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Twelve strangers enter the jungle, but only one will leave as King, with a chance to star in a one-hour Animal Planet special.

But in order to become King of the Jungle, they have to eliminate the rest of the Pride... one by one.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper, GSNN

Madison Michele
Packager: Animal Planet
Airs: Tuesdays at 8:00pm ET on Animal Planet

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Episodes 1/2 - July 20, 2004

We were going to cover the first series of this - until we realized that no one actually got Animal Planet. I get it now, and hence, we will be writing up the second edition of King of the Jungle.

The premise? 12 people compete in animal related stunts. The prize? Your own animal special - with the winner being the host of the show. In each episode, a 'king' will be chosen. They will have special privileges until unseated. The King also decides the two people to participate in the elimination ceremony - with one of them having to leave. For those of you who were thinking what I was thinking... yep - it's Big Brother in the jungle.

We start the show off as the 12 players are in a Safari-like truck. Madison Michele is the host, and she explains to us everything that I just talked about in that last paragraph. Madison greets them all from on top of an elephant. Let's see which 12 people gets to greet her...

Bee, a 22 year old Asian Student. Sort of Chun-Li-ish, sort of Chunky-ish.

Cherry, a 36 year old African American woman who is very...full-bodied. How full bodied? Let's just say the name could be changed from Cherry to Watermelon.

Jennifer, a 33 year old actor who looks like Bonnie Lankford (Dr. Who reference) with a deeper voice - or perhaps Jolie Bailey (Extreme Dodgeball) with no makeup.

Jacob, a 24 year old veterinarian's assistant with a noticeable southern drawl who seems to be just happy to be there.

Henry, a 50 year old Air Force general who sounds like a southern Michael Gross but with the ten gallon hat and glasses on, looks like what Cowboy from Big Brother would be like in 30 years.

Lang, a 33 year old surfing instructor, who is tan, muscular and has his brown hair dyed blonde. Dude!

Shanon, a 32 year old Wildlife Educator, who is also blonde. Do surfers and Wildlife Educators get along?

Cynthia, a 33 year old bartender who has short cropped red hair. She sounds like she went to the Stanislavskian School of Acting in her part time. "When I win, which I'm going to, it's going to be fabulous."

Lindsay, a 21 year old student with blonde shoulder length hair. Think either of the twins from Amazing Race 5. "I am here to compete, so you better watch out for me."

Patrick, a 24 year old microbiologist with short brown hair who can't stop smiling. "In the end, I think I will be King of the Jungle."

Roberto, a 32 year old painting contractor. He's Hispanic and very muscular.

Tony, a 26 year old African-American Arena Football player. Look, it's Puffy and Jamie Foxx all rolled up into one!

After giving everyone one last chance to quit the game (which, of course, no one does), Madison introduces us to animal trainer Scott Schwietzer and to 'Nosey', a 14 year old African Elephant. Scott is going to talk to the group about elephants. She invites the group to pet the 5,000 pound, 8 feet tall creature. The elephant uses the ears to keep themselves cool. The trunk weighs 350 pounds and has 30,000 muscles. She eats over 300 pounds of food a day. The female is a cow, the male is a bull.

The whole group is called 'The Pride'. There will be a weekly challenge to be the reigning king of the tribe. The first challenge is that all of the contestants get a sled worth of rocks that matches their body weight. Whoever can get their sled across the finish line first wins.

Of course, it's not that simple. Trivia questions about the elephant that talked about are going to be asked. Henry was too busy looking at the elephant to pay attention to the speech - and apparently, so were most people, as people put down 120 and 80 as answers to the first question - how many muscles does the trunk have. The correct answer? 30,000. By getting the question right, three people can add a 17 pound bag into anyone sled to bog them down. Lang goes after Tony, Jennifer goes after Roberto and Jacob goes after Lang - which gets applause.

After the one question, the race begins. The 17 pounds didn't slow Tony down at all - he blows everyone away and is the first one to win. Everyone else gets done - except Cherry, who is actually dragging the cart backwards. Shannon goes back to help, and she is joined by the rest of the group. After 20 minutes, we get our first bonding moment. AwwwwBarf.

Tony breaks up the warm, bonding moment as he is the first King. He gets an amulet that represents his power over the rest of the pride. He gets to assign one totem to each person in the tribe. He also gets the nicest camp accommodations. He is congratulated by Roberto when they start walking back to camp. A possible alliance? Hmmm...

With winning, though, there comes griping. Roberto is very disappointed with himself, while Bee and Shannon are both unhappy that they stunk. Henry, on the other hand, is glad that he doesn't have the early target on his back. The spirits lift when they see the camp. Cherry wants the big tent (sorry, it's reserved for the King, Cherry), while Cynthia wonders if they hid a masseur in the tent. Cynthia, Lindsey and Shannon share a tent, Cherry, Bee and Jen take a tent. Lang comes over and inspects the tent, "You're looking pretty organized." Jennifer: "That's because we're women." Can anyone see where this is going?

