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Survivor: South Pacific’s Success

Finally!  A Survivor season that kept my attention throughout the whole season and didn’t have me want to throw things at the TV in frustration at people’s stupidity.  Well, not too many times, anyway.

Let us count the things this season got right:

First off, the casting.  We had several actual fans make it onto the show.  Granted, one, Rick, turned out to be something of a disappointment, as he did little that was noteworthy, and worse, was a bitter juror.  Dude, anybody who applies to be on Survivor over a dozen times really should know that deceit is part of the package.  Cochran, on the other hand, turned out to be an entertaining addition to the cast.  It might be interesting to see him in a future edition of Survivor a few years down the road, after he’s matured a bit.

It was also great to see so many athletic and strong women on the show.  Christine lasted on Redemption Island for an impressive length of time.  Sophie won three individual immunities, which doubtless helped her case with the Savaii jurors, particularly those who value challenge prowess over anything else.  Dawn proved that an older woman could hold her own against younger opponents.  This season, there were women who could do more than look good in a swimsuit.  I hope that the producers cast similarly strong women for next season.

Casting Coach and Ozzy also proved successful, at least partly because neither man is a strategic wizard.  This, plus, a smarter cast, reduced the odds of either one enjoying the kind of coronation that Boston Rob did in the first Redemption Island.  Coach came surprisingly close– but that was because of how much he’d improved his social game.  He also tried his hand at actual strategy– and found it emotionally taxing, as he later admitted.  Still, he played a good game, and I wouldn’t mind seeing him again, preferably in an All-Stars season.  Pitting him against newbies wouldn’t be fair.  Ozzy, on the other hand, has shown no improvement or even desire to improve his game.  Please, let this be his last appearance.

Redemption Island proved interesting, because of Ozzy’s use of it.  He turned it into his refuge, where he could concentrate on the things he liked best and was good at, while ignoring strategy and the social game.  He did play the social game just enough to be nice to the other duelists, as Sophie noted.  Strategy fans were probably not happy that Ozzy got so close to the finals without having any kind of strategic or social game.  Maybe Redemption Island should be used only for the tribal part of the game?

Brandon was another player lacking a social or strategic game.  I would like to ask the producers to not cast him, Russell, or anybody else surnamed Hantz.  We’ve seen enough of this obnoxious family.  I would also recommend that the producers think long and hard before casting any more extremely religious people.  Very devout people tend to have trouble with the “outwit” aspects of Survivor, and I would prefer to see players willing and able to embrace the whole game.

In the main, South Pacific demonstrated the benefits of a good cast.  There were enough clever, strong people around to keep the season interesting.  Coach had to work for his spot in the finals, which was far more satisfying to watch than Boston Rob’s basically being handed his victory.  I would not mind seeing Coach, Cochran, or Sophie again.  Christine, Dawn, and Jim might also work in future editions of Survivor.  It’s rare for a season to produce so many candidates for All-Stars or Redemption Islands seasons.  Most produce only one or two.  It’s especially unusual for a season to produce so many memorable female contestants.