"Want to see the Elephant Dung?"
Survivor: Gabon kicked off this week with a two-hour premiere and it's first ever high-definition broadcast. The 17th season took fans back to Africa where 18 strangers were stranded in the wild and forced to work together and against each other in order to take home a million dollar prize. The set-up was familiar from this show that changed the face of television, but for fans it was a welcome sight. After so many recent seasons of stunting it is nice to slip into Survivor without all the hype. There was no racial divide (Cook Islands), no entry into the once forbidden (China), no fans and no favorites (Micronesia). It was just plain old people thrown together. After a round of introductions the game started right up with a schoolyard pick. Led by the elders, Gillian and Bob, the group became the Kota and Fang tribes. By the end of the night each one had its own distinct personality. Kota was the young, athletic, yoga-practicing tribe and Fang was the older, disjointed and bickering tribe. Having set the teams, Jeff Probst immediately sent them off on their first immunity challenge: a run up a hill. First two to the top get individual immunity; first tribe to the top gets extra food. Seems simple enough. Marcus and GC left the others behind to win immunity. Predictably, the older players struggled on the hill. Matty, a young personal trainer, stopped to assist 61-year-old Gillian a gesture that warmed my heart. Crystal, the Olympic medallist in track and field, also required assistance, which was unexpected. It turns out that tennis shoes can be pretty heavy and impede a medallist from running up a hill. First challenge down. The tribes retire to their camps, which came with ready-made huts. I missed watching them build crappy shelters that would eventually collapse at an inopportune moment, but given the wild animal issue, it's fitting that Survivor at least give them a safe place to sleep. And these huts are way better than a thorn-bush encircled camp any day. Even with this housing precaution, medical is called in on the first night. (A Survivor first?) Apparently, Randy, the wedding videographer who doesn't believe in marriage, is one of the things that goes bump in the African night. He cracked his head so hard on the doorframe that he required stitches. Loved how Gillian, the woman he had been complaining about suddenly became less annoying to him when he needed her nursing skills. Still Randy was out to oust the chatty nurse for the rest of the show. Lucky for him his tribe ended up at tribal council twice offering him the chance to do just that. This, of course, is because the Fang tribe is one big mess. In the first show they lost three challenges and two people. Let's see take a look at this their tribe. GC: Elected tribe leader at Tribal Council 1 stepped down days later because he wasn't going to let anyone "force" him to be a leader. This is the guy who said that if his tribe wanted him to be the leader then he would lead. Hmm. Gillian: Albeit chatty was an interesting player. She had her opinions, one of which was that they should eat the seeds found in elephant dung. Another was that GC might consider not banging around while people were sleeping. Who knew that such a suggestion would lead to a leader's resignation? Or her own ouster? Michelle: The I've-got-something-to-prove-because-I-was-chosen-last player. She ate a termite. Clearly, she deserved to win, yet she was voted out at Fang's first tribal council. Ken: He's a professional video game player. Professional. Dan: the earnest lawyer, who after a loss was chosen by Kota to go to Exile Island. This time around it's not so much an island as it is a gated community. You can choose to enter and be safe for the night or stay outside with your Hidden Immunity Idol clue and search. Dan chose to search. Crystal: Swore that Dan had the idol even though it seemed pretty clear that he had not found it. She wanted to vote him off. Dan with the muscles. She wanted him gone for fear of his idol! Susie: Is a mother who needed to find her place in the tribe real soon or she will be gone real fast. Kota on the other hand is a more cohesive tribe, though not without its unique personalities: Bob: The likable physics teacher from Maine who, from his performances thus, far liked to climb on things like that giant ball in the immunity challenge or the hut's roof to replace palm fronds. Ace: The photographer who believed he has the game in the hole. Perhaps that's why he took it upon himself to manage the latrine situation, even going so far as to reference the Roman legion's ancient methods. Sugar: Is Ace's muse. She's a pin-up model who swears she will not bathe because there are wild animals all around. I guess that's a strategy. Charlie: Who was quick show his bitchy side with comments like, "are we playing stupid survivor?" after a player made what he thought was a questionable tribe mate choice. He also showed his vulnerable side with his instant attraction to Marcus: The doctor from Atlanta who politely greeted Jeff as if they were old friends. Marcus was flattered by Charlie's attention, though uninterested, and wily enough to keep Charlie in his inner circle. He's the first to set up an alliance, the Large Onion Alliance and also the first to name one after a vegetable. Paloma: She giggled at her tribe's pre-challenge yoga circle. Jacque and Corinne: by virtue ofsomething, were deemed worthy to join Marcus and Charlie's alliance. Kelly: I'm going to say that she will make a bigger impression later in the gameor get eaten by elephants. There is potential in this lot for an interesting season, and given that there are gorillas, elephants and snakes around I'm thrilled that we're are going to get to see all the drama in HD. What did you think? Were the first two casualties of the show justifiable picks? Will Ace turn out to be this season's Lex? From this showing who do you think will be the ultimate survivor? Would you eat the rice that GC made? And can you identify the various accents heard in show?