Scott Hardie | November 19, 2003
I guess that details about the next edition of the show, featuring popular castaways from earlier seasons, have been known in the "Survivor online community" for a few weeks now. Well, they're new to me today, and I'm excited. (Spoilers ahead, if you consider the cast list to be a spoiler.)

First, the confirmed: The premiere episode will air immediately after the Super Bowl on February 1st. They need to get ratings, I know, but it doesn't seem necessary. I'd like to think that one of the most anticipated television shows of 2004 would be able to get good ratings all by itself in primetime instead of at 10pm. Also, it's coming really soon after Pearl Islands ends, and less buildup means less excitement. But, maybe that's why so many details have been leaked already, to get us excited now before PI is even close to ending.

Now, the unconfirmed: The cast, as announced by survivornews.net, will feature three tribes of six each:

TRIBE A:
Ethan Zohn (Africa)
Jenna Lewis (Palau Tiga)
Jerri Manthey (Australia)
Rudy Boesch (Palau Tiga)
Rupert Boneham (Panama)
Tina Wesson (Australia)

TRIBE B:
Colby Donaldson (Australia)
Jenna Morasca (Amazon)
Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien (Marquesas)
Lex Van Den Berghe (Africa)
Richard Hatch (Palau Tiga)
Shii Ann Huang (Thailand)

TRIBE C:
Alicia Calaway (Australia)
Amber Brkich (Australia)
Rob Cesternino (Amazon)
Rob Mariano (Marquesas)
Susan Hawk (Palau Tiga)
Tom Buchanan (Africa)

So if the list is accurate, that means 4 from Palau Tiga, 5 from Australia, 3 from Africa, 2 from Marquesas, 1 from Thailand, 2 from the Amazon, and 1 from Pearl Islands. It's good at least to see every edition represented, even if it's very lopsided towards the first two seasons. They needed to cast an equal number of men and women, and unfortunately, Survivor hasn't had nearly as many memorable women as men. That's my figuring as to why such nobodies as Alicia, Jenna Lewis, and Amber made the cut when Brian Heidik, Andrew Savage, and Jon Dalton would have been better choices. (Then again, there are some worthwhile women also missing: Where's Lillian Morris? Deena Bennett? Colleen Haskell? Vecepia Towery?) I suppose fans like me could nitpick the casting for a long time; the truth is, the cast is actually looking pretty good.

I like most of the contestants, Tina and Rupert being particular favorites, but I think I'll be rooting for Rob Cesternino this spring. In the Amazon, he played the game the way I would play it, as a super-hardcore fan, knowing everyone else's strategies and shifting alliances on a near-daily basis. He very much deserved to win and would have won if not for Jenna's unexpected immunities at the last minute, so here's hoping he gets the big prize in his second try.

Scott Hardie | November 19, 2003
Another woman who would have been great on the cast is Kimmi Kappenberg. But, since CBS has cast several less-interesting women from Australia, my guess is that they asked Kimmi and she said no.

Mike Eberhart | November 20, 2003
I can't wait until Survivor: All-Stars is aired. This could be the greatest Survivor show of them all. I read an interview with Mark Burnett that he said that they are going to make the game a lot more difficult because of the experience level of the players. They are also going to make the challenges a lot harder.

I however will be rooting for either Rupert again, or Rob Cesternino. They are both great. I do however, don't think that any of the past winners will be able to make it to the end. Who wants to see a past winner win it again? Not me...

As for the first person voted out, I would go with either Richard Hatch, or Jerri Manthey. Just my opinion....

Scott Hardie | January 11, 2004
I have to say, I'm getting increasingly worried about the next season.

The thing I love absolutely most about Survivor is that it is a quality television program. People rightfully dismiss the reality-show genre because most of them are indeed garbage, but here is one that manages to be entertaining, smart, well-made, and above all, classy: It may have idiots and sexpots in its cast, but it doesn't treat them like idiots and sexpots. The production values are another important part of this - the set design, the complex challenges, the beautiful nature photography, the music, all of them are signs of a professional production. Survivor doesn't just entertain me, it impresses me.

