The truly telling moment in “Survivor” newlyweds Rob and Amber Mariano’s latest TV sojourn comes near the outset of this half-hour series, when he mumbles, “I can’t go back to a 9-to-5 job after what I’ve been through.” Nope, after two bouts of “Survivor” (meeting on the all-star edition) followed by “The Amazing Race” and their televised nuptials, these two apparently are destined to live out their days on TV, even if that means fabricating a career for Rob that weds him to another marketable trend: Poker. Die-hard fans might welcome the reunion, but rest assured, there’s little “reality” here.
To its credit, as un-reality series go, “Rob and Amber: Against the Odds” is more upfront than most, listing two writers among its crew. Yet even with that concession, it’s hard to suspend disbelief long enough to have a moment’s doubt as to whether a skeptical Amber will relent and support Rob’s dream of moving to Las Vegas to become a professional poker player. The fix is in, after all, strictly based on the title.
Nevertheless, the series goes through the motions of trying to establish drama, as the two argue in the kitchen while Amber looks pouty and concerned. Indeed, the show is so scripted as to undermine any sense of reality, to the point where, when Amber’s mom suggests she take a walk on the beach and think things over, the show immediately cuts to her doing just that, trying to look pensive.
As for Boston Rob, who never met a consonant he couldn’t mangle (and doubles as one of the producers), there’s something almost poetic about his plight: Having become famous appearing on one of TV’s big guns, to stay in the spotlight he has taken refuge on the less-widely-seen Fox Reality — currently available in roughly a quarter of U.S. homes — seemingly dragging the missus along for the ride.
So it’s off to Vegas, where Rob receives tips from a poker ace even less adept at pretending there aren’t cameras around, laying down tough ground rules like no beer drinking when playing high-stakes poker.
Teases for upcoming episodes flash by at the conclusion, but it’s easy enough to anticipate the beats without looking: The couple’s marriage will be tested, Vegas will offer all kinds of glitz and glamour, and Rob will furrow his brow while trying to swim among more seasoned card sharks.
Win or lose, it’s pretty clear Rob and Amber will find a way to stay in the public eye, whatever the odds. Because as he says, after what they’ve been through, what else could they possibly do?