HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

TV Review: ‘Survivor’ Meets ‘LOST’ on NBC’s Strange ‘Siberia’

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
Average: 3 (2 votes)

CHICAGO – Every Summer needs a guilty pleasure. (Anyone else watch “The Glass House”? Just me? OK. Moving on.) This Summer’s guilty pleasure could easily be NBC’s truly bizarre “Siberia,” premiering tonight at 9pm CST. This hybrid of “Survivor” and “LOST” has some truly rough edges but also contains an addictively strange premise that could separate it from a lot of the bland network offerings this season. Sure, most of the new must-sees are on cable this season (“Ray Donovan,” “The Bridge,” “Low Winter Sun”) but those programs are intense. If you want something left of center, you may come back to NBC.

HollywoodChicago.com Television Rating: 3.0/5.0
Television Rating: 3.0/5.0

For at least the first half of “Siberia,” viewers unfamiliar with the conceit of the show are likely to think it’s a reality program. The editing, the to-camera interviews, the host, the structure — it feels like a “Survivor” clone, a genre unto itself in the last decade. 16 international contestants board a plane and end up in Siberia. They’re in the wilderness of Tunguska, a part of the world so desolate that the gulags there didn’t even need fences. Where would escaped prisoners possibly go?

Photo credit: NBC

The contestants on this reality show are told that all they have to do is survive. 16 people in the middle of nowhere with limited supplies and, this is key, no rules. None. There won’t be immunity challenges. There won’t be special rewards. Occasionally, a magic box will reveal an item that could be useful. In the premiere, it’s a clue to where to find food. The contestants start fire, boil water, cook their food, and begin to form alliances and their own society. If anyone wants to leave, all they have to do is go to an area where helicopters will pick them up. As soon as they cross that line and push the button to call for help, their chance at half a million dollars is gone.

Photo credit: NBC

What would happen if this premise were real? Would a mini-society start up? And how long would it take before power struggles turned it into “Lord of the Flies”? These questions go largely unanswered as “Siberia” gets pretty freaky pretty quickly. Strange sounds are heard in the middle of the night and a cameraman ends up injured. What is happening in Tunguska? Watch “Siberia” this Summer and find out.

As someone who has seen WAY more bad reality shows than any human should have to endure, the talking head segments on “Siberia” are enjoyably realistic. The line between scripted and reality TV blurs every day as contestants on shows like “Big Brother” are clearly coached in interview segments. The alliances, personalities, etc. of “Siberia” really could be a part of a normal reality show. Some of the editing betrays the concept more quickly than I think the producers intend and some of the performers are more clearly acting than others. Although it was smart of the producers to cast the piece with actors and actresses largely unknown, at least in the U.S.(apparently one of them is a TV star from Australia and the host is a radio personality from L.A.).

I’m most concerned about how quickly and bizarrely “Siberia” could wear out its welcome. The premiere has a uniquely original energy but what does this show look like in a few weeks? And how do they possibly make these characters interesting beyond the premise? “LOST” worked because it was character-driven above all else and the writing and performances here seem built entirely around the concept. Only time will tell if that changes. But, and I wouldn’t have predicted this going into my review given the track record of the networks during the season that cable has taken over, I’ll return to “Siberia” for at least another week.

“Siberia” premieres on NBC on Monday, July 1, 2013 at 9pm CST.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Hot stories on the Web

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions