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Monday 10:00 PM on NBC

Siberia S01E01: "Pilot"

Regardless of your opinion of unscripted competition shows, I think we can all agree that watching beefy and busty fame-whore reality-show contestants fall victim to creepy murders sounds like a fantastic way to spend an evening. Ladies and gentleworms, NBC's Siberia

If you didn't watch Siberia's series premiere but are so bored that you're reading this review anyway, please allow me to explain it. The supernatural thriller from NBC is a twist wrinkle on found-footage horror movies in which 16 contestants on a Survivor-like reality show are choppered out to a meteor crash site in Siberia (or more likely, Oxnard, Calif.) to survive the wilderness and participate in elimination challenges for a $500,000 purse. The whole series, or at least the first episode, is smartly and—let's not give it too much credit—predictably presented as a reality show, complete with familiar reality personas (whiny model, selfish jerk, total dweebus), individual interviews/confessionals, and a hunky Oceanic host who I can only assume works as an underwear model and plays rugby when he's not Probst-ing. But as soon as the contestants get comfortable in their new battleground and utter the first "I'm not here to make friends," things start to go wrong. Like, murder wrong! Is there a monster? Are there angry cannibalistic indigenous peoples? Or has one of the contestants gone psycho? That's Siberia's hook.

The appeal of reality shows, at their heart, is to satiate our perverted lust for voyeurism. Yes, we're all perverts, just accept it. We have an ingrained attraction to watching unaware people act "naturally" on camera. A "real" housewife who flips a table in anger is a thrill. A pair of randy roommates making a tent under the covers while a night-vision camera films them boinking is titillating and gross. A bimbo wondering whether tuna is actually chicken is comforting confirmation that we are not as dumb as millionaire pop stars.  

Siberia's early application of this conceit is where the series—which probably would have made a better two-hour movie—is already showing cracks. There was a lot of effort to whisk us into the world of a reality show, and it sort of worked. The problem was, we knew we weren't watching a reality show. We were watching a fake (kinda redundant, I know) reality show. So halfway through the episode when Whiny Model and Stubborn Asian Lady engaged in some typical reality-show theatrics by bickering for far too long about who was sleeping on the floor and who was getting the last bed because there were more people than mattresses, it started to feel like a waste of everyone's time. We put up with and are occasionally fascinated by this type of human-garbage behavior in reality shows because reality shows are ostensibly real and we're witnessing an idiot or bigot in its (somewhat) natural habitat. When that veil of authenticity is lifted and characters are acting like petty assholes out of a script, it's pointless. Siberia had a chance to skewer the genre with full-on satire, but simulated "real" moments like the bed fight—or the scenes where eco-hippy Tommy carried nerd boy and his flimsy ankles to camp—indicated that the show wasn't ever ready to commit whole-hog and embrace its own absurdity. Siberia producers should have watched Cabin in the Woods and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil on loop for a week straight before breaking script. 

That would have been the best-possible scenario for Siberia. But Siberia is not a "best possible" type of show. Of course, that doesn't mean Siberia isn't watchable. Because even with the haunting feeling that this fake-reality show too often tries to be a real-reality show in the wrong types of ways, Siberia succeeds as stupid fun. Why? Because people we barely care about are acting like morons (seriously Berglind, your strategy was to run AWAY from the obvious path?), and if the show lives up to its bare-minimum promise, those same people we barely care about will be gruesomely picked off one at a time by some unseen terror. It's kind of like that old 2009 CBS slasher-horror bomb Harper's Island packaged in a different way, and that show wasn't that terrible.  

