Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Survivor - Philippines, Ep. 1: The Red Knight Retires

When researching the cast for a new Survivor season, I usually walk away thinking that about a third of the players can't win.  This time, I thought half couldn't win.  However, Zane was not on the list - which goes to show what I know.

Zane's performance was arguably the worst opening episode showing in the history of the series (rivaling, if not exceeding, Johnny Fairplay's "quit" in Fans vs. Favorites).  Fairplay sort of had an excuse (his reputation from an earlier season doomed him from the start), what was Zane's "reasoning"?  It sounded like if things weren't going to go right for him early, he had no interest in toughing it out.  I'm surprised the screening process didn't catch this about him.  He had no business being in the cast, but he did earn himself a 36-day vacation until he and the rest of the troupe flies home.

I'm not sure any of the returning players can win.  Survivor is often a pendulum - one season, women might dominate, and the next cast reacts, and men do better.  One season, someone flies under the radar to victory, and then it becomes harder to do that for a season or two.  Recently, returning players have done well - shockingly well in some cases (Boston Rob & Coach).  I get the feeling the antibodies have kicked in, and this cast won't let the returning players get into a powerful position. 

I really enjoyed Michael Skupin in Australia.  He was very entertaining (Australia was a very good season and might have had the best cast ever).  Anyhow, some of Skupin's flaws, which you saw in Australia, really presented themselves in this episode.  I always thought his passing out in the fire was a freak accident - now I'm not so sure.  His multiple self-inflicted injuries are beyond parody.  That foot cut was deep, and the forehead gash looked to be about six inches.  The man is a menace.

Skupin also has a VERY different perspective on things.  I don't see how he could think Lisa announcing her childhood celebrity would help her, but in Skupin's universe it would.  In his pre-show interview on the CBS website, he stated that he won't lay low because only about two people ever flew under the radar and won.  That is simply not true - Skupin wants it to be true.  Skupin can't fly under the radar, won't fly under the radar.  He'll go 100 MPH until he hits a brick wall.

Either you can do a puzzle or you can't.  When someone tells you they can't do puzzles - believe them.  Russell's folly during the allocation of personnel for the challenge was terrible (and the girls had every right to be annoyed).  Though I don't think Skupin can win, I picked two people from his tribe, because I think Skupin's leadership in the challenges could help them early.  I am reasonably confident of that assessment.  Russell's tribe has some potentially good players (Malcolm & Roxy), but they still have to figure out how to handle Russell.  If they don't, they could be in a bad place.

As for Penner, his tribe is already on to him, and want nothing to do with him.  Good luck to him.

As for the celebrities, Kent thinks he tore up his knee, and in the preview Lisa was already crying for Mrs. Garrett.  I've seen some players have early meltdowns and recover (Holly threw a tribesmate's $600 crocodile shoes into the ocean but managed to make it deep into the jury).  I also think Kent might have misdiagnosed.  I won't write them off yet, but they have problems.

I've written enough.  I'll save my thoughts about the newbies for future re-caps (though I was surprised by Angie).  She might be an unexpectedly strong player (my Dad compared her to Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde, and there might be something to it).

Overall, it was a good opening episode - good dynamics, a fun challenge and a real question going into tribal council (they made the right decision).  The season has potential.

Getting Ready for 2016

Hillary Clinton, yesterday: "There are rich people everywhere and yet they do not contribute to the growth of their own countries. They don’t invest in public schools, in public hospitals, in other kinds of development internally...” 

If rich people aren't building schools and hospitals, who is?  Poor people? 

When I read a quote like Ms. Clinton's, I begin to realize that the gulf between how I view the world, and the way people like HRC views the world, is probably unbridgeable.