Ah, the annual race to establish the next holiday classic: First, Christopher Walken as Captain Hook, now a guy who is intentionally attempting to be eaten by a giant anaconda.
Meet Paul Rosolie, author, naturalist, anaconda fetishist. Armed with a special Black Night suit, designed to keep him from getting squished, he is going to trek through the Amazon in search of a giant green anaconda and then make it eat him.
So much for the golden age of television.
Discovery Channel's "Eaten Alive," which aired Sunday night, opens with Paul telling his Chumana tale. Ten years ago, Paul ventured alone "into the Amazon abyss" to live among the green anaconda. There he met a snake so big that when he jumped on its back, like you do, it dragged him and 72 of his colleagues toward the bottom of the floating forest. OK, him and one other guy. But still, Paul figures it was even bigger than the 24-foot record holder. Too bad Chumana, which means "snake maiden," got away.
Now, he's going to find her and feed himself to her. His wife, Gowri Varanashi, is with him. In case you think this is weird or anything.
Paul is doing this to bring attention to the rainforest; not sure what the muscle shirt is for. Nice guns though. We see some footage of an anaconda vs. jaguar. Jaguar appears to be doing OK, but this is not Chumana.
The soundtrack is a real migraine maker, as are the many shots of people walking through the forest with machetes. It is a very young and good looking "international team." They're supposed to be real scientists, but I think I see a Gummer sister.
An anaconda is spotted and immediately assaulted by everyone. Seriously, never has the body language of an anaconda so clearly said: "For the love of God, guys, I was just trying to make a quick trip to Trader Joe's. Can you just back off?"
But this one is way too small, so back she goes. Instead of getting eaten, Paul and the gang tell spooky stories by the fire. I swear that's a Gummer in the hat. Grace? Mamie? Isn't there another one? Could she be a scientist?
We are given a brief history of snake as legend. Spoiler alert: Snakes are the bad guys. Bigger spoiler alert: They don't even mention Harry Potter series. What kind of history of snake myth is that?
Image of a big tree falling. Implication? It is being pulled down by a big snake, presumably for fun, as snakes are meat-eaters. Is that what's happening to the rainforest? It's being eaten by anaconda? Discuss.
More backs, more walking, more reckless vine hacking, but "no anacondas today." Lots of talk of Chumana, of course. This time, she's even bigger.
The term "floating forest" is pretty cool. Which may be why everyone keeps saying it.
Suddenly everyone jumps in the really muddy river to wash off and then they stay there for a while. Not surprisingly, one of the guys starts to get creeped out. "Paul, I feel something weird here." Paul offers all sorts of randomly horrifying possibilities, stopping just short of Ebola. After a bunch of crazy footage everyone gets out of the water.
Which is what I suggested the moment they got in.
The nifty inflatable canoes come out and they take a "risky" shortcut, which seems to entail crossing a very narrow river with a lot of "Blair Witch Project" camera work. Heather Donohue would make "Eaten Alive" so much better. Along with the Gummers.
Wait, now they're saying humans are not the prey of choice for anaconda. What? We are shown lots of horrifying footage that appears to negate that only to be told that these photos are a hoax. Though apparently some poor Malayasian was once killed by a boa constrictor. Or so his brother says. Hmm.
Gowri is proud of her husband's attempt to aid conservation by forcing a big snake to eat him. Wonder what the insurance policy looks like.
There is a lot of talking for a show about a man getting eaten by a snake. Also the camera work is making me carsick. I pray for zombies, but none appear.
Now it's the turn of one of the female members to creep everyone out. "Do you hear that?" she asks, as something rustles in the rainforest, because it is, you know, a rainforest.
Because the team is apparently also very bored, they are all expressing surprise over evidence of animals. Which, according to Paul, is proof that an enormous anaconda must be nearby. Because an enormous anaconda would need to eat a lot of animals. That's science, people.
How on Earth is he keeping his beard so perfectly groomed in the rainforest?
Oh no! Bees! Run!
"Keep an eye on your skin." An actual quote.
"What would a snake look like, Paul?" Another actual quote, days into the trek, halfway through the program. Some crack team, you've got there, Paul.
Oh no, Gowri has a worm in her foot. Gross. But way too small to eat Paul.
Desperate to be eaten, Paul takes the gang on a night hike.
They see a Brazilian wandering spider. Cool. Also some very venomous snake. Not so cool. But look, a ginormous anaconda scale. "This could be from Chumana."
The next day, the fateful words come over the walkie-talkie: "Paul we have an anaconda… get over here" And everyone jumps in the water.
It is impossible not to feel sorry for this snake. Which is, it must be said, really big. Almost 20 feet. But still we're hearing that it's not as big as Chumana, which was, like, double, no triple the size. The biggest snake in the world. This pipsqueak is freed.
When will we be freed, Lord?
Now Paul is going to dive around and search for Chumana. "Paul, be careful," Gowri suggests, mildly, as if looking up from filing her nails. Paul stays under water for almost a minute, which is 15 seconds too long, apparently. The team is upset, briefly, sort of.
And guess what? Paul just saw a really huge snake, possibly Chumana. But then it, you know, swam away.
No wait, there it is. Big struggle, Paul's legs in the air, head under water, now he's up, he's fine, but oh no, he had the snake, but now it's gone.
Cue rainy season, which makes the quest for ol' Chumana "far too dangerous." You're kidding me, right? An hour and a half of walking through the jungle for nothing?
And Paul has this suit that he really wants to try! Fortunately he knows a guy who can hook him up with a 20-foot anaconda. In captivity. So out of the floating forest and back to the zoo.
With all the monitoring involved, not to mention the insanity of the suit—chain mail is involved—it's difficult not to believe that this wasn't the plan from the beginning. Now that I think of it, I didn't see any backpack big enough to carry the suit in the jungle.
Also, because human's are not an anaconda's natural prey, they are covering Paul in pig's blood.
As if he could look any more ridiculous, now he's got a whole "Carrie" thing going on.
Oh, wait, he can't move. So now he's taking some of the stuff off. This will backfire.
Finally, he's head to head with this poor old snake, flopping around in the mud, getting wrapped up and squeezed. "You OK, honey?"
How do you answer a question like that?
At last, the anaconda tries to eat Paul's head but then, wouldn't you know, it starts to hurt. Without its armor, Paul's arm gets twisted and he fears it will break (backfire!), and they pull the snake off.
Like in two seconds, with no visible trouble at all. Seriously, I've had a tougher time getting a sock away from my miniature terrier Junior Mint. Lots tougher.
In terms of research, the whole "eat me" thing was a bust too. The anaconda refused to squeeze Paul along his sensor belt so they couldn't get a precise gauge of the constriction. Though Paul swears it was definitely record-breaking.
And he's not giving up! He's going to keep slashing his way through the Amazon, hunting down perfectly innocent anacondas and forcing them to ingest his special helmet, all in an effort to preserve the environment.