The 115 Funniest Things to Ever Happen on Survivor
#17. ATTACK ZONE!
Thailand - Episode 3
Yay, it's finally time to write about Robbbb Z and THE ATTACK ZONE! I have been waiting a long time for this moment to come up on the list. In fact, this may be my single favorite challenge in Survivor history.
For starters, we haven't seen nearly enough Robbbb Z. on this list in a while. He popped up twice back in the 100's, but we had a big Robbbb-less drought in the middle there, and I think we all felt it in one way or another. Not having Robbbb on the list is bad for business, so it's good to see him pop up once again in the top 20. And here he is, the Z-man himself, in one of his greatest (lowest?) moments from the Thailand season.
So welcome back to the Funny 115, Robbbb.
We *sniff* really sort of missed you around here.
The ATTACK ZONE reward challenge took place in the third episode of Survivor: Thailand. And on paper, it appeared to be nothing special. It was basically just an obstacle course where the tribes were expected to walk across wooden beams, retrieve baskets from a boat, and bring said baskets back to the rest of their tribe. First tribe to retrieve ten baskets wins. In other words, it looked like every other Thailand lame-ass challenge snooze-fest. You see, Survivor: Thailand was notorious for its mental and unorthodox (ie, boring) challenges. And on paper this piece of crap basket-grab suckfest looked pretty much just like more of the same.
The floating obstacle course used for the challenge
On paper this challenge looked like a snooze-fest. And the producers probably knew this, too. So what they decided to do (God bless them!) was to amp up the intensity a little bit, just to give the challenge a little more "bite." The producers wanted the players to give it their all in this challenge, they wanted to see some actual heat between the two tribes, and they wanted to see what would happen when you introduced testosterone to a physical challenge on Survivor.
And how did the producers hope to accomplish this on such a boring challenge?
Easy, they added an ATTACK ZONE!
The ATTACK ZONE
What is an ATTACK ZONE, you ask? Well, according to my dictionary, it is "A place on the challenge course where two players are allowed to beat the shit out of one another, using any method possible." Basically it is a spot on the course where two players are allowed to engage in ritualistic hand-to-hand combat. And the producers actually put one of these into an actual Survivor challenge. How exciting! How revolutionary! How gratuitously violent and unnecessary! It was perfect!
There had never been physical combat in a Survivor challenge before the ATTACK ZONE in Survivor: Thailand. And I have to say it was one of the single best enhancements they have ever made to the game. Because without the ATTACK ZONE in episode three, we never would have seen Survivor moments quite like these:
Ted headbutts Robb Zbacnik in the testicles
Ken tosses Helen into the water
Good versus evil. A New York City police officer (Ken) takes on a sociopathic puppy shooter (Brian)
Robb treats Clay like the little bitch that he is
Jed with a flying shoulder block on the puppy shooter
Big Ted squares off against Little Shii Ann
Brian prepares to take care of Soo Yee (Sinjo?)
The ATTACK ZONE experiment certainly made the challenge a lot more exciting, but would you say it was altogether successful? On one hand, the entire challenge ended up being a dud because the Sook Jais all got disqualified for "using excessive violence." So Chuay Gahn (an older, weaker, team) was able to waltz their way to an easy victory. So in terms of it being a competitive challenge, you would have to say the attack zone was an utter and complete failure. Once all the Sook Jais got themselves disqualified, there really wasn't much of a challenge left for anybody to watch.
Busted! Ken gets disqualified for attacking Helen outside of the ATTACK ZONE
Busted! Robb is disqualified for tossing Clay halfway across the lake
Busted! Stephanie gets tossed for throwing sulfuric acid into Ted's face
Busted! Jed is disqualified for hitting Brian over the head with a metal folding chair
In terms of this being a competitive challenge, you would have to call this challenge a complete flop. But in terms of it being a memorable Survivor moment, well, you would be hard-pressed to find any challenge that people remember better than the first ATTACK ZONE. This challenge was so memorable, and so entertaining, that people still talk about it in glowing and reverential terms to this day. Because in many ways, it's as if Survivor never truly began until the producers finally allowed the players to start beating up on one another. And it all started with this challenge, in the third episode of Survivor: Thailand. This is where the physical violence all began.