But let's all agree that subsequent episodes will HAVE to cut down on the silly reality tropes and spend some time on the systematic slaughter of these dummies, otherwise the show will be a total failure. That's what we're here to see, right? We want torn cartilage and ripped flesh and screams of pain and really bad times for these contestants, and nothing more. Siberia is the modern-day equivalent of burning ants with a magnifying glass, but without the guilt; its "reality show" should dissolve into chaos as contestants are eliminated from life, and the thrills should multiply. By far the best parts of the first episode were when Siberia evolved into found-footage horror, and I hope that's the direction it'll go in, and fast. Spooky sounds in the woods! Ghost stories about old inhabitants! Three-legged frogs! Bleeding cameraman! By that logic, the pilot, with all its reality silliness and atmospheric setup, should be the worst episode. And that's why there's still plenty of time for Siberia to succeed (via mass murdering), though I'm probably being overly optimistic here.

Siberia also showed no preferential treatment for quality characters, as Trustafarian hippie do-gooder and nerd-carrier Tommy was the show's first confirmed kill. But idiots got their due, too, with Berglind and Harpreet experiencing the shame of being eliminated first. Or maybe the producers just hate difficult names. Their dismembered bodies better show up soon, or I'm writing an angrily worded letter. That's another thing about this series: There's no time to really get to know the characters, but that's okay. We just want to watch them die, so maybe it's better if we don't actually get attached. 

At this point, the real fun is in the audience participation portion of the show, because we can randomly root for one of these fake people to live until the end. It's kind of like betting on turtle races. My top pick is obviously the cowboy jerk Johnny (he's a Bull Rider!), because awful people are usually the best in these types of situations. Right after Johnny, I've got George the Boring Accountant because accountants need love too, Victoria the Shy Sales clerk from Canada in honor of Canada Day, and Neeko the Rugby Player because the terrible relationship between horror movies and black guys needs to end now! But really, I don't care that much and I hope Outback Joe the Host eats them all.

I'm also intrigued by the "no rules!" game design, because it encourages contestants to behave terribly. I'm not just talking hiding flag markers, tripping others, or putting itching powder in rivals' underpants. I'm thinking poisoning and Colombian neckties. Can't you just picture nerdy computer guy wearing war paint and hanging upside down from a tree to slit the throat of Miljan the Eastern European DJ? This is a fake reality show, after all, so let's see these people behave the worst they possibly can because no one is actually going to take this show seriously. 

In the meantime, we can enjoy Siberia as a cathartic distraction, and if the preview of the rest of the season is any indication, things are about to get all murder-y in the woods. That's what will make Siberia work, so kill them all, I say.


NOTES

– THOSE MUSHROOMS LOOK DISGUSTING. Red with white dots? What is this, a stoner tapestry at a head shop or Mario World?

– The series started with 16 contestants, and killed one and eliminated two in the first episode. That leaves 13 characters and 12 episodes left. Does that mean only one person will die per episode? Maybe Siberia should have started with 30 contestants to satisfy our bloodlust?

– It's a fake show and all the writers could muster up was a $500,000 prize? 

– How the show manages (or fails) to pull off the "this is still a reality show" construct while people are dying will be interesting to see. Will the competition stop? What will give the cameramen reason to continue filming?

