Monday, December 22, 2008
So Survivor just ended, and Mark Burnett and the gang are going back to the well for the 18th time. The next series will take place in Brazil and is likely already underway, but that won't stop me offering some suggestions, should this show run on into infinity.
More old people. The ones that don't get voted out in the first couple of episodes generally fare fairly well. Experience does count -- whether it's a lifetime of acquiring useful skills or just simply knowing how to get along with people. And, nothing brings out the rallying fans like supporting the oldster underdog. (See also Rudy and Yau-Man.) This time, Bob overcame a seemingly double handicap of age and physique to win.
More chunky people. Seriously, after a month of not-eating, some of these contestants become alarmingly skinny. Look, you know folks are gonna drop a bunch of weight, so don't pick people who leave us at the final challenges rooting for who appear to be death-camp survivors.
More mean people. Yes, they appeared to be simply awful human beings, but admit it: Randy and Corrine were a blast to watch (and even more fun to watch get taken down hard.) This isn't the Hallmark Channel, and reality fare is low-rent by nature, so give us villains, not group hugs.
Different challenges. Seriously, if I see one more run/swim/crawl, collect puzzle pieces and assemble puzzle to raise flag challenge ... The challenges that work best involve tapping a less obvious skill (rather than just speed and strength), and include some mental element. At least this season, Survivor dropped the pro forma final challenge, which has always been some standing endurance test. Building a house of cards was a fresh idea, a tough challenge, and rendered surprising results -- Susie beat the physics instructor?! -- that changed up the whole game with only a day to go.
Immunity idols. Finally, this thing was actually employed, and cleverly. But the novelty of the immunity idol has worn off, and I hope Survivor 18 either ditches it or changes how it can be played. Best case scenario: The show dreams up some other concept to help or hinder individual immunity outside of challenges. Contestants are too savvy about the immunity idol as it stands now.
New tie-breaker. The tie-breaker has always been building a fire, and that's exactly why Bob won (he went and practiced) and exactly why it should be retired (he went and practiced). Here's hoping if we need a tie-breaker, it's a surprise to all.
New lines for Jeff. This poor man might as well be a pre-programmed robot: "Survivors ready?"; "Want to know what you're playing for?" "Drop your buffs"; etc. Let Jeff speak -- or at least program him with fresh lines.