Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Survivor: Nicaragua - "Young at Heart"

Jeff Probst - Emmy winning baseball cap model and host of  'Survivor'.
Photo Credit: CBS
Review by Paul Steven Brown

Season 21 - Episode 1
"Young at Heart"

'Survivor' has been a guilty pleasure of mine for about the last seven or eight years. I blame my wife, since I started watching when we began dating years ago. What elevates it above most competitive reality shows is the unpredictability and the social strategy needed to win the game. I personally think that it's an ingenious concept that to win the game you have to earn the votes of the people that you had a hand in eliminating over the course of the season.

The last two seasons were dominated by Russell Hantz, a Texan that had a blood-thirsty, but keen strategic mind. Unfortunately, he came in second both times because he had not grasp of the social component of the game. He was a great villain and helped give the show a much needed ratings boost, but he was never going to make it all the way. The perfect Survivor player has to be competent physically, strategically, and socially. People who make it to the tribal merge usually have a good grasp on one or two of these, but rarely all three.

While the twenty-first season of 'Survivor' is back to a cast of twenty (almost) nobodies, there is a gimmick built in at the start. The two tribes are divided by age; ten men and women under the age of 30 and ten over the age of 40. Needless to say at 36, I would not qualify to be on this season of 'Survivor'. Maybe next year. As per usual on this show, most of the players haven't really made a big impression yet. There are a few that have done enough for me to know their names by the end of the first episode.

On the younger tribe, La Flor (I can't help but think of Sawyer on 'Lost' every time they say the team name), the most noteworthy have been Brenda, Chase, Jud, Kelly B., and Shannon. Brenda is pretty and has already stated that she plans on flirting her way to victory. This only works when you can couple your sexuality with athleticism and strategic savvy, such was the case with Parvati Shallow (who one once and came in second twice). Chase is a good ol' boy with a heart of gold who seems torn between Brenda's pretty face and his bromance with Shannon, who quickly established himself as a misogynistic asshole. Jud, was stupidly renamed 'Fabio' by his tribemates due to his flowing blond locks. He's more suited to be a cast member of 'Jackass' since he managed to get injured twice during the first few hours (at least that's how it was edited) of arriving to the La Flor camp. Kelly B. has a prosthetic leg due to a birth defect. The rest of her tribe are worrying about taking her to the final jury because they think she will win sympathy votes. She more than capable of getting around and holding her own, and I hate that all they're worried about is her winning because the jury feels sorry for her.

On the older tribe, named Espada, have a few noteworthy players of there own. Jimmy Johnson is a two time Superbowl winning coach and everyone knows it. He's playing up the idea that no one will give him the million dollar prize, so he's here for the experience and to take whoever is on his team to the end. We'll see if that works. Wendy Jo is a goat farmer that is self-aware enough to know that she talks to much, but not aware enough of her surroundings to effectively bond with the rest of her tribe. Jane started a fire with someone's glasses. Marty seems fairly smart and knows when to speak and when to shut up. At the moment, he's the one to watch on the older tribe. Jimmy T. is just the opposite and is a bit high strung.

Both at camp and in the immunity challenge both teams to function without any major problems. There hasn't been any fights about who's giving the orders or bossing everyone around. The challenge was really close so making it even harder to tell which tribe has the advantage at the moment. The Medallion of Power is new twist, but we really haven't seen come into play yet. The producers got smart after two seasons of Russell finding almost all of the Hidden Immunity Idols  super quick, that they've written the clues to them as pictographs.

Tribal Council was foregone conclusion due to what was said at the Espada camp. Wendy Jo decided to further drive herself out by making a last minute plea to stay that sounded more like someone's profile on  Anyone that was on fence got knocked all the way over after that, so see you at the reunion show Wendy Jo, we hardly knew you.

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