Monday, December 17, 2012

Ranking the Survivor Seasons (Updated: December 2012)

Here's my rankings of Survivor Seasons.

I still have to rewatch a lot of these seasons, so there is a chance that these will change completely at some point. But for now, they are as they are.

(At the suggestion of a reader of a previous post, the format of this post is to put a non-spoiler summary at the beginning, with no details as to what happened in each season. Then I will have a detailed listing that will have spoilers in it.)

Ranking summary:

1. Survivor: Borneo (Season 1)
2. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Season 20)
3. Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites (Season 16)
4. Survivor: Phillipines (Season 25)
5. Survivor: Pearl Islands (Season 7)
6. Survivor: Samoa (Season 19)
7. Survivor: Amazon (Season 6)
8. Survivor: Palau (Season 10)
9. Survivor: China (Season 15)
10. Survivor: Australian Outback (Season 2)
11. Survivor: Cook Islands (Season 13)
12. Survivor: Tocantins (Season 18)
13. Survivor: Africa (Season 3)
14. Survivor: Redemption Island (Season 22)
15. Survivor: One World (Season 24)
16. Survivor: Panama (Season 12)
17. Survivor: Fiji (Season 14)
18. Survivor: Guatemala (Season 11)
19. Survivor: Vanuatu (Season 9)
20. Survivor: South Pacific (Season 23)
21. Survivor: All-Stars (Season 8)
22. Survivor: Marquesas (Season 4)
23. Survivor: Gabon (Seaon 17)
24. Survivor: Nicaragua (Season 21)
25. Survivor: Thailand (Season 5)


1. Survivor: Borneo (Winner: Richard Hatch)

The original can never be duplicated.

2. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)

In this case, familiarity helps. Knowing each of the players going in and how they were likely to play set some expectations. The season lived up to it and more. The casting of players and characters was fantastic. The winner was a bit disappointing, but the lead to the final tribal was great.

3. Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites (Winner: Parvati Shallow)

A lot of blind sides, the single stupidest move in Survivor history and some interesting characters introdued. Awesome season. Though I'm a bit frightened at the similiarities between this and the Ruins III.

4. Survivor: Philippines (Winner: Denise Stapley)

An epic couple of tribal councils post merge bridges us between the most inept tribe ever, one of the most dominant tribes ever, the bottom of the merged tribe joining forces with the bottom of the dominant alliance to flip the game, a bunch of interesting characters/people and the most likeable final four in a long time. Plus Penner's final jury questions/speech. Awesome.

5. Survivor: Pearl Islands (Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)

Rupert. Johnny Fairplay. The season that Survivor became fun to watch for reasons beyond the actual game.

6. Survivor: Samoa (Winner: Natalie White)

Putting aside the jury vote, this season was a win simply because of Russell. His play reinvigorated the show and the game.

7. Survivor: Amazon (Winner: Jenna Morasca)

The first season where alliances were fluid. The game was played in a much different manner than before, with votes moving continually.

Oh, and chocolate and peanut butter.

8. Survivor: Palau (Winner: Tom Westman)

The first season where we saw a true dominant tribe. Then came Stephanie's survival for 2 weeks, then Tom's bold move to threaten to tie a vote to get people on side with him. Very underrated year.

9. Survivor: China (Winner: Todd Herzog)

It has James' stupid non-play of a hidden immunity idol, Todd wearing his bad deeds, and Amanda's first final tribal council failure. A pretty good year.

10. Survivor: Australian Outback (Winner: Tina Wesson)

The beginning of the Jeff Probst/Colby Donaldson bromance. Also the first ever major strategic blunder, though it was at least done out of some sense of loyalty. What ever happened to Elisabeth anyway?

11. Survivor: Cook Islands (Winner: Yul Kwon)

Two of the most likable players in Yul and Ozzie. It also had the funniest Survivor moment, when Sundra and Becky "battled" to build fire. Taking 90 minutes to do so. After being given matches 30 minutes in.

12. Survivor: Tocantins (Winner: J.T. Thomas)

The year of Coach! Also, a great blindside of Tyson and a domination of challenges by J.T.

13. Survivor: Africa (Winner: Ethan Zohn)

Oh Kelly. If only Brandon hadn't have gone into business for himself, we would have had the first momentum swing post-merge ever, and you might have stuck around longer. Also notable for Lex getting eliminated in the Fallen Comrades competition even though he answered a question correctly. That earned him (and Big Tom) 2nd place money.

14. Survivor: Redemption Island (Winner: Rob Mariano)

The Boston Rob show gets up her because of Boston Rob's hilarious confessionals, his running of the show from start to finish and Phillip's wackiness. In an unrelated note, if Rob didn't win I would have rated it lower.

15. Survivor: One World (Winner: Kim Spradlin )

The removal of Colton stopped us from seeing him get his comeuppance that we so richly needed. But at the same time, we had great characters in Tarzan and Kat, an amazing situation where a tribe won immunity then decided to give it away so that they could vote somebody out and possibly the greatest game ever played on Survivor by Kim. I think this could move up when given more time to reflect on it (and other seasons.)

