SURVIVOR: the game, born 5/31/2000, killed 10/30/2003
Through six seasons, the world watched as 16 contestants,
stranded in the wild, battled the elements and each other to "Outwit, Outplay and Outlast" the others to become the Sole
Survivor. By vote of their peers at a Tribal Council, one player was eliminated from the game during each episode with
a ceremonial snuffing out of his torch. We were assured that "fire represents life in this game and when your torch
is out, so are you". The catchphrase "The tribe has spoken" signified it was indeed your peers who determined who left
the game and who stayed another 3 days.
Beginning in season 3, a number of unannounced
rule changes were introduced to keep the castaways guessing, including reshuffling the players between tribes, delaying the
usual merger of tribes and changing the manner in which tie votes were resolved. But the basic premise of the game remained
intact, with the fates of the castaways held in the hands of the tribe members whose decision was final.
Survivor: Pearl Islands began what
promised to be an exciting new season of Survivor. But by Episode 3 when it seemed clear that one tribe (who won 6
consecutive challenges) was dominant and the other struggling for food, a "reward" was dreamed up which could only
benefit the out-manned tribe...it would have been worthless to the other. The heavy hand of the producer tipped the
scales, but the basic integrity of the game was saved by making the "Choose any castaway" tribal switch only temporary. But
the momentum of the game had changed and by Episode 7 the two tribes were back to even at five members each.
At this point, the producers
chose to abandon the game's most basic premises. Fire no longer represented life at Tribal Council. The vote of
the tribe was not final any more. "Outlast" was not required to win and both "Outwit" and "Outplay" were turned
into irrelevant slogans. The fate of the castaways was no longer in their own hands and the results of the
first six Tribal Councils were overriden. The challenge which was introduced to justify stripping away the integrity
of the game seemed contrived to assure the "right" winner...any other result would have made the entire concept absurd.
I'm sure the unrecognizable
game which ensued was great entertainment TV. I doubt that it qualifies as a reality show and I'm certain it is
NOT Survivor. If CBS continues with the new game, it should be renamed because it insults all the prior Sole
Survivors who did outwit, outplay and outlast. And I feel sorry for the 16 contestants who were not permitted to earn
the right to join their predecessors without an asterisk beside their names.