Thailand" is upon us, and I'm already
in the groove. Ever since those alluring
tribal horns, drums and chants sounded for
the first time, introducing us to what would
become a "Survivor" world, I've
been hooked. While some fans have come and
gone, I'm a die-hard. I'll keep watching
until the franchise dies. I drink in every
scene, study each face and bio, read most
of the boards and often find myself lost
in an "all-things Survivor" daydream.
would probably say it's a nightmare.) With
the exception of "The Amazing Race,"
no other so-called reality show has even
the slightest hold on me. (I got hooked
on "American Idol"
this summer, but mainly for the true talent
of Kelly Clarkson, Tamyra Gray and Justin
Guarini.) "Survivor" is already
among my all-time favorite television shows,
putting it on par with the likes of "Seinfeld,""St.
Elsewhere,""The Carol Burnett
Show,""I Love Lucy,""Twin
(yes, I admit it) "Star Search."
(That eclectic mix reveals a little about
my personality, I suppose.)
When it comes to "Survivor,"I
vigorously disagree with naysayers who say
it's all fake, it's lost its edge and its
contestants are always the same. What continues
to appeal most to me about it is that these
are real people doing real things. Yes,
Mark Burnett's editing serves to weave a
drama, but he uses the very real actions,
comments and personalities of the players
to accomplish it. (Remember, it was Vecepia
Towery who told the camera a couple of times
last season that she wanted to avoid the
drama instigated by her fellow tribe mates
Sean Rector and Rob Mariano.) She went on
to win the whole thing in quite a dramatic
fashion. I love that kind of story-telling.
I love getting to know these people. I love
that I could one day be a contestant and
win. That's how real it is to me.
record in picking "Survivor" winners
is a mixed bag. Going into the first year,
none of us knew anything about how the game
was played, so it was pretty much a blind
pre-season pick based solely on bio that
prompted me to select Gretchen Cordy to
win it all. I was as shocked as she was
when she got the boot just after the merge,
but in retrospect, it was quite a strategic
move at the hands of eventual winner Richard
that first season, we started an office
pool among several copy editors at the newspaper
where I work. Each of us picks a pre-season
winner and a dark horse from each tribe,
and then each week we pick who we think
will get booted. I won "Survivor Australia"
by picking Tina Wesson as my dark horse
winner. (Of course, my pick for outright
winner from her tribe was Kel Gleason, but
all my fellow poolmates went down on that
one, too.) My other picks that year were
Rodger Bingham and Nick Brown. For "Survivor
Africa," I won our pool again. None
of us picked Ethan Zohn to win, but I had
picked Kim Johnson, who as runner-up, was
the last standing among our pool selections.
My other picks that season were Clarence
Black, Linda Spencer and Silas Gaither,
none of which made the merge. I fared poorly
in "Survivor Marquesas." The best
I could do was Rector's fifth-place finish,
while one of my co-workers apparently saw
the sly in Towery and correctly picked her
to win. My other picks were Sarah Jones
(what was I thinking?), Tammy Leitner and
Episode 1 of "Survivor Thailand"
aired, I was ready with my research. I have
my eye on four members of Chuay Gahn. My
pick for outright winner there is Jan Gentry.
Don¹t be fooled by those pigtails and
her own weepy confession that she's not
a leader. There are many ways to lead, and
somehow I think her style will endear her
to her tribemates. My dark horse there is
Brian Heidik, who I see as a behind-the-scenes
schemer. Other Chuay Gahners who I initially
thought would do well are Ted Rogers Jr.
and Helen Glover, although I'm not as confident
of Glover's chances after Thursday's opening
show. Clearly, she wasn't included in the
tribe's block vote to boot John Raymond.
My selections from Sook Jai are Jake Billingsley
and Ken Stafford. Who did I pick to be the
first to go? I had my eyes on Ghandia Johnson
or Robb Zbacnik for that honor, but I also
figured Raymond wouldn't be far behind.
I still think the days are numbered for
Johnson and Zbacnik. I'm also thinking Tanya
Vance and Shii Ann Huang won't make the
merge. Stephanie Dill strikes me as the
Gretchen Cordy of this cast, making her
a prime candidate to be booted first after
the horns, bang the drums, bellow the chants.
Another "Survivor" is off to a
good start. And I'll be watching.
free to send comments or thoughts to me