A Look at the ‘Survivor: Inside the Tribe’ DVDby Jason Borelli -- 02/11/2003
You’re a Survivor fan. You’ve watched all the episodes, suffered through the reunions, posted your thoughts online, and you even bought the buffs. The first episode of The Amazon is close at hand, and you want to know everything about the sixteen men and women who are competing for one million dollars. I have one place you can go for an inside look: your local Saturn dealer.
I’m not making this up. The car company is sponsoring the series this season, and they’re giving away DVDs of Survivor: Inside the Tribe. If you’re like me, you have a crappy dial-up connection and are frustrated trying to check out audition tapes and interviews on CBS.com. With Inside the Tribe, you have interviews, the contestants’ views on food and strategy, and audition clips. You haven’t had fun until you’ve seen a middle-school principal dress up as an albino squirrel.
Seriously, if you know a Saturn dealer, go there now. I can’t see them running out of DVDs anytime soon, since they want people to try a win a Saturn Ion and a trip to the finale/reunion. If you can’t make it, then read on.
We begin with the clip from the last reunion: swooping views of the Amazon, lots of local animals (including Magilla’s distant cousins), rainforest responsible for fifteen percent of the world’s oxygen, etc. Jeff Probst narrates, speaking of the really dangerous animals, such as Cayman crocodiles, piranha, and the anaconda. “This time,” Jeff dramatizes, “the game will have a twist unlike anything you’ve ever seen.” Wonder what that could mean? The cat’s been out of the bag for months, Jeff. Blah, blah, blah, outwit, outplay, outlast. After Jeff’s spiel, a narrator pimps the sweepstakes with the Ion and the reunion.
Mark Burnett makes his only appearance. He thinks this season has an awesome group, different from past seasons. He says that he went with quirky and unusual characters. That’s probably code for “three of them will end up on The Smoking Gun.”
Alex is 32, a project manager from Los Angeles. He has some very thick eyebrows. It’s never too early to tell these people apart. He considers himself an average guy who’s really competitive and spontaneous. He sees himself as adaptable, somebody who can get along with anybody. Didn’t Robb say that last season? Alex has been sober for eleven years, having quit six days after he turned 21. He doesn’t think he’ll come across anything that can stop him. “Even when it’s bad,” he says, “Even when it’s horrible, when I’m having the worst day that I can remember, I can always think back and say, ‘Yeah, it’s not all that bad.’”
Heidi is neither a Swiss Miss nor a gold digger (like the one from Joe Millionaire). She’s 24, a physical education and health teacher from Buffalo, Mo. She’s very sweet, kind and athletic, and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She does “a million and one things at all times.” She continues: “When I don’t get all those tasks done in one day, I just lose it. It makes me feel like I’m not a competent person anymore.” Heaven help her tribe on that first day of organizing. She considers herself her own worst enemy, which is her bad side.
If you can’t pronounce Deena, it rhymes with “Xena.” Actually, she looks like Kevin Sorbo’s bigger sister. She’s 35, a deputy district attorney from Riverside, California. According to Deena, people say she’s “balls to the wall, very emotional, high-strung, out there, 120 miles per hour with my panties on fire.” People say that in one breath, Deena? Her father was a LAPD officer for 31 years, and her grandfather was in the Marine Corps for 31 years. She has mental toughness that comes with her job, and there’s not any situation she’s not prepared to handle.
Ryan is 23, a model from Ellicot City, Md. He considers himself unique, able to get along with anybody. Not only does he use something Robb said, he kind of looks like him, too. Ryan vows to be “more of a listener than a talker,” and he knows that the loud and abrasive are sent off early.
Ladies and gentleman, the token Rob for this season. This one is 24, a project coordinator from Wantagh, NY. He’s sitting in a hammock, which doesn’t flatter him at all. People think he can be crazy and a real jerk, and he has to be funny if people didn’t like him otherwise. I’m hoping he isn’t another Gary from The Amazing Race. I don’t think I could handle that much unfunny. His tastes in humor vary from highbrow to lowbrow. Be careful, Rob. Remember what happened to John “Pastor Shecky” Raymond when he joked about the water supply?
Jeanne is 40, a mother of three kids, and a director of marketing from North Addleboro, Mass. She loves adventure, and she’s in the prime of her life. “I just don’t sit around,” she notes. “I go after things.” Her family doesn’t know she’s in the Amazon, but she hopes they’ll think she’s cool.
