Regular readers of this column know that I do not usually write about the so-called “reality series” because I do not like them. I would rather listen to a sink backing up than the caterwauling on AMERICAN IDOL (and the singers are pretty tough on the ears, too!) And I would rather be homeless than endure a night in the BIG BROTHER house. However, SURVIVOR is one of the few unscripted series I enjoy (along with THE AMAZING RACE and UNDERCOVER BOSS — yay, Tiffany Network!) and, as I have pointed out before, this season’s HEROES VS. VILLAINS is SURVIVOR at its absolute best.
Not only are the competitions exciting, but the intra-tribe squabbling is great soap opera. Each physical challenge was played in a previous season, so some contestants are already familiar with the obstacles. Add that to the familiarity with the other players, and practically every challenge — reward or immunity — becomes a grudge match. At least the rate of physical injuries has slowed.
The power struggles within the camps earlier in the season were a riot, as would-be alpha dogs battled for supremacy. But now that the power structures have stabilized the emphasis is on…well, survival. As veterans of the game, everybody knows there are “secret” alliances among players, so they all talk openly about alliances; seeing what people reveal (or don’t reveal) shows home viewers a lot about character.