Serious health scare nearly sinks new reality show ‘Survive the Raft’ on maiden episode

Jonathan Dade is treated for a seizure on 'Survive the Raft.'

Jonathan Dade is treated for a seizure on ‘Survive the Raft.’

If reality shows have taught us anything, it’s that people will stop at nothing in their quest for fame and fortune. Even … die. Or close to it, anyway.

That’s what nearly happened on the very first episode of a new Discovery series, Survive the Raft, which premiered Sunday, bringing back a social experiment from 50 years ago. And despite having a group of nine Americans that were “handpicked to disagree about everything,” it was a serious medical emergency that quickly drew everyone together during the premiere.

The series is based on a 1973 social experiment called “Peace Project” from anthropologist Santiago Genovés, that was later the subject of a 2018 documentary. He put 11 people from all walks of life on a tiny raft in the Atlantic for a trip that took 101 days to complete and was described on Survive the Raft as descending into “conflict, chaos and near mutiny.”

It remains to be seen if the group on this new show will meet a similar fate, but a prize of $250,000 should go a long way to dredging up the drama. And while some conversations had already elicited tense moments in the premiere episode, Sunday’s real drama came when 38-year-old rabbi and cast member Jonathan Dade suffered a seizure after being out fishing in the sun all day. His fellow cast mates were quick to take action, calling for a medic and making sure he went onto his side.

Dade was taken off the raft for further examination with hopes of returning. Unfortunately, host Nate Boyer came to the raft later and informed the other eight people that Dade needed to be taken for further evaluation and would not be returning.

Elsewhere on a survivor-saturated Sunday …

Keep your teammates close … and your competitors far from the cutlery: On Naked & Afraid: Castaways, three teams of three elite players each were inserted onto a deserted island teaming with deadly coral snakes, pit vipers, saltwater alligators and blood-sucking sand flies. But based on one competitor’s warning early in the episode, those killers may be the least of players’ worries. “My biggest challenge will be sharks, sand flies and Millenials,” predicted competitor Bulent Gurcan. “If I have to eat people, I’ll eat people. But I will survive.”

Bulent Gurcan on 'Naked and Afraid: Castaways.'

Bulent Gurcan on ‘Naked and Afraid: Castaways.’

Mae West, eat yer heart out: On that same episode, sassy Southerner Heather Smith— the sole female on her 3-person team — was solid brass and oozing moxie as she disrobed (it’s NAKED & Afraid, remember?) and said, “I’d like to say this is the first time I’ve been naked with two men. But it’s not.”

Heather Smith on 'Naked and Afraid: Castaways.'

Heather Smith on ‘Naked and Afraid: Castaways.’

Offal. It’s what’s for dinner: The scariest thing over on Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge wasn’t rappelling down a 200-foot cliff, it wasn’t free-floating down raging rapids, it wasn’t even the fact that those things were being done by Oscar-winning actor Troy Kotsur, who is deaf and therefore couldn’t hear any of host Bear Grylls’ instructions. No, the scariest part was when, in camp, Grylls breaks out a bag of foul, rotting deer offal (lungs, liver and heart) and has a nearly retching Kotsur stuff an intestine with the awful bits for that night’s rib-sticking supper, the Scottish “delicacy” known as haggis. “The great thing about getting Troy to do it is that he can’t sign with his hands while he’s doing it,” says a grinning Grylis. “But I have a suspicion what he would be signing,” he adds, flipping a middle finger to the camera, “which is more of that.”

Troy Kotsur sizes up dinner on 'Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge.'

Troy Kotsur sizes up dinner on ‘Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge.’

Survive the Raft and Naked and Afraid: Castaways air Sundays on Discovery.

Running Wild with Bear Grylls: The Challenge airs Sundays on National Geographic.

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