It’s a giant skull, it’s a plane, it’s a Probst way up in the sky, but where are the newbies? Ah, they’re in the boats, they’ve been pointed for land, they’re landing without a clue (which is not the same as “without a coup” but that’s for later …)
Survivor FOURTEEN, wow, that’s six years that some of us have flushed precious couch and online time down the toilet … and as the FIJI premiere begins, we wonder, what will they think of to make this feel even slightly novel?
Let’s see, in the past they’ve stranded them on rafts, with a plane, off a bus with native soldiers yelling, in canoes, thrown ‘em overboard in their party clothes, by power boat with military escort, sent em on brutal jungle march led by resurrected losers, and on rafts clutching chickens. (yeah I forgot a few).
They’ve divided tribes by assignment, by pickems of every gimmick they could imagine, by gender, by race. They’ve swapped em by trickery, choice, disks, pickems, buff draw, and mutiny. They’ve kept them in the dark, stranded them with no food, water, fire, or information. Perhaps the cruelest stranding ever was sending Ethan into a game with no foreknowledge of how many women in the cast he’d already slept with. Three, as it turned out, two with the same name. Now that’s just cruel.
So now what cruelty lies in store?
The first big twist turns out to be NO STRUCTURE WHATSOEVER. No rules, no assignments, no tribes, no flags, just a pretty nice island complete with the welcome sight of big banana trees and buxom papayas. (No that is not shorthand for male & female eye candy, I mean the actual fruit grows there.) Let the sadism of “this doesn’t suck enough and we know it should suck bigtime so when will they sandbag us?” begin!
Scene one reminds me of a bunch of ADD kids fresh out of Ritalin let loose on the playground with no playground monitor. Hyper Chaos. They’re all pumped up to start meetin demands, playing challenges, hating the other tribe, bonding with their own tribe, but now what? Well there’s 19 of em and they have to fall into some kind of social structure, so soon they’re milling around like they stumbled into a no host company cocktail party – let the networking and intros begin!
The more suspicious members of the group confess to the camera they would really like to know what happened to the whole “tribe” thing. In case you thought this was a new and original twist, may I remind you of Palau, two days lumped on the beach before Jeff showed up and called a schoolyard pickem.
Right about now you might expect me to introduce the nineteen new victims and make snarky remarks about em all. Give you the lay of the land, cliff notes for the season, take pity on you in your overload on the sheer number of nameless bodies ... No way! You’re getting em the way SeeBS presented em – some have names and are thrust at us whether we want to know em or not; some might as well be extras.
In fact I’m starting to get a serious LOST vibe. (If you’ve never seen LOST, tough) You know how after some 42 survivors land on the beach pretty soon you figure out only a select clique have speaking roles and do all the cool stuff, while the rest are red shirts? Like that.
The Named Ones as we meet them: EDGARDO – young hunky ad exec with heavy Puerto Rican accent, he’s confused
YAU MAN -- (Borneo born computer engineer) & B-O-O -- blue collar type, Cajun
Helpfully spell their names to each other. Luckily (we’ll learn later) these are short words of one syllable. This saves us from a Rocky-designated time out.
ROCKY -- Stallone look-alike name of James but Bahston Rocky will suffice. Never mind that he’s dressed far more Rambo than Rocky, he chooses Rocky. The new Boston Rob character, kinder gentler meathead, no Machiavelli. Scorcese, not Coppola. Capiche?
ANTHONY -- a well spoken guy I can remember by his round glasses. Has “pre-merge narrator” written all over him.
PLOT POINT ALERT -- They find a cave! Cave has shelter potential. Relocate from Beach. (LOST Season One vibe continues.)
Notice anything odd? So far all the named folk are guys; all the confessionals are with guys. Yes there are females milling around but who are they and what do they think about it all? Apparently not a priority to find out.
