Survivor - Some Thoughts in General

Discussion in 'Now Playing - TV Show Talk' started by Hcour, Jun 9, 2018.

  1. Jun 9, 2018 #1 of 25

    Hcour Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    I've been watching some past, classic seasons of Survivor lately, my favorites are the R. Hantz, Parvatti seasons, and then the seasons of the last few years, not including this last season, which had some great moments but overall was only meh.

    This is the only "Reality Show" I watch. I've tried others, including many that have lifted the format, but they pale in comparison. I don't know, but was Survivor the originator of things such as voting off players, teams (tribes), challenges, immunity, alliances? If so, that's pretty impressive considering how many shows have copied that format in some way.

    Probst likes to call the game "a great social experiment" and I think that's more than just hype. There are some real complexities to the game that make it fascinating, the central one being that there is both the social and strategic game, which any fan will know is brought up in player discussions throughout every season when discussing the jury. The most obvious example of the importance and the difference in the two is illustrated by Hantz. Without a doubt one of the greatest strategic players of the game, he never won because he alienated so many of his fellow players, to the extent that, IIRC, he didn't even get a single vote his second season. In that reunion ep he said this was a "flaw in the game", that the viewers should have a portion of the vote. His point was that the jury was voting out of resentment, not an appreciation of a game well-played.

    Is his point valid? Well, yes and no. Yes, because w/o a doubt there are jury members that are bitter at being voted out by those they trusted - or even those they never trusted - and certainly this is the reason for their vote. Or maybe they simply didn't like the person for whatever reason. These are human beings, after all, nobody says they're going to be logical, unemotional, or - most importantly - even fair.

    OTOH, no, his point is misguided, because there really aren't two central aspects to the game - strategy and social - there is only one, which is the social. Strategy must be a part of the social game. The best players - for instance Boston Rob in his 3rd season or Parvatti in her 2nd or Wendell in this latest season imho - are able to be obviously dominant players who lead and manipulate while also cooperating with others when need be, or at least giving that appearance. (Of course, there is also a combination of both luck and skill, as in the finding of HII's, along with the smart use of those idols. Or the winning of challenges. But these are just more aspects of the game that contribute to its complexity.) These winners played strategically within their social game. They were able to find a balance between the two and if you listen to their "confessions" their strategic game is always being tempered by their social game because they know the latter is imperative to get the votes.

    I'm certainly no authority on Survivor, have there been abrasive players that won? In the mode of Hantz? If so, I don't think there could be many of them. There will always be aberrations, but unless the strategic game serves as a component of the larger social game (and is skillfully executed) the chances of coming out on top are low. I don't know, maybe this is obvious to fans of the show, I'm not saying it's not, just that it's interesting in how people relate to each other in difficult physical, psychological and emotional conditions.

    I was disappointed in this latest season because I found what was happening so obvious - conspicuously dominant players whom every other player should have known w/o doubt that they could not win against and that should have been taken out w/o question. Have these so-called "SuperFans" actually learned nothing? Re-watching these earlier seasons, I also see the (now, to moi) obvious - Boston Rob? WHAT? You let this guy play on and on? There are certain unwritten rules in Survivor: Don't draw undue attention to yourself, especially early on. Don't be abrasive. Don't get too "strategic" too early into the game or be too obvious about it deeper into the game. And so on. How 'bout: As soon as a dominant player emerges post-merge, start working on how to get rid of them. Of course there's the danger - again, a wonderful complexity of the game - that if you go against the leader you're putting a big bright target on your forehead so it must be weighed against getting a little deeper into the game, at whatever cost now. Obviously the problem is getting others to go along. Here the argument should always be, and this should be the primary question for all players, "WHOM CAN I WIN AGAINST?". They will counter with "He will take me further, to the final 543... And I'll make my move later." How much later is too late? is the question. (And then there are those inferior players who actually think they can win against a much more dominant player, which in some cases may be reasonable, but not often.) Popularity together with dominance should be the red flags to which every player should be on the highest alert. Float, yes, but not so long that it sinks you.
    sushikitten likes this.
  2. Jun 9, 2018 #2 of 25

    realityboy Well-Known Member

    Jun 12, 2003
    Columbus, OH
    Survivor & Big Brother both debuted in the US within a few months of each other in 2000 on CBS. Expedition: Robinson is the Swedish show that Survivor is based on. It debuted in 1997. The Dutch version of Big Brother started in 1999. I’d consider those to be the start of current reality TV game shows. Both are solid concepts that have proven successful all over the world.

    I do enjoy the social experiments of both series. Survivor excels at editing days of events down to a single coherent hour while Big Brother with its live 24/7 feeds allows fans to follow every minute detail. I prefer the extra bit of people watching plus the more complex rules of Big Brother, but Survivor is still a top show for me. I’ve never missed an episode.

