There's no doubt in my mind that CBS is the number one station for reality television. This past week the network premiered it's twentieth season of Survivor and it's sixteenth season of The Amazing Race. Now, these numbers a bit less impressive when you consider the fact that each series airs about 2 season per year, but still impressive nonetheless. Not only did these two amazing series return, but viewers were also treated with a little dose of Big Brother to remind us of yet another reality TV success story.
When CBS announced the theme behind Survivor 20 Heroes vs. Villains there was never much of a doubt that this would be anything short of spectacular. I'm happy to say the premiere lived up to all the expectations. Jeff Probst begins by announcing that this season is the "biggest showdown yet" and for once I actually agree with him. We're quickly introduced to the top 20 contestants who were selected out of the near 300 cast members from the past 19 season (a ridiculously impressive number).
Some initial impressions of a few returning castaways:
Rupert: He may be a fan favorite but he is extremely overrated and the martyr complex needs to stop. Example: "In my world I've always tried to show that good will will"...seriously, get over yourself.
Tom: Much less attractive than he was years ago. Hopefully will still be a powerhouse in challenges.
Rob: A bit less cocky but still has some of that self-centeredness. Oddly enough, he is my clear favor tie at this point. This is a man who's here to play the game but also is such an entertainer.
Colby: He still does have it. Nice to see him immediately connect with Candace. I predict these two will go far together. Especially since they have no predetermined alliances.
Sandra: Initially I thought, who are you? And then I absolutely adored her connection with Rob. I wouldn't find if Sandra stuck around for a bit.
Cirie: Direct quote, "I'm a gansta in an Oprah suit"...need I say more?
Danielle: Is she already the new Natalie?
Parvati: Still a threat. Sill using her looks. Still probably going to make it far.
Sugar: She was one of my most anticipated returns, but she came across as whinny and annoying (poor editing? or just who she is?)
Now let's take a moment to discuss the Jerri/Coach romance. I've never liked either of these two, and while you obviously cannot have a villains team without them, I really wanted them gone immediately. But then they had this whole awkward flirtation thing and suddenly I see them both in a whole new light. The best part? They both acknowledge how horrible the situation is for their game play and thus immediately plan to keep their private conversations few and far between. I actually am looking forward to them.
Jeff promised audiences some intense challenges this season and the premiere certainly did not disappoint. The first challenge was a free-for all physical combat...some of my favorites in Survivor and it perfectly created even more hostility between the tribes right off the bat. Stephenie dislocated her shoulder, Rupert broke his toe, and Cirie was a scary linebacker. Colby getting owned by Couch was hard to watch but even worse was Tyson's comments about Colby's masculinity. The Villain tribe should be made up up people who back stab infamously and occasionally say witty, yet mean, interviews. This is not a place for lackluster assholes who demean others. Tyson congratulations, you are still my least favorite Survivor ever. Also, side note about the challenge: why did Sandra think taking off a pin-up models bra would actually prevent her from finishing the game?
After the Heroes epic win at the reward challenge and pathetic lost at the immunity challenge, the plotting began. There were at least 4 names being thrown around for elimination. First off was Sugar strictly because her tribe mates found her annoying. Second, there was Amanda who was briefly discussed as a threat but later switched out in favor of ousting Cirie. Meanwhile, Cirie lead a group of individuals to seek out Stephenie as the number one target. Anyone noticing a pattern? All the females on the tribe were the first ones suggested. Even when there was a debate between Tom or Stephenie, the latter quickly was deemed the stronger of the two. Now the feminist in me initially was furious that the tribe actually wanted a stronger team by getting rid of girls, but this wasn't the case at all. These three women (minus Sugar) are the most strategic players in the game. Amanda and Stephenie are huge physical threats and Cirie is the most threatening mental player. In the end, the rallying to get rid of them is really the highest form of flattery. But in a stupid move, the entire tried joined forces and ousted Sugar.
Now this was kind of upsetting to me, especially since these four women were my favorites to arrive back in the heroes camp; however, if one of them had to leave I'm happy with Sugar. In a strategic sense, it was a stupid move since at worse she would slide by under the radar. But therein lies the difference between the all-stars and new contestants: if there's any discrepancy on voting they are likely to leave the better players.
I could write for years about the premiere, but suffice it to say these were two of the best hours in Survivor history and if they were any indication of what's to come we are in for an amazing season.
Sunday The Amazing Race premiered. While still an enjoyable hour, it's harder to make concrete opinions about any of the teams since we barely know them. I always believed that the first episode should constantly be a non-elimination round simply because it gives the audience more time to make connections with the players, and because a lot of luck is involved in this game. The only exception would be if a team doesn't finish a task, which happened this time around. Sorry Dana and Adrian, we barely knew you but if you had at least finished this leg you would have deserved a second chance.
So here are some first opinions regarding the more noticeable teams:
Jet and Cord: Went from last to third place in what seemed to be an impossible jump forward. These incredibly likable cowboys are sure to be a fan favorite and a definite threat (just forget about that whole money situation).
Steve and Allie: Came across as fools when Steve had them painting inside some random guy's house. We all make mistakes I guess.
Jody and Shannon: Grandma scares me a bit and I'm not sure how well a 70 year old can do in this race regardless of her ability to run marathons and lift weights. I predict an early exit.
Brent and Caite: Caite flew through that first road block and any team with a strong male and female is always a threat. If they had just read the clue more carefully this team would have had a solid second place finish. Watch for them to stick around a long time.
Monique and Shawne: The self proclaimed momtrepreneurs are probably my second favorite team. There is something so genuine about their relationship and whether or not they perform well I'm hoping the positive attitude will stay in tact.
Louie and Michael: These cocky undercover agents kind of make me sick already. Never start of the race by saying you will always finish first, cause karma clearly listens and that's why you came near last place. Please leave soon.
Dana and Adrian: He was too weak. She was too indifferent. Won't miss you.
Dan and Jordan: They have the spirit to stick around for a while but I predict some annoying bickering in the future. The paint brush incident is clearly a taste of future strife.
Jordan and Jeff: Favorite team ever...but I'm biased. This Big Brother duo was full of surprises: first Jordan offered to complete the physically draining Road Block because Jeff is more afraid of heights, they remained around 2nd place the entire leg, Jeff didn't yell at her once but rather encouraged her the whole time, they were the first team to use their brains and assume the houses needing painting were probably up the huge flight of stairs, and then they finished in 1st! Kind of makes you ignore Jordan's stupidity: "We need two tickets to China"....when they were really going to Chile.
Joe and Heidi: Who now? This is what I mean by needed more than one episode to make connections with the teams.
Carol and Brandy: Ritzy lesbians. Stop talking about designer clothing and valet parking. No body cares.
Quote of the episode:
"I have the balance of a drunkenly elder person on stilts"-Jody