PLOT POINT ALERT – splinter group of 4 castaways climbs to the highest point of the island. This group clearly has initiative. They rise above the herd. They are: Anthony, 2 new guys & a girl. (Lost flashback #3 – Who's got the transponder? hope one of them speaks French)
DRE aka DREAMZ -- he chose a “more strive than achieve” name for himself. OK. DRE announces he’s a natural Fujian. (Fuji = mountain in Japan but let’s not be picky)
EARL is mature, thoughtful and well spoken like Yul and explains how it’s like when you buy a house you want to see every single room and that’s why he’s up on top of the hill scoping it all out. I can’t think of any good snark about Earl. In fact he seems like the kind of guy who could win this game and I’d be perfectly happy. Of course I almost never like the winner so this doesn’t bode too well for Earl. But I did like Yul. So lightning might strike twice.
4th CASTAWAY who goes to top of hill – Mystery girl (later to be known as Michelle).
Standing at the summit, EARL pulls a di Caprio and says he’s the king of Fiji. (DRE rules Fuji) We see glimpse of Mystery girl down in the shrubbery and hear her barely audible “and queen!”
DREAMZ points out he’s higher than any of the others but they miss their opening to ask the guy what he’s smoking … too bad, they’ll be wondering that soon …
SYMBOLISM ALERT In Survivor, when a group goes and stands at the highest point and surveys the land, they may have a destiny … (footnote, see “Boran takes a scenic hike,” S3). The sight of Earl and Dreamz on top of it all looks oh so symbolic. The nameless girl down in the bushes and fellow-explorer Anthony, their symbolic elevation is kind of meh. I know it’s subtle but let’s see how it pans out.
PLOT POINT -- BACK at the cave … YAU MAN meets CASSANDRA. Our first female. These are our tribal elders.
CASSANDRA – “Hi, I’m the new CIRIE. You will adore me because my previous outdoor experience consists of stopping the car and walking 20 feet off the road so they can’t see me. … (well nevermind, you get the drift.) Her attitude about leaves is yet unknown, but we peg her as a “carries kleenex in her purse gal.” NOT a camper, hiker, explorer type which explains why she didn’t go to the top of the hill.
Cassandra is all for coconut when it comes grated in a package. Yau Man shows her how coconut husk is actually sort of like packaging that’s VERY hard to get off, right up there with shrink wrap off a new CD. She asks him if he’s ever gotten to a coconut without an instrument … I think this is an awfully personal question considering they just met but Yau Man doesn’t flinch, sure he has!
Yau Man reveals he’s a native of Borneo. BORNEO, the land of the very first Survivor. “What is that near?” she wonders, and he kindly spares her a geography lesson, suffice it to say it’s much like Fiji which has all the same fruits and stuff (insert tasteless Richard Hatch joke).
Yau Man will be the survival master for them all. I’d compare YauMan to Bruce except Yau Man feels vulnerable as the old guy, whereas Bruce was in his own universe. I’d compare him to Cao Boi, who had his share of paranoia, except Cao Boi was in his own universe. Yau Man has an actual strategy, seems to dwell in the real world, and gets that if you’re not careful you may annoy people into voting you off. So far he has not built a Zen Garden, practiced karate, exorcised a bad wind, or left giant red hickeys on any foreheads. Instead he has opened a coconut and given Cassandra a drink. Go Yau Man! Go Cal!
MASSIVE PLOT DEVELOPMENT IN WHICH JIFFY DROPS A LOAD INTO THE SEA AND STRUCTURE IS BORN like the stuff Pacific island creation myths are made of …
Finally, along comes Jiffy in the plane but he STILL doesn’t land, leading us to wonder if he caught something from one of the Cook Island DAWS (perhaps ringworm or head lice) and has vowed never to come within touching distance again.
Instead he drops his payload (a crate) into the sea, the quick ones paddle out and retrieve it in case the first ones out get a decoder ring or perhaps because there is FINALLY some clearly defined goal … and the rest watch from shore and say, “guess they got it, huh?”
So in a nice piece of brawn vs. brain irony the two biggest brutes smash and pound and pummel the box (we met them already, B-O-O and ROCKY). Boo and Rocky get my vote for “two least likely to become rocket scientists.” They fail to crack the crate.
