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Survivor: the Australian Outback

TV Review: New cast looks good.


by Mark D. Johnson
January 29, 2001

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Survivor: the Australian Outback_Mark D. Johnson-TV Review: New cast looks good. There is every reason to believe that this new round of last summer’s reality TV hit will be just as successful, if not more so. All the familiar elements are there, the nice-looking cast seems likeable-yet-cunning, and the production is slick. The biggest change is the locale: the rugged Australian Outback doesn’t have that tropical beauty that captured our imaginations in "Survivor I". It is still an exotic setting, with numerous shots of kangaroos and deadly creatures interspersed throughout the show, but without tropical plants everywhere, this almost looks like they’re stranded somewhere in Utah.

The pace never lags from the start, when a military carrying the castaways lands at a remote strip and leaves the two tribes, Ogakor and Kucha, to hike four miles to their respective camps with a heavy load of supplies. Tensions flare slightly on their trek and as they set up camp and try to make fire. Already there are discrete conversations taking place as this more alliance-savvy cast gets settled and attempts to strategize.

One complaint: the first immunity challenge was too similar to the first challenge last summer (each team must keep their torch lit over land and sea to light the bonfire on a tower). I hope all of the challenges won’t be mere variations on the previous set of challenges. Even if they are, the dynamics among this new cast will be different and should be enough to sustain interest over the remaining episodes, largely because they are not as strategically naïve as the first cast.

The Kucha tribe lost the challenge, and the first to be voted out was Debb, with all seven of her tribemates voting against her. In the first Survivor, the weak were the first to go, since they would likely hold back the tribe in the challenges, but Debb appeared to be a hard-worker and capable of handling challenges. What did her in was apparently her abrasive personality, as she was shown speaking her mind perhaps too bluntly. Indeed, she appears to be an odd person, but did the tribe conspire against her, or did she really offend everyone that badly.

Before the show began I picked Nick to win it all. He got off on the wrong foot though, as he, in charge of the compass, misguided the group for a time in the search for their camp. So maybe he’s the mole… Oh wait, wrong show.

For those who fell asleep during the Super Bowl and missed the show, or if you've just been reluctant to jump on the "Survivor" bandwagon, CBS is rebroadcasting the first episode Wednesday, January 31. It moves to its regular time slot the following day. Better start watching before you're completely left out of all the watercooler talk!

Survivor fans: share your thoughts about the show each week in The Partial Observer Television Forum!

Official website: cbs.com/survivor

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