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 9/16/2013

Season 1 : Episode 11

127 Comments
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anyone knows when this is coming back already!!??
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cant wait till next season!!!!!
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Obviously in the minority here but I liked the season way better than I expected. It gets better around the fifth episode with considerably less reality TV antics. Definitely one of the more interesting shows of summer 2013.
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This show sucked shit. I watched the entire series. Sort of watched mostly I did shit on my computer while it was on. Nothing ever really happened or paid off on this show. It was like a really horrible crappy version of Lost if Lost had bad acting, zero character development, zero plot twists or anything. Even more stupid is there are supposed to be camera men filming this whole thing and sharing in the adventure but we never see them and they never become part of the story even though they are now in the same predicament as the contestants. Retarted garbage. Don't watch this stupid thing.
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okay, people you may think this a bad show but who cares its entertainment weather its real or not i love it !!!!
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mix bad 'reality' with bad acting and you get a bad soap opera. is anybody buying any of this drivel?
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TURNING IT OFFFFFF !!!!!! NOWWWW !!!!!! THIS REALLY SUCKS !!!!!!!!
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I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS SHOW HAS MADE IT TO ANOTHER WEEK !! IT IS AWFUL .....WORST ACTORS I HAVE EVER SEEN ....AND I WOULD BET 1 MILLION DOLLARS THAT EVERYONE THAT IS A ACTOR ON THIS SHOW ...WILL NEVER EVER WORK AGAIN !!!
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Siberia is THE worst program I have ever seen in my life! Did NBC hand pick the worst actors available? Horrible horrible horrible. Please cancel this show it's a waste of air space.
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The only persons who can survive are Mr.Greedy Cowboy, because he's familiar with survival skills. Next, is the mild-mannered Archer, because she has skills. The rest, minus Mr. Bouncer, are a bunch of idiots, wringing their hands, wondering and whining..
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Ok i watched the first 2 episodes...and at first i kinda started to enjoy it...but now i watched the first 10 minutes of this episode this week and i turned it off....the whole try and pretend this is real stuff ....is really playing with my intelligence...so good luck...but this show sucks !!!
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I don't know about any of the other characters yet but the girl who plays Caroline is Joyce Giraurd. She was on an episode of the old Friends spinoff Joey. She played the girl Joey Tribbiani dated in the episode "Joey and the ESL". She was also on Dude Where's My Car, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Bold and the Beautiful and Baywatch.
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No more reviews? Hmmm, has anyone considered that the producers have set up the whole thing, that the guy who died in the first episode is a plant, and so on?
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well, we now know that Carolina was put in by the producers.
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The funny thing is, in the third episode Neeko found a cable and followed it to the loudspeaker. But... why didn't he follow the other end?
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Well, they found the loudspeaker in the most recent episode, but they don't seem to have figured that Tommy may be a plant. Not that it appears he is, but the contestants might figure it anyway.
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I just have one thing to say. "What the ..." "Siberia" has made me swear off reality shows forever. Does anyne have a creative brain these days? REALITY TV overload. I was so excited when I first watched Siberia and even though throughout the first episode I kept saying to myself that the contestants' reaction times were off. Something was not quite right. Obviously, I was one of the few people who did not know beforehand that it was scripted and that the contestants were actors. I thought it was REAL until someone took a fall and died - then I knew I was being bushwacked!!. The TV producers need to return to the original concept that made REALITY shows popular in the first place. They were unscripted, unpredictable and watch this....VERY REAL! I think it was called "SURVIVOR".
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if you bothered to do ANY research, you would see that this is NOT a reality show, but rather a show ABOUT a reality show. Seriously, how hard is that to comprehend? EVERYONE seems to just not get it.
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We get it it's just f$cking retarded
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seriously !!!!!!! this is what you give us to watch, this fake crap , filmed in Canada, eating pork! caring a half frozen deer , she shot a doe and they cut the head off a spike!!!! you dotn make a shot like that and it bleed out like that. I cant watch any more of this, its stupid, im turning it to duck dynasty, did you guys really think you could compete with them.
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Like the review said, this show is about killing people and the no rules aspect could be interesting. But the second episode was even more boring than the first and when the show could have really done something interesting (SPOILER ALERT) by having Victoria die from poisonous mushrooms given to her by another cast member, it chickened out. How much more interesting would it have been for one cast member to kill another cast member. Instead...boredom city.
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This show could have been so good, but the pacing is too slow and they're staging it more like a scripted show than "reality." When the Nerd (whose ankle was totally healed by the next day) is running through the woods with Creepy Lady, the cameras are in front and behind them at the same time. Impossible for one cameraman to do. Sloppy. And I don't know how they'll continue the reality conceit once more bodies start piling up. Everyone would bolt at that point.
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So What Is This Moster It Even Showed Old Drawings
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Watch it be a smoke monster
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The shed is like the shed in "the Village" where the monster suit was kept. I think it is Sabina. She did not run the route to the camp so how did she get there?
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What is really going on? how did they get to kill off 1contestant already plus why did he agree to be put off? As far as the locked shed, all of them should know about that. It could be supply shed or housimg.
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So when did Tommy record his after interview?! This is the story of my life also the nice guy always get the wrong end of the stick (Please not read that in the wrong way you sick person!) :( Anyway want to see ep 2 now!
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GOOD F*CKING POINT!!!
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I hate to admit this... but I do love a good killing :3 I'm not a psychopathic murderer but I do enjoy a good survival game of life and death. If this show wants to continue, they should try to make the murders a little more relieving, bloody, and scary. I'm thinking rogue killer clown more than a mutated pig caught in a deadly alien substance that makes them testosterone filled wild beasts. I can not wait for that cowboy to be killed off, I don't hate him, and he is kind of hot ;3 but he is a really egotistic jerk who honestly wouldn't last one day alone in the wilderness. I noticed that their killing off people that can help them survive (i.e. Tommy and his knowledge of environments), so I do think that jerk will last the longest, because he does absolutely NOTHING except lay on a roof and tan. He says he's a country boy but he acts more like a city slicker. I know those country folk have good hearts and aren't selfish.
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"No Rules" --- I would have had one of the contestants hold one or more of the cameramen hostage for food and supplies.
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My thoughts exactly. BTW, where do the cameramen eat, sleep and do their things? They could steal their food or even their cameras and trade them for food. No rules, right?
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maybe that is where that outhouse comes in...
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'Siberia' - The Blair Witch Project of television.
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"Siberia producers should have watched Cabin in the Woods and Tucker & Dale vs. Evil on loop for a week straight before breaking script." -> This is exactly why I love reading your reviews, Tim!
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Okay, the show was filmed in Manitoba, Canada. At the end of the show, watch the credits and at the end, it says the characters are fictional and it was filmed in Canada.
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This is a stupid nitpick, but I'd never really believe that a reality show would get people from all over the world into Russia (there's so much legal hassle with the visas, insurance, etc. - though the Russian cameraman were a nice touch). Also, it seems like it's late summer and the competition goes on through the whole winter? Who's going to tape and produce this for 6 months.
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Any way we could airlift the cast of BB15 and drop them into the middle of this 'reality' show?
That would more than satisfy my bloodlust (considering what's being revealed in the live feeds...) even if they only slaughter one contestant per episode.
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I would feel SO much better about this show if people weren't written being so FREAKING STUPID!! The writers should have at least made the characters smart enough to know to boil water! GAH!

