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Survivor - General Thoughts

Discussion in 'Now Playing - TV Show Talk' started by Hcour, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. Hcour

    Hcour Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    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.
  2. DancnDude

    DancnDude Thrice as nice TCF Club

    Feb 7, 2001
    Madison, WI
    Great post. I don't have a whole lot to add except that I have been a fan of the show since Season 1. It's just fascinating to watch these people and how they can maneuver their ways to the end despite the challenges both physically (lack of food, sleep, challenges) and mentally.

    I completely agree that Parvati's playing of the two idols together has got to be the best moment of Survivor history. Extremely entertaining!
  3. Steveknj

    Steveknj Lost in New Joisey

    Mar 10, 2003
    New Jersey
    I agree, great post. There's a reason why all the other shows, are in it's core, copies of Survivor. There's just something the formula that works. And over the seasons, the game has evolved since people have watched and studied the show and think when they go on, they know how to win, but ultimately, these strategies always either change or backfire. Some seasons are better than others, but even the worst of them has some entertaining moments.

    But I will say, as a person who started watching since the middle of S1, that over time, it's just not the excitement it once was. But I still watch.

    Really, reality "contests" have evolved three ways. Pure game shows, that stem from Millionaire....Minute to Win it, Wipeout, etc. Talent contests that stem from AI, like DWTS, and The Voice, and Endurance / Elimination shows like Survivor, TAR, The Apprentice. All of them fall into one of these three categories.
  4. Necromancer2006

    Necromancer2006 Active Member

    Jan 26, 2008
    If you haven't seen the original season and then the follow-up (Australia) you're missing two of the best seasons. Especially since the book was still being written on what the game really was.
  5. pmyers

    pmyers Well-Known Member

    Jan 4, 2001
    Gilbert, AZ
    I love the aspect of the game that requires you to just "survive" for 1 more day because you NEVER know what can happen. Just get yourself past ONE more tribal council. No matter how bad of shape you are in, in the game, you just never know when somebody can quit, get sick or hurt, or self-implode!

    There have already been many examples of that this season.
  6. betts4

    betts4 I am Spartacus!

    Dec 26, 2005
    A Galaxy...
    This is a better thread than the one about the current season. :)
  7. sushikitten

    sushikitten 143 down, ??? to go! TCF Club

    Jan 27, 2005
    DC-ish Suburbia
    Better than the actual season, too. :)
  8. brianric

    brianric Active Member

    Aug 29, 2002
    Pennsville, NJ
    One thing that hasn't been mention is Jeff Probst. I've been a fan since season two on, bought the dvd set for season one, and one of the reasons I've stayed as a loyal fan are the inner reactions between Probst and the players at tribal council.
  9. TheMerk

    TheMerk Always Bid First

    Feb 26, 2001
    Salt Lake...
    Agreed. I've read that Tribal can actually go on for a long time as Probst questions the players. His interviewing style is great.

    I was a fan of him on FX's Breakfast Time. Coincidentally, The Amazing Race's Phil Koegan was also on that show.
  10. Einselen

    Einselen ɹǝsn pǝɹǝʇsıƃǝɹ

    Apr 25, 2006
    I agree with the Probst comments. Yes Tribal can go for hours so there is a lot of content to get the best stuff out, but look at him on the reunion show. He is a pro and I don't think I have seen a reunion show go over on time (Seacrest can learn from him). What amazes me is Probst does not watch footage from the past few days, he is reading reactions, looking into the answers and probing more to get that usable gold.
  11. Donbadabon

    Donbadabon Geocacher TCF Club

    Mar 5, 2002
    Franklin, TN
    Speaking of the reunion, remember how bad it was when Bryant Gumbel hosted it? If I recall, Probst didn't host the reunion until Thailand. Good gravy was that final show bad before then.
  12. laria

    laria Librocubicularist

    Sep 7, 2000
    Seacoast, NH
    For my SO and I, we were fans of his from Rock 'n Roll Jeopardy. :) When Survivor first started, we always kept saying how we couldn't believe the host of RnR Jeopardy was on this show.
  13. dianebrat

    dianebrat drastically off narrative TCF Club

    Jul 6, 2002
    I keep coming back to this thread and the memories of Survivor's Past as we head into finale night, and I can't help but think that a lot of what they had that's missing now is the innocence.

    In the beginning things were harder, it wasn't as much formula, both from the production side and the contestant side, food used to be an issue, environment used to be more of an issue, the contestants felt more like real people.

    The past few seasons, ok, maybe even longer, it feels that on both the production and contestant sides, they're just plugging things in and following the scripted motions, it all feels so much more produced to me.

    I miss the old old Survivor, the new one is ok, but on a 1-10 scale with early seasons being in the 8-9 range, it feels like we're in the 5's now, we're "average" but more consistent.
  14. dbranco

    dbranco Member

    Nov 20, 2003
    I agree with your sentiments about innocence lost. Nowadays, people start forming alliances right off the bat, and much of the hour seems to be taken up with the contestants schemeing with one another. <Yawn!!>

    Some of the best survivor moments over the years are when the cocky people get blindsided. This season has been a real snoozer in that department, at least until Kat ("if someone gets blindsided, it will be funny") got her comeuppance.
  15. DevdogAZ

    DevdogAZ Give em Hell, Devils

    Apr 16, 2003
    Remember is S1 when the idea of an alliance was so revolutionary and one guy's voting strategy was just to go alphabetically? Good times. I've never missed an episode.
  16. astrohip

    astrohip Well-Known Member TCF Club

    Jan 6, 2003
    Houston &...
    I've never missed an episode UNTIL this season. I'm starting to feel what dianebrat referred to a couple posts up. It used to be fresh, fun, full of surprises, etc. Now it's a formula. Make an alliance, yada yada. Plus, I am starting to get tired of the manipulation of what we see from the producers.

    I quit watching this season about 4-5 episodes in, after 10 or 12 years (or however long it's aired) of Survivor. I may not go back. The thrill is gone.
  17. dbranco

    dbranco Member

    Nov 20, 2003
  18. dianebrat

    dianebrat drastically off narrative TCF Club

    Jul 6, 2002
    I've gotten really tired of that aspect, it used to feel more like we were getting to peek in and watch as things unfolded, now we're just spoon fed things from the producers, I suspect it's because it's much more slick now that they've turned manipulating the footage into an art.

    I do not suspect it's because we're more savvy viewers :)
  19. MikeekiM

    MikeekiM Palindromer

    Jun 25, 2002
    SF Bay Area
    I wish CBS would publish one full tribal council in raw unedited form...no background music... Just the raw footage as the contestants experience tribal council...

    Yesteryear, it would have been difficult to do... But why not just provide it as an internet stream? I am really curious what the survivors actually experience during tribal...
  20. bareyb

    bareyb Under Maintenance TCF Club

    Dec 1, 2000
    Silicon Valley
    I've been hooked since Season One. Just happened to stumble upon it after work one day and was transfixed. Been a fan ever since, although this last season was filled with some of the worst players to ever play the game.... Still enjoyed it anyway though.

    This is one of the most consistently entertaining reality shows on TV. Always lots of good "instant Karma" moments and plenty of twists and turns. :)

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