Dave is 23, a rocket scientist from Pasadena. “The chicks dig me because I’m a rocket scientist,” he laughs. According to Dave, people hang out with him because he’s very spontaneous. He isn’t here for the audience or fame, but for the adventure. “This is about as good as it gets,” he adds.
Janet, 46, hails from Manchester, Mo. She has been married for 23 years and has two teenaged daughters. Among the titles she has are homemaker, registered nurse, travel agent, and motivational speaking. She also does volunteer work at church and school. Janet thinks she has a typical life, nothing unusual about her except that she’s on the show. She also likes the drama, and can play a part in it.
Butch, 50, is a middle school principal from Olney, Ill. He says that he can take the good with the bad; as a high school basketball coach, he learned not to get high on wins or low on losses. He started playing Survivor three months ago, preparing physically and mentally. He adds, “I covered every possible scenario there could possibly be in this game.” Great, now Burnett will throw in a twist just to get rid of him. Butch loves the challenge of the unknown, and the pressure brings out the best in a person.
Straight out of Tough Enough comes Daniel, who is 26, a tax accountant from Houston. Wrestling fans will have to fast-forward to the audition segment to see what the WWE missed out on. Daniel considers himself very driven, and nothing can stop him when he wants something. At 14, he was 4’10” and weighed 98 lbs, and he changed that, even as he was told Chinese people do not get big. Daniel had difficulty growing up as an Asian, as people saw him as an outsider. As a result, he learned to adapt and blend in.
Shawna is the winner of the 2003 Colleen Haskell lookalike contest. She’s 23, an outdoor sales associate from San Francisco. For her, mental and physical health is her primary concerns in life. She feels that she’ll be a worker bee, unafraid of getting her hands dirty. Shawna is also looking forward to forming personal alliances rather than strategic, and she can’t take the game personally.
Vying with Shawna and Heidi for the role of “Survivor Sweetheart” is Jenna, a swimsuit model from Pittsburgh. She sees herself as a fun person, and will tell the truth whether people like it or not. She sees her youth as a strength, even if some think of her as an “immature kid.” Jenna hopes she can appeal to younger viewers, and she thinks she’ll get male viewers. After that pictorial in Stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised. But she doesn’t care, since modeling is her job, and she’s ready for that kind of exposure.
This season’s senior representative is Roger, 56, a vice president of a construction company from Valencia, Cali. He has seen the show and has been disappointed in the performances of the old guys, expect for Rudy, who he calls “absolutely perfect.” Come on, they’ve all made it past the merge! “Since then, and even on that show,” he goes on, “the guys they’ve had are just a bunch of wusses.” I see ugliness at the reunion. Roger has a lot of experience with physical stuff, and he’s willing to prove something to himself.
Christy is 24, her last occupation was as a children’s outdoor adventure guide. She was born deaf, having to deal with challenges every day. Her strong point for survival is being very positive and not giving up. Christy feels she’s good with people. “If my team accepts me,” she says (and signs), “Then I’ll go all the way.”
Matthew was born on a farm, went to school in Paris, and spent six years in Asia. In his mind, that was what got him on Survivor. “Those guys took the bait,” he says, “I set the hook, and here I am.” His philosophy is that life is like a sponge and you have to soak up as much as you can. When he heard about a show that would “finance [his] next jungle adventure,” he had to go. He thinks he’ll be an actor, maintaining a sense of morality, which he feels is important to gain the trust of others in the beginning.
According to JoAnna, scarcity of food and lack of shelter are not that big of a deal. “It’s an environment which I grew up in,” she says. “I’ve been a survivor all my life. I’m just thankful you guys created this show.” She believes that God will be with her, and give her protection. All the Vecepia-bashers start cracking their knuckles in response.
Commercial. Yeah, this DVD is from Saturn, so there’s a commercial for the Satrun Ion, which you’ve been a few dozen times already. Afterwards, there are glimpses of future ads from the car company.
Title card: “Survivor Strategy.” Deena: “Goal number one: don’t piss people off in the beginning. Play well with others. Play nice.” After the Colleen-esque sentiment, we get Shawna, who knows she’s young and can’t see a 46-year-old man look to her as a leader. Alex notes there’s no right way to play the game.
