Thursday, September 27, 2012

Quick programming note

The Survivor: Philippines Power Rankings and weekly thoughts post(s) will be coming later today. Thanks for the comments on last week's posts, and comeback later on for this week's posts!

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Survivor: Philippines Episode 1 Power Rankings

I'm going to take a different approach for this week's rankings - I'm just going to group people into categories. It's difficult to put people ahead of each other after one week, so separating them into the groups based on their chances for winning. The exception is my prediction for who's going to win, which did not change from before the game began.

No Chance:  Lisa, Jeff

I've put the two celebrities here because they have very little chance going in, and after the first episode they are in more trouble than they entered.  Both played down their past, not sharing it with anybody willingly. Skupin confronted Lisa with it and tried to help her use it as a way to integrate herself with rest of the tribe, while Sarah Dawson acknowledged she knew that Jeff Kent was Jeff Kent: Baseball Player and not Jeff Kent: Motorcycle Salesman Who Owns a Ranch.

But their celebrity isn't really the issue; their game is. As mentioned above, Lisa is on the outs of her tribe. She isn't doing a good job of making connections with them, and is choosing to spend more of her time alone.  That's fine if you are a regular introvert, but in Survivor, especially the early days, that is a horrendous game plan. The early going is when you build the connections that can turn into a rock solid alliance. It's also when you can build the connections to not be the easy person to vote out. Realistically, Lisa has an unfair disadvantage in that she is the older woman who is probably the biggest physical liability.  She has to make extra hard to stay in the game. Instead, she seems to be forgetting that Survivor is as much a social game as it is anything else.  Barring her coming up with a better approach, she will be the first one voted out from her tribe.

Jeff is a different situation. He is in with his tribe, and has targetted Penner initially. His tribe is down with that, so that's not a problem. What is the problem is the way he tried to hide his being a baseball player. He didn't want people to think he was rich, so he told them that he had a ranch and sold motorcycles for a living. Now, I'm not that good with math, but if you have enough money to own a ranch and you sell motorcylces for a living, I'm guessing that you own a motorcycle dealership and you have more than enough money. So in trying to avoid the "I have too much money to deserve to win" situation, he...walked into the "I have too much money to deserve to win" situation. As well, he's going to run into a problem should he have to reveal that he did play baseball. That is going to cut into the trust he has built with his tribe. As well, he seems to have hurt his knee, though that didn't necessarily prevent him from doing well at the first challenge.

Not much of a chance to win: Angie, Abi-Maria

Angie is a little too mouthy to others about people she doesn't like, and she doesn't take orders well. I can see her crossing the wrong person or saying the wrong thing and then getting voted out.

Abi-Maria is an interesting case: she doesn't seem to have the awareness of how to play Survivor and she seems like she wants to use her looks to get ahead in the game. That's great and all, but unless you are Parvati, it's not going to be a successful one. We've seen the flirty girl many times, and each time it's gone poorly. Combine that with a lack of understanding of the game itself and you have a recipe of failure.

The returning players: Russell, Penner

Both seem to be the target of their tribes and they have that "returning player" cloud hovering overhead. Unless they can turn things around quickly, they are likely to not have a long life on Survivor.

Okay Chance to Win: Skupin, Dana, RC, Katie, Denise, Roxanne, Artis

These players get lumped here beause they really didn't show too much in their profile and in this episode.  RC did create a quick alliance with Skupin, Abi-Maria and Pete, but that's about it. Otherwise there wasn't too much to go with here.

Skupin doesn't get lumped in with the other returning players because he managed to fall into an alliance, and his tribe doesn't seem to want to get rid of him. He did seem to do a better job in integrating himself and he took on the leadership role with ease. His

Good Chance to Win: Pete, Carter

Admittedly, this is based more on the profiles than anything else, but both seem to be aware of the game, and as importantly both seem to be aware of who they are and their limitations.  They seem personable and athletic, and that is always a good combination for Survivor.

Very Good Chance to Win: Sarah Dawson

Sarah Dawson might be the player that John Cochrane wanted to be - a super fan who makes great gameplay moves to help her along. She doesn't seem as awestruck about the presence of returning players, nor does she seem awestruck by Jeff Kent. She seems to know that you don't have to play right out of the gates; you can let the game come to you a bit. It will be interesting to see what she does with the Jeff Kent information. Will she use it when she is threatened in the game, or will she use it when Jeff is threatened in the game?

(Also, she has determined the best way of getting Jeff Probst to call you by your last name - simply go by your last name.)

The Favourite Malcolm

I don't think that Malcolm is playing a flawless game; he seems to be obsessed with getting rid of Russell Swan, and then possibly taking over the leadership role. But he is also thinking about the long game, and chose to keep Russell over the player that game up, which is a good thing. If he can keep his alliance with Denise in good shape, and if he proves to be a better challenge player than he showed this week, he is the best bet to win the game.

