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RNO Roundtable: Predictions for the 'Survivor: Thailand' Finaleby Charlie Reneke, Phil Kural, Ken Kellam III, Brian James, David Bloomberg -- 12/18/2002
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Charlie Reneke: I'm very impressed by this latest season of Survivor. Sure, it dragged down a little bit once Chuay Gahn started to 'Pagong' the Sook Jai tribe, but otherwise it's been a blast. Who will forget the time that Robb said 'dude' or when Ghandia whined? Or the time that Magilla the Monkey did something that annoyed the castaways? Or how about that time when Jan screamed out, "We've got crabs!" Episode one, people, go back and watch the tape. But now it's down to the wire and there are four castaways left, and I honestly wouldn't mind seeing anyone remaining take home the money. It should be a fun finale. Hell, they could pop at least an extra two million or so viewers by advertising it as "100% Vecepia Free!"
Phil Kural: Honestly, I thought this was one of the most boring casts, only surpassing Survivor: Africa. I only even took a shining to two players and one was gone fairly early. I would say that one of the best strategists came out of this season though. That would be Brian. It was nice to see some new twists though and the way the tribes were chosen. That was a welcome change, not to mention the whole thing with the tribes taking longer than usual to merge. The family food challenge was also a good twist to the game. Even though some great twists were introduced this season it could not make up for the boring cast. All the people who brought some controversy were booted early and the whole "Pagonging" of the Sook Jai tribe made it very predictable. However, my favorite player, Jan, still remains. That is why I will watch the finale with great anticipation.
Ken Kellam III: Writing about this edition of Survivor has, at times, been like trying to write about the highlights of a 0-0 football game. I think the problem is that there are no characters who really stand out either way. No one has been totally detestable, but no one has emerged as the one to root for.
Brian James: I'm really excited about the final four this season! No matter how things shake down between Helen, Ken, Robb, and Shii Ann, it won't be dull - I can promise you that! Just the thought of Robb and Helen squaring off in a heated debate on... What's that, you say? The final four are Brian, Clay, Helen and Jan? Oh, fine. Burst my bubble. Shatter my fantasies. Annihilate my sense of youthful idealism. I'll just be over here in the corner wearing all black, smoking a cigarette, and blasting "How Soon Is Now?" Seriously, though, while my dream final four rank among my favorite Survivors ever, this season will probably go down as my least favorite ever. Why? Simple - even though I've watched every episode, I feel like I've missed most of it. Sure, there have been some inspired touches - the elders selecting their own tribes and the delayed merge, among others - but overall, I feel like most of the REAL show this season was left on the cutting room floor. It's as if Mark Burnett looked at Vecepia going from glorified extra to ultimate Survivor in one episode and decided to pattern an entire SEASON on it. Survivor always excelled at character development, but this season we didn't even get to find out who half these people WERE, let alone why they behaved the way they did. Penny morphed from sensible background sweetheart to Queen Heather in the blink of an eye with little rhyme or reason, and is anyone out there absolutely clear on why Erin was booted? Or even who Erin WAS? I'm sure not. And the people we did get to know fairly well - Robb, Shii Ann - were booted early, which is fine, but we need to be given reasons to care about the people LEFT if we're to continue watching. I seriously thought about tuning out altogether when Ken was booted because the only remaining person I felt any investment in was Helen, and sure enough, I COULD have skipped Penny and Jake's boots and the recrap - three entire weeks in a row - and really not have missed a thing. That has NEVER happened before. In past seasons with similar pagonging - even Africa, my previous least favorite season in retrospect - I was still on the edge of my seat every week because I felt invested in almost everyone remaining and didn't want to miss a minute of their actions. Why? Because I had been given REASON to care along the way. Even though our remaining final four have gotten plenty of screen time on a consistent basis, even THAT hasn't necessarily furthered their character development. My colleagues shouldn't have to be devoting entire articles to wondering "What Will Jan Do?" At this point, we should have SOME idea, at least! It's fine if the show wants to keep each boot a suspense. It's fine if we're left with unanswered questions at the end of each episode. That's how it always has been and how it should be. But when we're forced to go scrambling to the booted Survivors' Early Show appearances and cbs.com webchat transcripts each week in order to gain even a REMOTE idea of why most events happened, there's a HUGE problem. If I wanted a research project, I'd be in grad school!
David Bloomberg: I must say that I was a bit surprised by the non-twist of asking for volunteers to switch tribes. Has Mark Burnett given up on the idea of breaking up tribal alliances? Or did he think that putting them on the beach together but not merging them would do that somehow? Quite the contrary - had they merged at that point, Shii Ann was ready to jump ship, and I think it would have been interesting to see how that would have turned out. Alas, it was not to be. While there have certainly been dull parts to this season, I have to agree with some of my cohorts that the real problem is the lack of information. Did Penny and Erin and Robb really treat Shii Ann horribly? Why didn't we see it? Why did they keep that drama away from viewers? It certainly would have been better than, say, a segment with Clay talking about butts. Again, it was not to be. I'm sure the producers had a good reason for doing it this way, but I'll be damned if I can figure out what it was. There are always going to be seasons where the players don't live up to expectations as "characters," but with so much footage, it lies in the hands of the producers to make it interesting anyway. Hopefully, it will be better in the Amazon. This is not to say that I haven't enjoyed this season, because I have. There has been some great strategy and solid alliances. I don't mind a good solid Pagonging if it's done for good reason - and this time it was. I'm definitely looking forward to the finale, especially since I'll be in the live studio audience! But even if I were at home, I'd still be excited.1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Next-->
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