Saturday, October 21, 2006

TV Reviews: Survivor & Amazing Race

Survivor: Cook Islands
Competitive Reality
Channel: CBS
Premise: A bunch of people are stranded on an island to fend for themselves, fight with each other, compete in tests of mind, strength, and endurance, and play politics well enough to ultimately be voted winner of a million dollars prize.

The thing that set apart this season's episode of "Survivor" was the highly controversial decision to split the tribes according to race. However, just as last season's division of four tribes instead of the standard two led to an early reshuffle and merge, after three episodes we were back to the standard two tribe set up with everyone mixed together.

Overall, that last sentence really shines a spotlight on what's wrong with "Survivor." Everything has happened before. When Chris went from almost being voted out the first week for his inability to walk across a balance beam to the million dollars two years ago, you could almost feel the show deflate. The only new tricks only serve to disappoint, such as the editors clearly setting up a Terry/Cirie showdown for two months and giving us Aras and... the girl everyone kept in the game because they knew if they took her to the final two they would win or bringing back Stephanie and Bobby Jon so they could be revered by their fellow competitors.

A few people I've talked to have sited the "carry a bunch of weight while trudging around in a circle trying to catch the other team" competition as their breaking point. Last season, it was a fresh idea, but repeating it so quickly just illustrates how few ideas the producers have left.

The Amazing Race 10
Competitive Reality
Channel: CBS
Premise: Teams follow travel around the world, completing tasks and gathering clues that lead them to a million dollar finish line.

Unlike "Survivor," Amazing Race's competitions remain fresh because they are centered around the cultures of the places being visited. For some reason, though, this season has found itself mired in Asia. After five episodes we've been to China, Mongolia, Vietnam, and India, spending two entire shows in Vietnam.

We're also waiting for the breakout stars. No one has stepped up and screamed, "We're likeable!" yet. It's clear that Peter, the doctor who is dating his amputee patient and contantly berates the one-legged woman for not running fast enough, is the villain, but there's not really anyone to root for. Brothers Erwin and Godwin may eventually fit the bill, but haven't done anything to grasp that brass ring.

Side notes on other racers: I can't believe the redneck coal miner and his wife are still in this. I had them marked for elimination by the second episode.

I sure hope Tyler and James will compare the challenge of this race to the challenge of kicking heroin in this upcoming episode! It helps us understand their friendship since they helped each other get clean and now help each other try to win a million dollars.

Personalitywise Lyn and Karilyn could also be the heroes of this season, but I don't see the two chubby, single moms lasting to the end.


Blogger Sara J said...

I'm a huge Amazing Race fan - it's great to see the world and see these crazy tasks when I can arm chair QB "No, no, the other task is suited to your strengths! Fools!" But the last 2 seasons haven't kept me going. This season I didn't like anyone. I thought I would like Sarah the amputee, but the whole, "I love him because he makes my leg work" is icky. Also, this season's move to Sunday night was a big mistake, because I watch football all day, and by the time AR comes on I've been in front of the TV for at least 8 hrs and it's time for me to get off my ass - so not only am I not interested in watching more TV, I completely forget about it.

I miss the old days of AR, with evil people like Colin screaming, "My Ox is broken!" Heh.

4:45 AM  

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