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March 1, 2007: "I'm Not Being Negative, I'm Stating the Obvious"

Let me tell you why I like Survivor. This show is always willing to mix it up. Call it a course correction, if you will. For example, say you have the brilliant idea to have one tribe live in luxury while the other lives, well, not in luxury, in the hopes that this will make for one kick-ass season. And let's say that as time goes by the rich tribe actually does kick the poor tribe's ass. Repeatedly. You worry that maybe, just maybe, the season could be a bit of a snoozer. What do you do? You course-correct. You whip out a little green bottle with a mysterious note, and you hope for the best. To recap, downtown Ravu has lost every challenge against uptown Moto. Every challenge. This starving tribe couldn't even win last week's food challenge for crying out loud — and let me tell you, Rocky certainly did. For a guy who can't abide whining, he's got that skill down pat. It's bad enough that Rocky morphed into Archie Bunker and started tossing the B-word around (that's "broad" fo... read more

February 22, 2007: Slip-sliding Away

OK, so we had a little action this week. And by little I mean watching Michelle make fire with her glasses. At least we had two challenges instead of the combo immuno-reward thing the show had been sporting for the past weeks. Regardless, Ravu lost both, but still it was entertaining. Perhaps because there were no puzzles to solve. The reward challenge involved grown men and women throwing themselves, face-forward, down a slick mat and then tossing a ball into a basket. Simple? Sure. Enjoyable? You bet. It's not often that you see a person actually try to swim on land and kudos to Sylvia for that brave effort. Yau-Man versus Dre at the net (thank god we're not calling him Dreamz anymore) was unexpectedly nail-biting. The Rita/Cassandra face-off was exciting, but can we please get these ladies some support? You know what I mean. Would it kill Victoria's Secret to sponsor the show and give some of these women Survivor's first underwire buffs?On to the torturous immunity challenge. Yes... read more

February 15, 2007: Pineapple Power

Forgive me for saying this, but Survivor: Fiji is shaping up to be a little schizophrenic. On the one hand, you have this newfangled show where the living is easy for one tribe. I mean come on, when have you ever heard "I'm full" on this show before any team has won a feast? Then you have the real Survivor. Tried and true, it's the one we know and love and that keeps us watching every season. It's the one where you see a group of hungry, dehydrated people desperately rubbing sticks together to make fire. Nowadays, it's as if I’m watching one show with two different intensity levels. On one level, I felt badly for Boo — even though he is one of the 'haves' — when his hammock broke after his slew of mishaps, but not nearly as intensely as I felt for that thirsty 'have-not' tribe. So I'm a little frazzled. What am I supposed to feel and for whom? It's so easy to root for the downtrodden that I find myself trying not to like Ravu. Who wants to fall for the blatant manipul... read more

February 8, 2007: One Big Happy Family

All right, I’m worried. 1) We're coming off of a great season of Survivor: Cook Islands, so Fiji has a lot to live up to, and 2) Burnett is using that whole rich man, poor man accommodations twist that's going on over at The Apprentice. I didn't like it there. I'm concerned about its use here. I mean, It's hard for me to believe that I'm already watching a new season of Survivor. Just six months ago we watched as four strategically separated tribes made their way to individual islands in what was thought to be the most controversial season of the show ever. Now here we are again, watching another diverse group of people begin a month-long journey toward a million dollars. But already there is a difference. Survivor: Fiji, perhaps very deliberately, begins as one nameless tribe of 19. Gone is the hype of Cook Islands that got our attention but fizzled rather quickly. On Fiji, everyone spends their first day in the game building a luxury shelter and sorting themselves out. A l... read more

Survivor: Fiji: Two Idols, Two Twists and Lotsa Snakes!

Jeff Probst previews Survivor: Fiji.

One of the much-hyped twists on CBS' Survivor: Fiji, which kicks off tonight at 8 pm/ET, is having one group of contestants lounge in the lap of luxury while another is left with the bare minimum of supplies and no food. Cool concept, but it sounds oddly familiar, because, say, The Apprentice: Los Angeles is employing a similar idea this season. And both shows share Mark Burnett as an executive producer. Just a coinkidink? Survivor host Jeff Probst insists that that is absolutely the case. "Mark runs his shows very independently," he tells TVGuide.com. "I can tell you that this was an idea that was born organically from us, because I was sitting there as we discussed it and decided to do it read more

Yul's Tidings: The Survivor Cook Islands Champ Speaks Out!

