Survivor 2011-Has This Show Always Been This Boring?

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I began watching Survivor and writing about it because of a column I have on another web site, plenty of links to it are provided at the top of this post. My column is specifically about competitive reality TV shows as they are my passion. Goodness knows there are plenty of them: American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, Big Brother, et al.

Some of these competitive reality shows involve a talent and a weekly elimination due to audience vote. American Idol and Dancing With the Stars fall in this category. Some involve a group of contenders who come together in a common situation. There is plenty of pathos in these types of shows with elimination coming often by a vote of the contenders themselves. Big Brother and Survivor fall into this category. There are other variations on this competitive reality TV scene, the more famous being the Bachelor/Bachelorette which gets its drama from the love angle and elimination is made by the Bachelor or Bachelorette his or her self.

I enjoy watching these types of shows specifically for the drama, for the weekly episodes, for the surprise of who continues on and who goes home. Which is the idea of these types of shows I must suppose.

Until this season, out of all the competitive reality TV shows out there, I had never watched Survivor.

My daughter is, however, a devoted Survivor aficionado and she would set her calendar on the next scheduled episode and her enthusiasm for the show was palpable. I did watch the show one time and for whatever reason there was someone on the show eating bugs.

That pretty much did it for me. I don’t remember which show this was, or even what year it aired. In fact, memory might be vague and it might have been another show that featured the bug-eating clip. My prejudice against Survivor is that is the sort of show that might have people eating bugs and so I didn’t watch it.

There are some foodie type of shows that have bug-eating as a feature and
hey, I don’t watch them either. There’s a reason our basic human instincts repel any notion we have to willy-nilly eat bugs. For bugs are the food of the birds, rodents and small amphibians of the world. If human beings were to suddenly switch to a diet of bugs we’d be a serious competitor against those species.

It’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

But this year, due to my new writing gig and some sense that I should surely be reporting on this grandfather of reality TV, no mind the bug eating, I began to watch.

It’s not that there isn’t drama on Survivor. The interaction of the characters sharing a certain unusual living situation, such as living on an exotic island with no benefit of the comforts of modern life, is always part of the intrigue, and Survivor has this.

This year’s Survivor has some contenders from the past, something Big Brother has started to do for the audience fans of certain contenders that they pull in I must suppose. Still I don’t have the advantage of
knowing this Coach guy or his competition, Ozzy. There’s also a contender who is a nephew of some notorious former contender, Russell Hantz,- Brandon. I don’t know who Hantz is and what he did to warrant great audience interest.

So as a new viewer of this series I lose some of that drama and the memories. Still, Coach is very handsome, Ozzy is young, virile and shrewd. Brandon Hantz might or might not be a chip off of his uncle’s block but I do know he’s a bit of a misguided religious nut job.

Thus it’s not as if I don’t enjoy these characters from the past.

It’s just that I find the series kind of…boring.

As a result of recent correspondence, I chanced upon a web site of a voracious Survivor fan, Tom Santilli. Goodness this fellow is wild about the Survivor series so I read up his summary. Of course it helps to know how things work on the show.

I have been able to ascertain that two teams are initially formed on the show. I also have figured out that there is some little figurine thing hidden somewhere in the natural surround, said figurine giving the finder immunity from banishment. Every week the two formed teams compete in some sort of wild contest that has one winning and the other, of course, losing.

At some point the two teams combine, again as I had to figure on my own due to the plotting and scheming by Ozzy and Cochran. The contender voted off goes to some place called Redemption Island where I must suppose they live by themselves and obtain their own food, more on this later, until joined by another ousted contender. At that time the two contenders banished to Redemption Island then compete in some kind of contest that will have one return to the contest and the other banished permanently.


Right there you have my biggest criticism of Survivor which leads to my boredom complaint. The show really does not give enough of these details that I had to glean on my own for us newbies in the audience. Though I suppose the same thing could be said about Big Brother and that ilk. Since I am familiar with these shows I know what to expect and have never watched this series from the prospect of the unfamiliar. With Survivor, in my unfamiliarity, I don’t have the joy of anticipation. Something gets lost in the process.

Finally, again, it’s not clear to me just what the living conditions are in
this series. Are these people NOT given food of any kind? Must they engage in the contest with just the clothes on their back, with the shelter they can ad lib, the food they must catch? I think this is pretty important stuff and yet it’s never quite delineated. A viewer with half a brain can figure it out I must suppose but it took me a bit and I suffered some annoyance.

Beyond all this, it’s an intriguing series and if I didn’t have to figure out how it all works I suspect I would have enjoyed this season’s drama handily. There are some interesting characters. I kind of sympathize with Cochran, poor perennial Nerd, always fighting for a right to be there when he’s clearly in over his head, at least in the physical sense. Then there’s that goofy religious nut, Brandon Hantz, related to some notorious former Survivor contender, Russell, he’s a bit of an oddball. There’ve been female lingerie football players, right there one must raise eyebrows.

I do understand the politics of the choices for elimination and now that I’ve mostly figured out how the series works I can finally enjoy.

By me Coach is going to win this thing but the how of it eludes me. Frankly I’d love to see Cochran win but that boy’s got to hone up his muscles.

I do now consider myself a dedicated Survivor fan so there’s an appeal, no doubt about it.

Survivor South Pacific airs on CBS, Wednesdays nights, at 8 pm/est.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Religion has been brought to the forefront. Its contrived and boring! 1 more season of Outwit, Outlast, Outpray and I'm out of here!