Here we go. It’s time for another breakdown of another Survivor season by the world’s foremost reality television expert. Since I am writing this from Canada, the cast videos are geogated so this is based solely on my read of the cast bio’s and nothing else. So I am fully prepared to be totally off, but that’s the fun of the preview articles.
Ha, ever have one of those times when alphabetical order comes back to bite you? Well, let’s just start it off with a bang. Andrea Boehlke is my favorite this season. I am not sure if she will win, but I do think she will do well in the game. She has worked on a farm meaning that she is probably stronger than her tribemates give her credit for and she is very hot. Very very hot. Ridiculously good-looking. Blonde. And hot. In a season that was clearly cast for good looks, Andrea is at the tops of the list. There is also something about her. She has an evil gleam of a true Survivor fan in her eyes and that is something that you cannot teach. I think that will play a cold and calculated game that will be fascinating to watch.
Are you sure it’s Ashley and not Amanda? I get a strong under-the-radar vibe from Ashley Underwood. She has a great background that is well-suited to the game. She competed in the Miss USA competition and also played basketball professionally. Did I mention that she’s a nurse? Clearly, she will be a people person and in a game that values social skills above everything else, Ashley will easily coast to the merge and beyond. The Miss USA thing also really sticks out to me, because I feel like Ashley might be used to competing against people and a result is already prepared for the ‘play nice, vote out later’ strategy that is critical.
Ha, this is hilarious. The first three players are all ones that I like. David is my favorite male player this season not named Boston Rob. I think he looks smart and funny and not threatening and for a lawyer, that’s pretty impressive. My first impression is that he will be a hybrid between Andrew Savage and Rob Cesternino and for someone who looks to me to be an under-the-radar leader, I am most curious to see what his dynamic with the returning Boston Rob and Russell Hantz will be. I know some people will be leery of the fact that he apparently ‘hates stupid people’ according to his bio but I think he is smart enough to know who is and isn’t intelligent and use them accordingly in his gameplan.
I loved Francesca’s answer to which Survivor she was most like. She said that she would be a combination between Cirie and Boston Rob and that makes her quite a compelling character as she clearly knows the game. Choosing Cirie and Boston Rob really drew me to Francesca because those are incredibly smart choices. Cirie might just be the greatest female player ever (next to Sandra, Parvati and Amanda) and we all know that Boston Rob is the greatest of all-time. The only question is whether Hogi will live up to the hype her bio created for herself. She also said that she was determined, opinionated and stubborn and I hope that this doesn’t rub off on her fellow tribemembers the wrong way. She could easily be the next JoAnna Ward or Linda Spencer and that wouldn’t be good.
I don’t know how I feel about Grant and I think that he is the most difficult player to watch this season. His CBS bio didn’t give away too much and I honestly can’t tell if he will be good or not. What I can analyze is based on the way the tribes are set-up, his strength will be critical on a tribe that starts with more girls than guys and for that reason alone, he should be okay through the first few tribals (unless there is an all-female alliance right off the bat).
Gone early. All the signs are there. On her CBS bio, she says that her three words to describe her are ‘hard-headed,’ ‘outspoken,’ and ‘spoiled.’ The word I would use to describe her? Gone. Not a chance. And the player she identifies with the most is Ashley Massaro from China? I like wrestling as much as the next guy but Julie Wolfe screams like an early elimination.
Southern belle. I think everyone has just written Krista off as Natalie White’s long-lost sister. Hell, Krista even makes the comparison herself but says that she will play with a little more edge. Let’s call a spade, a spade. Krista is on Redemption Island as fodder for Russell Hantz. So really, her storyline arc will be about her relationship with Russell and vice-versa. If we can sit at home a couple of days before the season starts and automatically assume that Russell will align with her since that is his normal MO, I am sure he recognizes how obvious that is as well and so I am very curious to see how he interacts with Krista. That being said, just like with all pharmaceutical reps that play the game, they are definitely suited for it. As an aside, I still adore Penny Ramsey from Survivor Thailand and I think that salespeople in general are good at this game (see Brian Heidik).
Everytime I see Kristina Kell, I think of Anna on V. I was thinking about going to the same law school that she did and for that reason, I am a little partial, plus she has a remarkable story about dealing with a special-needs child. Kristina seems motherly and patient and I think that she has the potential to not only go far, but to be an interesting player to watch.
