As I mentioned in a previous thread, I'm new to Survivor, in fact this is the only Reality series I've ever watched consistently. I find most shows of the genre pretty much atrocious, filled with mostly despicable folks so desperate to be famous that they will do anything and promote any persona in order to gain their 15 minutes. So, perhaps unfairly, I had pretty much written the genre off. However, I watched the last season of Survivor, South Pacific, because a friend was staying with me at the time and he was a big fan. To my surprise I enjoyed it quite a bit and was intrigued. I did some searches for the "Best Of Survivor" and in the last few months have watched Season 16 - Micronesia, 13 - Cook Islands, and 20 - Heroes and Villains. When played well, as in these seasons, this show can be absolutely fascinating. There have been some great moments in each - in 16, the "blindsides" one after the other; in 13, the strategic brilliance of Yul's use of a single Individual Immunity Idol late in the game and the way Ozzy won every individual challenge while on the block (the guy is a machine!); in 20, the utter arrogance of Russell and his underhanded but amazingly effective manipulation. I also think, of the seasons I've seen, Parvati's acquisition of the two II's in 20 and her use of both of them during that TC is the most impressive single play in the game thus far; not only for the strategy and remarkable insight into what was going on in the social game and at the TC (she was spot-on), but also that she trumped Russell and made him feel a fool. It really was a great moment of television. Obviously one can see the influence of the Survivor format in so many other series of the genre - Either the players or judges vote someone out based on their performance. But Survivor has the most interesting basic format because 1) Players may be voted out only by the other players and 2) Players may be voted out for being too weak, being too strong, or - which is when a lot of alliances seem to go wrong - because of personal animosities that really have nothing to do with game strategy. (This is where, imho, Russell screwed-up, as when he voted out Boston Rob, one of the strongest in challenges, too soon.) Because of nature of the genre and thus the requisite makeup of the casts, Survivor has those same fame-seeking contestants as all Reality shows; but the constitution of the game, where there is real deprivation of basic needs like food and shelter for a long period, really does seem to force some of these people - the good players - to go beyond their initial shallowness and make them reach inside themselves for something substantive and genuinely interesting, if not altogether admirable. I'm not sure if the fascination with watching a bunch of people basically trying to screw each over for money - every episode of Survivor is like a scene from "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" - is because this is a relevant social experiment or just perverse entertainment, but it's unique, well-executed, and somehow involving.