Jeff Probst: 'Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water' wasn't what we hoped, but next season delivers
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 12/17/2014
Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water has been considered an average season at best for most super fans, but host Jeff Probst is promising better things to come.
The show's 29th season was a bit of a flop for the franchise considering how successful Survivor's first Blood vs. Water edition was in 2013.
"We came off of four fantastic seasons in a row: Philippines, Caramoan, the first Blood vs. Water and Cagayan. So this one just feels different, because it follows such great seasons. But it got a lot better as it went along," Probst, 53, toldPeople.
"[But] Survivor keeps surprising me. I've taped 30 seasons now and I never know what to expect. And Season 30, which I'll announce at the finale, delivers. That unpredictability is why I love Survivor so much."
Probst discussed why exactly he thinks the most recent season struggled so much, particularly the first three quarters of it.
"We cast a lot of people who didn't know how to play. They were learning their game as they went along, which meant that it started out pretty slowly. I don't know that I'm a big fan of casting so many people who haven't watched the game, but I did enjoy watching how frustrating it was for the good players," Probst explained.
For example, Reed Kelly and Josh Canfield constantly talked strategy and knew the game backward and forward. Keith Nale and Wes Nale, on the other hand, had a lot to learn and therefore found issues with when to play a hidden Immunity Idol among other concepts.
"If you base your Survivor approach on game theory, then you make your best move on the assumption that every other player is making their best move. But the people who didn't know the game were unpredictable. The clueless players became a new obstacle. So some people got really frustrated. There's no getting into Keith's head, because he didn't even know what an alliance was when he started playing this game. You can't guess what he's going to do," Probst told People.
When producers initially castSurvivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water, the host apparently wasn't sure about two personalities who actually ended up being strong influences in the game.
"[Jon Misch] and [Jaclyn Schultz]. I thought they were going to be boring, and wouldn't offer anything to the season. But [CBS President] Les Moonves wanted them, and he was right," Probst said, adding that he also doesn't regret casting John Rocker and his girlfriend Julie McGee although Rocker got eliminated on Day 8 and McGee unexpectedly quit the game.
"Everyone brings their own baggage into a season, and John Rocker had a lot of it. That's fascinating TV. Looking back, he wasn't that villainous on the season. He was paying for his sins from years ago. We wanted him on another season, but it didn't work out. So we put him on this season and he brought Julie along. Her behavior speaks for itself."
Probst told People it speaks volumes that McGee up and left the game without a good reason while Missy Payne suffered from a potentially serious injury and still opted to stick things out.
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"We have Missy playing the game on an ankle that could very well be broken, and Julie quit because she was hoarding trail mix? Yeah. Bad choice," he noted.
"It's not about not liking [some of the castaways]. It was that a few things just didn't work out like we had hoped. There was an alliance who was discussing how to split rewards evenly, how to make sure that it was fair for everyone. And that's not whatSurvivor is all about. So there was a lot of frustration this season; I'm always worried when things are gelling like I'd like them to, but that'sSurvivor for you!"
The finale of Survivor: San Juan del Sur -- Blood vs. Water airs Wednesday night from 8-10PM ET/PT and will be followed by a live one-hour reunion special on CBS.