TV Review: ‘Eaten Alive’

"Eaten Alive" TV Special Review on

Discovery Channel made a bit of a splash with the announcement it would air the special “Eaten Alive,” about a guy who intends to let himself be engulfed by a giant anaconda, then the network wisely decided not to screen it in advance. That’s because the more accurate title, for those who bothered to watch, would be ”Suckered In.” Part nature special, part save-the-Rain-Forest lecture, part “Predator,” the protracted buildup culminated in a staged encounter that amounted to more of a snack than a meal. Even allowing for a bit of P.T. Barnum-like showmanship, this nonsense proved hard to swallow.

Conservationist Paul Rosolie and his team traveled through a remote region of the Amazon looking, as it were, for the snake that got away: According to Rosolie, a green anaconda he encountered larger than the record size of nearly 25 feet.

Not just an anaconda, in other words, but a “mega-anaconda” of “truly monstrous proportions,” as the narration put it – which, if it hasn’t already, would make a great title for one of those cheapo Syfy movies.

Actually, just finding such a snake and learning a bit about it would probably be worthy of an hour or so, or a movie starring Jennifer Lopez. But they didn’t call this “Searching for Giant Snakes,” and the producers and Discovery sought to sweeten their haul by gimmicking-up the proceedings with the high-tech suit devised to theoretically allow the beast to swallow and regurgitate Rosolie, a bulky contraption that only made him that much more inedible.

The main event, not surprisingly (and yes, SPOILER ALERT), turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. Having failed to catch the snake he wanted, Rosolie settled for getting eaten by the snake he’s with, wearing an outfit last seen when John Wayne fought a giant octopus in “Reap the Wild Wind.”

The confused snake nibbled on his arm, and then the two engaged in a round of extended mud wrestling, complete with a lot of heavy breathing. And that actually makes it sound more exciting than it was.

Then again, this was a special so desperate to ratchet up the drama that it actually featured a headline out of the Weekly World News, before acknowledging that most “snake eats man” stories are, in fact, hoaxes.

Still, the hook was baited, and “Eaten Alive” had to pad out a two-hour block, weaving in a history of snakes – they’re in the Bible! And mythology! – chaotic footage of the search; dramatic musical cues; and slow-motion shots of Rosolie popping out of the water, vaguely resembling a “Rambo” movie.

That’s not to say “Eaten Alive” didn’t offer compensation in terms of nature footage and sheer comedy, beginning with the obligatory disclaimer that read, “Do not attempt any of the acts featured in this program.” Plus there were all those tweets flashing across the screen from people allegedly saying how impressed they were by what they were watching.

See? Find the right audience, and even the most ridiculous and manipulative TV can be educational — and without shedding any skin, reveal a network’s true colors.

TV Review: 'Eaten Alive'

(Special; Discovery Channel, Sun. Dec. 7, 9 p.m.)

Production

Produced by Expedition Amazon.

Crew

Executive producers, Michael Sorensen, Matthew Kelly; producer, Meagan Davis. 122 MIN.

Cast

Featuring: Paul Rosolie

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  1. jonathan hofwijks says:

    Discovery channel is really dissapointing me these days. First the overdramatization of whale wars. All hyped and startled people juicibg up there shows when some 5 foot japanese whaler would sneeze in there direction.

    And inbetween whale wars en eaten alive a lot of other made up moments in show not worth mentioning.

    We grew up on discovery channel trying to educate us and showing the beauty of flora and fauna and not this crap where they lie to boost ratings.
    The only ratings that were high for eaten alive was that of being overrated.

  2. kandarp says:

    There was nothing like eaten alive. I watched the whole show. It was waste of time. When the anaconda really started to eat that guy he was terrified and his team pulled him back.

  3. What would you expect from the network that gave you a “documentary” on mermaids?

  4. Sherry says:

    My local listings had it as a 3 hour “event.” Then Naked & Afraid came on for the first hour with a countdown timer in the corner. When it did come on, I fast forwarded thru most of it. The snake didn’t even begin to “eat” him till the very end. What a crock of sh*t! Usually the more they hype a show up, the more disappointing it is.

  5. XR says:

    Perhaps they should have searched for the giant snake with Geraldo in Al Capone’s vault…

  6. Robert Linton says:

    Been a discovery fan since day one last nite show eaten alive was by far a waste of my time when i could of been sleeping and resting up for a days work but no i stayed up and excited to watch the show just to be dispointed with a guy like this your rate’ns will go down big time but it won’t stop me from watching discovery been a fan forever

  7. Mike Thompson says:

    They advertise for three to four weeks about a snake eating a man then not following through. The Discovery Channel continues to show the public their highly questionable tactics. This channel used to be one of my very favorites but their dishonesty has me screaming. First they have the shark week with the Megalodon fairy tale. Now we’re hit with “tweets” being displayed in front of their programming. Discovery displays times and descriptions on the local cable company channel guide TV listing indicating that their new show is labeled “New”, but the show that aired last week usually shown just before the new show is labeled “New” as well even though it aired last week. This happens every week. I emailed them just to get no response. This network is showing signs of being desperate for some reason.

  8. Howard Menkes says:

    I ignored the disclaimer and allowed my neighbor’s python to eat me. I’m pretty good at holding my breath, so getting constricted wasn’t so bad, but being eaten and regurgitated was kind of gross.

  9. Carol says:

    I’m totally pissed for having wasted 2hrs for them to show him “Eaten Alive,” and the snake just bit him on his helmet. Discovery Channel should be sued for misrepresentation! That channel totally lost their credibility after this debacle. boooo!

  10. Walter says:

    My father used to tell me about going to the circus, and how he was always disappointed with the sideshow “freak” shows that promised more than they delivered. This was the same thing. I cannot believe anyone thought this guy would be completely consumed by a snake.

  11. Emotionally wrenching. Most fascinating nature documentary I have ever seen. I got light-headed at times from the footage. HOWEVER! He didn’t let himself be totally consumed (then regurgitated which the watchers could have made the snake do by startling it), but it was a cockamamie idea in the first place! Really, what was learned that was so valuable, except that Rosolie is a psych case! Really, this could have ended really badly both for the snake AND Paul Rosolie………..

  12. eric says:

    That was an hour and a half of bull crap! Thank you for a waste of a goodnight!

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