Friday, March 07, 2008

Survivor: Mind over muscle?

Spoilers for the latest episode of "Survivor: Micronesia" coming up just as soon as I kill a shark with my bare hands...

I keep going back and forth on whether I'm enjoying this season. As mentioned many times previously, I wish they would stop bringing back previous contestants, because they inevitably come off much worse the second time around. (See the Jonathan-Cirie dust-ups in the previous two episodes.) But at the same time, there's been some very interesting gameplay by the likes of Cirie and Tracy, and I will never get tired of watching Probst and Jonathan go another round in their ongoing feud. (The subtext of every exchange goes something like "I'm the host of this show and you will respect my authority! Don't you see this awesome hat I'm wearing?" "Yeah, well I dumped The Nanny, Reality Boy! And my hat is much cooler!") And, other than Tracy, the only contestants I care about are the veterans, so maybe there's something to be said for recycled casting.

It was a pleasure to see Cirie and Tracy team up to give cro-magnon Joel a taste of his own medicine. Yes, there's a chance that dumping Joel could cost the team in the event there's some challenge focused solely on brute strength -- say, one of those "How many sandbags can you hold up on your back?" numbers, though we got a variation of it a few weeks ago with coconut basketball -- but very few of them are that dependent on raw muscle, and like James, that's all Joel was useful for. Ozzy can carry a team in any other kind of physical challenge, Ami and Amanda aren't slouches at that stuff, and Cirie's pretty good at puzzles. Yes, Chet may be the most useless contestant in the history of the show -- explain to me how a "superfan" is so terrible at both the physical and the social aspects of the game -- but he doesn't actively demoralize other players in the middle of challenges when things aren't going his way.

I hope Jonathan's leg doesn't get so bad that he has to be evacuated from the game (any "Wire" fans want to tell me if I used that word properly?), because the show wouldn't be half as much fun without him. Ordinarily, I hate when contestants start whining during challenges (see Terry's "Call the whambulance"-worthy performance during Cirie's original season), but I always get a kick out of Jonathan doing it, largely because of the Probst hatred that it's always wrapped around.

Also, while reality showmances usually annoy me, particularly in the scuzzy environs of a tropical island with no toiletries, I have to admit to smiling when Ozzy seemed to melt at describing Amanda killing the shark. So, she's gorgeous and she's good at killing stuff in the water like Ozzy? They may be a more perfect couple than Rob and Ambuh.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I loved how a week after Tracey brilliantly manipulated Joel into voting out Mikey, she voted him out. Last night also made me forgive Cirie for her behavior a few weeks ago.

lungfish said...

I loved Parvati being called "Poverty".

Joel is an idiot if he thinks the favorites on that tribe would have actually voted of Cerie next if they had voted out Chet.

If Ozzie had become part of the tribe on the other beach, his immunity idol would have been stranded right? It would have been cool to see him having to tell James when in the rocks he hid it, and to have the exchange occur at a challenge.

Mike said...

Tracey is emerging as a force to be reckoned with. Each of the last two weeks it's felt like there's been all of this jockeying for votes within her tribe, with Tracey not on camera for most of it, and then 5 seconds before the cut to Tribal Council, Tracey shows up, says we're voting out Mike/Joel, and that's the way it turns out.

A Couple of other thoughts...

Just gotta say that Amanda has to be in the Top 3 Survivor babes of all time lol - for me at least.

She also follows that long and strange tradition of looking better on the island then in the promo photo/finale reunion shows.

Must be the all the skimpy beachwear.

Alan, can you clarify a couple of things...

I'm forgetting where the Penner/Probst "feud" started from.

Also, since Micronesia was filmed in the fall of '07, did the 'favorites' have any idea who Amanda and James were, since the China season was airing at the same time?

Do any of them know for example that Amanda made the finals in China, and won a pretty decent sum of money?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'm forgetting where the Penner/Probst "feud" started from.

Back in Jonathan's first season, Cook Islands. It was actually a bit uglier there, as I think Probst's reality vs. actor inferiority complex kept him from realizing what great entertainment value Jonathan brought to the show. This time, they still get on each other's nerves, but you can tell Probst knows that Penner is always great for a sound byte.

(For a vintage Probst vs. Penner moment, I'd have to go with the challenge where they had to balance on poles. Jonathan tried to blame his struggles on his big feet, Probst snickered and sneered, and then Yul piped up to explain how Jonathan's theory was scientifically sound. One of the few times in the history of the show where Jeff was speechless.)

Also, since Micronesia was filmed in the fall of '07, did the 'favorites' have any idea who Amanda and James were, since the China season was airing at the same time?

I believe it's like when Rupert was on All-Stars, in that several episodes had aired before filming began, but not the whole season. With Rupert, the other all-stars were only told that he didn't win his season, and the rest was up to him to tell or not tell. I don't know if that's the same scenario as here, but given that the favorites didn't include any past winners (because Tom turned them down), I can imagine they did the math in their heads.

Nicole said...

