It’s here! Survivor 20, formally known as Survivor: Heroes Vs Villians,with “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” replaced with “Return, Redemption, Revenge”. I love this! I had seen the cast list, of course, but actually seeing them on the screen again quickened my heart and shortened my breath. Rupert, you old softie! Good to see you again, brother! Stefanie! I’m still holding out hope you have a hidden longing for an older man that I can fulfill. Randy! I forgot what a dick you are. Same with Tyson. Boston Rob…I forgive you your past cockiness and douchiness. Marriage and fatherhood has softened up more than your abs.
I could go on and on. But it was good to see the old familiar faces once again. Say what you will about All-Star editions of reality shows, but there’s a reason they work, for me at least. If you spend a TV season investing emotionally in certain cast members, you want to know occasionally that they’re doing well. You don’t dump your friends after six months and lose interest in seeing them again do you? (I know, I know; you think it’s pathetic that I look at complete strangers on reality television in this light. Screw you.)
As the season progresses, I’d like to commend to you three entertaining sources of insight and analysis of HvV that I never miss.
First is Dalton Ross’ recap that appears on EW.com every Friday. Dalton’s been recapping Survivor forever, and provides a fan’s insight that’s dead on and hillarious to read. He generally spends a few days on site at the beginning of each season providing behind-the-scenes goodies such as the following that appeared in his recap of the season premiere:
” As some of you may know, often when there is a challenge on Survivor that is presented as a ”first team to three wins,” in actuality, it was something much longer. Take this reward challenge: What you saw on TV was a ”first one to three wins.” But in reality, the teams actually played all the way to five. Remember how the Villains went up 2-1 after Coach dragged Colby back to the Villains mat? In actuality, the Heroes had a whopping 4-0 lead when that contest took place, and that Coach victory merely got the Villains back to 4-1. But this was just the tip of the out-of-order iceberg, and what I am about to tell you is so convoluted and confusing we may need Lostexpert Doc Jensen to decipher it. The first-round match-up you saw with Stephenie and Cirie vs. Parvati and Danielle was actually round six and got the Villains back to being down only 4-2. But wait, it gets even more confusing. Remember how you saw Stephenie dislocate her shoulder and Probst remarked how she injured herself in the very first round of the very first challenge. Well, that was true, but it wasn’t the round you saw. The actual first round (that you did not see) featured the exact same match-up (Stephenie and Cirie vs. Parvati and Danielle) and it was actually a Heroes victory. Not only that, but the injury appeared to occur while Stephenie was slapping the mat with her extended arm to give her team the win. So, the round you saw presented as the first match-up was actually a rematch that Stephenie was participating in after she had already dislocated her shoulder! (How tough is she?) So, the injury happened in one place, but was edited into another. Now because this is all a bit hard to follow, let me be clear about one thing: There is no monkeying around when it comes to Survivor challenges. The teams compete and the winner is the winner. Nothing is rigged. When you saw people winning rounds, they were winning rounds, maybe just not in the exact order it actually happened. Like all elements of the show, the producers just often record much more than can actually show so then have to figure out the best way to condense it all. (For example, the one round where Coach dragged Colby to his mat took over nine minutes by itself. It was an epic duel that was mesmerizing to witness, but simply too long to show in its entirety) And Stephenie did injure her shoulder in that competition against those same players, just not in the round they showed us. I’m actually surprised they edited it this way because watching Stephenie dislocating it as she won, and then coming back to compete after injuring it was pretty dramatic in itself. Again, just not enough time.”
Just as entertaining an insightful is Probst’s blog that appears on EW.com on Fridays. A must-read every week. A sample:
“Okay, without thinking it through – just off the top of my head – here are some overall thoughts about some of the returning Survivors:
Sandra Diaz – I am so glad she is back. I love her lippy way of telling it like it is. Courtney is also surprising me early on. I like how hard she fought in the initial challenge. Cirie is a legit, 100% full-on threat to win this game. Parvati, if given any kind of an opening will worm her way back into a solid alliance. Russell is a no-brainer. Take him out early or risk seeing him in the final again. Tom Westman, so glad he came back for another go. He needs a strong alliance and if he gets it, he will go deep. He’s a very good “people person.” Rupert, Rupert, Rupert. It’s hard for me to distinguish the Survivor Rupert from the real Rupert. Maybe there isn’t a difference anymore, but I know this… kids still love them some Rupert!”
Want your analysis a little more biting and a little less mainstream? Then you must bookmark Colette Lala’s “Bitchy Survivor Blog“. Colette, you da best!
“We’ve met them all before. We know their reputations. We’ve seen them at their best and, by golly, we’ve seen them at their worst. The Heroes sit in silence, their capes billowing in the breeze of the helicopters. They look hopeful and eager with promises of success and ponies in their future. Over in the Villains aircraft they’re smug, arrogant, smirks on their faces and an overwhelming amount of opportunites to annihilate their opponents waiting for them patiently on the beach. The gentle hairy giant known as Rupert tries to tell us that ‘good’ will win. I put my cigarette out on the kitten at my feet and I just laugh and laugh. Silly man! Thankfully, a voice of reason takes over. It’s Lucifer (Russell Hantz) fresh off of Survivor 19 telling us it’s a fact that Villains are smarter than Heroes. “It’s a proven fact.” He insists we google it. I did. I marched right over to my laptop and punched in “Are villains smarter than heroes?” I never got my answer cuz it took me to an Asian porn page, but I’ll interpret that as a resounding YES! If you can’t trust Lucifer, who can you trust? I mean, come on, seriously.
And then it happens… the line I wait for every season… I’m getting tingly all over just thinking about it… Dimples stands alone on a mess of rocks, violent waves crashing all around him, and we hear it… 39 DAYS, 20 PEOPLE, 1 SURVIVOR!!! *throws confetti in the air* I throw my top off and twirl around my living room. Hay day doh dee doh dee doh doh… I study the opening credits for clues, quickly decide I’d rather not know, and go back to my half Irish, half Salsa gyrations.”
If you’re more of a podcast fan, hurry on over to iTunes and subscribe to Armchair Survivor. Mike and Marji dissect each episode with brutal (and expicit, truth be told) honesty, and just may have you squirt a beverage out of your nose once or twice. They record their show live following Survivor and encourage chat and voicemail feedback.
These articles, blogs, and podcasts greatly augment my enjoyment of Survivor, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy them too.