Survivor's "Bob Dog" Gets Neutered
Bobby Mason, Survivor: Panama
flew under Casaya's radar for the majority of his five-episode run on CBS' Survivor: Panama—Exile Island
(Thursdays at 8 pm/ET), but the Los Angeles native claims that his limited camera time was a purely strategic ploy. When TVGuide.com caught up with the mighty "Bob Dog" after his elimination, he barked about his on-screen portrayal and about what — OK, namely who
— really irked him during his island stay.
TVGuide.com: What has the reaction been like since your elimination episode aired?
Bobby Mason: People were really angry about the way I was treated. No one really saw a lot of the good stuff that I was doing early on in terms of strategizing. All of a sudden, producers break me out as [being] lazy and taking dumps and stealing stuff. People who I talk to know the real deal and understand it's entertainment. I'm not saying I played the game perfectly — there are some things I would have done differently — but for the most part, I was locked out early on, all because of that funky alliance that started.
TVGuide.com: Is it fair to say that your Survivor claim to fame is being the first contestant to christen "Casa de Charmin"?
Bobby: That was actually my strategy in stealing the wine — I didn't want to be known as the "toilet dude," so I figured, "be known as the wino."
TVGuide.com: Viewers didn't hear so much as a peep from you until that reward-challenge win. Was that a part of your strategy?
Bobby: I was in defensive mode from the start, and I was walking around on eggshells trying to stay under the radar. It's hard to stay under the radar when you're 220 pounds and call yourself "Bob Dog," but given that, I think I did a decent job of staying out of all those little fights. I wasn't as silent as it seemed. There was a time when I got in more fights than Courtney and Shane did, but they were actually about something. Those two would just fight because that's the way they talk to each other! I was disappointed in how I had been "tucked away" for those first few episodes, because I know I was actually in there playing the game.
TVGuide.com: As far as the reward challenge in last week's episode, you essentially secured that win, catching the fish that provided your tribe with its first decent meal in days. Was that a tough challenge to complete?
Bobby: That was probably the most fun thing I did out there. It was the first time I got to completely unload on something. Danielle and Courtney protested every other thing I did — I would try to make a spear out of bamboo, and you would hear them say [Imitating their whiny, high-pitched voices], "We need to work on the fire."
TVGuide.com: That's sort of how viewers saw it on TV — minus your sound effects, of course.
Bobby: It was 9,000 times worse than that. I can't even explain to you how bad it was. There were two of them, but it was like four, because Courtney's got three personalities, all of which are annoying.
TVGuide.com: One would think that after scoring food for your tribe, you would have been kept around. Did you get any sense you were going to have to pack your bags?
Bobby: People won't believe this, but I'm actually a pretty down-to-earth dude. I'm actually modest about the things I did and did well. Bruce was having trouble during the challenge since he didn't have the leverage, because of his height, and I did bring us back to win. Jeff [Probst] said that himself. So I wasn't patting myself on the back; that's what the consensus was. But I didn't think that entitled me to anything. Knowing my tribe, the mightier I seemed, the more likely I was to go.
TVGuide.com: Along with winning fish for dinner, Jeff gave Casaya some wine to enjoy. Walk me through your reasons for secretly holing up in the outhouse with Bruce and that prized bottle of wine. That pact you made to never vote each other out, was that the alcohol talking?
Bobby: It came across on television that I was making a promise not to ever vote for him, and I never made a promise like that to anybody. I was in such a weak position that it didn't do me any good to make a bond with anybody. Bruce and I are tight and I look forward to being friends with him when we get back to L.A.
TVGuide.com: Were you surprised by the tribe's reaction to your finishing the wine without their consent?
Bobby: They made it seem like it was a big deal. On TV it looked like I had stolen [the only bottle], but we had four.
TVGuide.com: In Episode 3, when you spoke highly of Bruce for improving the tribe's morale, your kind words resulted in La Mina sending him to Exile Island. Any regrets?
Bobby: I understand where the other team was coming from. If I had known the other team was going to pick the exiled contestant, I would have said, "Shane is incredible! He's the best!" — La Mina didn't know he had tried to quit earlier. I choked back some emotions when Bruce was sent. He had no idea how cold-blooded some of these people were. They were smiling to his face, but they were vicious to him behind his back, which is stupid, because I now knew what they were saying about me behind my back. My comments were a boost to Bruce's confidence but also a message to my tribe.
TVGuide.com: Here's where I'll ask the obligatory Shane question: Is he as crazy and outspoken as he appears on TV?
Bobby: He's definitely outspoken. Calling him "crazy" lets him off the hook. He's a real deliberate dude. He's like one of those kids who would eat boogers just to have girls say, "Eww, you're nasty!" He needs the attention, and his worst nightmare would be not to be noticed. In person, his actions seemed really contrived. That was part of the reason why I stayed away from him. He was putting on a performance.
TVGuide.com: How did your family reacted to your Survivor run?
Bobby: It was fun [for them] but there are a lot of things that were hard to see. I don't want my grandmother sitting around with her senior group seeing her grandson being portrayed in a way that wasn't accurate. It wasn't so much that the negatives were bad, but they never showed any of my positives.
TVGuide.com: You appeared as a contestant on Blind Date in 1998. Now that you've resurfaced on Survivor, does that mean viewers will continue to see you on reality TV?
Bobby: If opportunities come, I'll take a look at them. I'm almost an adult now — I'm 32 — so I'm back practicing law at Lapidus & Lapidus and working for a digital-production company.
TVGuide.com: Lastly, while you say Survivor was a positive experience for you overall, what really annoyed you on the island?
Bobby: The most annoying things were dehydration, Courtney, Shane's mullet, the lack of sleep, Shane's acid-washed jean shorts, Courtney's other personalities and Danielle's voice.
Are you addicted to shows like Survivor? Find out the real reason why reality TV is a hit.