NBC's Siberia, Predicted
Summer is a time for the networks to try all kinds of programming experiments, as we've already discussed, and since while NBC is counting on getting another year's worth of juice out of the pressed husk that is America's Got Talent, it's also splashing out in other directions: to wit, Siberia. Coming in July, Siberia is -- stay with me -- a scripted drama about a reality show. As Philiana Ng writes in The Hollywood Reporter, the show within the show finds sixteen contestants being dropped off on Tunguska, which Ng describes as the site of a 1908 meteor strike; then crazy shit starts happening. And though Ng mentions "the land's mysterious past," she doesn't explain what that means: though the meteor strike is the official story (read: truth), the Tunguska event has also sparked a number of conspiracy theories, variously implicating a black hole, Nikola Tesla, and aliens.
So: a bunch of good-looking (I'm assuming) people marooned in a pitiless location that may also be a paranormal hot spot? Lost meets Survivor, but with parkas? Here's what we think we can expect from the show's first season. Oh -- and since, as Zap2It's Rick Porter notes, "NBC's announcement makes no mention of any cast members," we took care of that too.
Man Of Science, Man Of Brawn
While sixteen Americans are initially excited to test their mettle in the harsh landscape of Tunguska, in Siberia, for the chance to outlast their fellows and win a $5 million cash prize. But when Judy (Frances Fisher) takes a bad step and ends up with a pointy tree branch impaling her through the thigh and no doctor or even EMT comes to tend to her wound, the contestants figure out that this reality show isn't quite what they expected. A schism forms between those who, like Harvard-trained mechanical engineer Patrick (William Fichtner), believe they must play out the game according to the rules in order to survive; and those who align themselves with retired Marine Sam (John Cena) in a plot to overthrow the production by force. Complicating matters: the contestants are divided into two teams, but their true allegiances to Patrick or Sam require them to play with some people, but remain truly loyal to others. Alex (Gabrielle Union) thinks she sees a strange, luminescent, human-like creature lurking at the edge of camp but decides she must be hallucinating due to dehydration.
Grazed By Another
In the contestants' first reward challenge, the players are presented with a pile of native Tunguska grass, carefully weighed to be exactly the same amount for each contestant. Whichever player eats the most will win a reward for his or her team: supplies for camping and some food rations. Unfortunately, Derek (Dallas Roberts) is so focused on choking down the grass that he doesn't notice his pile contains tiny jagged rocks. Will the weight disparity ensure his victory -- and if so, will he live to enjoy it? Monique (Adrianne Palicki) is seized by a UFO tractor beam, but Patrick manages to grab onto her foot and pull her back down; a special alliance is formed.
Live Together, Fry Alone
Supplies are dwindling as the factions growing increasingly hostile to one another. Team Patrick member Marlene (Leslie Hope) convinces Sam not only to hoard his acolytes' food supply, but to employ his engineering skills to build an elaborate booby trap around it. With no more reward challenges on the horizon, and desperate for protein, Sam mercy-kills a blood-poisoned Judy, cooks her corpse, and distributes the filets to his followers. Rob (Tim Kang) is visited by a ghostly vision of Nikola Tesla, warning him of radiation in the area, but it must be a dream...mustn't it?
The Life And Death Of Jeremy Piven
With morale at its lowest point yet, producers try to rekindle the players' love for the game by introducing a reward challenge without revealing what the award actually is. Convinced the reward must be the most lavish meal yet, the players fight hard, and when Melissa (Ashley Tisdale) stands the longest on a pole in the middle of a field without falling even as her fellow contestants pelt her with rocks, she wins a reward for her team: a visit from international film and TV star Jeremy Piven! Melissa and her teammates dismember Piven and eat him, saving his hairpiece to feather the nest they all sleep huddled together in. Brody (Ryan Hansen) finds some quartz slabs inscribed with a mysterious language, decides they're not worth mentioning to anyone.
But Seriously, This Place Is Death
As the final four contestants (meaning, the last four to survive) prepare to face off in their last challenge, a black hole punches through the clearing and takes out nearly all of the show's production staff and most of their recording equipment. The decision comes down from "The Network": it's a draw, and all four contestants are automatically signed up to return for Season 2: SUDDEN DEATH. Then the show's host, Brian Bixby (Jerry O'Connell), is crushed by a meteor.