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Old 04-15-2012, 09:07 AM   #1
Hcour
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Survivor - General Thoughts

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.
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Old 04-15-2012, 08:43 PM   #2
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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!
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Old 04-16-2012, 07:49 AM   #3
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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.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:10 AM   #4
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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.
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Old 04-16-2012, 09:14 AM   #5
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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.

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Old 04-16-2012, 09:44 AM   #6
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This is a better thread than the one about the current season.
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Old 05-12-2012, 06:34 PM   #7
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This is a better thread than the one about the current season.
Better than the actual season, too.
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Old 05-12-2012, 10:21 PM   #8
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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.
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Old 05-13-2012, 12:42 AM   #9
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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.
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.
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Old 05-13-2012, 02:11 PM   #10
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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.
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Old 05-13-2012, 04:09 PM   #11
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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.
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Old 05-13-2012, 05:41 PM   #12
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I was a fan of him on FX's Breakfast Time.
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.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:23 PM   #13
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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.
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:46 AM   #14
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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.
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.
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Old 05-14-2012, 10:33 AM   #15
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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.
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Old 05-14-2012, 12:44 PM   #16
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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.
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.
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:34 PM   #17
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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.

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Old 05-14-2012, 02:47 PM   #18
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Plus, I am starting to get tired of the manipulation of what we see from the producers.
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 :-)
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:04 PM   #19
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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.
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...
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Old 05-14-2012, 07:22 PM   #20
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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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Old 06-01-2012, 03:30 AM   #21
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Just finished Season 19. Russell wuz robbed!

Yes, of course it's his own damn fault; if he just hadn't been so damn arrogant, if he had just tamped it down a bit he still could have played his game the same way and I think he could have carried the vote or two more he needed to win. I didn't find his gameplay especially "despicable", in fact it was quite amazing and he's certainly one of the more fascinating and skilled players in the whole series.

Giving Natalie the million was just sour grapes, imo. Yeah, I know, you can say her strategy was to lay low, ride Russel's coattails, and since she won and since the objective is to win, then she played the best game. But I think the jury would have as soon awarded the prize to a log, anyone or anything, as long it wasn't Russell. Again, sour grapes.

And it still kills me when the jurors get up there and cry "foul" and "betrayal"; it's just so ridiculous. The nature of the game is that someone at some point is going to get blindsided, betrayed, bamboozled. It really makes them look so petty when they can't admit they were outplayed by a stronger, more strategic player.
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Old 06-01-2012, 07:51 AM   #22
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It is frustrating as a viewer to watch that happen. People take their mind out of the game and treat it like the real world by saying 'You lied to me, so I would rather give the money to X than for you to ever see a penny of it".

It is so refreshing when someone who has actually played the game comes up the winner.
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:57 AM   #23
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I only watched season 1 and 2, and gave up on the 3rd. It was getting too spiteful. I only watched a couple seasons of Big Brother.

I have said it before, my favorite "reality" shows are mostly British "era" based.
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Old 06-01-2012, 12:03 PM   #24
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I have said it before, my favorite "reality" shows are mostly British "era" based.
ok, I'll bite, I have no idea what you mean by that, some examples maybe to help out?

The only thing I can think of is "Manor House"
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Old 06-01-2012, 06:33 PM   #25
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I think I'll be a Survivor fan as long as it's on. I've watched a few others (TAR mostly) but Survivor is the one I look forward to every year.
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Old 06-01-2012, 09:30 PM   #26
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ok, I'll bite, I have no idea what you mean by that, some examples maybe to help out?

The only thing I can think of is "Manor House"
There was also 1940s house, and a couple of others.
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Old 06-02-2012, 09:31 AM   #27
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There was also 1940s house, and a couple of others.
1940's house? how did I miss that, it's right up my alley!
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Old 06-02-2012, 11:34 AM   #28
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Think of Survivor as 2010s house, on an island, with very little food, no internet, and competitions.
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Old 06-03-2012, 07:50 PM   #29
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I think I'll be a Survivor fan as long as it's on. I've watched a few others (TAR mostly) but Survivor is the one I look forward to every year.
Same here. Seen every show.
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Old 08-30-2012, 04:03 PM   #30
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I'm resurrecting this thread to ask a question that doesn't really deserve it's own thread.

Remember this annimated gif?



We had a discussion somewhere, sometime in this forum about what exactly they're reacting to in that sequence. I've been searching the several hundred Survivor threads without luck so far and am hoping someone remembers.

Thanks in advance for a link or explanation!
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