    I agree with your thoughts about the jury element of Survivor. The way I see it, the winner should be able to control the narrative in such a way that the jury wants to vote for her. I also vastly preferred the final 2 format to the final 3. There’s more strategy in deciding who to take to the final 2. Both players deserve to be there either by winning the final immunity or playing socially to the point that the final winner chooses them. I also dislike the new final 4 tribal. It seems to favor the stronger challenge threats over the strategic masterminds.

    Also, I believe it was Boston Rob’s 4th attempt that was most impressive.
  3. Jun 9, 2018 #3 of 25

    stile99 Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2002
    I just hate the new pick a person to go with you, other two make fire thing, which unfortunately I understand Probst thinks is really cool and is "here to stay"...until the next time it changes, of course. I get the idea behind it, someone is making a potentially million-dollar decision, I just think it is stupid. If you're leaving final three up to a coin flip (admittedly a coin flip with a bit of skill involved), why not bring in the first person voted out and let them try making fire? Or leave the decision up to them? They've been out for over 30 days, they know almost nothing about what has been going on, and they have no skin in the game. If they're not making fire for a chance to get back in the game, then let them choose which two of the three without immunity will make fire.
  4. Jun 9, 2018 #4 of 25

    stellie93 Well-Known Member

    Feb 25, 2006
    I hate it when someone who doesn't win challenges and gets to the end on another less likable player's bootstraps wins. I thought Russell should have won every time he played. But then I'm not there day by day living with the person. I think that's what we can't really see at home. Sometimes someone will point out all the personal info they know about each player, and I always wonder, "When did all this conversation happen?"

    And then the diary stuff we see changes our viewpoint too. If the audience got to vote, that would have to change.

    I've never gone back and watched old seasons--doesn't it get boring when you see all those people in the beginning who you know are going nowhere?
    LlamaLarry likes this.
  5. Jun 9, 2018 #5 of 25

    DevdogAZ Give 'em Hell, Devils

    Apr 16, 2003
    I just listened to a long-form interview with Domenick from the most recent season on RHAP. Although the fire-making challenge really didn't do him any favors, he articulated some great reasons why he is very much in favor of this change, and he thinks we haven't yet scratched the surface of the strategic implications of this change. I'd highly recommend giving this episode a listen.

    Supposedly, the fire-making challenge was put in place to counter the problem they were having where the winner was far too obvious at the final TC because the person who wins the final IC can get rid of their biggest competition at that point. While I don't think I love the change, I will admit that it's made the final TCs in the last two seasons much more exciting. I wonder if they could combine this change with going back to a Final 2, so that both players have to win their way into the finals and there isn't an obvious 3rd place goat sitting there as well.
  6. Jun 9, 2018 #6 of 25

    stile99 Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2002
    I've thought a lot about it, and I really can't say WHY I hate it so much, but I think this comes close. If we went final 2 and fire making challenge, I really think I would be fine with it. It's like, final three, yay! You get the winner's feast. Then tonight, one of you is going to sit and watch the other two fight for their lives. I think this would also really spur those two to give it their all, building that fire will give them a 50/50 chance at a million bucks, and some people on the jury might see that skill as being worthy of a vote. Maybe I just need to see it in the current form another time or two, but this last time it really seemed more of a "which one is the best goat, and which one might best knock this dude out for me?". It could just be a reaction to Laurel's gameplay which the whole season really screamed (to me) "get to final three". She really had no plan after that...and she got what she wanted. Final three and then nothing after that.
  7. Jun 9, 2018 #7 of 25

    heySkippy oldweakandpathetic

    Jul 2, 2001
    Sarasota, FL
    Random thoughts.

    Laurel was likable, played a decent game, was articulate at the final TC, and still couldn't pull a single vote. Playing for #2 or #3 was her best bet and that was probably obvious to her half-way through the game.

    I don't hate the new final format, but it's mostly because I didn't really like the final 3 or 2 formats, either. It's not worse.

    What I really don't like is starting the final episode with so many people still in the game. My mind keeps wanting to do the math.

    While I would like Survivor to be type of game where Russel Hantz wins big his first season, I understand not everyone feels the same. Overall, I'm glad for the social aspect.

    Regarding re-watching old seasons, Amazon Prime has a bunch and I've watched a couple over the last couple years, usually in late summer when I get Survivor withdrawals waiting on a new season. It's light entertainment that doesn't require strict attention. Dalton, the recap guy on, does an ordered list every year if you want a recap of each with his ranking.
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2018
    goblue97 likes this.
  8. jlb

    jlb Go Pats!