Tony is welcomed in his tent by fresh fruit, juice, milk - and Roberto, who congratulates him. Tony has to get rid of people, so he brings people over by the campfire and wants to get to know everyone. Lang says that he's been around for 33 trips around the sun, while Cherry says that she's single and Cynthia lives with her 'partner'. Henry has grand kids and Tony, who couldn't get the money needed to go to Biology school, just graduated from college. Jennifer misses her husband, Lang enjoys his freedom while Cynthia gets upset that people can't get over her lesbian status and the fact that she has a 'partner' of that status. "There a lot of people who hate me for that love." By learning about everyone, Tony has the adjectives that he can match to his scroll. Most of the people are lovey-dovey - except for Roberto and Jacob, who aren't there to make pen-pals. Cue the villain foreshadowing music!

It's tree mail! The mail is delivered by cockatoo, in a cute touch. In a touch that's not as cute, Roberto bows down to Tony and gives him the mail. The team gets their first leadership reward, which is located in the jungle. Waiting for them is Madison and Scott with 2 lion cubs. They allow everyone to pet the cubs, which Scott say can be 10-12 in the wild, but can live up to 25 years in captivity. In 2.5 years, they will all be kicked out of the pride and they will try to find their own., which is why the life expectancy isn't that long. Everyone gets to feed the cubs, but Shannon gets to do a bowel movement on the cub, which is one of the most exciting thing that she's done. You don't get out much, do you, Shannon?

Those 2 lions are part of a larger pride. Transition to Tony, who has to give out the animal medallions. Cynthia gets the cute elephant, Patrick gets the intelligent raven, the gentle swift antelope goes to Lindsey, the modest signified rhino goes to Henry (who think that it's big, clunky and not that sharp). The mystical cobra goes to Lang, the noble hawk goes to Roberto (noble or brown-nosing?), the joking hyena goes to Cherry, the mysterious, yet elegant giraffe goes to Jennifer, the instinctive mongoose goes to Bee, the resourceful goes to Shannon, the social and swift goes to Jacob, and finally, the athletic tiger goes to Tony, who says that he will wear it for the rest of his life.

The good news is that everyone is happy - the bad news is that 2 people will be less happy, because that night, Tony has to pick 2 people to go into battle. One person will come back, and the other person will be eliminated from the game. This will be done during campfire ceremonies tonight. Tony says that it stinks - but at least it's better to pick the people than to possibly be picked.

Tony doesn't know who he wants to pick, while Roberto is the first person in his ear and tells him to get rid of potential threats. No one knows what the challenge is going to be - it could be physical or mental and Tony has no clue how to deal with it. We get the usual non-sensical 'he's going to put me up' from everyone until Tony decides that fate will decide. He decided that he will put everyone's name in a hat and will put one man and one woman up randomly and he will let G-d decide. He says that it's the fair thing to do and that he won't make any enemies. Everyone congratulates him for doing the right thing - though Shannon says that she would have left out the name of the people who she wanted to see stay. Henry and Jennifer may disagree with that sentiment - because they are the people who are randomly chosen.

The next morning, Jennifer and Henry pack as those two and Tony go up to the "Pit of Lions". Jennifer is thinking that the challenge is physical - but it's a mental challenge. The players will be asked questions on the lectures that they have listened to. Whoever puts their ring on a pole first and gets the question right will get to cut one of five ropes. Each rope is connected to a log. Each player puts one of their totems on one of the five logs. Whoever cuts the rope to the log that holds their opponent's totem wins and goes back to the tribe. The loser is eliminated.

Henry knows who does most of the hunting in the pride (the females), so he gets to cut down a log. The log.... has no totem attached. Question #2 - The purpose of an elephant's ears is to do what? Henry gets it right (to cool the elephant off) and on the second try... he gets the totem. Jennifer has to present her totem to Tony, place it around his neck, and is eliminated. On her way out, she says that the right man was the king on the first day, and she had a great experience. She hugs Henry and she makes her exit, stage left. She says that she was lucky to have this experience, as one day here could change your life. Henry is congratulated and they are told to head back to camp.


This should be where the second episode starts, but we just breeze right through to it as everyone wonders who will come back. They are all wondering where the end game works when they see Henry return. Everyone is happy - except Cherry, who is upset that her best bud Jennifer is gone.

Everyone is wondering how the end game works, and Henry, the nice guy that he is, tells everything about it, much to everyone's relief - except Jacob, who wouldn't have divulged that info. Shannon asks Tony about if he would have still picked names out of the hat now that he knows what the Lion's Den is all about, and he says yes. Shannon then gives a rah-rah speech about how the objective is to compete, and she says that she is willing to kick everyone's butt if she has to.

