Jeff, who has served as the host of Survivorsince the show debuted all the way back in 2000, elaborated, "There is a vitality that I haven't felt in a long time. Maybe that's related to COVID, maybe it's something else, but I don't think it's a coincidence."
Following a year-long delay due to the coronavirus pandemic,Survivor producers were able to imagine and execute a new "unrelenting" 26-day game Jeff has dubbed "Survivor 2.0" and "a bold new era" of the show.
Survivor's crew returned to Fiji in March 2021 to film two seasons of the CBS series back to back.
"From the moment the game started, I felt an undeniable sense of camaraderie and community with the players. It was a very unique feeling," Jeff shared.
"I was literally smiling every time I interacted with the players. I think the audience will feel it in the opening moments of our first episode" whenSurvivorpremieres Season 41 on Wednesday, September 22 at 8PM ET/PT on CBS.
When the game begins on the islands of Fiji, the 18 new castaways will be divided into three tribes of six to face a "more intense and more dangerous" season than ever before, according to the network.
"There was just no denying that it felt amazing to be with other humans, to see smiling faces, to talk to each other," Jeff added. "And then, of course, the strategy began, and the beautiful, vicious gameplay took over!"
CBS has teased Survivor 41 will be "unpredictable" and "accelerated" and that the change in format will be a challenge for "even the strongest Super Fan."
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There will be minimal supplies, scarce Reward Challenges, and advantages that could advance a player's game or simply extinguish his or her torch on the upcoming edition ofSurvivor.
"Tribes are very small throughout the season, which makes Tribal Council even scarier because there is nowhere to hide," Jeff revealed.
"And votes are often at risk, which means you can't ever rely on how many votes your alliance will have at any Tribal Council."
But Jeff acknowledged there was even something special about the Season 41 cast at Tribal Councils, which are typically pretty cutthroat and often conclude with a castaway getting blindsided.
"Even at Tribal Council, where things are often intense, there was a sense of humanity. Don't get me wrong, blindsides are brutal this season, but the difference is, after someone was voted out, they often thanked the other players for the great gameplay," Jeff explained to Parade.
"For me, that is the ultimate version of Survivor, where you can play as hard as possible but still not take it personally. It is, after all, just a game."
Jeff also said it was incredible to reunite with the Survivor crew after a year of quarantining and travel restrictions due to COVID-19.
"There was a palpable sense of gratitude from all of us to be back together and making the show we love. It was like a reunion. You could feel it in every department. The energy was very high and very positive," Jeff said.
"Like anyone who has been without work for a year, it has been difficult for our crew, but you wouldn't have known it from their attitudes. I was so impressed. I had a smile on my face every single day of shooting."
Survivor's 41st season will also feature Jeff taking viewers inside the action by addressing the audience directly throughout the season. He'll make fans aware of some of the twists before players even face them.
In addition, Survivor fans can test their own savviness and knowledge of the show by playing "Game Within the Game," which allows viewers to spot a hidden rebus puzzle within the episode and solve it each week.
The 18 castaways looking to outwit, outplay and outlast their opponents include a rancher, a former NFL player, a neurosurgeon, a pastor, a cyber security analyst, a grocery clerk, and a flight attendant.
"I'll say it right now -- if you have never watched an episode of Survivor, just watch the premiere of Survivor 41, and if you don't get hooked, blast me on Twitter for wasting your time. And if you love it, come back for Episode 2!" Jeff concluded.