SURVIVOR Is Coming Back — and Mixing It Up Again

SURVIVOR: BLOOD VS. WATERSURVIVOR is one of those shows with which I have a deep love/hate relationship. I always love the first episode of each series, because it’s exciting and intriguing to see the new cast. The second episode can also be fun, but in more recent seasons — with players more familiar with the show — the gamesmanship has begun to rear its ugly head, and I start to really hate cast members.

From there, my interest can waver severely based on the personalities that take center stage. I quickly become bored with the moustache-twirling villains, and if they get away with their B.S. for than a couple of weeks I find it too frustrating to watch. If the cast is just too dull — like… er, you remember that season recently… the one with… they were on a tropical beach… oh, hell — I won’t even bother watching after the first handful of episodes.

The 27th cycle (yes, 27!), dubbed SURVIVOR: BLOOD VS. WATER, has found yet another way to mix things up while keeping it all familiar: returning players (including Rupert, now on his forth excursion, but no Ozzy) are paired with loved ones and Redemption Island is back — but the rules and game conditions have been altered quite a bit.
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SURVIVOR: ONE WORLD 24.10: “I’m No Dummy”

If a show has a title like that, you gotta know that someone is going to prove himself or herself to be a dummy. And, since this season is populated almost exclusively by dummies, the odds were pretty good going in that somebody would do something stupid. Actually, a few somebodies.

With Jay gone, Troyzan realizes he’s on his own — and the women do their best to make him feel like a marked man (possibly a little something they learned from the cruel Colton). Troy decides that winning successive immunities or finding the new hidden immunity idol is his only path to success, so he starts hunting for the secret trinket and psyching himself to win challenges.
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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 24.1: “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: NICARAGUA 21.1: Young at Heart

There was something about the premiere of SURVIVOR: NICARAGUA that immediately put me off, and I’m damned if I can figure out what it was. I simply was not real interested. I suppose it’s because no one in this cast was immediately colorful enough to capture my attention. This bloodless group has the misfortune of following up probably the best season ever, SURVIVOR: HEROES VS. VILLAINS. That one was packed with larger-than-life personalities. Everybody in this edition – with the exception of Coach Jimmy Johnson – seems rather bland. Even the location felt non-descript: a generic seaside beach that looked interchangeable with any of the previous seasons’ tropical settings.
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SURVIVOR: Heroes vs. Themselves

Russell

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.
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Survivor: Leave your hat on – but still leave!

Boston Rob: wicked bad idea

We’re chugging through SURVIVOR: HEROES VS. VILLAINS, and I’m still lovin’ it. The tightly focused personalities are really coming through, and the competition between the tribes is taking an awful physical toll (Or, in Rupert’s case, toe!) What a great season…

I am astonished by how mean the challenges have been: Both teams really seem to hate each other like cats and dogs. I love that the Heroes are not taking the so-called “high road” and acting like they’re above the fray; they are just as aggressive as the putative baddies. (BTW, who didn’t laugh when Jerri moaned that she is a bad villain because she could not decide which teammate to stab in the back?) Whether it’s man vs. man or man vs. woman, nobody seems to be pulling any punches. There wasn’t an injury this week, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. That basketball game was fierce. And good-guy Rupert really collided roughly with Jerri. Wasn’t it her he accidentally hurt earlier in the season as well, during an immunity challenge? I’m certain he was sincerely sorry.
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