Survivor Caramoan Premieres Tonight: Fans Vs. (Questionable) Favorites, You Guys!

Posted in TV on February 13th, 2013 by Nick

realitytv-survivor-caramoan-fans-vs-favourites-1Ever since Survivor‘s 16th (and best) season, Micronesia: Fans Vs. Favorites, I have been hankerin’ for the show to do a second installment of the Fans Vs. Faves theme. Pitting 10 newbies against 10 returning veterans made for a perfect storm. There were shocking vote-offs week after week, medical evacuations, a mental breakdown, a fake idol and a Black Widow alliance of women who ran circles around the guys. It. Was. Awesome.

Tonight’s premiere of Survivor Caramoan finally (finally!) brings us the return of the Fans Vs. Favorites model…but who the hell deemed these castaways “favorites?” Let’s break down these questionable characters, shall we, starting with the few I’m happy to see island hopping once again:

Erik Reichenbach – Original Season: Micronesia: Fans Vs. Favorites (Season 16)500

Erik was originally a Fan, but now the former-ice cream scooper returns as a Fave…and that he is. Erik was a dominator at challenges and great around camp. He was also extremely likable…and gullible. The Parvati-led Black Widow alliance convinced him to give up his hard earned immunity idol at Tribal and then kicked him to the curb. A few years later, he’s back and hopefully much, much wiser. The Erik fan club line starts behind this blogger.

Dawn Meehan – Original Season: South Pacific (Season 23)

Dawn was a great spirit to root for. She had a rough beginning with all that moping and crying, but turned it around, proving to be a dominating female for her tribe. (Remember that weight lifting challenge she won for her tribe?) Now that she knows what to expect, hopefully she hits the ground running.

Malcolm Freberg – Original Season: Philippines (Season 25)

Malcolm only had two and a half weeks in between filming his Philippines season and heading back out to compete in Caramoan. He may be less physically fit than before, which is really what he was known for. He and Denise made quite the run in the Philippines though, considering their entire tribe was decimated under the leadership (or lack thereof) of Russell Swan. He’s a quality Survivor, but will he have what it takes to do it all again so soon?

OK – The following “Favorites” suck, but I get it. They’re probably going to be great for TV:

John Cochran – Original Season: South Pacific (Season 23)

Cochran is a nerd. He bluntly asked Probst to only call him “Cochran” so he could follow in the footsteps of Survivor greats like (Jonathan) Penner. Then he went and flipped on his tribe because he was scared of choosing rocks due to a tied vote, a feat only done once in all of the show’s history – Season 4′s Marquesas edition. Cochran then took a beating from his former tribe, but hey man, snitches get stitches. Though I don’t doubt that the kid is smart and probably learned from his mistakes, I wasn’t really holding my breath to see him again. Survey says: Meh.

Corinne Kaplan – Original Season: Gabon (Season 17)

Corinne sucks. I hate her lots, similar to how I despise Colton from One World. These two aren’t “fun to hate”-villains, I just loathe them. Corinne is vicious, crude and kind of a bully, but she delivers quality soundbite after soundbite, so I get why producers think she makes for good TV. They’re probably right, but I can’t get past the whole hating-the-shit-out-of-her thing to meet them halfway. I can’t wait to see her lose. Hard.

Brandon Hantz – Original Season: South Pacific (Season 23)

CBS’s infatuation with the Hantz family is really annoying (Big Brother‘s Willie, anyone?), but I must say, I was somewhat struck by Brandon during his first time out. The kid was only 19 years old and was really going through a moral, soul-searching inner struggle. He couldn’t deal with his emotions and couldn’t make decisions (how he passed the psych eval is beyond me). Like Erik, he gave up his immunity and was sent packing. It was entertaining to watch him, but I felt too bad for him to really get any joy out of it. And lets face it, he’s not the brightest crayon in the box. A second chance for this guy? Really, Probst?

9391073-largePhillip Sheppard – Original Season: Redemption Island (Season 22)

Surely you remember Phil Sheppard, pink undies and all. Otherwise known as Boston Rob’s lackey, Phillip was another nearly psychotic castaway. He claimed to be a former “Federal Agent,” but who would be dumb enough to reveal that if it was true? This dude is so whacked, I can’t even get into it. I did have many fun nights watching this guy unravel though. He could really bring the crazy to this season, but he’s not ever going to be a great player. Without Rob, this guy doesn’t stand a chance.

These last three: I’m clueless.

Andrea Boehlke – Original Season: Redemption Island (Season 22)

You may remember her from….just kidding. She’s completely forgettable and you don’t remember her in the slightest. She had a thing with this guy Matt. She went to Redemption Island. She came back once. She was super boring and super useless.