And that's why I'm worried about the next season. It seems rushed. For most editions, the gestation period between them has been three to five months, giving the producers the time needed to establish the quality that I described above. The gestation period for the All-Star edition is a whopping six weeks. They're filming the series in the Pearl Islands. They're reusing the sets and the campsites from the last edition. I hear they're even reusing the same pirate music, which got really old after several months of Pearl Islands. This all seems to indicate that not much care is being put into the new edition, and nothing could more diminish it (imo).

The latest sign of trouble is the official video preview, now available on the Pearl Islands site (on the left side, the camera icon next to "Get Ready for Survivor All-Stars"). As a bit of a ringmaster myself after hyping games on this site for eight years, I really appreciated the video previews that CBS has traditionally assembled for each upcoming season. They've been a highlight of the reunion specials. This preview leans on the (old) music to generate any excitement, doesn't tell us anything we don't already know, and doesn't mention the players or the location or anything interesting. The new logo is about the most fresh element here. What gives? If this is the best they can assemble three weeks before air time, how good will the show itself be? I await the premiere with dread.

Steve Dunn | January 13, 2004
I await the premiere with giddy anticipation, my only reservation being that after watching the Carolina Panthers win the Superbowl, there's no way I'll be in any condition to watch the first episode. Thank goodness for my DVR.

I agree the production values are the icing on the Survivor cake, but as long as the players are scheming and conniving (and we know they will) I'll tune in every week to see what happens.

My initial assumption is that Richard will get the boot first and Colby will rattle off 6-8 immunity challenges in a row, then give the prize to Tina. Ba-dum, CRASH!

Anthony Lewis | January 14, 2004
Honestly, I don't see what the big deal about this show is. That's all I gotta say. :-p

Scott Hardie | January 14, 2004
It's all good. I don't see what the big deal is about pro football. ;-)

Good call, Steve. Who leaves the game early will be up to which tribes win immunity, but Richard is an obvious one, and so is Ethan. I'm hoping Rob Cesternino gets underestimated and sticks around a while; he's my favorite at the outset. Jerri could become the Jon Dalton of this series, surviving on account of everyone wanting to take her to the final two.

Another reason why this edition may be worse because it was rushed into production: The casting. The producers started so early that they didn't know Pearl Islands was going to be the big hit that it became. I believe that if they had waited, Sandra and Jon would have been included in the All-Stars cast, and rightfully so. Bah. Maybe I just want the show to be good so much that I'm worrying unnecessarily; I haven't seen a truly bad season yet (though I missed Africa and Marquesas).

Scott Hardie | January 22, 2004
The Hollywood Stock Exchange is offering warrants on the SAS cast. I bought three and shorted three, and already I'm out of cash. :-)

Erik Bates | January 24, 2004
[hidden by request]

Scott Hardie | February 2, 2004
Well, the premiere episode confirmed my fears that this edition of the series has been underdeveloped by producers, but I won't dwell on the subject any longer. It's spilled milk.

There wasn't a whole lot I liked about last night, actually. I liked the treehouse set for tribal council, very cool. I liked the presence of Rob Mariano, who I had never seen before: He's annoying and I'll enjoy rooting against him for (I expect) most of the series. I liked that Susan and Rudy deflated the notion that the water was bad. And I really liked seeing Rudy and Rupert in an alliance, though they voted off the wrong woman last night. They could have allied with the trustworthy Ethan and Tina, but no; now the next time Saboga has to vote, the young women will convince Ethan to vote out Rudy. Real smart move, fellas.

I have mixed feelings about the return of an old challenge. It was neat to see the first-ever Survivor challenge become the first challenge of All-Stars, and a few more classics wouldn't hurt, but I hope it doesn't happen every week. This is the show's first and possibly only chance to have three tribes going at it, so why not take the opportunity to have challenges that can only work with three tribes and not two? Oh well. I can't fault CBS for not giving me something else I had hoped for: In my head, I had imagined an opening credits sequence that spliced together the headshots as they appeared in the previous editions, with the music doubling back on itself in the editing as the footage jerked around in time. Again, oh well.