P.S. I would totally do a real show like this (without all the dying) as long as it wasn't at a radioactive site, and there was more money offered.
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What happened to Tommy
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He was captured by the others
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I feel as if this whole review is one sided
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Apparently the guy who wrote this review doesn't comprehend character development: the show did a good job of presenting who each character is, or appears to be, within a reality show format. The great thing is, instead of tuning in each week to see who goes home, we'll get to anticipate who gets killed. Can't wait!
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This is a good review from him;-) lol, seriously!
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I thought it was interesting enough to give it a few episodes. But then again, I really liked The River, so what do I know? Plus there is a real lack of horror on television, no matter how poorly executed, so I'll take what I can get.
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I kinda liked it, i don't know if i will be watching it regularly, i will wait for the next episode to make up my mind
But as Tim said, the reality show should stop, the show does have great potential(killing people), and i think it was good that the first episode was Reality-Show like, but i think the rest should become like a horror movie or something like that and then i will be totally hooked on the show
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according to Wikipedia ...

"At least 5 of the contestants in the show are actors and the remaining 9 have not been identified as actors and could be real contestants. Whether the real contestants know about the direction (or misdirection) of the show has yet to be revealed."

now I do not think that this is what they actually did (since all but 2 of them have IMDB profiles) ... but I think that would have been an awesome direction to take ... with people NOT in on the joke as it were.
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I would say your skepticism is right. As well as IMDB profiles, there is the whole aspect of creating a TV series, from writing, casting to filming.

