please excuse the length. first eps always need extra words and also there were limited commercial breaks here. also the premiere was an hour and seven minutes.
Bonanza City, New Mexico. Our host, bland guy in flannel, tells us the history of this ghosttown. the schoolbus of children approaches as Josh (or John..maybe) tells us that the eldest child is 15, the youngest 8 and a half. there are 40 kids, so i'm not gonna try too hard with names yet unless the kid sticks out. 4 leaders have been assigned representing all kids in all different ways. They will each be assigned to an area of town and are collectively known as the Town Council. These four children are Mike (11) the boy scout, Taylor (10) the pageant queent, Anjay (12) the genius spelling bee champ, and Laurel (12) the redheaded respected school leader. is she a principal? the kids have been dropped a few miles from town and have to drag wagons of supllies there. they must also rope goats to take with them. the 15 year old seems to be very good at this roping.
the town council remains behind so jonathan (?) can tell them that every few days, they are to award the Top Kid a gold star trophy worth $20,000. The council, predictably, shits a brick. a gold one. shaped like a star. oh man, i'm already liking laurel's sass and accent. jonathan tells them to keep their lips zipped about the trophy. tempting.
We meet sophia (14), who talks like she's on fast forward, as she complains about Mike the boy scout, who seems to take his job of shouting orders but not picking up slack very seriously. we get our first tense moment between greg (the 15 year old) and Mike when greg tells him to swap jobs for 5 minutes. after about 6 seconds of mike struggling, greg resumes his post. mike's ego has taken a bruising.
a cute little 9 year old named alex missed the concept here i think. he sadly and innocently says that he "kind of thought there'd be adults here". that wouldn't be any fun! for us i mean!
there is an adorable crisis when they realize they have to feed themselves and none of them know how to cook. sophia catches mike's eye as a possible candidate for the gold star when she takes control of the cooking. sophia's meal is subpar, but it's better than nothing.
little (gorgeous) taylor has a cry over missing home, her own bed, and eating protein (!). Several of the children are beaten down and discouraged about the first day, a few consider leaving. when mike announces there will be a town hall meeting after dinner, the kids mutiny and say they're just going to bed. kid nation:2 mike's ego:0
sophia's breakfast the next day is much better. so much so that kids take more than their share and whimsical jared is left without food. there is a group riot. mike tries to take control of the situation, but greg criticizes his leadership and things get mildly physical between the two and not in a sexy way. some brave hero with shaggy hair (Michael, 14) makes an inspiring speech (complete with swelling music) that the kids are all thankful for.
the town council are instructed by "journal" to each lead a sector of town, represented by bandanas of four different colors. the four set to choosing their denizens. there are homesick problems, a graffiti scandal (commited by the older boys) and bathroom woes. jared optimistically hopes that he doesn't have to go poo in their 40 days there. jonathan the host explains to the kids that they will further be divided by class. there are 4 types of jobs (laborers, cooks, merchants, upper class) each earning 4 different amounts (10 cents, 25 cents, 50 cents, $1.00) so they can earn spending money for the fully stocked stores (that makes this whole thing seem a little less difficult). the jobs are decided with a district showdown. they have to move colored pumps, pump out water colored for their team, and fill three bottles. the water is so dyed that the children's skin now represents what team they're on. red wins upper class, blue are the merchant class, yellow comes in third as the cooks, leaving green as the laborers. since all teams finished within an hour, they win a town reward. either seven more poopboxes, or one idiotbox. of course a lot of kids stupidly want the tv, but the council must decide and they wisely choose more outhouses.
the kids have fun with their new jobs and the stores they now have access to. Mallory (8) does a quick dance that's really adorable. this dance was best described by TwoP's M. Giant, "In an interview, Mallory goes "Yay!" and does the worst, stiffest, yet somehow cutest, seated cabbage patch I've ever seen." Sophia covets a $3 bicycle and, because she's a laborer with a measly salary of 10 cents, she dances for nickels in the center of town until she earns enough to purchase it. we've already got a town whore!
town meeting. kids air their complaints. they also get the chance to leave if they want. taylor decides to stay. young 8 and a half year old jimmy (who did several really cute things during the episode, but it would take too long if i wrote them all out) says that he is homesick and scared. and adorable! his fellow townmates urge him to stay, but he ultimately decides to go. for her hard work, sophia is awarded the gold star. and just like that, she's $20,000 richer. no more dancing for nickels! she also gets to call her parents. hooray!
final kid count: 39