Friday, June 24, 2011

My Favorite Seasons of Survivor In Order

As you may know from my tweets, I am an ultimate Survivor fan! I've watched every episode and know so much random trivia. I keep telling myself that I need to be on the show and I should just audition already. CBS, call me! I've been thinking a lot about my favorite Survivors (that will be another post) but for know I'm ranking my favorite seasons in order!

1) Survivor: All-Stars (Season 8)
All-Stars was by far my favorite seasons and I've watched it several times because all of my favorite Survivors came before and/or during that season. After the All-Star break, I think the contestants became more fake as they tried to replicate the performance of previous Survivors. I loved the three-tribe format of this season and the twist of Saboga being absorbed into Mogo-Mogo & Chapera when they kept losing challenges. The Rob & Amber romance was clearly the star of the season and Rob owned All-Stars (he should've won in my opinion) but there were just so many strong personalities that season. You had Richard Hatch, Rudy, Rupert, Big Tom, Sue Hawk, and Alicia as some of the more outspoken personalities. And then you had Kathy Obrien and Lex, two of my favorite strategic players of all time. Then there to top it off, you had my two favorite Survivor heartthrobs of any season, Colby and Ethan. All these ingredients together made for a phenomenal season.
2) Survivor: Borneo (Season 1)
You wouldn't be a true Survivor fan if you didn't love the original. Those first 16 castaways taught us the value of rice, boiling your water, and more importantly, the value of forming an alliance. Some amazing characters emerged from this season including the devious winner Richard Hatch, the tell-it-like-it-is Navy Seal Rudy Boesch, and "rat and snake speech" Sue Hawk. This season got me hooked and I haven't stopped watching since. Sure, players in later seasons may have been bolder and more colorful, but they owe it all to these guys. Richard Hatch is the original Survivor villain and he demonstrated just how important strategy is to the game.
3) Survivor: Pearl Islands (Season 7)
Pearl Islands may have had the loudest and most obnoxious contestants ever, but that makes great TV! The producers did an amazing job with this season and they followed the swashbuckling Pirate theme perfectly. From the first episode, I knew Sandra and Rupert were characters to watch. Sandra had such a mouth on her, and ironically that mouth and its ability to speak Spanish gave her tribe a huge head start as they were able to purchase a lot of valuable goods with the little money they had in a Panamanian village before being marooned on an island. Rupert, committing completely to the pirate theme, stole the Morgan tribe's shoes to trade for goods. This season also gave us the infamous Johnny Fairplay and the "dead Grandma" stunt that he pulled to win sympathy in his tribe. This season also employed an ultimate twist in allowing 2 early outcasts to return to the game. There were so many amazing things about this season and I could watch it over and over again, even if just for Sandra's one-liners. She is one of the handful of "true winners" in my opinion.
4) Survivor: Marquesas (Season 4)
This season yielded two All-Stars, but it in general it was more of a quirky season filled with random occurrences. Vecepia won this season by sliding under the radar and flipping sides so often that she barely knew where she was. Kathy O'Brien, one of my all time favorites was the clear winner of this season because of her outdoor skills, leadership, ability to think on her feet, and survival of a tribal swap that stacked the odds against her, but she was voted out and finished third because she was such a threat. Boston Rob was another favorite of this season and had he come out guns blazing rather than starting lazy, he could've won. Some hilights of the season were Kathy peeing on John's stingray-stung hand, the unraveling of the four-strong Rotu alliance, the father-daughter bond between Paschal and Neleh, and just about every racial comment that came out of Sean's mouth. Every time I rewatch this season I hate that Kathy doesn't win, but what can you do.
5) Survivor: The Australian Outback (Season 2)
The 2nd season of Survivor gave us a lot of important firsts. We got our first female villain, the "black widow" Jerri Manthey and our first Survivor hunk Colby Donaldson. This season also yielded more all-stars than any other. It was also the television debut of Elisabeth Filarski (Hasselbeck) who now co-hosts The View. We had the memorable fight over the chickens between Kimmy & Alicia as well as the great Mike Skupin who caught a pig and was later evacuated for falling into a fire, which is arguably the biggest turning point in Survivor history. If Mike had not been evacuated, the Kucha tribe would've likely gone into the merge with 6 members to Ogakor's 4, with the later being picked off, resulting in a much different final two that what actually happened with Colby & Tina. More importantly, Amber Brkich would probably wouldn't have made it as far, probably wouldn't have been chosen as an all-star, and wouldn't have met and aligned with Boston Rob Mariano and won all-stars. See what I mean by Skupin's exit changing the landscape of future Survivor seasons? This season also set the precedent for winners of the final immunity challenge selecting a weaker member to go with them to the final tribal council after Colby Donaldson lost the title of sole-survivor for selecting the likable Tina Wesson (the ultimate winner) for the final two over outcast Keith Famie.
6) Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Season 20)
This season was a great idea in theory, great survivors known for valiant moves vs. survivors know for devious moves. However, the casting was horrible and it was quite clear that the producers' first choices were not available so they had to complete the tribes with fill-ins. I mean Sugar, really? And Candice, what heroic move did she make in Cook Islands? I've also never been an Amanda fan and she did nothing deserving to be a hero in China or in Micronesia. On the Villains side the Rob vs. Russell dynamic was interesting, though Rob was voted out too soon for any real tension to develop. Parvati and Danielle were lapdogs to Russel while Courtney and Sandra flew under the radar. Coach was out in left field as usual and Jerri took a less aggressive role than in previous seasons and kept her comments to herself, resulting in her best finish of any of her three outings. The heroes had trouble in challenges and their biggest mistake, once they hit the merge, was ignoring Sandra's warnings and failing to vote out Russell, the kingpin on the Villains side. I love Sandra to death, but she was not as involved in orchestrating events in his season as she was in Pearl Islands and as much as I hate to say it, this was really Russel & Parvati's season.
7) Survivor: Amazon (Season 6)
This was the first season to feature a battle of the sexes with men on one tribe and women on the other which set up a very difference dynamic. It was an interesting social experiment and though the men worked extremely well together while the women bickered, they won basically the same number of challenges. This season had a few firsts, including the first deaf contestant, Christy, and the first naked contestants, Heidi and Jenna who took off their clothes in a challenge for chocolate and peanut butter.  This season really didn't get interesting until the merge when mastermind Rob Cesternino began to work his magic. He and runner-up Matthew were a great duo to watch because Matt had the survival and wilderness skills down pat while he needed Rob, an expert strategist and self-proclaimed student of the game to coach him in the social aspects. Jenna Morasca ultimately won by scrambling and winning the final immunity challenges. From an audience perspective, I found her to be an unlikable contestant but I am also aware that she was very young and grew up a lot from the experience and also that the producers edit to show viewers what they want them to see. I would have rather seen Rob in the final two, who played an expert strategic game, though he may not have garnered a lot of jury votes because he back-stabbed so many people, in which case the outdoorsy Matt would've been named the sole-Survivor.
8) Survivor: Africa (Season 3)
Survivor Africa only had one standout character, and that was goat farmer Big Tom, though it did have several amazing relationship dynamics. First we had the old vs. young rivalry on the Samburu tribe where the 20 somethings thought they could get by being lazy while the older members worked their tails off to maintain camp. We also had the epic Lex vs. Kelly when he went on a rampage to vote her off because he thought she had cast a vote against him when in fact he hadn't. This season gave us the first tribal switch where 3 members of each tribe were instructed to "go on a journey" which resulted in them becoming part of the opposing tribe until the merge. This ultimately allowed the original Boran tribe to make up the final four. Ethan Zohn was deserving, in my opinion, of the title of sole-Survivor for his perfectly balanced social, strategic, and physical games. He is one of the most likable Survivor winners to date. Of all seasons, this one still seems the most brutal. Their water source, a murky muddy creek, was the worst of any season and there was real danger nearby as they heard lions outside of their camp at night on many occasions. There was also the boredom aspect because they did not have the ocean or wooded areas that other seasons' contestants had to explore.
9) Survivor: Cook Islands (Season 13)
This season had a great opening twist where the tribes were divided by race. This pushed a lot of buttons and alienated a lot of advertisers, but they had to think of something new right? This season brought us some great characters and some shocking moments.Though she was boring overall, Candice was the first survivor ever to mutiny and the always abrasive Jonathan Penner followed suit. Parvati was a saucy minx who had a memorable hot tub moment with Ozzy and Yul and has become one of the best survivors ever to play the game. This season had perhaps the most deserving final two ever, Yul and Ozzy, as both were strong physical players who overcame huge odds. Yul went on to win as his social and strategic game overpowered Ozzy's more physical game.
10) Survivor: Guatemala (Season 11)
I loved Stephanie & Bobby Jon, the last two remaining members of the Ulong tribe in Palau, and I was happy to see them both return for a second shot at the million in Guatemala. Though neither were as likable as in Palau, some other great players emerged. This season had perhaps the toughest beginning ever as contestants were forced to hike for two days in sweltering heat, carrying all of their belongings and supplies, to make it to their camps. Though Bobby Jon came off as annoying and Stephanie as a backstabber, I grew to love other contestants, especially Rafe and Lydia for making the final four against big odds. This season didn't have a true villain and every single character was likable, at least most of the time. Danni Boatwright flew under the radar and won for her great social game, though she did do some great strategizing when her original tribe was down in numbers and her back was against the wall.
11) Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites (Season 16)
Jeff Probst has often said this was his favorite season, but I never loved these "favorites" as much as the original All-Stars. Sure Parvati was a great player but her act got old after a while and all Amanda did was whine. The "favorites" with the best TV personalities, Yau Man & Eliza were voted off too early so we got a whole lot of Parvati. The supposed "ultimate fans" were lame, though Erik did give us one of the most memorable Survivor moments ever when he was duped by the ladies into giving his immunity to Natalie, and ultimately voted out. I will give credit to those girls for dominating the game and to Parvati for leading one of the most notorious bands of women in Survivor history.
12) Survivor: Palau (Season 10)
Jeff Probst tauts this season as his favorite filming location and it was beautiful, though it was somber as well as Palau was very affected by WWII and some parts are still covered in wreckage. Like most seasons, this one began with a new twist. All 20 contestants were dropped off at one place and on day two the tribes divided themselves by a schoolyard pick. The two 2 contestants not selected were sent home immediately. The most memorable thing about this season was that the Ulong tribe never won immunity and when only one remained, Stephanie LaGrossa, she joined Koror and it became the only season without a true merge. Tom Westman was one of the most deserving winners ever as he dominated challenges, provided at camp (even catching a shark) and stuck by his original alliance of Ian and Katie to the very end. The only person who put up a fight against Tom was his ally Ian and when it came down to the final 5, Ian started to plot against Tom. But when Tom found out at the final 3, Ian chose to preserve his honor rather than win and gave final immunity to Tom. That was perhaps the most chivalrous moment in Survivor history, even if it was between two guys.
13) Survivor: Fiji (Season 14)
I hated this season's twist more than any other season because it was so incredibly unfair. All 19 contestants were dropped on the same beach and given materials and plans to build a fantastic structure. Then the tribes were split and the winners of the challenge got to keep the good camp while the others had to build a new shelter from no resources. This was basically "haves" (Moto) vs "have-nots" (Ravu) and it led to Moto dominated until the merge. We got some great characters and even better conflicts this season, particularly Yau Man Chan and Dreamz. One of the best Survivor moments ever was when Yau Man gave Dreamz the truck he won in a challenge in exchange for an immunity that would put him in the final 3. When Dreamz reneged, he made it to the final 3 but Earl Cole, who was seen as the best of the final 3, won unanimously. Earl was not the deserving winner as this was clearly Yau Man's season, as he dominated strategically and did very well in challenges given his age, but Earl was the clear choice of the top 3 over the lying, annoying Dreamz and the coattail-rider Cassandra.
14) Survivor: Samoa (Season 19)
Survivor fans thought they had seen it all until Russell Haantz came along in season 19. He was on a losing team that he sabotaged on occasion and managed to get himself and two of his original tribe-mates to the final 3. This guy did it all from burning tribe members socks to dumping canteens, all to cause commotion in the tribe and turn people against one another so they'd be easier to vote out. They once he made the merge, he became the first Survivor ever to find a hidden immunity idol without a clue. There were some other good characters this season like Shambo who turned on her own tribe because they belittled her in the beginning, but this was truly Russell's season. The only reason he didn't win was because his jury was filled with bitter babies who didn't understand that the point of the game is to Outwit, Outplay, Outlast. Instead Natalie, probably one of the least deserving winners ever, took home the million because she rode Russell's coat-tails and never had to truly backstab.
15) Survivor: China (Season 15)
The only twist to start this season was that the Survivors were only given the clothes on their back to start. The Fei Long tribe dominated early and went on to make up the final 4. This was a season of little people as Todd (the eventual winner) & Courtney (the runner up) dominated the social and strategic games though they lacked the strength to power through the physical challenges. Survivor China was themed excellently and is up there with Thailand and Pearl Islands in how well the producers and directors stayed true to the culture of the location in theming the challenges and rewards. James Clement, the gravedigger, emerged as an all-star player for his physical strength and blunt personality and went on to return in Fans vs. Favorites and Heroes vs. Villains. Amanda Kimmel (3rd place) also returned for those seasons though she was never as great on TV as James and came across as whiny. Conflicting personalities dominated the season, particularly Courtney vs. Jean-Robert and Dave vs. basically everyone on the Zhan Hu tribe. Todd was the clear mastermind of the season and used everyone in his path as a pawn in his plan, similarly to Rob Cesternino in The Amazon, but because Todd's social game was stronger, he was voted the sole Survivor and was deserving of that title.