Brenda Lowe – Original Season: Nicaragua (Season 21)

Brenda is a frustrating character because she could’ve been so epic. She started out strong and then got cocky and lazy. She didn’t even fight to stay once her name was thrown into the ring. She could’ve been the next Parvati, but she never lived up to her own hype. Why waste time on her for a second round?

Francesca Hogi - Original Season: Redemption Island (Season 22)

Fran-ses-kwa (as Phillip calls her) was voted out first during her season. Enough said.

Alas, though entirely psyched about the potential of this second helping of Fans Vs. Favorites, I feel like the producers squandered a really good chance at bringing back some serious players. Lets face it: This is a seriously disappointing and embarrassing list of “Favorites,” but I hope this season makes me eat my words.

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Survivor South Pacific: And the winner is…

Posted in TV on December 19th, 2011 by Nick

A month ago, I wrote a review of the latest installment of Survivor in which I uttered these memorable and prophetic words: “Survivor South Pacific doesn’t suck.” (So deep – I knowwww!) With last night’s finale and live reunion special, I take pride in standing by my original sentiments, because not only did this season not suck – it kicked some major ass.

Not since Heroes Vs. Villains had I been so invested in the cast of characters and their scheming; Not since Heroes Vs. Villains was there a final challenge so action-packed and gripping that you had no idea who was going to take the glory. When all was said and done, Jeff Probst tallied the votes and declared Sophie Clarke, the 22-year-old medical student, the Sole Survivor!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Sophie’s win on this here blog, because dammit, this season really stands as a series-savior for me. Sophie was always in tune to what everyone else in her tribe was doing. She was part of an alliance of five from Day 1 and stood with that alliance right until the end. She won immunity challenges at crucial moments in the game, the last of which took down the Oz-meister himself. Again: She beat Ozzy in a very physical, yet also very mental challenge. She suffered a minor meltdown, took an emotional and verbal beat down, starved, fought, won. Kudos, Sophie – you deserved it!

Coach played a great hand, but it fell a little too short. With all of his spiritual and religious superiority abound, he couldn’t get around actions and words that others later perceived as hypocritical. But hats off to The (Former) Dragon Slayer: It was the best game of his three-time Survivor career and I enjoyed watching him again.

Brandon Hantz also had a rough go at it. His inner conflict between being good or evil tugged at his heartstrings all game long. He wanted to do right by God and redeem himself, not from actions in the game, but from his former life. He’s only 19 and has a family of his own. Everyone knows The Winz is not a place that harbors love for his Big Bad Uncle Russell and his father’s appearance on the show proved my judgments feelings judgments all along – Brandon’s family life must not be easy. It was heartbreaking at the reunion when he said not many people were proud of the way he played the game. Russell then continued to bash his poor nephew for doing “everything wrong” and playing a terrible game. Brandon may have made some rash decisions, oftentimes not very strategic ones, but at least he was playing to better the perception of his family and trying to “do right.” I hope somebody out there is proud of Brandon. Hell, I’m proud of him. Anyone who tries to better his life like that deserves an A-for-effort in my book. Poor kid.

I know Ozzy is the fan-favorite this year, but dammit, I couldn’t handle all of his spewing bullshit at the reunion. I like Ozzy, but he no way compares to the true Survivor greats. He’s no Parvati, Boston Rob, Stephenie, or Richard Hatch.  Hell, he’s not even a Rupert, and even Rupert kind of sucks! Ozzy’s “you can do anything you want to” speech was nauseating. Dude, I can’t climb a fucking tree, OK? And I’m pretty sure if I tried to climb huge, tall palm trees, I’d fall on my ass, break something, and need Medical to evacuate me from the premises. Not everyone can do everything.  The fact of the matter is that Ozzy is good at challenges and nothing else. He still hasn’t perfected a social game; instead he bolstered the fact that he is a one-trick pony. Sorry, man. Parvati and Sophie owned you, and they can do it again in a heartbeat. #NotDrinkingtheOzzyKoolAid. I must say though – I enjoyed Ozzy’s stay this time way better than I enjoyed watching Boston Rob last season. That’s gotta mean something (even though I’m not sure what).

To sum: What a great fucking season of Survivor! This series has once again showed the complexity and vulnerability of the human condition in the coolest of social experiments. We saw some heavy, morally ambiguous tribal councils that really showed the toll the game took on its participants – from Sophie’s character being called into question, to Brandon’s religious struggle between good and evil, over to Coach’s desperate need for redemption through Christ – it was quite a ride!

February. Survivor: One World. Two tribes living together on ONE beach. This could get interesting!

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