NBC is banning Siberians from watching online trailers and a pilot of its new 'thriller' called 'Siberia'.
Welcome to Tunguska, Manitoba. Picture: Engine Entertainment
The well hyped 13-episode series features 16 reality show contestants airlifted into remote Siberia where they must survive the harsh winter hoping to win a half million dollar prize. So far so good, except things are not as they seem, in more ways than one.
Perhaps this is why they don't want Siberians to know about it? For example, US viewers are conned into believing the action is in Siberia, which is after all the name of the show. In reality, this faux-reality show was filmed on the other side of the world, in a Canadian prairie province.
Not that most viewers will realise this as they watch this negatively-slanted portrayal of Siberia.
At first, the heroes in the show, which opens in the US on 1 July, display 'unbridled enthusiasm', stripping off to swim in the great 'Siberian' outdoors, but then they realise they have been deposited in the area where the Tunguska Event occurred in 1908, the meteorite crash that levelled 2,150 square kilometres of Krasnoyarsk forest.
Here they are to be billeted for the winter in an encampment 'first settled in 1908 by fur traders who mysteriously abandoned it never to be heard from again, a plot point reminiscent of the Lost Colony of Roanoke on North Carolina's Outer Banks'.
Welcome to Tunguska, Manitoba.
US viewers are conned into believing the action is in Siberia, which is after all the name of the show. In reality, this faux-reality show was filmed on the other side of the world, in a Canadian prairie province. Pictures: Engine Entertainment
'I was hooked the moment the Adonis-like Aussie host explained that the players would be housed in a settlement from which the inhabitants had mysteriously vanished 100 years ago, leaving food on tables and fires burning,' cooed one reviewer.
Yet in keeping with the US stereotype of Siberia, mixed with a cocktail of Hollywood horrors and then frozen in a Cold War time warp, 'strange things' soon start to happen with 'creepy, growling sounds from the woods' like something out of 'The Blair Witch Project', said another review, which is all we have to go on since people in the real Siberia are gagged by the TV giant from watching the trailers and the pilot episode purporting to show the 'reality' of their motherland.
'We're sorry, but the clip you selected isn't available in your location,' says the video gag.
'Hand-held cameras show a desperate cameraman's point of view as what sounds like a dinosaur chases him through the woods. Or something,' says the account in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The US television giant NBC is banning Siberians from watching online trailers and a pilot of its new 'thriller' called 'Siberia'. Pictures: Engine Entertainment
'Emotions in the group run hot when a fire spontaneously breaks out and sparks of lust are ignited among several contestants,' tv.broadwayworld.com tells us. 'Jeopardy and anxiety heighten with the acute need for food and protection from the Siberian wilderness as Natalie (Natalie Ann Scheetz) and Anne-Marie (Anne-Marie Mueschke) claim to have seen a tiger nearby'.
It must have escaped from a Canadian zoo because Tunguska would be some three time zones west from the habitat of the nearest Siberian tiger.
And the buildings and props. One image that slipped through the censorship shows a house with no similarity to what you see in the taiga, made of logs and small windows.
The trees? Let's just say they don't look right for this part of majestic Krasnoyarsk territory.
Sadly, even the highly-respected Los Angeles Times finds it all 'convincing', specially the 'things that rustle and howl in the dark' which, of course, is all that happens in the real Siberia.
'There aren't too many shows that provide good old-fashioned scare tactics', it states before warning: ''Siberia' may wind up going bloody and gross'.
It is not real in another way, too. The people.
'Jeopardy and anxiety heighten with the acute need for food and protection from the Siberian wilderness as Natalie (Natalie Ann Scheetz) and Anne-Marie (Anne-Marie Mueschke) claim to have seen a tiger nearby'. Pictures: Engine Entertainment
Of course, it has the usual stereotypes for such shows, we're told, like 'the conceited, obnoxious country boy (Johnny Wactor), the snooty model (Esther Anderson), the helpful environmentalist (Tommy Mountain), the friendly geek (Daniel Sutton) ...etc.
In this reality-that's-not-reality show, the contestants are actors playing the part of normal people.
'It's very possible people will wind up being tricked into believing it's all real, or at least as 'real' as this sort of exercise gets,' warns Daily Variety.
Which all means that it is Siberia's image in the world which takes another hit. Just at a time when it is rightly recovering a more positive image around the world, with inward investment and foreign tourism growing significantly. These investors and tourists come in search of the real modern Siberia, unlike the makers of this TV fake.
This clearly is of no interest to NBC and those who made this series in Manitoba, namely Infinity Films Productions in association with Sierra-Engine Television and the appropriately named Welldone Productions. Well done, NBC.