The Original Survivor Man by Bill Batcher

Since coming to work at Jordan River Productions, Phil Viper, recent graduate of Bethany Video College, has come up with one killer idea after another for the next hit TV show, only to have every one of them shot down by the JRP board of directors. But now he knows he has a surefire winner–a reality show. All he has to do is convince the board to underwrite the project, then get a pilot in the can, and pitch it to sponsors. Well, actually there’s one other detail he needs to square away first. He is sitting at his desk when his secretary buzzes.

Viper: Yes, Janet?

Janet: John the Baptizer is here, Mr. Viper.

Viper: Oh good. Send him right in…. Mr. Baptizer, thanks for coming by. I’m sure you must be a busy man.

John: Yes, well, I was crying in the wilderness.

Viper: Tell me about it. That’s how I spend most of my time here!

John: I was building a highway in the desert, preparing for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Viper: Oh, good. Nothing important then. Judging from the way you’re dressed, I knew you had the day off, right? Well, you’re probably wondering why I asked you to drop by.

John: You want to know how to flee the wrath to come?

Viper: Oh, so Janet told you about the board meeting tomorrow. Let me get right to the point. You know Bear Grylls.

John: Is he a Pharisee?

Viper: Oh, ha ha, good one, JB. You don’t mind if I call you JB?

John: —-

Viper: No, you know, the guy on Man vs. Wild? The Discovery channel? The “born survivor?”

John: Has he been out to the desert?

Viper: You’re kidding. He’s been to the Sahara. Everest. Everglades. You name it. If it’s wild, he’s been there.

John: Hmmm, I don’t think I’ve seen him.

Viper: Really? Well, then how about Les Stroud? The Survivorman? I think he’s on the same network.

John: You know I don’t watch television.

Viper: Oh, wow, yeah. They probably don’t have cable out there, do they? So anyway, JB, you see, these survivor shows seem to be hot right now. Viewers just love to watch these guys eating grubs, and biting off live frogs’ heads, and getting lost, and showing things they do with their piss, and, well, you get the idea.

John: ????

Viper: We here at Jordan River Productions think we can trump all these johnny-come-latelys with a show starring the one, the original, survivor guy.

John: And that would be?

Viper: Ha ha, good one, JB.

John: —-

Viper: Oh, you meant that question. Why, you, of course! I’ve read your bio on Wikipedia. How you lived in the desert on just locusts and honey, right? That kind of stuff makes great footage. Chasing down some hip-hoppity insects and chomping off their legs. Yeah. Now, you gotta provide a running commentary, how these buggers got more protein than a Big Mac. That sort of thing. I understand you’re used to talking to an audience, right? I mean, some guys, you pin a mic on them, they start shaking like a reed! Then the next scene can show you finding a beehive in an old tree or something. You probably get stung a lot, right? The viewers eat that stuff up. We’ll have to bleep out the words you use, of course. FCC is real fussy about that.

John: Well, I don’t really think…

Viper: And then show how you make those fur pants you wear. From killing and skinning to sewing and fitting. The whole shebang. What is it? Leopard?

John: Camel.

Viper: Hmm, Leopard would be more exciting, but whatever, we can work on the details later. Now, we’ll have to add variety to keep the series going, of course. You can’t be in the desert every week. Viewers would drop out like flies if they knew what to expect. So another episode I’m thinking about is surviving a shipwreck. How about that, JB? Some island somewhere. Malta maybe. We can pretend it’s deserted. We just need to have a camera crew there when your ship goes aground. And another crew on board with you.

John: Look, I…

Viper: Now, every week, you can drop things about your background. Stuff that prepared you for this kind of lifestyle. I read you were an only child. Your mom had you late in life. And your dad was a priest. Probably had a lot to do with your eccentricity. No offense, man. Is it true your dad didn’t talk for nearly a year? My old man never talked much either. Couldn’t get a word in edgewise.

John: I don’t think my parents should…

Viper: Hey, you know what would make a cool episode. Surviving a stint in prison. I mean, if you eat that stuff in the desert, you could probably hack it on prison food, right? We could arrange to have you arrested on some trumped up charge. That’d make great publicity, JB. It got the Dog a lot of press. Maybe hold off until the second season for that one though.

John: Listen, there’s a crowd of people waiting for me down by the river, so if you’ll excuse me.

Viper: No, I got a better idea. End of the first season. Last show. End with a cliff hanger. There you are rotting in prison. Hey, JB, you’re going to love this. We’ll show a big party going on next door. Dancing girls. That’s another hot genre, you know. Dancing With the Stars. You know how to Tango? Never mind. You’ll get let out, of course, but we won’t show that until season two. What do you say? Sounds great, right?… JB?… Where did he go?… Janet, did you see him leave?… The guy with the weird pants, that’s who. Oh, now I’m in deep doodoo. If I don’t show the board this guy’s signature on a contract, they’re gonna have my head on a platter.


One thought on “The Original Survivor Man by Bill Batcher

  1. ericamilesx

    Original concept in the form of a play, The Original Survivor Man is a good escape from reality, whatever that is. Good for many laughs, terrific dialogue, and a couple of charming characters I wouldn’t even dare to describe to you. You have to read it for yourself to believe it.



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