“Eaten Alive” was a waste of time. I want my two hours back.
This past Sunday, Discovery Channel aired the controversial show “Eaten Alive,” which was decried by animal activists for promising to show a biologist being swallowed whole by a live anaconda. Had PETA known how this would turn out, they might feel most sorry for the viewers who tuned in.
I’ve gone ahead and watched the show and will recap it for you, so you don’t have to watch it yourself.
The show takes a long time to build. Like, a very long time. It starts out with a series of promises it never fulfills, saying that one man will “enter the belly of the beast.”
We’re then introduced to Paul Rosolie and his team of scrappy adventurers, who are traveling to the Floating Forest in the Pervuvian Amazon jungle to seek out a giant green anaconda.
Rosolie says he is seeking out a specific snake named Chu’mana, which he claims is the largest in the wild and one he himself once encountered, but which got away from him. The journey then crawls slower than any snake ever could, the team observing just about every wild animal living in the forest besides anacondas, and cutting away to biologists discussing how anacondas eat and even mate. At one point the viewer is even treated to anaconda folklore. The team also captures several smaller anacondas, and then promptly releases them into the wild.
The long trek through the forest is presented like a scary movie, except without a monster reveal at any point. Team members jump at every snap and rustle that comes from the jungle. Ominous music constantly builds then explodes into a false scare, like a team member clumsily falling into water, almost encountering what they think is an electric eel, or tumbling into a wasp nest.
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More than an hour elapses before they finally jump on a large anaconda. Is this the snake that will consume Rosolie? Nope, they measure it and release it. An hour and forty minutes into the two hour broadcast, the team calls off their expedition due to the rainy season. They haven’t found the legendary snake Chu’mana or even one big enough to eat Rosolie alive, but I guess they think that if they had to suffer through this long failed expedition, so should we.
At this point, Rosolie settles for being consumed by a captured anaconda using the special snake-proof suit. Prepare for disappointment. We’re given an extensive rundown of all the suit’s features, which Rosolie dons and douses in pigs blood. He then approaches the anaconda, and right off the bat, you almost feel bad for the snake. It attacks and bounces off the suit helmet with a clank, then attacks Rosolies’ arm several times to no avail. It finally coils around him and begins to constrict, as the cameraman struggles for several minutes to find a new, interesting angle for a snake lying on top of a man in the mud. Finally, finally, it begins to move towards the head, opens its jaws, and…nothing. Rosolie’s helmet appears way too big for the snake to swallow, the biologist calls out that his arm is about to break, and a team of men rush in and haul the snake off. Rosolie limps back to his tent to find out the suit didn’t even get any useful measurements.
Really, the only mildly entertaining part of the broadcast is this commercial, which pokes fun at the whole experience.
In the Discovery broadcast his last line changes to, “This better make me famous,” which you can only imagine is Rosolie’s biggest motivation behind this whole debacle.
Had this been presented as a genuine documentary on studying anacondas, it would’ve been halfway interesting. But its B-horror movie presentation and false marketing only result in a meandering embarrassment for all parties involved.
At the end of a two hour laborious process, the only thing that is “eaten alive,” is viewers’ time, Rosolie’s scientific reputation, and Discovery’s integrity as an educational channel.