One comment I gotta make on how rushed this edition is: I'm guessing they did it to take advantage of the Super Bowl audience. But Survivor is a huge draw anyway; any premiere episode of Survivor wins its timeslot already. Why not hold this series off till summer and gain a ratings edge over Fox (which usually wins the summer with original programming), and use the Super Bowl ratings to debut a midseason-replacement drama that could use the attention? Pheh. At the rate they're going, there may be a summer Survivor anyway; maybe season nine will debut a week after All-Stars ends. :-(

Scott Hardie | February 6, 2004
Whaddya know: Saboga goes to tribal council, the women and Ethan team up to take out Rudy, and Rupert is powerless to stop it. Huge frickin' surprise. I like Rudy, but I don't feel too bad about him leaving; he and Rupert brought it on themselves.

After telling Burton Roberts his strategy last season and watching Burton turn on him, I would have thought Rupert knew better than to show his hand like that. He'll be next to go from Saboga, I think. His best hope is that Jenna continues to be so dominating and acid-tongued. Did you hear her berating her teammates during the boat challenge? She's behaving the way Jerri behaved in Australia, and it won't help her. This tribe's disintegrating already.

We've now had three challenges from the race-into-the-water-and-fetch-something-and-race-back school. Let's hope for something else soon.

Erik Bates | February 7, 2004
[hidden by request]

Scott Hardie | February 7, 2004
Maybe. I'm sure the producers had contingency plans. Last season, when Drake got down in the numbers, Rupert was sent to their side for a challenge. Something similar will happen here.

Steve Dunn | February 9, 2004
Jenna is horrible - worse than Jerri so far, and that's saying something.

If Saboga goes to tribal council again, Ethan and Rupert will team up to vote for Jenna or Jerri. If they use the "previous votes" tiebreaker, Jenna would be screwed. Regardless of whether it happens now or later, Jenna is not long for this game. She's utterly unpleasant without being clever or smart. Bad combo.

Sue will go quick, and probably not even mind.

Richard should go quick, and I think he will. Still, I hesitate even to say that because I am still suffering emotional distress after endless weeks of PLEADING with the first cast to vote his bare ass out, only to be stymied time and time again... and then the one week they were GOING to vote him out he won the fire-building challenge... oh, I'm getting tense just thinking about it.

To win, I predict Colby, Rob, Rob, or Kathy. I think Colby could win it by rattling off a series of individual challenges. Otherwise he'll be toasted as a huge potential threat. Rob or Rob could be taken to the final two as the "bastard everyone hates so they'll vote for me instead." Kathy could also slide through, Lil-style, as the non-threat who takes home the final immunity challenge.

Anway - I love the show. I don't care much about the production values - I just want to see how the individual strategies play out as the elements take their physical toll.

Scott Hardie | February 9, 2004
Is your pleading about Richard escalating now that he's even more arrogant and cocksure than last time? He seems totally convinced of his I'm-here-to-make-friends-with-no-one strategy. But other players have won precisely because they made friends: Tina and Ethan played that way and received no elimination votes, while cold-blooded Richard racked up four, the most of any winner. Whose strategy is more likely to get them through the game? (I should mention that Brian and Sandra also got no elimination votes, and they were closer to Richard's school of strategy.)

Like most of the seasons, I expect one good athlete to dominate in a series of late-game challenges to enter the final two, but to take with them a person with a better chance of winning. Colby dominated in the challenges the last time, and he's had a good three years to think about the million dollars he gave up by bringing the wrong person into the final two with him. If he gets another chance, I look forward to seeing his choice this time.

By the way, what's with this "Suvivor: Borneo" shit? Is there something wrong with calling it "Palau Tiga" like CBS and the fans have done for years?


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