episode first season of “FUBAR,” Schwarzenegger stars as Luke Brunner, a CIA operative on the verge of retirement (of course!) who’s estranged from his family (of course!) and gets assigned to one last mission (of course!) – that turns out not to be his last mission (of course!) – and finds himself taking on a new, young partner (Monica Barbaro).
“FUBAR” creator Nick Santora was showrunner on CBS’s 2014-18 action-drama-with-humor “Scorpion” and “FUBAR” is cut from the exact same cloth.
Luke and his protégé bicker constantly and there are a stream of humorous asides from Luke’s CIA handler, Barry (Milan Carter). When a shrink hired to help Luke and his new partner rattles off his academic degrees, Luke cracks, “Well, we can guess what the B.S. stands for!”
Yeah, “FUBAR” is as bland and unoriginal as that “True Lies” reboot was, just with a bigger budget and marquee star.
Each “FUBAR” episode ends with a cliffhanger that then gets resolved in the opening moments of the next episode, an effort to goose the show’s bingeability. And while there is a mission of the week, those discrete stories are in service of a season-long arc as the CIA tracks a terrorist (Gabriel Luna).
In addition to the spy show tropes “FUBAR” follows Luke home to check in on his dysfunctional relationship with his kids and his ex-wife (Fabiana Udenio) who has a new boyfriend (Andy Buckley, David Wallace in “The Office”) much to Luke’s dismay.
Schwarzenneger is more grizzled than ever but he remains as adept with a quip as he is with a punch. It’s just unfortunate that the writing for “FUBAR” is pedestrian, the kind of lowest common denominator storytelling that the world’s biggest movie star would not have touched in his heyday.
While there are many series today worth making the leap from films to TV for, “FUBAR” is not one of them.
The largely Pittsburgh-filmed Netflix docu-series “Working: What We Do All Day,” which features several Pittsburghers as interview subjects and former U.S. President Barack Obama, inspired a live conversation that will stream on Linked In today at 5 p.m. featuring Obama, series director Caroline Suh, Pittsburgher Luke Starcher and former Pittsburgher Karthik Lakshmanan.
WTAE-TV reporter exits
Channel 4 reporter Jim Madalinsky announced on Twitter Wednesday that he’s leaving WTAE-TV on June 2 after almost six years at the station to “step away” from TV news.
Madalinsky, a 2004 West Allegheny High School grad who is married to Channel 11 reporter Amy Hudak, said Thursday morning, “The timing is right. I decided to look into a career outside of television.”
Madalinsky, Channel 4’s Westmoreland County Bureau chief, said he has his next job lined up but won’t say where it is other than he hopes “it will still be something where I can have an impact in the community.”
Some personal news to share:
Growing up in Pittsburgh, it was my dream to work at one of my hometown stations. I’m eternally grateful to WTAE for making that dream come true 6 years ago. Next Friday will be my last day at WTAE.
— Jim Madalinsky (@JimWTAE) May 24, 2023
WTAE-TV reporter Sheldon Ingram, who in recent years launched a side gig as an actor, is now appearing on stage in “Chicken & Biscuits” at New Horizons Theater on the South Side through June 18. … Reformulated streaming service Paramount+ with Showtime will launch June 27 for $12 per month; the essential plan, with ads and no Showtime content, will rise from $5 to $6 per month (the standalone Showtime app will shutter by the end of the year).
You can reach TV writer Rob Owen at [email protected] or 412-380-8559. Follow Rob on Twitter or Facebook. Ask TV questions by email or phone. Please include your first name and location.