Friday, February 03, 2006

TV: Survivor Panama - Exile Island

Genre: Queen of "reality" games
Logistics: CBS, 7 p.m. Thursday
Premiere verdict: &&&

Twelve seasons in, what's left for the jaded Survivor fan who has been there every step of the way? Even Jeff Probst seems to be growing weary of it; stories circulated that he might not return after Guatemala. Sure, the tropical vistas are still stunning and the production still aces, but I can't sit through the 90 billionth immunity or reward challenge in which contestants crawl through mud and then slide pieces of a puzzle around. For some time, I've been ignoring the challenges until much later in the game. In fact, it's become a chore to sit through the first few episodes until the personalities gel and the conflicts emerge. But the sweet payoff in the form of paranoia, backstabbing, deceit and confrontation is almost always worth the tedium of the first few episodes, when you have the small consolation that most or all of the good eye candy hasn't been voted out yet. Just when I'm asking myself why I'm watching this again, along come the reminders: Shane, whose demise should be quick and entertaining, confesses to the camera that he smokes three packs a day and hasn't had a puff in 31 hours. Cirie allows that she's never slept outside before and is bothered by leaves. Then we have the quasi-celebrity, Dan Barry, a former astronaut who would rather everyone not know of his career. So what does he do? Within 10 minutes he says to one of his tribe mates, "Can I trust you? Wanna know my big secret?" Ah, human nature. Nothing is more entertaining.

// Linkage // Survivor 12 at CBS

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