Survivor: One World Preview: Bring out the crazies!

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Survivor: One World Preview
Airs Wednesdays at 8pm (ET) on CBS
Premieres on February 15

After 23 seasons, it’s remarkable to see how Survivor continues to re-invent itself with each new outing. The formula was starting to grow a bit tired a few years ago but was re-invigorated by the unpredictable “Heroes vs. Villains” in the fall of 2010. That all-star season was the show’s 20th and revealed that the cast remains the most important part of this competitive reality juggernaut. It’s hard to predict which groups of players will actually make great TV. Host Jeff Probst will try to get everything he can out of the contestants at Tribal Council, but he can only do so much. The big moves and crazy outbursts that keep fans coming back have that aura of surprise that pervades the best Survivor seasons.

Will Survivor: One World reach that classic status? It has one major ace up its sleeve – a grand new twist that’s a series first. Normally, the two tribes live on separate beaches and compete in challenges every few days for rewards and immunity. This time, the two tribes will live on the same beach. This is a genius move because it adds a new social aspect to the game. In the past when tribes merged, they barely knew most of the other players. Tribes usually stayed loyal (especially recently), which can grow tedious as the tribe with superior numbers wipes out (Pagongs) the other. Bringing them together in a single location makes this prospect extremely unlikely. It also should make the downtime a lot more entertaining.

The other twist is splitting the tribe by gender, a tactic used in both the Amazon and Vanuatu seasons. Neither started out very well, and the producers swapped the tribes fairly early. This will likely happen again this time to increase the tension on the island. Players seem destined to build alliances with anyone, especially men looking to pull a Russell-like move and grab a few women to support their plans. Young guys also typically want to keep around the attractive women, so they may try to align with them at the earliest opportunity. This might not bode well for the older cast members, but the results are rarely predictable. This seems destined to be a highly erratic season, especially because the big twist is brand new. The players won’t be able to plan their strategies in advance, which should lead to a chaotic start.

Survivor usually has its share of ridiculous contestants, and this group includes some of its more ridiculous characters. The stand-out is 64-year-old plastic surgeon Greg, who’s known as Tarzan to his close friends. It gets even better. The heavily mustached goofball prefers to be called Scaramouche from the Rafael Sabatini novel. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also the 50-year-old Troy, a “jungle boy” who goes by Troyzan. This Miami native seems even crazier than Scaramouche and says he wants to do tribal dances around camp. It’s possible these guys will get the Phillip Shepard treatment and make it far as the “goat” to a strategic player. This scenario would almost certainly make for excellent television.

This season also contains Leif, a phlebotomist who’s the first little person to compete on the show. He seems like a bright guy who could surprise players who don’t consider him a threat. Another interesting participant is Kourtney, a 29-year-old mechanic who doesn’t fit the typical profile for young females on Survivor. The tattooed single mom has a cute sweetness that could make her one of the most likable cast members. Compared to the yawn-inducing women who plan to use flirting as their main strategy, Kourtney seems like a real person. Another possible favorite is Nina, who feels similar to Dawn from the South Pacific season. Being the oldest woman makes her a target, but her LAPD background and obvious toughness could win them over. Iraq Veteran Bill may also surprise players who view him as an undersized stand-up comedian.

In the “Meet the Cast” video on the CBS website, Probst talks about the large number of villains in this year’s cast. Likely candidates for this title are the smart but arrogant Michael and Matt, west coast guys who seem to know the game. Michael is a banker from Seattle who pays lip service to being a nice guy, but he doesn’t have that genuine persona. Even less convincing is Matt, a San Francisco lawyer who seems like the epitome of an alpha male. This approach can work if it comes from a smooth figure like Boston Rob, but Matt is a long way from being that sharp. These guys may be competing for the ladies’ attention with Jay, a friendly guy who seems extremely dull. They also may not take kindly to super fan Colton, who has a John Cochran vibe that might not serve him well.

Looking at some of the other female tribe members, Chelsea’s background as a horse trainer and scuba diver could give her a serious edge in the challenges. She seems fairly dull, but her attractive looks and nice-girl persona should get her a long way. On the less-promising side is Kim, who calls herself “quirky”, which generally means she’s not that weird. She also likes to tell people what animal they resemble, a tactic that she probably shouldn’t employ on the beach. The least interesting player of this season is Monica, whose claim to fame is being an NFL player’s wife. Combining this fact with her arrogance means she’s unlikely to last very long. Two other contestants worth a look are Christina and Sabrina, who both have plenty of personality and will likely make waves.

Survivor: One World premieres next Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. (EST). Here are a few daring predictions for this exciting new season:

First person voted out: Monica
Underrated sleeper: Leif
Most likable player: Kourtney
Villain willing to backstab anyone: Michael
$1 million winner: Bill

Dan Heaton

2 Comments
  1. Kate Kulzick says

    Thanks for the catch, Spicy!

  2. Spicy says

    That would be “Phlebotomist” not Flobotomist.

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