After the sermon from Shannon, everyone goes back to Madison, who said that the next set of animals that they will meet are quite skittish. The group goes over and sees Chilean Flamingos bathing in a large pond. Scott says that they are pink by eating krill, and that they can pump three times more blood in their body, hence the reason why they only stand in one legs. The flamingos have 19 vertebrae in their neck (vs 7 for humans) and they are found in Africa and South America.

After hearing Roberto saying how excited he was, Madison gives them more excitement by giving them their next King of the Jungle challenge. After Tony gives up the King pendant, Madison challenges them to see how long they can balance on one leg, encouraging them to trash talk and psych out their opponents - or to make deals. I wonder how many of them will listen...

Cherry hopes that she is not knocked out first - but she is gone in 11 seconds. Cynthia quickly joins her in 47 seconds. Madison taunts them by saying that a flamingo can hold their legs for 4 hours, while Jacob starts taunting and Bee is the first victim of that. Henry and Patrick quit and Tony gives up his reign. So much for his claim to win every challenge. Lindsay was the last woman standing - but that ends at the 5 minute 30 second mark. Jacob offers to make a deal with Roberto and Lang. Lang wants no part of it - and he falls in. It's down to Roberto and Jacob - and this time, Roberto does make the deal. Jacob wins, while Roberto now feels like a moron for accepting the deal - and hoping that it doesn't bite him in the rear.

Back at camp, it is Lang that looks like he wants to bite someone in the rear as Roberto and Jacob remind him that he didn't make the deal. He enjoyed the atmosphere and felt that he connected with the animals. Tony, who is still upset at himself, crosses with Jacob and congratulates him again for winning the competition. Roberto decides that he will also take the high road, and asks them if they would a random draw - or if they prefer secret voting. The women would rather see a random choice, while Henry would prefer a vote. Cynthia says that if it starts to turn into a vote, it's going to get nasty. They do a 'secret' vote using Shannon's beads, and random wins, 7-3.

The women are glad that it's still random, but Tony notices that less people want that and Cynthia notices that the guys want to choose people. Meanwhile, said guys - Tony, Roberto, Jacob and Patrick - have decided to create an alliance, using Lindsey as their spy - but Lindsey is a double-agent and decides that she will be selective in terms of what to reveal.

Jacob gets tree mail - and it tells him to bring three people to collect his reward. He stupidly picks Patrick, Roberto and Tony and everyone else immediately sees that there is an alliance brewing. Cynthia added that Roberto may have already bagged his prize. The flamingos, apparently, aren't the only thing that's pink - or flaming-o.

The other '4 Horsemen' (Thanks you, BB5) join Scott as he introduces them to a pair of camels. Camels actually store fat in their hump, not water - and they can change their body temperature by 11 degrees. Jacob gets to ride a camel and their bonus adventure ends.

The four guys come out - and they notice that the rest of them are in the tent. Shannon is convinced that herself and Lang will have their names 'mysteriously' pulled out of the hat. Her suspicions are confirmed when Jacob says that random can mean lots of things. Tony talks to Henry about the voting, and he says that he would make the decision himself, since there are people who more deserve to be here than others. Henry respects him - but he says that he will take him down the first second that he'll get. Roberto wonders if all of the names will be there - or if certain names will not be included in the 'random' draw.

We'll find out right now as the draw is made. Lang's name is first, and second is...Shannon. 'I knew it' says Shannon, while Cynthia adds that it was a little too convenient. 'A lot of people were convinced that he only put in two names in that bag.' Lang isn't ready to go, while Shannon says that she wins either way. Jacob says that he doesn't have any preference in terms of who wins - but he has set up a huge bulls-eye on him and the other three guys in his alliance.

The bulls-eye right now is focused on Shannon and Lang, as one of them will be leaving. They hug to start the morning, but Lang is clearly there to strike like a viper. Lang touches the flames for good luck. Yikes.

We get a re-reading of the Lion's Pit rules, with a reminder that neither of them can ring in until she prompts them by saying 'Answer'. Apparently, Shannon was groggy, since she jumps in before the prompt for the first question. Lang jumps in for the second question when asked what sort of group the flamingos live in - but his answer of flock is wrong (Colony). Shannon gets a whack at Lang's totem - but that one doesn't have Lang's totem on it. Next question - what do flamingos eat that gives them their pink color. Lang answer - correctly this time (Krill), and on his first try, Lang...hits the log with Shannon's totem. Shannon is out of the game and wishes Jacob the best of luck. She wishes Lang good luck too as she leaves. She is happy for the trip - and she is thrilled to be reunited with her husband and children. 'I'm a mom before I'm anything and a wife, so I'm happy to go back there, too.'

My take? I like the game aspect - and I like the fact that the elimination is based on actual knowledge (a la Hitman). I am not a big fan of the Big Brother-like eliminations, but I'll deal with it. This could be a fun trip, and we'll see where next week's journey takes us.

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