Which Survivor Is the Weakest Link?by David Bloomberg -- 07/10/2002
If you haven’t seen The Weakest Link yet and don’t know the rules, check out our article about the premiere for a primer.
It was a good idea – take some original contestants from Survivor and put them on a new game show where they have to vote each other off. Then stick that show at the time when Survivor II had been airing, but after it was done. Such was the idea before the Survivor edition of The Weakest Link.
Or, at least, that was supposed to be the idea.
There were problems. First, NBC wasn’t allowed to use Survivor’s name. So they had to call it a special celebrity edition and just showed the people without advertising where they were from. Second, CBS pulled a fast one and added the Back from the Outback show at the usual time, meaning it would overlap Weakest Link. Finally, they only included six of the former contestants and made it into a half-hour show, meaning it could easily get lost in the schedule and also meaning they would have to rush through and not include much interaction, which is most of the reason for tuning in to something like this.
In short, they screwed up.
But let’s take a look at what happened anyway. The six former contestants introduce themselves just as anybody else – with their names, ages, and pre-Survivor occupations (none said “former game show contestant,” which pretty much is an occupation for some of them now). The six are Ramona, Gretchen, Joel, Sean, Rich, and Sue. Sue appears to have lost a fight with a beautician, as her hair is sticking up all over the place in quite a ridiculous fashion (she apparently figured out that this looked idiotic, as this was taped several weeks ago and she had a new ‘do by the time she appeared on Rosie O’Donnell’s Survivor special).
And so it begins. Ramona misses the first question – a sign of things to come. Gretchen gets hers but Joel blows an easy one about Dire Straits. Then Sean misses and Rich gets his. Sue banks the $1000 but then misses her question. The round continues and Ramona ends up missing all her questions – including one about the pop group Survivor. Rich banks another $1000 and Sue banks $2000. All in all, Rich is the strongest link and Ramona the weakest.
But, that doesn’t necessarily matter when it comes to voting. Host Anne Robinson asks, “Who still has sand in their ears?” As had been leaked when the story first came out about this edition of the show, Rich was the unanimous choice (he voted for Sue). When Robinson asks Joel why he wanted to get rid of Rich, Joel responds, “Doesn’t everyone?” She moves on to Sue who says she’s tired of playing games with him. Ramona says it’s because he’s the tallest guy on the stage, and Robinson says that doesn’t cut it with her. So Ramona says it’s because he’s the gayest guy on the stage. It’s obvious that all of them are having fun with this – it’s just too bad we only get to see a fraction of it.
As he’s leaving, he tells Robinson she’s the best (yes, she is – her version of this show got picked up by NBC, the version in which he was going to host did not). Rich then tells us – in what I think was a mock egotistical way – that he was voted off first because he’s the smartest guy there. He predicts Sue will go next because her hairdo has made her stupid.
So, on we go with the next round. Everybody gets the first question directed at them and Ramona banks $10,000. Later, Joel and Sue each bank $1000. Overall, Sean is the strongest in this round, getting all three of his questions right. Joel is the weakest with only one out of three. So, Robinson asks, who’s had no immunity against stupidity? All vote for Sue – she votes for Joel.
When Robinson asks Ramona why, she quickly answers, “the hair.” Joel said he knew she’d vote for him, so this was his only chance to vote her off of something. In her final words, Sue says she was voted off because she’s second in line to be the most hated – and she sarcastically wonders why. This is what I meant earlier – they obviously were trying to have some fun, but because they compacted the game so much, we don’t really get to see any significant amount of it.
Anyway, we have to go back to the game again. Ramona gets two out of three correct and Robinson is visibly surprised that she’s doing something right. Joel gets one right about the song, “I Will Survive,” but misses one about the Greek character, Narcissus. In total they only bank $1000. Sean drops to the weakest link and Ramona is the strongest this round. Indeed, Sean gets voted off unanimously, with his vote going to Ramona.
Before asking why they voted for Sean, Robinson takes the opportunity to point out that she is shocked that Joel could be unaware of the Greek character who fell in love with his own image. Ouch! Joel says he voted for Sean because Sean blew the money (he missed exactly one opportunity to bank all of $1000). Gretchen honestly says that she didn’t want to be in the final two with him. In his parting words, Sean predicts Joel will be next when the women form an alliance.
So it goes on. They blow almost every question – it really is quite pathetic. Joel does manage to answer the question asking for the 15th letter of the alphabet, but it takes a while as he stands there and counts to himself all the way through the alphabet. Yeesh. As Robinson says at the end of the round, the brain power is astonishing. Then she wonders who is several coconuts short of a palm tree as they go for their final vote. Joel was statistically the strongest link, but he sure didn’t look that way. Ramona was back to being the weakest again.
As Sean had predicted, the women both voted for Joel, and he voted for Ramona. When Robinson asks Ramona why she voted that way, Ramona says she wanted a woman to win. Joel uses his last words to predict that Ramona will win.
So they have $18,000 so far, but the money in the final round will be quadrupled (instead of just doubled, as is usually done). Gretchen gets two of her four questions right; Ramona gets one of four, but banks $3500. This brings them to a total of $32,000 for the winner’s charity (whatever that may be – we aren’t told).
Ramona and Gretchen face off through the best of three questions. As Robinson says, this time, it is not the snake and the rat at the end. Gretchen goes first and gets a question about the boat in Gilligan’s Island, which she answers correctly. Ramona also gets hers right. But then Gretchen fouls up the next two and Ramona manages to pull off her third after missing the second. Ramona wins!
Ramona says she feels like she got some revenge – last time she was out first. Gretchen says she hates being stupid and not knowing the answer. Well, trust me, none of this group made themselves look terribly smart here, so you’re not alone by a long shot. Indeed, I would suggest that NBC and the producers of this show made themselves look the dumbest of all by the way they put this show together.
As I noted, they didn’t mention the charities anybody was playing for – not even Ramona, who won. They had time for almost no interaction, which, based on the few comments we did see, could have been amusing. I mean, let’s face it, do people really tune in to celebrity Who Wants to Be a Millionaire because they care how much money Chevy Chase will win? No – they want to see him and the others interact, have fun, and amuse the audience. We got to see virtually none of that here. Instead, they played it as if we were most concerned about the game aspect, and I really doubt most people were.
I guess it just goes to show you that simply getting a group of people together doesn’t automatically make it an interesting show. You actually need to put a little bit of thought into it as well. And it’s obvious that, in this case, the weakest link was the person who decided to stuff a one-hour show into a half-hour timeslot.
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