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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Ultimate Survivor

April 28, 2004

Boston Rob is going down.

That’s my fearless prediction for who won’t win Survivor: All Stars. He’s crossed too many people to be the popular choice, when it’s all said and done.

I initially liked Rob’s spunk. He sort of endeared himself to me when he called the show’s overly dramatic host Jeff Probst “pretty-boy Probst.” But, Rob’s double-dealings have left me hoping for a more honorable winner, if such a person can exist in a game like this.

I’m rooting for Rupert. He’s the burly, black-haired bloke in the tie-dyed t-shirt, who along with Big Tom, stood out from the rest of the perfect-looking cast.

Rupert deserves to win. Not only has he fished and fed the rest of the sorry survivors, he’s proven himself physically, by winning many of the reward challenges. Unfortunately, I don’t think Rupert will be going home a millionaire.

My money is on Amber. Her alliances with Rob and the rest of the gang will garner her a spot among the finalists. And she’s not seen as a threat to her fellow castaways, unlike Rupert and Rob, who are considered the physically strongest players.

The final show should be interesting. That’s when all the booted survivors take the knives out of their backs and exact some revenge of their own by casting their votes for the most-deserving finalist. It should be dramatic when Probst utters that final catchphrase: “The tribe has spoken.”(I’m waiting for them to really do that on the E! True Hollywood Story. But that’s another column entirely.)

As regular readers of Tube Talk know, I rarely watch reality TV shows. But my Thursday nights have been pretty empty since Friends went into reruns the last couple months and Scrubs jumped to Tuesdays. Then a friend reminded me that it isn’t fair to judge an entire genre based on one or two programs, and I should give Survivor: All-Stars a chance.

I tried to resist, but unless you exist in a bubble, you can’t escape this show. The cast is everywhere: magazine covers, news programs, and commercials, even Late Night With David Letterman.

After watching the last few weeks, I can’t say I like the show. All the bickering, backstabbing, and alliances remind me of those cruel, high-school clicks or some weird version of The Heathers. And don’t get me started on how the majority of the cast look like they belong on a runway. (Several of the women are svelte enough to wear their head bandanas as shirts.)

Overall, it’s the little things that bother me. Like why after months without a razor, the women don’t have a jungle growing under their armpits. And after not brushing their teeth for all that time, Amber could stand to even get near Rob, let alone kiss him.

I suppose I’m a little biased against the show. It’s my opinion that it started the reality TV craze. And for that, I admittedly hold a grudge. After the Survivor freshman-year ratings coup, other networks followed suit, producing their own versions of reality TV.

Then, other networks decided to counter the show’s success by doing some creative scheduling. Friends, which airs opposite of Survivor, rarely ends on time anymore. By super sizing Friends with an extra 10-15 minutes, network executives assume viewers won’t flip the channel to see who got voted off the island. (I guess they don’t account for those who tape or TiVo.)

Despite my dislike, it looks like America has spoken: you like this show. The Nielsen ratings consistently rank Survivor: All-Stars in its top five most-watched shows. It looks like its torch is burning brighter than ever.

Originally published 4/28/04 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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