On ''Survivor: Fiji,'' the new class-struggle set up is failing to add any excitement

By Dalton Ross
Updated February 18, 2007 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Survivor Fiji: Monty Brinton
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”Survivor”: No more drama

”Not much to say.” — Jeff Probst at tribal council

You know what, Jeff? I kinda feel the same way. If you look at the Survivor: Fiji lineup card, you see a cast of pretty colorful characters. There’s Rocky, who is a walking, talking cartoon. There is Boo, who will no doubt impale himself on the immunity idol in the next few weeks at the rate he’s going. There’s badass Earl, who is off killing snakes and then proclaiming, ”Snakes are misunderstood, We have an understanding now.” There’s the oldest player, Yau-Man, who told us of his plan to find out whether Sylvia had the hidden immunity idol: ”When I’m hugging her, I’m gonna feel her up.” And there is Dreamz. All you need to know about him is that his name is Dreamz.

So, what I’m saying is, castingwise, Survivor: Fiji looks pretty solid. But good Lord, when is something gonna happen? The premiere was pretty slow, but premieres can be that way when you’re still trying to get your bearings and keep track of everyone. But episode 2 was even less eventful. The big twist revolves around one tribe maxing and relaxing in the lap of luxury while the other one suffers with nothing. Suffering is cool. I dig suffering. But if I wanted to see people chillin’ on couches, passing gas, and complaining about how full they are, I’d watch those losers on Big Brother, thank you very much. (And yes, I do watch those losers on Big Brother.) Dramatically, this have/have-nots thing has done nothing for me yet.

At least we have Boo, who sensed the show was becoming a snoozefest and attempted to liven things up by maiming himself. (Maybe the producers should stop giving the contestants machetes: First Bruce gets hit in the face on Exile Island, and now Boo practically cuts his finger off.) But Boo didn’t stop with chopping himself to bits. He also jabbed his eye and fell out of a hammock. This basically constituted anything and everything worth watching from the Moto tribe. Honestly, I don’t think I could pick three-fourths of the Moto members from a lineup at this point. Maybe I would have felt differently about Dreamz telling us the story of his mom being a ”crackhead” had there not been touchy-feely music underneath his words telling me exactly how I was supposed to feel. (I’ll see your manipulation, Mr. Burnett, and raise you with a healthy dose of jaded skepticism! I like Dreamz enough as it is; you don’t have to force-feed me the sob story.)

At least there is a little more going on over at Ravu. Yau-Man proved to be perhaps the least sneaky Survivor player in history. I applaud the effort in his attempt to peek into Sylvia’s bag to see if she found the hidden immunity idol, but dude, could you be any less subtle? The woman is not three seconds off the boat and you’re blatantly purse-snatching right in front of everyone. Take a chill pill.

Even the challenge this week bored me. Paddle out, pick up some crates, put something together — been there, done that…about 312 times. It’s not a horrible challenge, but if you are gonna skip the reward competition and have only one head-on encounter in an episode, it should be a little bigger and bolder than this. Yes, watching Erica freak out about two poles fitting together was amusing — especially because she was wrong — but I still didn’t feel invested in this contest at all. (Although I did find myself getting annoyed watching Ravu constantly waste time by looking over to see if Moto was ahead of them.)

I will tell you one interesting thing I saw in this episode: watching the exact genesis of a shifting majority vote. Sylvia was a goner. And then Mookie made a casual comment to Rocky about how much Erica was freaking out during the challenge. This one little nugget then swept though the tribe like a virus, with everyone — except Sylvia, of course — initially registering unease with the move but eventually going along with it out of fear of upsetting the majority. I found myself screaming at the television set, ”There is no majority! Two guys were talking on the beach. There are six others of you there! Don’t be so spineless! Do something!” Ultimately, Anthony was the only one who didn’t follow the pack mentality, and it shows you just how afraid people are of making waves early in the game — keep your head down and your mouth shut and hope you don’t get noticed. Pretty interesting stuff, but if Survivor: Fiji doesn’t pick up soon, it won’t get noticed much either.

What do you think? How can they add some excitement to this season? Was Erica the right one to go? And would you kill those poisonous snakes?

Survivor: Fiji

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