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Heroes and Villains - February 2
Travis Eberle

I remember when I saw Jonathan Baker and Victoria Fuller check into the Pit Stop, and Phil told them that they were going home. I was ecstatic; the team I hated for all those weeks would be going home. Finally. I thought of the teams I would have rather seen get farther; Gus and Hera, Avi and Joe, as well as Don and Mary Jean. But it did get me to thinking, what if the show didn't have any villain teams at all?

The casting of any adventure show is not something to be taken lightly. If you just throw a bunch of people together and hope for the best, it's not going to work. You have to have some sort of balance. A dozen people who get along makes for poor television. Conflict is the essence of drama, and you don't get that with ten people who everyone loves.

Then there's the issue of making for exciting television. If the Pearl Islands edition of Survivor didn't have Jon Dalton, it probably could have coasted on the shoulders of Rupert, but having the heel factor made the show that much more enjoyable to me. I didn't root against him, in fact I wanted to see Jon get far, just so he might pull off something bigger than the Dead Grandmother Swindle. For the Vanuatu edition, we were treated to a bunch of people with no personality, and if not for the last three weeks of the show, I might have given up on the franchise entirely.

There's one show that I think can do without a 'bad guy,' and that's "The Apprentice." In the second season, I was so tired of the women's in fighting and constant losing that I prayed that The Donald would unceremoniously fire the whole lot of 'em, and we could get on with the game. There's no time for a villain when the game is so overpowering. We don't see very much of the 'down time' that is seen in the other shows, so I would rather have a whole cast of 'good' people that can play the game the way it should be played. It's funny to see bits of plaster fall on someone's head, but it's not funny to see a team go 0-4 and summarily implode.

I'm going to reach back to the fifth Amazing Race. The final teams consisted of Colin Guinn & Christie Woods (Colin being the second most venomous villain in TAR history), Chip & Kim McAllister, and Brandon Davidson & Nicole O'Brien. Watching the final race to the finish line was exciting enough, but deep down I wanted to see Colin fall into an open manhole, or maybe a vat of radioactive waste. Anything so that he wouldn't get part of the grand prize. Then, to see Chip and Kim, who had been on the brink of elimination, come back to win it all was outstanding. It was even better that Colin shot himself in the foot at the airport, trying to send his belongings home.

Some might say that you don't need antagonists, that it should be enough to be able to root for anyone and everyone. That's all fine and good, but being happy for the winner isn't as good as being happy that 'the right person/team won' or 'at least so-and-so didn't win'. The best part was not just that the villains lost, but that a 'good team' won it. If you don't have a team to root against, it's hard to have a team to root for.

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