So in terms of "generating some buzz for the show" and "kicking the game up a few notches in intensity", I can't see how you'd qualify the ATTACK ZONE as anything other than a complete and smashing success. In fact, this challenge generated so much buzz that the producers decided to allow more ATTACK ZONE challenges in later seasons as well. And the ones in Pearl Islands (Tijuana body slams Jon!), Palau (Angie, stop trying to drown me!) and All-Stars (Boston Rob kills everyone) were all particularly memorable as well.
Well, except for the part where Richard attacked with his penis. That part I think we would all like to forget.
As for me, I think every Survivor challenge should in some way feature an ATTACK ZONE. And I'm being completely serious when I say this. Just give the players the option to beat the crap out of one another, even in something as benign as a lowly puzzle challenge. Don't you think it would make the game more exciting if someone lost immunity just because Jonny Fairplay hit them over the head with a megaphone? Wouldn't that generate killer buzz for the show every week? I don't see any possible drawbacks to this idea. In fact it's an idea I've been proposing for a long time. Put ATTACK ZONES in every single challenge on Survivor. Even put them in the endurance challenges. Why not? You could even put them in the family visits if you wanted to. I mean, who wouldn't want to see Big Tom and Bucky Bo square off against the Mariano family in the family visit ATTACK ZONE? Or maybe Brian squaring off against C.C. Would you want to see that? Of course you would! So why haven't the producers run with this idea yet? There's no possible way it could lose!
(NOTE: This is item #6 in Mario's list of "ways we can make Survivor more like pro wrestling." I'll post that list in its entirety some other day. All I'll say for now is that #7 on the list is "Hire Jesse 'The Body' Ventura to do all challenge commentary.")
The new host of Mario's upgraded ultra-violent Survivor. Jesse always tells it like it is.
So anyway that's the story of the Thailand ATTACK ZONE. The producers wanted to introduce more violence to the game, they put a spot on the course where players could pound one another to a pulp (using any means necessary!), and the Sook Jais got so excited that they took it too far and all got themselves disqualified. It's the same story you've heard thousands of times before. In fact, it's kind of like the mythological story of Prometheus and the fire. Only if Zeus were Mark Burnett, the fire was an attack zone, and Prometheus was Robb Zbacnik. And if Prometheus got head-butted in the balls by Big Ted. Other than that the parallels are quite eerie.
Ow! My 'nads!
You thought I was gonna end the ATTACK ZONE section without talking about Robbbb versus Clay, didn't you? Shyeah, right. And monkeys might fly out of my butt. Like I would possibly ignore my favorite moment from the entire Thailand season. I really wish you guys would have more faith in me.
So here's the recap. Of a scene that never, ever, EVER fails to make me laugh. Enjoy.
My favorite Survivor picture ever
It's the ATTACK ZONE challenge in Thailand, and high-strung Robbbb Zbacnik is a little keyed up for his own good. The fact that he can pummel other players (without punishment) has overstimulated him quite a bit, and Robbb has taken this opportunity to turn into sort of a... how do you say it... a dick.
Robb smirks with delight when he hears the rules of the new ATTACK ZONE
Robb loves him some ATTACK ZONE
As expected, Robb gets way too excited by the prospect of unsupervised violence, and Robb ends up taking things way too far. And what is the big jackass move that ends up getting Robbb in trouble? Well it happens when he meets Clay in the center of the dreaded ATTACK ZONE.
Robb bum-rushes the little man
Now, keep in mind that Robb is a twenty-something strong young athlete in peak physical condition. And then keep in mind that Clay is fifty years old, four feet tall, and weighs about a buck twenty. On paper, this match can't possibly end well. Because no matter what happens, Robb is likely to pummel this little toad right down into the bamboo platform.
