Saturday, December 16, 2006

Survivor: Cook Islands - Dec. 16, 2006


Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006; CBS, Global


Let's tally the votes

Too often, Survivor’s winners haven’t really deserved their victory. It’s starting to make the whole season feel like a huge waste of time.

By Eric Kohanik

It has only been around since the summer of 2000. And yet, in many ways, it’s difficult to believe that Survivor has survived for as long as it has.

That’s not to say the reality show isn’t good anymore. In fact, there are loyal fans who would insist that the latest, 13th version of the show – Survivor: Cook Islands – has really been the best one yet.

But how much life is there really left in the whole Survivor franchise?

I swore to myself that I would try to avoid Survivor as much as possible this time around. I succeeded several times, but not because I’m tired of the show itself.

I’m just tired of who ends up winning.

Ever since the original Survivor (which has since been rechristened Survivor: Borneo in some circles and Survivor: Pulau Tiga in others) aired in the summer of 2000, there have been two renditions of the show each year: The Australian Outback and Africa in 2001; Marquesas and Thailand in ’02; The Amazon and Pearl Islands in ’03; All-Stars and Vanuatu – Islands of Fire in ’04; Palau and Guatemala – The Maya Empire last year; and Panama – Exile Island and Cook Islands this year.

As for the winners, they include, in chronological order: Richard Hatch, Tina Wesson, Ethan Zohn, Vecepia Towery, Brian Heidik, Jenna Morasca, Sandra Diaz-Twine, Amber Brkich , Chris Daugherty, Tom Westman, Danni Boatwright and Aras Baskauskas.

While some of those names have become famous for various reasons, a lot of them don’t mean a thing to most of us anymore – which makes me wonder why they ever meant anything to us at all.

In any case, yet another name will be added to the winners’ list on Sunday night, when Cook Islands wraps up its run with the usual overblown combination of two-hour finale and one-hour reunion show. But this one will be an important effort.

Last spring’s climax of Panama – Exile Island proved to be, well, anticlimactic, naming yet another winner who, based on the televised gameplay, really didn’t seem to deserve the million-dollar prize.

That’s happened far too often on Survivor. And it’s a letdown that makes the show’s entire season feel like a waste of time.

There have been several twists and format tweaks over the years. Producers have even done tiny things, like changing the show’s opening this season, with each episode’s recap leading into an additional teaser before the opening credits roll. (For therecord, I liked the old opening better.)

Such tweaks merely spruce up the cosmetics of the show. What really needs tweaking is the Survivor finale.

Whether Cook Islands will be able to avoid another disappointing outcome remains to be seen, of course. But then, the last thing Survivor really needs is for loyal viewers to feel they’ve wasted their time – again.

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