Mark Burnett, the king of reality TV, brings America the latest installment of his hit adventure series
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Credit: Survivor: Monty Brinton

Okay, America, get ready to meet the 16 people of ”Survivor: Africa” who will steal you hearts — not to mention your Thursday nights — over the next few months (8 p.m. on CBS, premiering Oct. 11). Of course, you should feel free to get to know only 15 of them, because in a matter of hours, one will become the lucky recipient of the Sonja Christopher We Hardly Knew Ye Award, given to that first casualty who ends up spending more time on the CBS talk show circuit than in any Mark Burnett-imposed exile. (Meet the entire cast here.)

Speaking of exile, the latest locale of choice is none other than Africa. (The savvier among you may have already picked that up from the show’s title.) More specifically, we’ll be seeing contestants braving the elements deep in Kenya’s Shabu National Reserve. But other than new faces and a new backdrop, how different will this third installment in the ”Survivor” franchise be from its predecessors?

Knowing Mark Burnett, the answer is most likely not very different at all. Burnett’s strength has always been his ability to showcase personalities and multiple storylines. He relies on easily definable types such as the evil mastermind (Richard, Jerri), sweet nubile (Colleen, Elisabeth), and old grouch (B.B., Rudy, and Africa’s Frank, who, while not all that old, did beat up a stuffed animal on his audition tape) to generate interest while deftly alternating between various plotlines. In that respect, his show is not all that different in design from… ”The Love Boat”!

Seriously, successfully interweaving stories from different camps — such as Jerri’s beef jerky beatdown of poor Kel and the finger-waving blowup between Alicia and Kimmi — is not so far removed from seeing Jimmie Walker raise a ruckus on the Aloha Deck just moments after watching the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders entertain on the Promenade. It just makes for good TV, people!

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