After 10 seasons, has "Survivor" finally gone past the point of no return, or "jumped the shark", in TV lingo? [BTW: this phrase means that a TV series has reached a point where it loses credibility and starts a decline that leads to eventual cancellation.]
After tonight's episode (3/16), I am ready to put the Palau season alongside Thailand and Africa as the worst to date.
So far, (as in most seasons) the "twists and turns" have been relatively lame. The ideas of school yard picking of teams and living on the same beach as two tribes had been done before (see Thailand season), however this particular episode just went overboard with the twists.
Having the victorious Koror tribe eat their reward challenge prize in front of the (once again) defeated Ulong tribe was just mean spirited. Meanwhile, host Jeff Probst seems to get more annoying every go around. (Although I did share his disgust at the ineffective Ibrehem.) Allowing the Koror team to insert themselves into the Ulong tribe dynamics by bestowing immunity on a member of the tribe was the final nail in this coffin.
After less than half the episodes even airing, I stand ready to wash my hands of this whole mess and catch "The O.C." or ABC's new "Jake in Progress".
Instead of being provocative and water-cooler chatter inspiring, the latest twists seem just desperate. If the casting department or absentee producer Mark Burnett (who apparantly is too busy turning out flops like "Contender" to pay much attention to the show that started it all) had done their jobs, these cheap and seemingly rushed twists wouldn't be necessary.
After all, what if Phil Keoghan of "Amazing Race" told the next-to-last team to arrive that they would be eliminated and not the last team because it was a new "twist" on the game? Or Donald Trump firing a contestant and replacing them with his receptionist just because he wants to?
While I have come to expect these kind of twists from reality shows like "Big Brother", but those are guilty pleasures. "BB" and others revel in their guilt and have no presumptions about being a shining example of what a reality series should be, which is what "Survivor" has done since day one.
Perhaps the producers and powers that be at CBS should make a trip down to Blockbuster and check out "Survivor: Season 1" and the upcoming "Survivor: Australian Outback" on DVD to see what made this series so great. Both of those seasons are basically free of meddlesome twists and turns. Watching the currently sad Palau season compared to the first two seasons in almost akin to watching two entirely different series built around the same premise: one person voted off each week until only one remains. Unfortunately, even that one person voted off each week rule has now been forever reduced to an afterthought.
While I will probably continue to watch the remaining episodes, in some form or fashion, the season is showing virtually no redeeming qualities. The only hint of interest came when Gregg informed Coby of his plan to copy from "Boston Rob" Mariano's playbook and manipulate his tribemates as he sees fit. Even if this does occur - likely weeks down the line - it may be too little too late to save this fan's interest in this obviously declining franchise.