Yau Man steps up to the plate and whacks the crate on its structurally must vulnerable point, the corner, and voila, it breaks open. Yau Man modestly lets them think he has superpowers (YAU MAN!!!) and someone says it took a “real man” to do the job. In a confessional he lets us in on a secret – there’s this magical stuff called PHYSICS and he, Yau-Man grasps this esoteric concept and intends to harness it, whether to husk coconuts or bust open crates. (But can he do puzzles?)
PLOT POINT - CRATE MAIL The crate has a scroll and a map and instructions. This show might be Survivor after all. Well, maybe not. It seems to have morphed into LApprentice!
They now have their first task assigned. They don’t yet have teams or a project manager but they have a clear mission: create structure by literally building structures … bedroom, kitchen and an outhouse. They got blueprints, they got tools, they got lumber, they got a map to the hidden supplies, and a site map.
Didn’t LApprentice start out with similar lack of teams and the task of building a camp in the wilderness? (if a mansion’s back yard can be called wilderness—OUTDOORS anyhoo)
Meet ALEX. Alex is hot. He is a smart, sexy, Colombian Harvard graduate and although he’s an attorney his hotness is such that I can overlook his calling. Um, where was I? Sorry. I was having a little daydream.
ALEX (we hope) could be the Jonathan of this season because he delivers the “episode title worthy” line. He says it all seems very cool but way too easy, because this is Survivor (at least he thinks so but he hasn’t seen LApprentice yet) and therefore Something very cruel is about to happen very soon.
To sum up, we’ve gotten this far and only been introduced by name to: Edgardo, Yau Man, B-o-o, Rocky, Anthony, Dre(amz), Earl, Cassandra, and Alex. These seem to be the characters that matter, although Alex only came in after the box opened. Here’s hoping Alex is a “regular” and not a red shirt disguised in green tank top.
THE FIRST TASK:
STEP ONE: find the hidden wood One group-- the big old guy, the big guys, and two chicks later to be introduced as Erica and Rita, goes uphill to hunt for the hidden supplies. At the top of the hill they are thrilled to find a giant pile of wood. Or as Rocky calls it, “a whole bunch of Lamber.” Apparently he HAS spent time with Boston Rob.
ERICA - (Another woman speaks!) can’t get over the oak toilet seat. The toilet seat freaks her out. She can envision whole alliances based on “seat up” or “seat down.” This is seriously time to start playing the game.
ERICA and JESSICA have the dubious honor of making Revealed Alliance #1. As we like to say around these parts – “strategies revealed resemble orange peel.” Something like that. Point being, when the editing reveals your alliance in Episode One it’s equivalent to having your thigh cellulite magnified, spotlighted, and broadcast by webcam to all your Myspace friends. No good can come of it.
TASK #1, STEP TWO: Dig holes; Insert Wood.
Down by the cave, the not so tough women and Yau-man are taking directions from SYLVIA. In a bizarre casting coincidence, Sylvia just happens to be an architect. Does anyone think that’s an accident? Can you imagine what would happen if they gave em blueprints without an architect? That would be cruel. More importantly, the shelter wouldn’t get built and that would screw with the twist …
In a Survivor Borneo homage scene, the new BB starts directing her crew to build the shelter. Or if you came to this franchise last season and BB doesn’t ring a bell, think the new Cristina.
BIG GARY now speaks classic Survivor snipe: Sylvia wants to “dominate”! We’re all in it together and she wants to upset the wagon! Waaah! (Translation: Gary has worked in construction and Gary would have liked to have a star turn, but architect trumps nail bender)
TIME OUT Sylvia comments one of the supports is “askew” – Rocky says “what’s askoot?” He announces all future usage of big words will require a “time out” for teaching James the definition.
Sylvia helpfully addresses his confusion by explaining that “askew” is architect speak for “orthogonal.” I swear to god she did that. You can’t make that stuff up. To which he reasonably objects that’s another big word. She finally throws him a bone that it means “it’s not 90 degrees” to which he replies, “yeah, it feels more like 100 degrees when I’m working in the hot sun under some pretentious aging yuppie from Marin who can’t use real words like “Fetch” “Lift” and “Heave.”
