Monday, May 12, 2008

Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites

I am not a huge fan of reality television. I have never sat through an entire episode of The Real World or The Hills. I am not even that big into watching game shows such as Wheel of Fortune or The Price is Right.

That being said, I have almost always been enthralled with the reality grandfather that is Survivor.

I first recognized the show during the end of the first season. I had not begun watching it when it first began, nor do I think I finished watching the first season. I did see a couple of episodes, and had seen the famous clip of tribal council for that first season.

When the second season started, however, I was hooked, and now 16 seasons later I have at least started watching each and every season. It's amazing that after so long a show can still be totally different with each season, but it all comes down to the individuals.

There have been a few stinkers throughout the years, as far as seasons are concerned. Some were so bad that I didn't even finish watching.

My absolute favorite season to date, however, was Survivor: All Stars. And that may be because I had already gotten to know these people. I knew their personalities, and I knew their strategies - so it was fun to see what would happen when 18 of them were thrown together. And it was.

This installment of Survivor was another All-Star season, but one with a twist. It brought back 10 of the most famous contestants from past seasons, as well as 10 of the biggest fans of the show, and put them up against each other.

Now I am not going to lie, I thought the first few episodes of the season were horrible. I didn't know if I was going to stick around - but I am so glad that I did. The first episode of the season had notorious Survivor Johnny Fairplay (whom the producers of the show were promoting as a huge threat in its commercials) ask to get voted out so he could get back to his girlfriend and unborn child. Kind of a letdown if you ask me. All that build up - and he is gone after three days.

Then came the second of the Favorite ousts. One of my favorite contestants ever, Yau-Man, was voted out because Cirie knew he was too good of a player (Yau-Man was also one of those promoting the show with Fairplay). So two players I wanted to watch, gone after three episodes.

But, I stuck with it. And I am happy I did, because it was one of the best seasons of Survivor in a long time.

The past five-to-six weeks have probably been the best string of shows to ever come from the game. Both Ozzy and Jason were blindsided at tribal council, while holding the hidden immunity idol, and were ousted. Then, Amanda used the hidden immunity idol at the right time to save herself, and Alexis was voted out. Finally, in one of the dumbest moves ever, Erik held the immunity necklace and a place in the Final Four, but chose to give it up to Natalie to try and save some votes on the jury - but too bad he didn't need them, because he then got voted out.

This season has had it all. Two people wanting to be voted out, or flat out quitting: Fairplay and Kathy. Two being forced to leave due to injuries: Penner and James. Plus, at least three or four more injuries throughout: Chet, Erik, Ami and Alexis.

The Finale was last night, and the Four Black Widows (Natalie, Amanda, Parvati and Cirie) remained. The first immunity challenge had the four of them on top of a perch, filling up a post with water, to get a set of keys. Then racing to the beach to construct a ladder to get to the top of a platform to raise a flag. Natalie was first to get her keys, followed by Parvati. Amanda was third, but easily caught up to the rest and flew by them putting up her ladder to win.

Natalie tried her best, but in the end was the final fan to be voted out of the game, leaving just the three women favorites.

In a twist (most of them thought it would be a final three) another immunity challenge was presented. This time the balancing of a ball on a piece of wood, that in time would get longer. Parvati was the first out, while Amanda and Cirie battled until the end, but Cirie lost her concentration and lost.

Amanda seemed torn about her choice to bring to the end, but I felt she made the right decision, as she voted Cirie out to sit with Parvati at the final tribal council.

But, in a game of blindside after blindside, Parvati was named the Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites winner and new millionaire. I had thought it was going to be Amanda since the merge, and even through the final tribal council, thought she had it in the bag. But, this game again proves that nothing is certain - which is why I keep going back. As long as you can hold my interest through the first month or so, I am with you to the end. And for the most part, Survivor, is able to do that.

Reality television has gotten pretty bad as of late, but it's always nice to have an old standby to go back to. Here's hoping for continued excellent seasons. The blueprint has been assembled.

Side Note: As of today, it appears that Reaper has been saved and will in fact return for a second season on the CW. I am very happy. Like I said, I don't even get the CW, but I continue to stay up to date with episodes on the web. It's a happy day.

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