SURVIVOR: “He’s a Snake, But He’s My Snake” - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

SURVIVOR: “He’s a Snake, But He’s My Snake”

October 25, 2008 by  

Survivor Gabon logo

Survivor Gabon is on Life Support.

It is time for Mark Burnett to take a cue from GMMR and shake things up once in a while. In the case of Survivor, I believe that the need to overhaul the show’s format is essential in recruiting an audience for future seasons. Unlike standard game shows such as Deal or No Deal or Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, the basic elements of the Survivor experience have been unique enough to avoid being “played out” in the minds of its weekly viewers. However, the Gabon season has exposed enough small cracks in the foundation to create some stopgaps. Using this week’s episode as a template, allow me to present my agenda to revitalize Survivor.

First, the producers need to include more contestant “talking heads” in order to build stronger emotional stakes for the viewer. Aside from Sugar and Ace, none of the remaining Survivors have had an opportunity to showcase his/her personality. As a result, I find it difficult to get caught up in the fates of any competitors on the chopping block. Ironically, the official Survivor site ( contains a wealth of interesting factoids about the contestants. Would it be easier to pull for Susie if you knew that she worked in crop fields as a child and now teaches English as a second language? A passionate fan can read that information online, and there is no reason to withhold those juicy details from the casual viewer.

Second, the Exile Island concept needs a massive overhaul. Tribes should not be allowed to isolate the same competitor for consecutive trips to Exile. In addition, there ought to be an overall limit of two trips to Exile Island for any particular Survivor during the course of a season. This change would have kept Sugar from spending an unprecedented fourth trip to her bungalow. The Exile Island set piece is a unique opportunity to evaluate the toughness and mental capabilities for a banished contestant, and these repeat trips do nothing to build any realistic tension among the tribes. Any scenario that leads to Exile Island justifiably being renamed after a frequent guest must be avoided at all costs.

Third, the Reward and Immunity challenges need to balance physical and mental aptitudes more fairly, and ought to create more immediate consequences for the losing team. With their victories in both contests this week, the Kota tribe has prevailed in eight of the last ten competitions. The physical advantage Kota gained by obtaining so many food rewards has decimated the Fang tribe. As a result, the battles for Immunity have appeared fruitless and predictable. In order to keep the fitter tribe from dominating these games, the producers ought to include variations of puzzles or mazes from previous seasons. An approach that fairly rewards intelligence would impact both the results of the challenges themselves and the value of tribe members who bring more education than muscle definition to the table.

Absent these changes, this week’s installment was almost indistinguishable from the week before. The Kota tribe took advantage of a weakening Fang group to capture a food reward, sent Sugar to Exile Island, and bolstered their strength to win another Immunity Challenge. Tribal Council devolved into a childish war of words, ending with the most petulant contestant being sent home. Last week, it was Jacquie. This week, it was Kelly. If your TiVo did not tell you otherwise, it could easily have been mistaken for a repeat. In an election year, Survivor is crying out for change, and it is our job to make suggestions.

My ideas are on the table, and I want to know all about yours. If you were Mark Burnett, how would you change the Survivor formula? Is Exile Island having the kind of impact you want? Which challenges from previous seasons are due for a comeback? Should Tribal Council ceremonies be altered to create more drama? There is much to discuss, and a beautiful new GMMR to enjoy as you leave your comments.

How does Erik stay grounded from his luxurious life as a substitute teacher? He keeps it real with ALF DVDs & Fantasy Football. On weekends, the GMMR HOUSE & SURVIVOR guru spends quiet time imploring the TV gods to bring back Sports Night & Ed. Erik resides in South Florida and spends his summers following Dave Matthews Band.

Filed under Survivor, Survivor Recap


One Response to “SURVIVOR: “He’s a Snake, But He’s My Snake””

  1. ball python care on November 12th, 2010 1:38 pm

    All of the people on survivor are snakes