One might think a guy who can throw out “suffice” in his first confessional ought to be able to handle “askew” without a time out. Maybe this is his “dumb myself down so they don’t boot me for my amazing brains” strategy? He should be careful about lowering that mental bar any further.
TASK #1, STEP THREE: See Project Manager Shoot Self in Foot: Sylvia digs a hole by trying to complete the entire task in an impossible time frame instead of covering her ass by focusing on PRIORITIES. Classic Apprentice PM blunder. Priorities are defined as whatever needs to be done to win your team over so they don’t throw you under the bus at first opportunity.
Sylvia realizes they can’t finish the whole job by dark, but she still goes with getting PARTS of the shelter, kitchen and outhouse done instead of getting the SLEEPING room ALL the way done. She believes that’s what THE JIFFY would want. We can see that she should let the crap and the crockery fall where they may until sun-up.. but we’re at home.
Soon it’s dark and pouring rain while they huddle under their roofless shelter holding a mat over their heads. The shelter is sited right next to a large cave, which has a roof. However they all huddle in the roofless shelter and whine about getting soaked. This is called failure to think outside the box, in spite of the box having no lid.
“We are the dumbest people! .. This is Un-Survivor!" quips Alex who demonstrates the important ability to mock himself and others equally under stress. Did I mention I like Alex? He gets that they absolutely deserve whatever cruel stuff is coming at ‘em.
TASK #1, STEP FOUR: Finish the friggin shelter already!
YAU MAN amazes Mr. EARL. Tea is served. Earl dubs the Coconut Cup invention “so Flintstones” and tells Yau Man “You’re the Professor on this Gilligan’s Island.” Thus adding yet more TV shows to the mix of candidates for “show we’ve been tricked into watching in Survivor’s time slot while Jiffy’s off auditioning for Indiana Jones pt 4.”
Earl: “That Yau Man, he figures out what is what, he’s a keeper.” As Earl already decided he’s king of the island, this could bode well for Yau Man. Unless the whole “king of the world” scene was dramatic irony, and Earl is soon to be toast.
TRACKING DEVICE This may be as good a moment as any to introduce my shiny new device, the Toastometer …“inspired by” (remember, an homage is not a rip off) Mr. TrueDorkTimes’ Survivometer.
As we all know, once these guys leave the mother ship they are all potentially toast, but some will be crispy sooner than others. Think of them as hunkering down in their respective toaster slots in a holding pattern until the time nears when their fire’s about to go out so they can pop up with their Final Words.
The Toastometer has been set to BEEP!!! when a player sets off the Toast worthy alarm with the kind of comment the editing staff just loves to include to illustrate IRONY or FORESHADOWING indicative that this player is not long for the game. Occasionally the Toastometer gets faked out by an utterly MORONIC or ANNOYING comment but bear in mind that annoying and moronic players have survived deep into the game. Repeatedly. Every time the Toastometer gets activated it gives out the cumulative number of beeps for that player.
Toastometer Demo: Jessica: approached to form the first alliance shown on the season. BEEP Jessica: We’re all really bonding, all 19 of us are bonding. BEEP BEEP Jessica: We have everything that we need. This is my Fiji vacation. BEEP BEEP BEEP.
DAY 2, TASK ONE, Finis.
Meet RITA and MICHELLE Confused and awaiting further instructions from THE JIFFY. Yawn. They’re pretty sure they aced this task. They got a toilet, shelter with floor and roof, rice (Basmati) ... and all without resorting to product placement.
TRANSPARENT CHARACTER INTRO DEVICE: DRE: find any mangoes Lucy? “Lucy”: “I’m STACEY. ” We’re up to 15 names now!