Eliminated: Zane

If you were to write the rules of most reality competitions, one of the big ones would be to never offer yourself up to get eliminated in whatever way that would happen. On some shows, it isn't as bad, as there is some sort of competition to determine who is eliminated. In Survivor, offering yourself to be voted out can be deadly, as Zane proved. It is difficult to play the "keep me if you really want to but I don't think I should be here or can give my all" at the best of times. To do it at the very beginning of the game is the ultimate in stupidity. Your tribe is deflated, and they have to compete together for who know how long. They don't want to carry dead weight with them. They want to keep their strength around so they don't have to go back to tribal council.

Ultimately, Zane was a victim of trying to play the game way too fast. You don't have to make these bizarre plays this early in the game, especially when there is somebody that everybody else wants to get rid of. Just keep it simple, and take the clear path to staying in the game.  Also, don't make an alliance with all of the girls, then go to the guys and say "Wanna be in an alliance? All the girls already think I'm in an alliance with them." That just sows seeds of distrust. The game isn't a sprint; there's no need to be Mr. Big Move on day 2.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Survivor: Philippines Episode 1 Live Thoughts

Hey, guess who's back? Yup, Survivor returns and so do I. These thoughts were taken as the show went on, and are presented as is. I should be back tomorrow with an initial power rankings/first thoughts on the players.

- Side benefit of Skupin reappearing is they get to use more Elizabeth Hasselback footage.
- Possibly the best first appearance of Jeff Probst
- Way to call out Jeff Kent immediately
- There is no chance I am going to remember the tribe names. So Yellow (Skupin), Red (Penner) and Purple (Swan)
- Skupin grew up watching the Facts of Life. That's something I didn't expect
- Awesome, they're doing the get your supplies in 60 seconds and then get on the raft thing.
- Did they get any machetes?
- Jeff Kent loses everyting, but they recover well.
- And then Jeff Kent gets hurt. Awesome

- Swan isn't going to take the leadership role, and then immediately says "Let's get our stuff and get it going"
- Swan's plan is to throw the leadership role at the person who doesn't expect it but wants to step up. Okay, but then he's showing somebody how to make shelter, like a good leader. Is the somebody he's talking about himself?
- And there's the poster child (Angie)
- Wait, Malcolm lived in Micronesia?
- And he started a fire without a flint?
- I mean what?
- No really, what?
- And now Malcolm is happy to make Russel the leader.
- Back to Red, and Jeff Kent is still hurt
- But Penner is looking at this as a job
- Oh god Jeff Kent is giving Penner the Barry Bonds treatment, and they're going to boot him.
- Skupin has the awareness that he's
- So we have 3 people who are lying about who they are - Jeff Kent, Lisa and RC
- Alliance talk between Abi and RC is too forced and quick. This is going to fail
- OMG Abi is going tot ry to play the Parvati role this year. That's going to fail
- And Skupin falls into a decent 4 person alliance.
- He does note that ehis alliance mates are moving fast

- Dana is a southern punk rock person. Interesting.
- As is her desire to work with Jeff Kent.
- Jeff's plan to not reveal his being a former baseball player with a tonne of money is to instead claim that he has a ranch in San Antonio? Um...
- My girl Sarah Dawson knows who Jeff Kent is. And she's planning on using the information strategically. Well done.
- His actual backstory is that he rides motocross for fun, but sells motorcycles? And he owns a ranch? I mean, come on.
- Oh no Lisa is going to do the opposite of playing cutthroat and is going to try to get to know everybody on a personal level.
- And she starts with her Ministry for Moms job. I don't think that RC and Abi is the right audience.
- And Lisa is isolating herself even further.
- Skupin hasn't lost his awareness for the game. That is going to be
- Denise picking up on Zane's tattoos and backstory is something I didn't expect.
- Then Roxanne picking up on Zane making alliances with every person in the game is just as interesting.
- Zane then bringing in the guys by saying that he has an alliance with everybody else, which sets Malcolm's radar. Malcolm is going to be interesting.
- Malcolm has too much of a hard-on to get rid of Russell swan. It's kinda like Ralph and the other Russell from Redemption Island, and it's probably going to bite him in the ass.

- Skupin is stepping up as leader.
- But what the hell, would you stop getting hurt Skupin?
- And there's Pete with our first joke about somebody's accident in their last appearance which severely hurt them. Yay.
- The Red tribe is going after Penner, who is looking for the immunity idol.
- He gets a clue about it being under his nose, which is obviously the giant symbol thing on the box that the rice came in, but he doesn't put 2 and 2 together.
- And then Russell flukes into the same idol clue.
- Which gets him into trouble with Zane (who caught him looking at the clue). But Zane has his own trust issues with the rest of the tribe, and he seems to think that Russell already has the idol. That could be a problem.