16) Survivor: Panama (Season 12)
This season also had an opening twist as 16 contestants were split into 4 tribes by age and gender, but the main theme of the season was the introduction of Exile Island. Cirie Fields & Shane Powers emerged almost immediately as fan favorites for their tell-all personalities, and because they both felt out of place on the older tribes. This season was fairly boring early on but it heated up post-merge. Terry dominated the physical challenges but rubbed people the wrong way. Cirie played a great social & strategic game but hung on by a thread physically. Shane threatened to leave several times because due to withdraw from smoking and his son, but his crazy antics made for great TV. Danielle flew under the radar and clung to others, while Aras played a perfectly mixed game of the physical, strategic, and social. He was voted the ultimate Survivor over Danielle for getting to the end without making any real enemies, though Terry was bitter for being voted out in the final 3 and considered himself the ultimate player for his physical game.
17) Survivor: Tocantins (Season 18)
I remember very little about the challenges and the game itself this season, but I remember the personalities. If it weren't for the colorful Coach and Tyson and good old boy JT, this season would have completely sucked. Coach, who proclaimed himself the Dragon Slayer told one tall-tale after another about his grand adventures and escaping death, but while he annoyed his tribe mates, he was great for TV. Tyson was also a good character because with his dry, sarcastic sense of humor, you could never really tell when he was serious and when he was joking. JT was as sweet as can be but he cut throats when he needed to. He won challenges and made friends, garnering him a unanimous victory over the more intelligent Stephen in the final tribal council.
18) Survivor: Vanuatu (Season 9)
This is the season I'm currently re-watching but I really don't know why because it's not that good. It was a girl power season for sure and the guys sucked, though Chris manged to win so what do I know. Eliza was one of the great characters this season because she was so outspoken and was on the chopping block from from the first tribal council but made it the whole way to the final four. Scout and Twila, the older women, managed to play puppetmaster until the very end when Twila stabbed one too many people in the back and lost to the likable Chris in the final tribal council. Eliza is the only truly memorable character from this season and she returned in Fans vs. Favorites along with Ami. Eliza made it to the jury and her eye rolls every tribal council were priceless.
19) Survivor: Thailand (Season 5)
Jeff Probst has been very vocal that this is one of his least favorite seasons because it was mean-spirited and had the most unlikeable final four ever. I'll agree with both of those statements. This season was beautifully themed and had the most striking tribal council setup of any season but those were about the only positives. Almost everyone on this season was mean and Jake and Shii Ann were the only likable contestants. Unfortunately Shii Ann fell victim to the "fake merge" and was booted for attempting to flip to the other team, though we saw her again in All-Stars. Jake outlasted all of Sook Jai but Chuay Gahn stayed together to form the final five. Brian defeated clay 4-3 in the final tribal council though I hated them both so much I don't know how the jury chose. The one slightly redeeming quality this season was seeing an older, weaker tribe outlast the young cocky players, especially bully Robb Zbacnik.
20) Survivor: Redemption Island (Season 22)
For me, Survivor really went downhill after Heroes vs. Villains because its so hard to surprise an audience anymore, but this season introduced a very big new element. It is at the very heart of the game that contestants leave once voted out and this season producers shook it up by placing castoffs on Redemption Island for a shot at getting back in the game. Matt dominated Redemption Island, but it was finally Boston Rob's season. I think that fact that I knew he would win and deserved to win is what made this season so boring, despite Phillip's crazy antics.
21) Survivor: Nicaragua (Season 21)
This was the first season after Heroes vs. Villains so it was an automatic let down. Judd "Fabio" was a likable winner, but he kind of fell into a win by flying by the seat of his pants rather than actually deserving to win. He had some pretty exciting fights NaOnka though, who turned out to be one of the biggest bitches in Survivor history. This season the tribes were divided by ages so there was all kinds of clashing going on. Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson was an early target because "he didn't need the money" though the older tribe suffered without his leadership. One of the best moments of the season was when Brenda got the boot after she and Sash paraded around as though they had the whole game under control. Boy was she surprised.
22) Survivor: Gabon (Season 17)
I hated this season from the very start. This may sound strange but the seasons filmed on dry land are always less exciting because water challenges are usually the highlight. This season featured a schoolyard pick and players played in the clothes they came in, both of which had been done before. The contestants this season really were a bunch of misfits and most of the athletic, competitive players were booted early. Pinup model Jessica "Sugar" Kiper spent a lot of time in the "Sugar Shack" aka exile island (which wasn't really an island) and Bob Crowley dominated. This season seemed to go on forever because there was so little to get excited about. The only thing that made it watchable was waiting for Bob to make more "fake" immunity idols.  

No comments:

Post a Comment