As the swollen sun sets on Day 2 of Survivor Fiji, DREAMZ gets another plum moment. I start to peg this as a DREAMZ-centric episode. See, it’s a DREAMZ flashback. As a child he became homeless at age 7. He found the food for his family out of trashcans. Sad poignant music on the soundtrack. This place is pretty great and he’d like to bring his family here. Foreshadowing alert?
NIGHT 2 DREAMZ pulls a Kimmi or (for those of you who tuned in to this franchise later in its run) a Cao Boi. Dreamz starts talking loudly while everyone just wants zzz’s. How ironic -- they all want dreams and instead get DREAMZ. He wants to know what race everyone is, and if Rocky is bi-racial. Rocky says “part-Hispanic … but why do we need to talk about this, can we just go to sleep?”
(Wait a sec, if you look through all this chaos, the casting is indeed divided into 5 African-Americans, 5 Asians, 5 Hispanics (if Rocky counts), and almost 5 Caucasians (counting the model girl who bailed out moments before launch). Maybe Dreamz isn’t a few coconuts shy of the bull’s-eye after all. Maybe Dreamz suspects he’s gonna wake up and find himself appearing in Survivor Race Tribes, part Deux.
Alternately he may be implementing an “I’m not flying under the radar” approach. DREAMZ: “I just want them to know I’m present.” Trust me, Dre, they know. UTR you are not.
Rocky feels the need to call a time out and take Dreamz aside – possibly because Bi-racial contains three syllables, perhaps suffering from a sudden onset of Acute Puka Syndrome.
POINTLESS DRAMA INTERLUDE We’re now treated to 5 minutes of variations on “you talkin' to me?” “yeah” “don’t yell at me” “I’m not yellin” “you are so yellin” “no you’re yellin” “no one yells at me just talk to me” “I AM talkin to you” …
I AM going to need more to drink if this keeps up.
Did I hear the Toastometer BEEP? What Dreamz just pulled was cardinal Survivor Sin of Annoying the Tribe … BUT the guy just had a stellar foreshadowing moment. His family needs to visit him here. Toastometer alert canceled.
DAY 3 THE JIFFY deigns to meet with the newbies. Apparently this season he’ll be deep in high level meetings concerning his more important projects while his aging franchise runs on auto-pilot. Taking a cue from mentor Mark, I expect. THE JIFFY’s PA has penciled them in for a quick sorting and challenge.
It’s a challenge set. Whew! This does start to look like Survivor. It’s even color-coded! THE JIFFY now wants to know if anyone stepped up to the task of building the shelter. Yes, exactly the way THE DONALD picked the new PM’s in LApprentice Ep 1. ALEX seizes the moment to nail Sylvia with the leadership role in a deceptively complimentary fashion. THE JIFFY: Sylvia is your new project manager. Sylvia will now sort you into two teams – I mean TRIBES – without knowing where she’ll end up. This appears to be a first in Survivor, but on closer scrutiny it’s very like the switch where Scout picked the tribes but Sarge got to pick which one he was on, which puts some pressure on the picker not to stack the teams.
TRANSPARENT PLAYER INTRO DEVICE Now everyone gets their name called! Meet LILIANA, LISI, & MOOKIE. LL&M and Stacey have yet to give a confessional. Smacks of “way too boring to introduce until you need to know them just before they’re gone.” Meaning they’re not going anywhere just yet.
RAVU: ORANGE - Michelle, Erica, Rita, Jessica, Boston Rocky, Earl, Yau Man, Anthony, Mookie. MOTO: GREEN - Cassandra, Liliana, Stacey, Lisi, Dreamz, B-o-o, Big Gary, Alex (properly noted as sexy guy in green tank top), Edgardo.
Sylvia is clearly a symmetry gal. Askew is not her style. She deftly balances the gender, the old guys (Gary/Yau Man), the moms (Cassandra/Rita), the hulks (Rocky/Boo), young Asian girls (Michelle-Stacey), young Caucasian girls (Jessica/Lisi), even balances the Caucasians and Asians 2-2, and the other ethnicities 3-2. Not bad for working on the fly! Bonus points – breaks up Rocky and Dreamz. Praise the lord.
