A Look at Changes to the CBS Reality Show, Survivor
These are my observations in regards to the American version of the reality television show, Survivor. I have noticed some changes in Survivor and wish to share with the viewers my thoughts on these changes.
- About Survivor
- What Happened to Surviving?
- Location Location Location
- More Physical Challenges
- The Focus is on Strategy
- I Have Spoken!
The reality show known as Survivor has been on CBS since May 2000, it came to America as the result of the success of the Swedish version created by Charlie Parsons. With producer, Mark Burnett, and host, Jeff Probst, Survivor has become amazingly popular. I have been watching ever season and have seen some changes in what they show on television and change to the show itself.
The first season was in Borneo, and was won by Richard Hatch, who surprised everyone by forming alliances and having a strategy right from the start. Richard Hatch is now a celebrity as a result of being on the show.
What Happened to Surviving?
In the early shows, Survivor focused more on “Surviving”, viewers saw how shelters were made, how people struggled to make fire (often with little success), and how they found food. It was not uncommon for long periods of the show to focus on watching one survivor or another try to catch fish, or gathering food.
The show no longer features much of this, I suppose you can only watch a person catch a fish so many times before it gets boring, after all, that is why we have fishing shows. Nonetheless I do miss some of this sort of thing. It was fun watching people put their primitive skills to the test, trying to build a shelter, or make a fire. Skills that many of us simply do not have, and wonder if we could do it if we had to.
Location Location Location
It seemed to me that in the first few seasons, most notably Survivor Season 3: Africa, more attention was given to the location, something I enjoyed seeing. Occasionally in the newer shows they show glimpses of animals in the area, and a few wide location shots, but nothing like they use to do.
One of the reasons I watch the show is to see the locations but it seems that often times the new Survivor shows are using locations they have already used.
More Physical Challenges
The challenges themselves have changed, becoming more physical, and less cultural. In the early shows the challenges on Survivor had a somewhat cultural angle to the location. I remember one challenge where Jeff read out some cultural information on the location and people had to go from hut to hut remembering what he told them and answering questions. In the Africa show they had to drink the blood of a cow, as per the culture of the area.
Food challenges use to be more common, you know the type - where the survivors would eat strange or unusual foods.
In more recent Survivor shows the challenges are mostly physical and do not have the cultural element. I miss this greatly.
The Focus is on Strategy
In the early shows we did see players working on strategy, conspiring with one and other, but this was balanced with other things (noted the location shots and showing people struggle with survival skills). In the more recent shows the producers, and editors, have primarily shown us personal conflicts and game play.
One thing I think that has become more popular in the shows is that they are showing more of the "social" game play, more strategy, backstabbing, lying, and trickery. In a way this makes me sad that so many viewers are hungry to watch this part of the game. It is like viewers are become gossip mongers, wanting to know who said what to whom and behind whose back. This makes me sad, in the same way I do not like gossip magazines.
I Have Spoken!
Thank heavens Jeff Probst still says “The tribe has spoken” when he snuffs out the torches, but did you notice they don't even call it Tribal Council any longer, and often simply refer to it as “Tribal”?
Don't get me wrong, I still love the show. It's one of my favorite reality shows, with The Amazing Race, being my favorite.
You might ask why I have not used pictures of Survivor? It is because most (if not all) images are owned by CBS and using them would be a copyright violation.
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