Monday, May 17, 2010

REVIVER: Sarah Bunting thinks Survivor now needs to return to its roots:
Recent seasons have concerned themselves less with pushing the players' physical boundaries while living in the wild, and more with setting strategic hurdles; reward challenges center around food as often as they used to, but the contestants don't seem desperately hungry, as they did in the past, but rather merely bored with an all-coconut diet....

The "Survivor" premise still has plenty of life left in it, but between the goofy extra gameplay elements and the favoritism shown to various non-winners, it seems like the producers don't trust that premise to yield good television. Going back to basics -- dropping the contestants in the middle of nowhere with a canteen and their conversational skills -- is the best way to get the show back on track. And now that it's gone back to the all-stars well three times, it's probably the only way left.
The other route I'd consider are themed seasons: an all armed forces season, lawyers v. doctors, an international season with English speakers from twenty different countries, an all-college student edition, all female season -- something that's about "how is this group of people going to interact in the jungle?" rather than just the pure strategery. They've ramped up the new strategic elements as far as they can go, and it's time to step back.

added: This may as well be our omnibus Survivor catch-all post; Dan's interview of Colby is posted, revealing a strategic side the producers didn't show us ("I really had convinced everyone of this sort of apathetic player who could just take it or leave it. It was part of my strategy and it worked,") with more to come, and anyone with further thoughts on any aspect of the show can place them here.


  1. The reason why producers don't starve contestants anymore? Because hungry people are whiny and boring. They also lack the energy to strategize or perform at challenges. I'm happy to have food deprivation be part of the game. But sheer misery? Screw that.

  2. Eric J6:49 AM

    It probably wouldn't make good TV (and the logistics would be a nightmare) but I think an International season where no two players spoke the same language would be brilliant. And while it will never happen because it removes the "hot girls in bikinis" factor, I've always wanted to see an Arctic season.

  3. The Pathetic Earthling12:58 PM

    I really like the notion of one person from each of 20 English speaking countries. It's probably not good television either, but make some immunity challenges based on slightly-more survivally tasks: orienteering, mountaineering, a long-distance paddle race with severe portage requirements, that sort of thing.

  4. bella wilfer2:54 PM

    It's interesting to learn how restricted the contestants were in their movements this season (re: Colby's comment about not being able to swim, etc). That's got to be annoying.

  5. When I was in Paris at the end of March, I caught the first episode of a French version (Koh-Lanta). I was able to figure out that it was six famous French athletes vs six previous Survivors. The premise was the same, but the challenges were grueling and reminded me of those in the earlier seasons (more swimming, rowing, running, climbing, etc.). Not that the challenges aren't challenging, but for me they have been lacking something. Foreign contestants would be a nice touch.

    They also had an interesting Amazing Race type of show where the contestants had to hitch-hike from Paris to Bejing, called Peking Express, as well as Surya Bonaly (the back-flipping ice skater) on a Big Brother type show. Nothing like spending a Friday night in Paris watching reality shows.

  6. Jennifer J.11:16 PM

    Eric J, that is exactly what my husband has wanted since the earliest seasons! I tell him it will never happen b/c they will always have to show girls in bikinis. ;)