Tonight on ABC, the season finale of Mark Burnett’s epic reality/adventure series, “Expedition Impossible,” will be coming to its exciting finish, with 4 of the remaining 13 teams competing to win $150,000 total to be shared amongst 3 team members, as well as a new Ford Explorer.
The show, which originally featured 2 teams from the Boston area, lost their last New England reps with last week’s episode, as team “The Cops” just missed a spot in the finals in a race-to-the-finish episode filled with white water rafting, rock rappelling, mountain climbing, and fast-paced hikes across the treacherous terrain of Morocco.
Jim Vaglica, a police sergeant in Waltham who lives in Billerica, MA and the unofficial captain of “The Cops,” became involved in the show because of his audition for another Mark Burnett reality show years earlier.
“I applied to “Survivor” a couple years ago, and come to find out, casting directors travel around for different shows and bring their files with them. They look for people who would fit into what they are trying to cast, and they contact you. During that time, it wasn’t unusual for me to get phone calls because of this snow ball effect. I had some labels they could put on me because of my job, and soon I got a phone call where they said ‘I got a new show, here’s what its like’ and I was in. Then I just needed to find my team members,” said Vaglica.
Vaglica called upon coworkers Robert Robillard, 43, a police lieutenant from Concord, and Dani Henderson, 34, a police officer from Marlborough, to complete his team, then set upon about 2 months of physical training before flying out to LA to go through a series of tests before the final selection of contestants.
“We needed to complete 3 hours of horse back riding and familiarization, a basic course on ropes and rappelling; we needed to be able to swim 250 yards. They tested us on all that in LA. We also had to have immunizations, a physical; they did interviews, medical exams, psych exams, and drug testing on us,” said Vaglica.
It wasn’t until they were selected, and 2 weeks before their departure that the team found out where they would be going to compete.
“Morocco was a secret, until 2 weeks ahead of time. Then we started doing research on the languages and terrain. I assumed that this would be like other shows with puzzle challenges, so I started reading puzzle books to get my mind in tune with solving riddles,” said Vaglica. “Dani’s always loved puzzles, its been her hobby forever, so we ended up relying on her for a lot of puzzle challenges. She really came through for us. She solved a lot more than the rest of us.”
The team even made friends along the way, bonding with fellow Massachusetts-based team, “The Fishermen” from Gloucester, as well as the “NY Firemen.”
“We hit it off with NY firemen, because we all are involved in public safety oriented jobs. But there’s also that police/fire rivalry. When we were able to outlast them, we killed 2 birds with one stone; police over fire, Red Sox over New York,” said Vaglica.
Despite not making it to the end, Vaglica is proud of his experiences, and can now list things like camel riding, white water rafting, and sky diving among his “special skills” besides the fact that he was able to see a part of the world he never imagined going to before.
“It’s an amazing country–vast, and so diverse, with snow capped mountains all year with the Atlas Mountains, and you’ve got the Sahara Dessert, at 100 degrees, with giant sand dunes, then deep canyons, with sheer red rock wall canyons down to these rapids, and green fields. Its just so diverse and beautiful, I would definitely go back,” said Vaglica.
As for his future plans, Vaglica is involved with Boston Casting, and has auditioned for small roles in movies from time to time. In regards to any future involvement in reality shows, he realizes that most shows these days do not have that adventure aspect that first drew him to audition.
“Mark Burnett was going for something epic, he wanted to use the helicopters, to show the long shots of scenery, and the backdrop of us against it. Unfortunately most people don’t care about that, a lot of people that are into reality TV are in it for the drama and personalities. If you’re a fan of “Jersey Shore” you won’t enjoy “Expedition,” said Vaglica. “I can’t watch that show. If I want to deal with that stuff, I’ll go to work.”
Check out the season finale of “Expedition Impossible” tonight on ABC at 9 p.m.
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