Survivor: Philippines

survivorphilippinesIt all came down to the final four tonight on the climax of SURVIVOR: PHILIPPINES, a season that I found interesting enough to follow, but not compelling enough to make it appointment TV.

Still, I did want to know who would win and, alas, it was not my choice — Michael Skupin — but rather Denise Stapley, the one-woman army, who also outlasted Lisa Whelchel, the former star of FACTS OF LIFE, and also-ran Malcolm Freberg.

The final trio was Denise, Skupin and Lisa, and while I was on the fence whether Lisa belonged there, Skupin and Denise earned their way into the final confrontation with the jury. Denise had endured every single tribal council, and kept her record straight. She won handily, earning all but two votes from the jury.

Lisa did, however, manage to pull out the fan vote for the $100,000 Player of the Season award.
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SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD 24.11: “Never Say Die”

As I labored to survive watching this week’s installment of SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD, one thought kept swirling through my head: How embarrassed is Christina Cha right now, watching her adventures on the island unfold? She must be mortified.*

I mean, how stubborn is she? Forget about refusing to see the handwriting on the wall — she denies the handwriting on the inside of her eyelids! I am at a complete loss to rationalize why she cannot see that she will be the first woman to go after the power trio disposes of the now cravenly pandering Tarzan.
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SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD 24.9: “Go Out With a Bang”

SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD must be the car-accident season, because I found myself wandering back to my local CBS affiliate to see what the wacky gang is up to this week…

Kim was trying to consolidate her grip on the game by marshaling the women to vote out either Troyzan or Jay — whichever one doesn’t win immunity. She and the rest of the distaff squad are apparently conceding the individual immunity necklaces to the more athletic boys, which is a little strange.

This week’s reward challenge was a do-it-yourself affair, with no Jeff Probst. (What, did he lose interest in this season as well?) The players divided themselves into two teams and took turns tossing bolos at a target for points. Tarzan (of all people) led teammates Troyzan, Jay, Kat and Alicia to victory of native barbecue and beer — but unlike last week’s 7up product-placement reward, no one ponied up for the beer sponsorship.
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Survivor: One World 24.8: “Just Annihilate Them”

After being drowned in a tide of 7up product placements on SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD last night — from bottles of the soda to the 7up-themed reward challenge, a visit to the “7up Oasis,” where the winners got food and “all the crisp, clean, refreshing 7up” they could drink, I cannot wait to see who the corporate sponsor will be next week!

The only thing worth watching this week was the emergence of Kim as the new sheriff in town. She swooped into the power vacuum left by the evacuated Colton and had no trouble manipulating her tribe into doing her bidding.

Faced with choosing the alliance she has with all the other women or the alliance she formed with Salani 2.0, Kim decided to stick with grrl power, because they already had a 6-5 advantage. If she could get one more guy booted, the women would have a virtually insurmountable advantage.
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SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD 24.6: “Thanks for the Souvenir”

And then there were 12…

This week’s episode was really rather weak and anticlimactic, salvaged only by the health emergency that knocked the vile Colton out of the game just as he was implementing his master plan to become King (or Queen — his choice) of the Dumbest Passel of Players in Years.

I would not wish appendicitis on anyone, but… If it had to happen to one of the players on SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD, then no was more deserving than Colton, who has spent his entire tenure on the island spewing hate and chortling with self-satisfaction over the misery of others — much of it inflicted by him. That kind of bad karma was bound to come back and bite him.
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SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD 24.4: “Bum-Puzzled”

Mike and Colton

Colton continued to make jaws drop — on the island and among the viewing audience — with a double-whammy this week: He revealed that he hates little people and poor people — and he volunteered the men to go to tribal council after winning immunity!

This was Leif’s week to screw up. He accidentally told Bill that Colton wanted him voted out last time — which set off alarms in Bill’s head. Mike found out about Leif tipping off Bill and went running to the self-proclaimed ruler of the game, Colton, trying to curry favor. In a rare show of spine, Colton confronted Leif and warned him that his betrayal had sealed his fate in this game. I thought Leif was going to cry.
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SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD 24.3: “One World Is Out the Window”

The women of Salani finally won the reward and immunity challenges, giving them fire and a new lease on life, while the men’s Manono tribe went from kings of the hill to rival princedoms. The gloves came off this week, and I was totally shocked when Colton unmasked himself as a total hater!

Despite winning the means to start a fire, the women discovered that all their kindling was wet, so Kat and Alicia went to the men to beg and flirt for an ember, which the guys promptly handed over. Then, later, when the guys suggested that they be allowed to borrow the boat the ladies had won, the women were aghast and snarked about the men being unreasonable. Huh?  Tarzan was right when he pointed out that men and women think differently.
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SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD 24.1: “Two Tribes, One Camp, No Rules”

After the thrilling appointment television of SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC, I was a little wary of SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD, because the series has rarely managed to put two compelling seasons back-to-back. Sadly, the premiere of ONE WORLD seems to bear out that theory by introducing two tribes who couldn’t be more at odds if they were designated “Matter” and “Anitmatter” — or, worse,  “Republicans” and “Democrats.”
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SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC 23.15 Finale

Wow, talk about a letdown! For the first time in literally years, I felt compelled to watch every single episode of SURVIVOR: SOUTH PACIFIC this season, because it was filled with “what will happen?” tension and some intriguing character conflict. But then came the finale, featuring the absolute worst, most undeserving final trio ever, and the whole series went south for me.
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Soap Opera Weekly: 5/17/10

After probably the best season ever, SURVIVOR: HEROES VS. VILLAINS came down to an exciting photo finish in the final immunity challenge, an entertaining jury session and (for my money) ended last night with the wrong person winning.

Sandra Diaz-Twine claimed the $1 million prize, triumphing over Parvati Shallow (who had previously won MICRONESIA) and Russell Hantz. This marked Sandra’s second grand prize, since she also won PEARL ISLANDS, making her the first double winner. I am at a complete loss to explain what Sandra did to earn her victory, but…she did it. Apparently, the folks on the jury just liked her more than Parvati. (Russell did not get a single vote!)

Let me state upfront that I was rooting for Rupert all the way. He has long been my favorite SURVIVOR player. I interviewed him for Reality Check magazine after his PEARL ISLANDS season, and I was struck by how…well, real the guy is. The gregarious (sometimes) gentle giant you see onscreen is the way he comes across in real life. Rupert truly qualified to be a Hero.

After Rupert was booted, I threw my support behind my No. 2 choice, Parvati. When she made it to the final three, I figured she had a good chance, because of her strength in challenges and the way everyone was bad-mouthing Russell. Ah, Russell. I know this won’t be a popular position, but I believe Russell played the purest game: He was evil from the word “go,” continued to be evil every step of the way, and ended the game evil. And, even though I was rooting against him, based on his gameplay, I believe he should have won. But all his backstabbing and blindsiding came back to haunt him. At least he did win $100,000 in a fan call-in vote.

Many of the other players, while not my faves, were entertaining to watch. Boston Rob, Courtney, Amanda, James, Sugar and even Colby had their fun moments. But Sandra? Not so much. She was just…there. She never won even a single challenge. She never made a bold strategic move or exerted any influence on gameplay at all. She just lurked in the background. Clearly, she elevated “flying under the radar” to an art form, and cashed in for $2 million.

At least there will be a new winner in the fall, when Jeff Probst travels to Central America to guide all-new players through SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com