I thought Joel was an abusive bully to Chet at the challenge and was glad to see him go. While he thought he was a challenge monster, he didn't actually help them or the Fans win many of them and Cirie was smart to point that out. He was also too overtly aggressive to hide the fact that he would have plotted to take over power from Ozzy when he had the chance. Ozzy had to get rid of him, and Cirie's work in ousting Joel raise my previously lowered opinion of her.

Based on the previews, I am concerned that Jonathan may have to leave because of a potential infection, which I hope is not too serious. I don't want him to leave for that reason and hope that the preview is misleading. I would hope the medical team is properly treating the wound, and that they gave him antibiotics. It did seem like a long time from when he was injured to when he was treated, and considering the dangerous nature of the game, Jonathan wasn't that out of line in his whininess.

Chet is lucky though, because he is completely useless, but his coackroach -like abilities to outlast every potential oust must mean he has some kind of skill.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Chet is lucky though, because he is completely useless, but his coackroach -like abilities to outlast every potential oust must mean he has some kind of skill.

Chet's "skill," if he has one, is being friends with Tracy, who needs all the votes she can get and has now two weeks in a row protected him while orchestrating someone else's ouster. She and Mikey B. are two of the only newbies who I actually buy as "superfans."

Kristen said...

I feel like real "fans" of the show would be interested in playing the game. These newbies are fawning all over the favorites, but aren't doing anything themselves. They couldn't even figure out how to build a shelter, but when the faves came and started, Alexis (and others) got excited to see THEM do it. I think a real fan would want to be part of it.

Nicole said...

I checked the spoiler calender over at TDT which indicates that the Micronesia season started filming on October 29th. At that point neither James or Amanda would have been eliminated from the show. The superfans who did their homework would have been aware of this.

However, I agree with Alan that very few of the "fans" actually seem to be aware of the game.

Anonymous said...

Mike -

I totally agree about the attractive girls on Survivor looking much better on the island versus when they show up on the Tribal Council/finale.

Though Amanda is a very good example, the best example was Sally from Survivor: Panama (the one with the knee high socks).

MJ said...

I was excited, both this week and last week, to see people (tracy) who were in the weaker part of the tribe work and scheme and play the game. It seems that so often when players are in that situation, they just roll over and wait to be voted. Go Cirie and Tracy!

Anonymous said...

Just started reading your blog and it was the first time that I heard that Tom turned down the invitation to be on this season. Do you have any other information about previous contestants who declined to be on? In my opinion, the only way that this could have been a true All-Stars season is if we could have seen ultimate challenge competitors Tom, Terry and Ozzie go head-to-head. Since that couldn't happen, I think the current semi-Stars format is fine, although I think we can all agree that some of the "Superfans" just don't belong. At least Tracy, Joel and Mikey knew the strategy of the game and weren't afraid to make some bold moves.
I was mad at her for voting off my guy Yau-man, but you got to hand it to Cirie. I can't believe Ozzie keeps following her lead. I wouldn't be surprised if she engineers his ouster the next time her tribe loses an immunity challenge.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Do you have any other information about previous contestants who declined to be on?

Not off the top of my head, but there was talk that originally this was going to be an All-Stars 2.0, and that at the last minute Burnett argued for a split format, and so 10 other veterans (Shane from the Exile Island season claims to have been one of them) got cut. I forget where I first heard about Tom, but he's the only winner I know of that they talked to. And much as I'd like to see Tom again -- or, for that matter, Yul, maybe the best all-around winner ever -- I think it's better that most of these people (save Ozzy and Amanda, I think) got eliminated before there was even the final vote. We saw in the first All-Stars season that winners (or, in the case of Rob Cesternino, very high finishers) get automatically targeted when they come back, so there's almost no point in their return save nostalgia.

Then again, Tom may have been just as dominant in challenges in Ozzy -- and, therefore, too valuable to boot so quickly.

And now I'm going to stop typing, else my usual Tom mancrush flare up too badly.

dez said...

Last night also made me forgive Cirie for her behavior a few weeks ago.

Same here. I still miss Yau-Man, but I'm not so mad at Cirie for it any more, hee hee.

In fact, I think I love Cirie and Tracy for getting rid of that jerkwad, Joel. I was already liking Tracy since the first ep, but now I've got a girlcrush. I hope she targets Poverty next :-D

Chet may be useless, but that didn't give Joel the right to drag him around like a sack of bones, especially after Chet smacked his head so hard on the railing. OTOH, when it happened to Jason (or was it Erik? they're kind of interchangeable right now), it was funny. Yes, I'm wicked.

BTW, the challenges seem unusually brutal this time around. Did Probst help design them once he knew Penner was in the game? ;-)

@nicole, what is "TDT"? Thanks!

Anonymous said...

So, Alan, just to change the subject, do you have any scoop on Wing Chun and Sars leaving Television Without Pity? Care to speculate about whether it will become an all-NBC/Bravo site?

Nicole said...

TDT = True Dork Times. It actually isn't very spoilerific beyond the calendar though because they haven't updated the "survivometer" since the first episode.

lunatic96 said...

I'm pretty sure that Yul was also part of the 10 that got cut at the last minute. Terry, if I recall correctly, wanted too much of an appearance fee to show up again and got passed over.