THE JIFFY rewards her with a massive blindside. You get immunity; you also get to go to Exile Island where you’ll sleep with the snakes. You also get clue to whereabouts of A fugly immunity idol. Sylvia pretends to be scared but secretly thinks sea snakes aren’t a bad trade-off for a night around the ol campfire with Dreamz. “Sylvia will come back and join the loozer tribe.” Exit Sylvia.
This appears to be a new twist until you recall that Bruce was odd man out in the pickem, got exiled, and returned to join the tribe that lost a member. Yawn.
THE CHALLENGE – just to let you know this really is Survivor. Chariot race over Aegean mud flats. Correction, Kenyan mudflats. No, it’s Fijian mudflats. Three puzzles, untie bags, solve, get coordinates, solve the wheel, get the knife, chop the rope, raise the flag. Immunity. Yep -- grunting, sweating, bags, bondage, puzzle ineptitude, and once again the ol’ flag pops up. Now we know this is Survivor.
MOTO wins. Alex turns out to be Puzzle Stud. Jessica is Puzzle Choker. Yes, that is all I have to say about the challenge. BORING. SUCKY. DRY. You get the picture. I like water challenges. If there are sea snakes, mo bettah. I foh suah rootin fo da sea snakes.
THE JIFFY now springs HUGE twist on them. HUGE. With Immunity comes REWARD of living in the awesome camp they just built. Plus extras. Luxuries never before seen on Survivor.
RAVU, the Loozers, are off to a new island where they’re back to square one with only a machete and a pot. Not even flint. They will have to earn the right to get the HAVES camp by winning tasks, er Challenges. This might have been a mind-blowing twist if LApprentice hadn’t already debuted it a few weeks ago. Coulda Woulda Shoulda. Nah-ah.
BACK at MOTO: It’s the good life. Showering, drinking, couching, self-congratulating … They got goblets, gold flatware, a toaster-oven, pasta maker, bread maker.. I see it all now. Romber donated their tackiest surplus wedding gifts to the show and in return they’ll make a guest appearance, perhaps a post-merge reward involves playing poker with Robfaddah. Seriously. Just wait.
LISI: Sylvia be sleepin wid da sea snakes.
EXILE ISLAND: Sylvia tells us the snakes are for real, THE JIFFY wasn’t just joshing with her. She narrates this as she trudges through the supposedly snake-infested waters with nary a flinch. These sea snakes are the kind that come on land – and this is their happy place. Sylvia treks up to the top of a very rocky hill to a lookout shelter with killer view. Has she escaped the snakes? No, because SEG has made sure to plant a few of those buggahs up there in the shelter. What, you think those snakes slithered up the hill over all those rocks? Dude, they like water and sand, not rocks. I don’t know about you, but poisonous snakes scare the hell out of me. I’m worried about poor Sylvia. I mean, she could DIE out there. So I did some googling about Fijian sea snakes, aka the yellow-snouted banded sea kraits. Yep their venom is deadly.
I even uncovered a terrifying photo of two tourists’ encounter with these creatures.
Apparently they can’t get their jaws open wide enough to bite humans. Except the webbing between fingers maybe. But these are such mellow snakes, they only try to bite humans when extremely provoked. Granted, people don’t get much more provoking than your typical Survivor cast.
RAVU Erica is PO’d. The rest are a glass half full group. They don’t have a glass but they don’t care. Here comes the scheming segment. You know the drill.
First, one group of players forms an alliance. In this case, Rocky, Erica, Jessica. They swear allegiance. They have just decided the game is theirs. There are THREE of them on a tribe of EIGHT. Whatever, they are all set. They talk to EARL, who says it can’t be Michelle, his monkey girl. Rocky agrees she’s a true ninja. it’s going to be Rita. Earl says OK.