Instead of batting Clay hand-to-hand, Robbbb is so amped up by his surplus of testosterone that he actually grabs the diminutive Clay Jordan by the throat. He actually grabs the little dude around the throat! Clay lets out a wounded gurgle, Robbbbb tosses him headfirst into the water, and it's one of the most memorable images in Survivor history.
And stay down!
So Robb tosses Clay into the water. And Clay and the Chuay Gahns immediately start yelling in protest.
The Chuay Gahns protest Robb's maneuver. You can't throw people out by the throat!
I love the fact that Jeff actually disqualifies Robb twice. Once for choking Clay like a rag doll, and the second time because Robb wasn't even standing in the ATTACK ZONE when he did it in the first place. And also because of the fact that Clay is now dead.
By the way, it's safe to say that Robb isn't particularly pleased when he finds out he's been disqualified from the rest of the challenge. See below.
Jeff disqualifies Robb for using the old O.J. Simpson maneuver
Robb and his concave torso can't believe it
Yeah but I was standing in the ATTACK ZONE!
Robb protests the decision while swimming back to his team. He also calls Clay a whiny little baby.
Robb issues a formal protest by giving two middle fingers to Jeff Probst
It's now minutes later, and Robb is still steaming over the fact that he got disqualified
Robbb's disqualification is really where the challenge ends for the testosterone-laden Sook Jais. Because once Robbb gets himself disqualified, the rest of his teammates quickly (and predictably) suffer the exact same fate. Ken is the first to go. Then Jed. Then Stephanie. Eventually nearly all the Sook Jais end up being disqualified. Hell, even Bobby Jon got disqualified and he wasn't even in this season. That's how bad it was.
Bobby Jon gets disqualified all the way from Palau
Clay and his distended left nipple celebrate a glorious Chuay Gahn victory
So the Sook Jais get disqualified, the Sook Jais lose reward, and they grumble about it all the way back to camp. And this is where we get one of my favorite angry diatribes from any character from any Survivor season ever. This is where Robbbbb Zbacnik truly earns his status as "the most unintentionally funny character of all time." Because note that he isn't trying to be funny here. Robb is on a very legitimate angry tirade, and he would probably smash you in the face if you started laughing at him. So that's why it's good we're just going to do it over cyberspace instead. Shhh, don't tell.
By the way, I guarantee you will laugh during Robbb's very angry soliloquy below. Especially when he starts doing his very exaggerated impression of little backwoods Clay.
"We got chumped, dude. We got chumped."
"He's a weak little whiny punk. Backwoods hick. Did you hear him? DOY-EE-OY-EE-OY. Screamin' at me, dude."
"I wanted to spit in his face!"
And this is where we come to the money shot. Here is my all-time favorite Robbbb quote ever, delivered in all its angry, ridiculous, totally illogical glory...
"We got beat today, dude. But it wasn't by somebody better than us. We lost by a bunch of rules."
Ahhhhh. The famous "We got beat by a bunch of rules" quote. A patently, 100%, total Robbb quote. In fact I don't even know what else to say about it. I might as well just leave it as is, and you can make your own jokes. Suffice it to say that it's by far my favorite (and the most ridiculous) Robbbb Zbacnik quote of all time.
And that's really saying something, when you stop and think about it.
P.S. There is a whole other column to be written some day about how the ATTACK ZONE was the turning point of Survivor: Thailand. Because did you ever notice that Sook Jai dominated the game up to this point, but it was allllll Chuay Gahn the minute that Sook Jai fell apart and got disqualified during the ATTACK ZONE? There's a really cool column to be written there, but I'll have to do it another time. Needless to say that without rules, Sook Jai might have actually done quite well. Fricking rules.
P.P.S. This may surprise you (it certainly stunned me) but this is not the top Robb Zbacnik moment on The Funny 115. Hard to believe, isn't it? We will actually be seeing him again in the top 5.
P.P.P.S. I almost scored with Jessica Alba once, except I got beat by a bunch of rules. Damnit!
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