I think that Matt will play a noble and ethical game and that will be his downfall. He seems to really value honesty and integrity, and I for one, cannot wait to see Boston Rob’s confessional interviews on this guy. For the same reasons as Grant, I think he will last only because of the uneven gender breakdown but I think that he will eventually be voted out because of his Gabriel Cade (old school reference) / Erik Reichenbach (new school reference) loyalty. That being said, he is certainly not someone I would want to face on Redemption Island.
This is the guy that the ladies will swoon over. I have already had many female Survivors ask about Mr. Chiesl and for that reason alone, he is definitely not going anywhere for awhile. I think that he will be strong and a dependable ally for some. Sort of a combination between Mick and Yul. Someone who won’t make any waves but eventually will have to go because he is too much of an individual, or… in this case, a Redemption Island physical threat. Can I just say that I love that he picked Rudy as the Survivor he is the most like.
Love Natalie. Why? She is very hot and at the end of the day and in the real world, that works. You may not want it to or, by the same token, you might not want to admit it, but it does. I mean just look at Natalie. That smile? Even as a notorious strategist myself, I would be very hard-pressed not to just smile and nod at whatever she wanted. But in the same respect, I do think that Natalie will be the one who goes along with the plan. This is a good thing. One of the major misconceptions about Survivor is that you need to constantly be in-charge, sometimes the best game plan is to just follow somebody else’s. And I think Natalie will be very successful if she can master this.
If Phillip was about 20 years younger, I would say that he has a good shot. Seems likeable and plays both sports and chess. Unfortunately, I think that he will not be able to handle the elements that well and as a result, I believe that he will be perceived as weak by the tribemembers early and won’t be able to get past it.
Ralph is the resident oddball casting choice this season. He’s the Rupert. The Jimmy T. The Na Onka. Okay, well maybe I wouldn’t go that far. I think he is just there for entertainment and while I am certain that he will provide it, it won’t be for too long.
Sarita is another player that stuck out to me. It’s clear she was a fan of Survivor China as she compared herself to Courtney (for Yates’ challenge issues) and James (for his blind loyalty), but she just seems like she is there to win. She seems very very smart, and you have to love a woman who says that she is wily and influential. Sarita is one of my early picks to win. I honestly don’t even know what it is. I just think she combines a lot of things and there is something about her that I like. I have the same feeling about Andrea.
Wow. Describing herself as the lovechild of Parvati and Russell. This serves as a major red flag to me. Why? Because I think she will play too hard, too early. Unless you are Boston Rob, you need to slide under-the-radar for the first few days until you can form an alliance you can trust. I feel like Stephanie will scramble and talk to too many people immediately. That’s really it.
It’s funny, I definitely saw a little bit of Tom Westman in Steve when I saw him and he also made the same comparison himself. That being said, I see him more as a Gary Hogeboom (as an aside, whatever happened to that guy?!). I think Steve will be liked, but he is older and I don’t think that he will be able to dominate the challenges like Tom did. Will be interesting to see how he connects with Grant though if their paths ever do cross in the game.
Bottom line? I like Andrea, Sarita, David and Ashley and Mike to a degree.
As for Boston Rob and Russell?
Boston Rob is the greatest player to ever play the game. Period. End of statement. I have gone on and on about this and this time will be no different. Despite the fact that everyone knows who he is, they will also not be able to resist his charm and I think that he will somehow figure out a way to stay just like he always does. I think that the biggest thing to note is how people will react to seeing Rob and Russell come into the game. While I feel like the newbies will be excited to have Rob on their team, they will be apprehensive about Russell. As a result, Hantz will have a tougher mountain to climb to make in-roads with his castmembers (unless they are just fans of his). Ultimately, I don’t think either can win. But we all will because we get to see the game’s greatest player play one more time. It will come down to who can adapt better and I think that’s Rob undoubtedly.
The funny thing is that it is almost like Rob and Russell knew that they would go down as the biggest feud in Survivor history when I interviewed Russell at the Survivor Samoa finale.
Murtz Jaffer is the world's foremost reality television expert and was the host of Reality Obsessed which aired on the TVTropolis and Global Reality Channels in Canada. He has professional writing experience at the Toronto Sun, National Post, TV Guide Canada, TOROMagazine.com and was a former producer at Entertainment Tonight Canada. He was also the editor at Weekendtrips.com.