Yul Kwon, Survivor: Cook Islands

On Sunday night's nail-biting Survivor: Cook Islands finale, Yul Kwon narrowly beat out tough competitor Ozzy by one vote to emerge as champion. The Stanford and Yale grad, who was often called "the puppet master" or "Godfather" by fellow players, was happy that his strategic game paid off and that he was able to pocket the million-dollar check. TVGuide.com spoke to Yul in the wee hours of the morning after his big win to find out how he's planning on spending his winnings, and why he looked so shell-shocked after being announced the sole survivor. TVGuide.com: Good morning, how are you doing? Yul Kwon: Good. I'm still sleep-deprived, but I'm living the dream. TVGuide.com: You looked stunned throughout th read more

December 17, 2006: The Aitu Four

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. It was a season that certainly had it’s ups and downs, but if Survivor:Cook Islands were a movie, it would be up for an Oscar.Ladies and gentlemen, for your consideration, I present the best of Cook Islands.The Best Challenges:Sure, we had a few recycled challenges, but someone on that staff got a shot of creativity that brought us some truly innovative, interesting and challenging competitions.These last two immunity challenges had me literally on the edge of my seat. Squarely in Aitu’s corner, it was near torture seeing Adam as a real threat to an all-Aitu final four.Ozzy’s come-from-behind win in the spider web/puzzle challenge was reality television at its best. It wasn’t his physical prowess that amazed me the most this time — I didn’t even know he had a brain until he wowed me by solving that compass-rose puzzle.Then there was the final immunity challenge. I loved that vanishing platform. How ... read more

December 14, 2006: The True Puppet Master

For some reason I really thought Parvati would end up in the finals. Not due to any true game play on her part, but merely out of some cosmic irony. Rarely have I seen a castaway who has done as little as she. I was wrong. Even with the seismic tremors at Aitu — Becky and Sundra maneuvering to oust Ozzy — the easily influenced Yul pulled his strings and chose Adam as the Raro member most worthy of staying.As much as Yul denies it, he is the top dog on the island, and he wears the Puppet Master title well. The thing is, even though he is the whole Survivor package — smart, strong, has ripped abs — he thinks too much and that overactive brain may just knock him out of the game. In case you hadn't noticed because you were distracted by Yul's mud-caked torso, there will be five people in the finals! Five relatively strong competitors. Seriously, who thought Sundra would last this long? After the first merge, Flicka was in a better position than the alliance-free ... read more

December 7, 2006: Everybody Hates Jonathan

And now we know why Parvati doesn't do any work at camp. It's just not safe. The girl nearly sliced her thumb off trying to open a coconut. Tragic as that may have been, Parvati's mishap allowed us another glimpse of that cute Aussie doctor from last season. Her sacrifice will not go unnoticed in my book. This week was the family visits. Sundra's heartfelt weeping at the sight of her mother had me wondering if she'd be able to actually perform in the reward challenge of throwing water from one bucket into another while blindfolded. I’m still not sure. Mom wasn’t catching much water and Sundra was all over the place. While Jonathan and his wife were well-matched — both competitive and innovative — it was the injured Parvati and her father who won the challenge and chose Sundra and Adam to join in the reward.What happened next is why I think Cook Islands is clearly among the best Survivors we've seen. While the winners were feasting and Jonathan was at Exile Isla... read more

November 30, 2006: King Rat

This show is so good I am almost moved to write poetry, and yet there are no words to express how much I'm enjoying Survivor: Cook Islands. Alas, I will attempt to recap the happenings at the Aitutonga tribe. In the aftermath of Nate's departure, Parvati was outspoken about her disappointment in Jonathan. She was so upset with him that she could vomit on his face. Now, she's billed as a boxer. Would a right cross not suffice? Parvati did make me laugh — when Jonathan flat-out told her that "Yul does have the idol," and she still did not believe him. Hilarious. Perhaps, Nate should have left his glasses behind. Like I should talk. For weeks now I've watched the rat footage and mused as to why the show always cut to Jonathan afterward. Perhaps Burnett is trying to tell us something? Um, yeah. If you come away with anything from this episode, it's that everyone thinks Jonathan is a rat. He may very well be, but I'm thinking this rat's going to come out on top — at the end ... read more

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