Anyone that knows anything about how a TV series is made (compared to a reality show) would know this statement is complete nonsense.

Of course, there's the whole insurance side of it that would mean they would have to know anyway.
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Everyone of the non-actors would quit as soon as two people died, if not as soon as the first person died.
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Hey tv.com … can we please have a dead pool for this show?
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Made me Laugh, they added "reality" aspects like the fighting and the selfish 'i have a lighter how bad am i' guy yet when they were all running from the big bad noises in the woods......they locked the camera men outside with the monster. Hilarious
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Staff
I enjoyed the pilot more than I should have, and I am judging myself harshly for it.
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I watched it last week and it was ok, the acting was pretty cheesy and I laughed at that often but it has potential as long as they don't focus too much on the reality stuff and actually have a plotline. cross between The River and Harper's Island.

my grandmother came in around halfway and I kept trying to explain to her that it's a show about a reality show and people get killed and she was like "....so it's a reality show?" lol
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Just finished watching the pilot and thought it was hilarious. I'll keep watching it as long as people keep dying. I'll go with the reviewer's vote on the douche bull-rider for last person standing.
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Haha, I agree. It reminds me of last years 'The River'. Completly ludicrous, entertaining and inintentionally hilarious.

I was suprised that Tommy got killed off first. Bets on the next to go?
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i think irene ....
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Sam or one of the chicks
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I watched the show online last week with no clue that it wasn't a reality show. When hippie-boy died I was like, "WTF?! Why didn't I hear this on the news?" Then I watched the credits where they said it was a fake show, and I realized there was no way I would have watched the whole thing knowing it was scripted.
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I haven't seen this yet but was just bored enough to read the review. Now I want to watch it. If only they had a Jersey Shore version where snooki get slaughtered
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Or better yet.... The Donner version, where they eat a dead Snooki, to stay alive in the Siberian snow . . . :)
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I think the entire show got better knowing it was scripted. An underlying sense of doom, kind of.
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Those mushrooms are actually really dangerous. You can't eat them even if boiled, I liked this show and will most definately keep watching.
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Another review I read referred to this show as a "Kid-Nation-meets-Hunger-Games" reality show - and then I had to watch it. From the get-go you could pinpoint the stereotypical "contestants" - Daniel, Esther, Johnny, etc. But it reminded me of Kid Nation because of how wonderfully cheesy it was, and last year I was completely OBSESSED with Kid Nation (five years after it aired - I regret nothing). I also love murder mysteries and fall asleep watching Investigation Discovery, so it's right up my alley. After watching the pilot I can tell it is going to be my favorite summer show. Unfortunately, I see it meeting the same fate as Kid Nation - unappreciated, and ultimately canned. I love it anyway, and am looking forward to the rest of the season.
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I loved Kid Nation too!
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I've only liked 4 reality shows:
- Face Off (only one I still watch)
- Apprentice (for 2 seasons)
- Cannonball Run (interesting cross-country race show, lasted 1 season)

Face Off is interesting; I hate that SyFy is going the reality/wresting route but Face Off is at least creative. Each episode we get to see some interesting takes on different themes by different minds. So instead of JUST bickering and seeing who won the daily event... we're looking at some cool stuff. They're MAKING stuff instead of playing tug-of-war or running obstacle courses.
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I like Survivor, but only because it is a really good game show. I like Amazing Race, for both the game show and travelogue aspects. I don't mind game and news shows, but 60 Minutes is the only one I make time for. I hate personality shows (the Kardassians, Hiltons, Housewives, etc of the world just need to take a flying leap).
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That is 3.
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Yeh, typo. I was going to also say 1 season of Celebrity Apprentice but I only kind-of liked it. And forgot to adjust the number.
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Beautiful people wintering in Siberia? That means one thing: None of them will wear hats or mittens.