- Wait, they got war paint but we weren't told? Why not?
- The immunity idol is a chicken.
- Make that immunity idols.
- The non-leader Russell Swan steps up to tell his team to calm down.
- And then he stops any dissentors from talking bad about his plan for the immunity challenge (at least until he explains it completely.)
- Is Zane supposed to be the Joker or Abe "Knuckleball" Schwartz?
- Zane did not help his cause with his performance there
- What does Malcolm have on his torso that has to be blurred?
- Probst was so happy to announce that Skupin was so far in the lead.
- What the hell happened with Malcolm and Denise that they were overtaken by the far behind red tribe?
- The best part of having three tribes is how much more emphasis and pressure Jeff can put on the tribes.
- Shockingly, Purple is
- "I told you, I'm not good at puzzles," really doesn't address the part where you guys were in last before even starting your puzzle.
- Then Non-Leader Russell steps up to admit that he bears some responsibility for choosing the pairings.
- Russell: "We just have to click the next time. And that's the beauty Jeff, there's always a next time"
  Jeff: "There's a next time for 5 of you." <- That's why Jeff Probst is awesome.
- Malcom puts the blame on Russell for not listening to anybody, but who was the one who took a huge lead into the water before getting overtaken?

- Non-Leader Russell gives a pep talk to his tribe that doesn't believe in him...
- Zane all of the sudden interrupts Russell and proceeds to throw himself under the bus. Interesting. He talks about how Russell had to literally pull him along and that he didn't deserve to be there.
- Russell is pleased by this
- Zane, OTOH, explains to us that this is his plan. He's going to act weak so that his tribe will want to carry him along as a liability instead of a strong player. Which would be smart if we were close to a merge or something. But after the FIRST CHALLENGE?
- This plan is Luwan-esque.
- "I'm playing chess the best way I know how, and hopefully, I'm gonna king me." How was that not the title of the show?
- What is with people from Danville, Virginia wanting to get voted out in the first tribal council?
- Non-Leader Russell tells Angie and Roxanne that it looks like Zane is the vote. Which is cool. He then continues to talk.  Which isn't.
- "All I have to say is Welcom to Survivor, dig deep, you guys got it in you." I mean, that's what a non-leader would say.
- Angie now lambasting the Non-Leader for trying to lead while saying he's not a leader, and then not leading very well.
- (BTW, I am going to drive this Non-Leader joke into the ground, if I haven't already. Be forewarned.)
- The cameraman does a pretty good job of making sure that we notice Angie's bum.
- Okay Angie, you told him that you weren't good at puzzles. You were also working from behind. You'd need to be Boston Rob to have come back from that deficit.
- And now Angie confronts Zane about giving up, which he claims he isn't doing. Um, saying you deserve to be voted out is giving up.
- Angie comes back with the big revelation that she and Roxanne wanted to run but he ran instead. Here's the thing, Russell and Zane got the oars to Malcolm and Denise in pretty reasonable time. Then that lead was decimated by Malcolm and Denise's inability to row. Unless you want to blame Russell for putting them on rowing and swimming, this wasn't his fault or Zane's fault. But the real culprits skate away without even a hint of getting voted out. Ridiculous.
- "You aren't going home, because we need you. We need some laughter." You also need to actually win a challenge, which seems less likely with Zane.
- "You ain't never seen a move like this in Survivor history." Well, that's true in a sense. I mean, Richard Hatch threw a challenge because he knew that he would make the final 2 either way, but he didn't ask for either person to vote him out.
- Malcolm asks Zane if he really wants to go, and that he would prefer Zane to stay. Zane interprets this to mean that Russell is gone unless he has an idol. I interpret it to mean that Malcolm would like Zane to commit to actually playing the game and not whining about it being hard but him not giving up but he deserves to be voted out.
- Zane then offers up that Russell has an idol. Malcolm immediately interprets that as being sketchy (going back to the trust issue that Zane created earlier.)
- What is with the theory that Zane, Malcolm and Denise seem to have that since Russell has an immunity idol, this gives Zane a chance to stay because they will vote Russell out. Isn't that the point of a hidden immunity idol?
- Both Denise and Malcolm touch on Zane's weakness in the challenge and how that doesn't help things.
- Russell at least realizes that his Non-Leader act wasn't very Non-Leader like.
- "You never know with this game. I mean, these people could vote me out tonight." Not the best of quotes for you Russell.
- Holy crap a cobra at Tribal Council.
- Denise praises Russell's knowledge as helpful, but derides his return as ruining the purity of the game.
- This turned into a big "Russell is a dictator, but is going to change his ways" discussion. That's not good for Russell.
- But of course Zane brings up that he volunteered to get voted out, and that might help Russell wiggle off the hook.
- The votes are in and Zane reacts in shock when his name comes up a third time.
- And sure enough, Zane gets voted out.

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