We've got the first few minutes from the season premiere — and there are some fun flourishes along the way.
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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

During Survivor's extended absence in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19, Jeff Probst reached out to fellow TV producer and former contestant Mike White to tell him what he was planning for the then upcoming season 41. "When I finished the pitch, I asked him what he thought," Probst recalled to EW last year. "He paused for a moment and said 'Well… it sounds… in-ter-est-ing. But is it fun?'" 

As Probst explained, "That became the driving creative focus on Survivor 41. Every time I would talk with [executive producer Matt Van Wagenen], one of us would ask the other… 'Is it fun?'" That fun materialized in forms such as the goofy secret phrases involving broccoli, butterflies, and goats that players had to recite to get a hidden immunity idol.

A year later, producers are still having fun, and we have our first evidence of that in this exclusive sneak peek of the first few minutes of the Survivor 43 premiere, which airs Sept. 21 on CBS. Watch the start of the season in the video player at the top of this post and you will see plenty.

Survivor 43
Morriah Young on 'Survivor 43'
| Credit: CBS

You'll meet some of the contestants, including Ryan (who was born three months early with a mild form of cerebral palsy), and Noelle (who lost her leg above the knee in a moped accident and went on to become a Paralympian who holds the U.S. record in the 100 meters), and Morriah (who has to be the first contestant in reality TV to say she IS there to make friends).

You'll also see lots of dramatic footage of boats speeding the players to their island adventure while they stare pensively off into the distance. And you'll see the greatest host in all of reality television, Jeffrey Probst, proclaim "Who will have what it takes to outwit, outplay, and outlast all the rest? This is Survivor 43!"

All that traditional Survivor opening footage you want and crave to get you jacked up for the new season is there for the having. But there is also something else. Some playfulness we're not used to being served up so early on the menu.

Survivor 43
Jeff Probst on 'Survivor 43'
| Credit: CBS

The first flourish occurs as Sami is introducing himself to America. "Being 19 and as young as I am, I am way more than just my age," he explains. "I am actually attending Brigham Young University right now, so I'm like a student, pet cremator, business owner hybrid. I'm all these things. Like, look at me." Okay, pretty standard quote. But as Sami is relaying all his different roles, producers start adding occupations to his chyron graphic at the bottom of the screen — going from "Student" to "Student/Pet Cremator" to then running out of space and adding "Business Owner Hybrid" diagonally on the side. It's a fun little touch for a show that often takes itself very seriously. But that's not all.

In another form-breaking moment, Owen talks about living his dream by playing the game he loves. "I want this so bad, he says. "I used to daydream about seeing my name up in the opening credits." And with that, producers slyly give him an old-school Survivor mini-credit sequence complete with the dramatic slow-motion footage and name on the screen, just like they used to do in the opening title sequences of yesteryear.

Survivor 43
'Survivor 43' cast members
| Credit: CBS

What makes that brief moment even more remarkable is that Survivor has eschewed the opening player credits for years now (along with other segments such as the "Previously on…) in favor of using that time to show more actual game footage. The fact that producers can have fun with Owen's comment in an era in which they don't even air traditional opening titles proves they can knowingly wink at both viewers and themselves in this new era of the show and the game.

For the contestants, a lot of that fun will end once the starving and freezing and backstabbing begins, but it will be interesting to see how many production flourishes are employed throughout the game. Your first taste awaits you in the video of Survivor 43's first four minutes above.

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Episode Recaps

SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols
Survivor

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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  • 41
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