This would have more (read: any) appeal to me if I thought reality show contestants were /actually/ being murdered.
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Or like the video game "Lost Planet"

In the game, the temperatures are incredibly cold, like probably a few degrees from absolute zero. And one of the female NPCs is showing off her cleavage with her coat the entire game.

Seriously?
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It fascinated me because it made no sense to me that you'd put 16 completely underdressed people in Siberia (then I discovered it was a drama).
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And without toilet paper and other "necessities". Gilligan's Island this is not !!!
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Oddly, I thought that was actually kinda fun... up until the death.

I was a huge fan of Survivor during its first 4-5 seasons but lost all interest in it soon after that... so no, I'm not a current fan of reality/competition/game shows. But for a minute or two during the episode, I really did forget that it was fake (even more than real reality shows). There were other moments, like the one mentioned by Tim here regarding the little spat between Whiny Model and Sensitive Asian Lady, that I just didn't care for, but otherwise, it wasn't too bad. Until the death.

On the one hand, it seems weird that I'd say I kiiiiind of liked the show until the death, considering that was the only interesting part of the premise for me. If it was just touted as a fake reality show, I'd have passed on it. On the other hand, the reason I hated the death is probably because it was what I had the higher expectation for... I had tremendously low expectations for the rest of the show, and it was the deaths that were supposed to entertain me. But the death happened off-screen. Booooo! I wanted to see Tommy slaughtered and some crazy spooky shit. Not just some stupid growling sounds, some cameraman coming back with a head injury, and the host appearing and saying Tommy was dead. Actually, that doesn't sound all that bad when I type it, but it sucked on screen. Booooring. I haven't seen any future previews for the show, so I hope you're right that it gets all murder-y.

And +1 for your reference of Tucker & Dale vs. Evil.
More+
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My guess is that if there's some "strange" mass murder, a couple of the remaining camera men will become introduced as characters.
Also, the annoying city girl probably won't "die" until closer to the end because of the couple of guys that liked her will end up dead, and the last crushing man standing will be there to comfort her. Then turn into a zombie. BAM. The walking dead in Siberia
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From the teasers, it looks like the camera-men will become characters pretty quickly. I mean, as soon as strange mysterious stuff starts happening ANYONE would turn on the guy filming them in less than 10 seconds. That either they're in on it, or they're being d-bags for continuing to film.
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Russians take any slur on Siberia very very seriously. This land has a special place in their collective soul as per the many many folk songs written on it or around it. Le us not forget that for centuries this is were poor people were sent to die for any offence against the Crown, and later it became the home of the Gulags. So I hope that NBC will be very careful how they render the place to their audience. Of course there will not be an international scandal over tgis, but they will remember.
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Siberia is a big place.

I can understand some places being sacred... for example I woudn't be a fan if a SyFy Sunday movie had the ghosts of Auschwitz rising up and killing Germans or something... but so long as they weren't using real names of real victims and such I wouldn't mind. And I lost relatives there.

Meanwhile, you don't hear people complaining about slasher films taking place in the South or the Bayou.

So long as they don't poop on the individuals that suffered there, go ahead.
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"the ghosts of Auschwitz" .... Have you seen Shutter Island ? ? ? Now that's a trippy movie !!!
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Your comment is so out of place, it's a television show not a documentary. Can't remember any indigenous people from the Amazon complaining about "The River" although it was a crime against humanity itself...
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Okay, sorry but that's very funny and very ridiculous. When has anyone you know spoken or heard what an indigenous people from the Amazon last express themselves on anything other than sheer survival; which in fact no one seems to be listening to. An indigenous individual criticizing a TV show,sure that happens every day.
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Oh puh-leez, my wife was born and raised in Siberia, she watched the show with me, and she expressed none of that over sensitive bullsh!+ you've got your panties in a wad about.
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Fine,me bad. But you said "expressed" which doesn't mean "felt". Then maybe the Russian side of my family are oversensitive about it.It takes many to make the world.
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