Ok Survivor fans! Many, many poeple have lamented that this season is a bit on the lame side. I agree -- although, after All-Stars, I really needed something utterly fantastic to wipe the bad memories away. How do you think all of the seasons stack up??
1. S2- Outback - this one had it ALL: treachery, hunting, starvation, flooding, environmental faux pas, the best villian ever, finger-wagging, game-disrupting injury (all caught on tape!), and drama, darma DRAMA! At the heart of it all was a 3 person alliance thjat navigated the whole game intact, even though 2 of the members couldn't stand the 3rd person. And, though many people have gone on to deride Colby for choosing Tina over Keith, thus losing the game, it was the perfect ending to me. The mastermind of the game won, and the runner-up seemed ok with his decision. I coudn't miss a minute of this season!
2. S1- Pulau Tiga - The original. Rich Hatch figured out the key to playing this game right away, and everyone's been doing it his way since. The audacity of Rich to step out of the final challenge and let his elderly alliance partner battle it out with the out-of-favor-with-everyone young scrapster was bloody brilliant. And the snakes-and-rats speech is still about the best rant ever at a Tribal Council.
3. S6 - Amazon - I hated the final result, but this was a great season, mostly due to the charismatic and crafty Rob Cesternino. He took Rich's strategy and upended it completely - instead of building your alliance and staying with it, make sure you are always on the winning side of the vote no matter what. A crime that he didn't win. Also I have to give some props to the much-maligned Matthew. Only Butch voted for him, but I thought Matthew was a great player. He came into the game having never watched Survivor and 1) was an amazing survivalist and 2) learned the game anyway. Matthew even came to the same conclusion in the final challenge as Rich had. Biggest voting disappointments: Christy bending to the will of the evil stepsisters and voting for one of them, and Rob C being so mad that his naive protege beat him that he voted for the popular chick instead.
4. S7 - Pearl Islands - this one should actually be tied with Amazon. S6 was stringer overall, but the ending of this season was much better. The pirate theme, the surprise beginning, the ghost team coming back into play, RUPERT, Jon's dead gramma story - love 'em or hate 'em, they all kept this season hopping. I think my favorite moment in the game was when Jon tried to make a deal with Lil for the final 2 and she wouldn't buy it. She knew she wasn't going to win no matter what, and she made sure she lost to the better person. (I don't care what Darrah said at the reunion - I simply do not believe that she would have voted for Lil over Jon before seeing all the behind the scenes stuff). Sandra wasn't given charity though - she worked it all 39 days. Her spying was hilarious, and incredibly useful. And to those put off by her "anyone but me" strategy I say this: despite what Sandra said about her approach to voting, or said she was willing to do to get further in the game, she actually followed Rich's alliance formula. She found an alliance early on (Rupert and the blonde girl) and stuck with it, until both of them were gone.
5. S4 - Marquesas - the immediate implosion of the Maaramu tribe was sad and boring. Even the producers seemed to think so! This was also the first time we saw the now-standard barbie doll look for a contestant (Sara). What saved this show was Kathy. Kathy went from being the most annoying person on her team, on the verge of being booted (except her team kept winning), to being the wiliest player in the game. And why? Because of a conversation she had with the Robfather on the eve of the team merge. Rob's words channeled Kathy's natural paranoia into sharp instincts, which helped her orchestrate the amazing Wretched of the Earth coalition to overthrow the Rotu 4. Sadly, Kathy was one-upped at the last challenge by her original teammate psyching her out about her shirt (accidentally, I am convinced, but still), and her current alliance-mate accepting a better deal. The original final 3 heartbreaker (see Rob C above). Seeing one of my favorite players later dissolve into a blithering idiot in All-Stars was another heartbreaker.
6. S5 - Thailand - it's kind of a pity that this series is so low on the list, because Brian Heidik was brilliantly evil, and evilly brilliant. He made final 2 commitments to everyone on his team except Jan (who seemed to be on a different planet half the time). He could have been discovered so easily but he manipulated each of his alliances in a way that no one thought to question him. Even when told to do so by others! It was also quite satisfying to see the "old team" turn things around mid-game and decimate the smug youngsters. But really, this was a boring season. The fact that I can't remember most of the players' names says a lot about how the season went for me.
7. Survivor All-Stars - what an great idea! What a crappy execution! I never in a million years would have guessed that the Robfather would dominate all the challenges - mental and physical. Did he start taking Gingko Biloba after Marquesas? And I reluctantly admit that he ran the show strategically as well - but NOT because he ws a great strategist. Because everyone else on this show inexplicably played like complete idiots!! Oy. Add to that the two first real quitters* in the history of Survivor, and I am one annoyed fan. Seeing S2's invisible girl get the money was just.....the perfect way to end All-Stars. The best moment of the series: Shii Ann winning immunity and making the rest of her team send one of their own home. A short-lived victiory, but a sweet one.
8. S3 - Africa - this one was too boring to even recap. The only notable thing that happened was that my favorite player (Lex) got a complex about his gut and became a megalomaniac. Unlike Kathy, with Lex I should have seen it coming in All-Stars....
So where does this season land? I can't really tell until it's all over, but right now I'm thinking it'll land between Marquesas and Thailand - or lower! There's just no one really to root for, and no one really to hate. Worse, I don't see any huge amazing strategist masterminding the game. I like Lea, Twila and Chad the most, but it'll be hard for any of them to get to the final 4. Meh.
* Survivor Quitters: I always thought Osten got a raw deal. Yes, I agree that he gave up on the game too easily, and that seeing someone in his physical condition (in relation to the others in the game) complain about the toll on his health was a bit sketchy. But he did NOT quit the game. His team was going to tribal council, and he asked them to vote for him. Shawna had done the same thing in the Amazon - the difference is that her alliance wouldn't let her go. Osten's team agreed. I always wondered why no one on the show ever talked about the fact that his team was down to its alliance members, and by volunteering to go, he saved them from having to make a really hard decision about who to vote off. I would say he had a bad attitude, but it's not like he walked off in the middle of a challenge or anything.
And that's exactly what both Jenna M and Sue Hawk did in All-Stars. Neither of them waited until their team was at tribal council and asked to be voted off. They both halted the game and left. I know that both had personal reasons that went beyond the scope of the game, and I certainly can't say whether it was the right or wrong thing for either of them to do. But I do think that neither of them would have quit if it were the first time they were playing the game. And putting the show in terms of compelling television, both exits really impacted the game in a way that Osten's departure did not.