Thursday, September 15, 2005

TV: Survivor: Guatemala

Genre: Mother of all reality TV
Logistics: CBS, 7 p.m. CDT Thursday

Premiere episode verdict: &&&

No offense to Mexico, but Guatemala strikes me as the first Survivor setting that truly sounds like a place you don't want to be stranded without real food or shelter for a month. I have a feeling the cramping, puking contestants heartily agreed during those first hot, squeamish days. It was curious, I thought, to drop the dramatic and elaborate arrival sequence in which we typically see over-eager contestants breezing in by boat, looking fit and healthy in a way we wouldn't see again until the reunion show, and even more curious to bring back two of last year's contestants as full participants this season. And the inclusion of a quasi-celebrity, former NFL quarterback Gary Hogeboom, is sure to create some sort of tropical storm, if not a hurricane, when the other castaways find him out. Survivor has remained a top 10 ratings staple while so many wannabes have come and gone, but this obsession with dramatic twists and tweaks in each new season evokes an air of jumping the shark. On the other hand, the contestants, on first impression, seem far more likable than the dips who have dragged down the last several seasons: There were no overbearing macho types or preening, condescending divas immediately exposed. That's a welcome step toward immunity for a show that needs to focus on the solid game that made it a success rather than gimmicks designed to delay getting voted off the air.

// Linkage //
CBS' Survivor 11 round-up

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