Rocky and Jessica are all set to play Romber Redux. JESSICA – I feel so safe with Rocky. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP ROCKY – You’d tell me if it was me going, right? JESSICA – I swear. She fails to ask for reciprocal warning. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP JESSICA – I feel so good now knowing it’s not going to be me going home. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP
Cut to Scheming Group #2. Mookie, Michelle, Rita explain to Earl and Erica how the obvious weak link is, predictably, Jessica. Earl and Erica do what they can to dissuade Mookie, but Mookie’s (alleged, not yet demonstrated) mind is made up. Earl demonstrates flexibility and crosses over without making a ripple much less a wave. Smart. Rita smartly goes to secure Yau Man -- an “as long as it’s not me” player. Rita explains that Jessica is a threat because she’s flying under the radar. Whatever, the editing hasn’t bothered to set this up to make sense. I don’t even know who Rita is and she’s calling little Lamber II out for flying UTR. Erica tells Rocky his Lamber is the target. They swear never to write Jessica’s name down.
BORED ROOM (Oops, Tribal Council) THE JIFFY tries to make the Have Nots whine. They won’t do it. They’re just too damn perky. Erica points out they have lots of coconuts. THE JIFFY says, they’d better be some kickass coconuts. Earl agrees it’s not Fantasy Land and concedes they have no fire, no drinking water, no shelter, and no food, but hey, they’ll soon have an architect, if the snakes didn’t get her first.
VOTE Mookie, Rita, Yau Man. Jessica. Wow! It’s like chaos. Nah, it’s Jessica Lamber. BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP What a brain trust. They didn’t write her name down. They just scattered their votes. So much for Revealed Alliance #1.
As we bid a fond goodbye to Survivor Fiji Ep One, I’m shaking my head wondering who the heck came up with these gimmicks. So … I called my people. And I got some super-secret videotape. We now step back in time to last fall, and spy on a top level brainstorming session for Survivor Fiji. Mark Burnit, the Probster, Less Moonves.
LM: We need a new gimmick. This DVR trend could be deadly for us. Do you realize that when LOST returns Wednesday that all the DVR’s ever set to record Lost will pick it up, but DVR’s will treat Survivor FIJI like a new show? New show? We are anything but a new show, but you can’t convince a DVR of that. What do we do to get ‘em to press that sweet little record button? Five tribes? More islands? A hidden immunity idol in every pocket? What?
JP: I’ve got one. In the Cook Islands, this BBC show called Shipwrecked had just left and they had stranded their castaways with blueprints for a shelter and full building materials and tools, all the comforts, food, booze, the works!
LM: Blueprints, that sounds RIVETING
JP: Well we heard … thanks to the luxury shelter, hot players on the show hooked up! It was a hook-up bonanza!
LM: Hook ups? They actually had sex on the island?
JP: Right, they had showers and booze from Day One. They weren’t so nasty and smelly that the viewers recoiled from the screen like when Adam kissed Candice. And that was the BEST hook-up of last season out of the three we hyped.
LM: Sounds promising, but we might take some heat for “borrowing.” Get approval from Legal.
JP: Does anyone who watches us actually watch BBC America?
LM: Point taken. I seriously doubt that’s a demographic we need. But say we go with this luxury camp scenario, won’t people complain it’s too easy for Survivor?
MB: Er, I have this concept I’ve been working up. Have’s and Have-nots, one tribe in the lap of luxury, practically a mansion. Other tribe barely has a pot to piss in. Envy eats away at the Have Nots and they strive to knock the Haves off their cocky perch. Instant Underdogs! And you know Underdogs make for good ratings.
LM: I like it! Very HOH room vs. the scary bug room, factions jostling for control of the privileges. Now Mark, you’re sure you haven’t pitched this to that other network for your OTHER show?
MB: Absolutely not, CBS exclusive. No BS.
LM: All right then, throw in an extra immunity idol, cast an architect … redo the Race Tribes but blenderize them this time, I want a damn CAR sponsor this season. Oh, and I want SNAKES. Deadly ones. I’m talkin a level of snake terror not done since “Raiders.” I think we’re done here!
MB: Uh Jeff, humor me, I think it’s time for you to try a new look … could you just stop off and consult with this stylist I know before your flight to Fiji? Excellent!