    Dec 13, 2001
    Middlebury, VT
    With hindsight, perhaps he should have. He played hard for sure. But it is a SOCIAL game too and all the prowess he had with finding Idols means nothing if you are abrasive. The other half of the social side of the game is jury management. If you put people on the jury who don't like you for whatever reason, you poison your chances (obvi there are only SO many choices for trying to boot people out and put them on the jury).

    Agreed...excellent interview. Be prepared, it is over 3 hours long!
    Domenick Abbate: The Survivor Post-Game Interview –
  9. DevdogAZ

    DevdogAZ Give 'em Hell, Devils

    Apr 16, 2003
  10. Dan203

    Dan203 Super Moderator Staff Member TCF Club

    Apr 17, 2000
    I don’t like the final 3 thing either. Never have. One person is always left out and the obvious loser so why bother. If they made it final 2, and the two who didn’t win immunity had to do fire that would diminish the final immunity a bit though. It would be like a second chance challenge. So not sure if that would work.
  11. jlb

    jlb Go Pats!

    Dec 13, 2001
    Middlebury, VT
    I’m going to listen on my way to/from work tomorrow.

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. Azlen

    Azlen Well-Known Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Peoria, AZ
    I really wonder how much Survivor would have been different if Richard Hatch hadn't put together an alliance. I'm not saying that nobody would have tried it later on, but the fact that it was done on Survivor's first season really made that strategy stand out. Now it's a standard part of the game to have one.
  13. DevdogAZ

    DevdogAZ Give 'em Hell, Devils

    Apr 16, 2003
    I never understood why Richard Hatch was viewed as such a bad guy during that season. As I watched, I thought his strategy (forming an alliance) was the obvious and only choice. The rest of them seemed very naive.
  14. mattack

    mattack Well-Known Member

    Apr 9, 2001
    Didn't some of the Road Rules Challenge shows do voting off, before Survivor? Just trying to think of earlier ones than that.
  15. laria

    laria Librocubicularist

    Sep 7, 2000
    Seacoast, NH
    No actually... the voting off stuff didn’t start until after Survivor.

    I was a huge fan of Real World (back in the original years when they still had real jobs and were mostly regular people) and Road Rules. I was in college in the mid to late 90’s and had a lot of free time to watch the current seasons and the marathons of the first few seasons I hadn’t seen while I was in high school.

    The challenge show spawned out of some crossover competition they did between the two shows during the filming of a couple of seasons. Then the first season of the new show that is currently on now was simply just a regular season of Road Rules with former Real World cast members. Then they did a few seasons of two teams just going to head to head in a Road Rules competition, former Real World vs former Road Rules. After that is when they got rid of the Road Rules style competition and it started morphing into the voting off type stuff.

    I really liked Road Rules... I think that is why I liked The Amazing Race better when they had to work harder to solve the clues. It reminded me of them having to solve the clues on Road Rules, or on The Mole, another show I loved.
  16. Hcour

    Hcour Well-Known Member

    Dec 24, 2007
    The blessings of an aging memory. Sometimes I don't even remember who won, much less who got voted off.

    Wait, what were we talking about?
    sushikitten, dfergie and stellie93 like this.
  17. TriBruin

    TriBruin Well-Known Member TCF Club

    Dec 10, 2003
    Bartlett, IL
    I don't know that it was obvious. We are so far removed, but I remember everyone thought that the game was going to be about the best "survivor" in a physical sense. There was a Air Force captain (?) with real life survival skills. Everyone thought she was going to win because of her skills.
    stellie93 likes this.
  18. gweempose

    gweempose Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2003
    Northbrook, IL
    Rob played a great game that last time, but he did have one huge advantage. A majority of the newbies were so star struck that they basically followed him like lemmings. That being said, Rob probably has one of the best social games we've ever seen on the show. There is just something extremely likable about him. On top of that, he won some huge key challenges down the stretch which he absolutely needed in order to secure his place at the final tribal.
    lalouque likes this.
  19. dfergie

    dfergie Member

    Aug 27, 2006
    One thing I miss is the openings where you see the faces and names connected with the tribes...
    Heroes vs. Villains is one of my favorite openings and seasons, I like going back and watching the older seasons.
  20. DevdogAZ

    DevdogAZ Give 'em Hell, Devils

    Apr 16, 2003
    There was Rudy, who was a former Navy SEAL. But he was also 72 years old. I don't remember there being a woman from the Air Force.

    Anyway, I remember my reactions as the show was airing. I remember hearing some morning radio show duo talking about how horrible Richard was and I was so caught off guard because it was the first time I realized the general public viewed him as a villain, when I was viewing him just the opposite - as the only person who "got it" and understood that the game was much more about the social interactions than about the outdoors skills.

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