Cut to a rather unattractive contestant who’s wearing a bandana that does not flatter him as all. Wait… that’s Jeff Probst? Really? I guess the camera only loves him from a distance. Anyway, Jeff believes that some people are better suited for the game because they have no morals or ethics. Daniel will backstab and lie, but doesn’t say anything about steel chairs or two-by-fours. Matthew thinks he can be slippery and “eely.” Jeff comes back, noting that others can’t think of anything but helping others. Heidi thinks she’s a good person. Shawna has an amiable disposition and people would want her around. Jeff stops by to say that some of the women will be great at manipulating their tribe, and some of the guys can’t wait to be like that. Jenna says she’s well versed in being cutthroat from pageants and swimsuit competitions. Matthew sees himself ranging from being naďve to leading his tribe. Jeff talks about how people who watch the show could write textbooks on what to do. Jeanne feels she has to sit back and not be a leader right away. Roger’s biggest problem is that he can’t sit back in any situation.
“Surviving The Food.” Jeff: “The food pickin’s are really slim.” Janet doesn’t think the lack of food will bother her. Daniel plans on withering away gracefully. Jeanne doesn’t have a high metabolism, and she thinks she can go long periods without food. In her last appearance, Joanna says she has to adapt, like the people who live in the Amazon. Roger doesn’t think 39 days will tax him.
“Who Will Be The Sole Survivor?” Matthew can taste victory. Jeanne thinks her odds are as good as anybody else. Alex just wants to enjoy the adventure. Rob: “What I’m gonna do if I win the million dollars is hang out with a lot of hot girls.” Well, the boy is honest. Dave thinks he’s the perfect contestant, since he has a logical and rational thought process. Christy hopes she can get as far as she can and not give up. Jeanne thinks nobody is better than her. Matthew: “You might as well hand the check over right now, because I’ve already beaten these guys.” I think the celebration of Matthew’s ouster will rival that of Jerri. I could be wrong.
Another Saturn tie-in: log on to CBS.com and enter the password to qualify for the Ion and the reunion trip.
Now for the montage we’ve been waiting for: “Survivor Audition Tapes.” I’m still bitter about not seeing Shii Ann’s tape in its entirety, so I’m happy to see this segment. Ryan pays tribute to Coolio’s video for “Fantastic Voyage,” hopping out of a car trunk as he introduces himself. Jenna peers behind some plants before pouncing on a sandwich, thus proving her hunting skills. She also simulates the passage of the game by wearing less and less clothing. Janet busts out some kung fu moves. For some reason, I think of Edie McClurg. Butch dresses up as an albino squirrel, running around like a lunatic before he meets a cop. When asked how his wife and kids feel about him doing this, he replies, “After all these years, they’re used to it.” Butch is then handcuffed. I recently read about how my high school principal is universally despised these days, so impersonating a squirrel isn’t that big a deal.
Daniel, the aspiring wrestler, talks trash with a Survivor: Africa buff over his face. He calls himself “The Survivor Monster.” It beats “The Miz,” I’ll say that much. Christy talks about being a positive role model, building a bridge between the hearing and deaf communities. Roger is bare-chested, lifting weights. One guy (Dave?) gets several shots, including one of him skiing. Heidi sits on a revved motorcycle, telling us that she is “getting ready to ride my way to your heart and through the competition.” Rob fills out an application while he does his own voiceover. Matthew shows off an issue of People, where he was one of the top 50 most eligible bachelors. I can hazard a few guesses on why he’s still single.
Deena’s audition tape is my favorite. She rides a stick with a horse’s head alongside her son, Zachary, somewhere in the country. She spots a stuffed alligator, and wrestles it, letting Zachary beat it with his toy gun. She explains why she wants to be on the show: “For the fame? For the fortune? No! Because Mommy needs a weight-loss program!” Ryan (I think) stands next to a port-o-john, telling us the woods suit him just fine. Alex talks about himself as he walks to work, taking the time to take off his shirt in the process. Jeanne writes on her stomach, “Mean Jeanne the Survivor Machine!” Daniel, still wearing the buff-mask, turns around to reveal “[Picture of his face] = Ratings.” Jenna ends the segment: “Nobody looks better in a bathing suit than me.” She then engages in some tush-wiggling.
After another Ion commercial, the DVD ends. Once again, check your local Saturn dealer to see if they have Survivor: Inside the Tribe in stock.
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