16. Survivor: Panama (Winner: Aras Baskauskas)

The Terry year, where his loss of the final immunity challenge (under questionable means) ended up giving us Aras as a winner. Awesome for Terry's dominance, not so awesome for everything else.

17. Survivor: Fiji (Winner: Earl Cole)

Yau Man and Earl were the stars of the season. The have/have not twist and the inevitability of Earl winning once Dreamz refused to hand over immunity to Yau Man were the downfalls.

18. Survivor: Guatemala (Winner: Danni Boatwright)

Stephanie gets a second chance and turns into a mean person. Still an attractive person, but a mean person nonetheless. And then she loses to Danni.

19. Survivor: Vanuatu (Winner: Chris Daugherty)

Probably the most difficult to place. Chris's victory when outnumbered 5-1 and with not winning immunity was impressive, but the show was horrible before that.

20. Survivor: South Pacific (Winner: Sophie Clarke)

The editing ended up hurting this season, as they built it up to show why Coach lost, instead of why Sophie won. Maybe that happened because they had very little to use to show Sophie as a great player, but that's an even bigger damning of the season.

(Also, the first half of the year with Brandon acting very creepy towards Mikayla was uncomfortable at the best of times.)

21. Survivor: All-Stars (Winner: Amber Brkich)

It gave us Boston Rob and Amber as a power couple, but it also gave us the biggest farce of a final council before Samoa. And the overriding theme of the previous winners didn't deserve to stay around becaue they had already won was annoying and uncomfortable.

22. Survivor: Marquesas (Winner: Vecepia Towery)

This should rank higher. It gave us Boston Rob, whatshername being carried to the island like Cleopatra, and the first shakeup of the status quo. But it was the most frustrating final two ever, with both not really deerving of being there.

23. Survivor: Gabon (Winner: Bob Crowley)

The biggest drop from my previous rankings (where I had it ranked at 14.) I think my memory was clouded by the fact that Bob Crowley was just a likable person. When the most memorable things to have happened was an amusing fake hidden immunity idol and Bob making his buff into a bow tie, you know you have a terrible season.

24. Survivor: Nicaragua (Winner: Judson "Fabio" Birza)

It was a tedious season until Fabio went on his immunity streak. By breaking up the boot order, Fabio rode to victory, and gave us a likeable winner, which puts this ahead of...

25. Survivor: Thailand (Winner: Brian Heidik)

Easily the most unlikable cast in Survivor history. No tribal swap, no merge until the jury and we were left with waiting for the Pagong-ing to finish so Brian Heidik could win. Cool final challenge though.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Survivor: Philippines Finale Live Blog and Stuff

Before we being the live blog, a quick power ranking:

1) Malcolm
2) Denise
3) Lisa
4) Skupin

Malcolm is the reason why Denise had to be kept instead of Abi. Abi had no chance of winning any sort of challenge. Denise does. For Lisa and Skupin, they can't risk Malcolm even making the final tribal. They might be able to beat Denise, but not Malcolm. So essentially, Rob Cesternino, Stephen Fishbach, and Parvati Shallow are wrong, and I'm right. (What do they know about Survivor anyway?)

Onto the show!

- So to try to destroy anything I might have said, Skupin lets us know that he and Malcolm have an alliance, and that it he feels that he can beat Malcolm in a final tribal since he has a better story.
- Malcolm feels that Abi blew up his spot at Tribal Council.
- Onto a reward challenge!
- I guess this reward challenge means that there is going to be a final three this year?
- Another physical-ish and very mental challenge. Which means Malcolm is going to win.
-  I don't think that being far behind in the physical part matters. So I wouldn't be that concerned if I was Lisa. Better to get it right once than to rush and blow it.
- Yup, he does.
- The question is, will his advantage be better or worse than Abi's that she got at auction?

- I have to admit, this is kinda boring.
- I am fascinated by the continual references to stories to tell the final tribal. This might be the most knowledgable non-all star season ever.
- Denise is trying to get Malcolm to commit, and Malcolm plays it honestly, though bad. Not wanting to lie to Denise to save her vote is fine, except you have to know that Denise will pick up on it and start to explore other options.
- Of course, Denise does.
- She is incredibly smart. She picks up on Malcolm's hesitance and now is pitching to Lisa to get rid of Malcolm.
- That she uses the Penner example to pitch to Lisa was genius, though unnecessary.
- Lisa as Judas is incredible given how she started.
- Penner speculating that he could beat Malcolm in the final immunity challenge is a big hint, especially with all of the references to stories. The ultimate story of survival - coming from behind to beat the favourites continually?

- Lisa picks up on a couple of things: 1) Abi was right, you need to keep Skupin on a leach and 2) Denise seems to have been following Malcolm's lead, and you can pitch that to the jury.
- How does Skupin think his winning immunity will allow him to set who the final three is? All that means is that you are in the final three. If it was a final two, that's different. Are you having flashbacks to Australia and how that game played out?
- FALLEN COMRADES!!!!!1!1!1!1!1!!
- Malcolm speaking on the important of Fallen Comrades is very important.
- "I'm kinda well-rounded." Not taking that out of context Angie. Nope, not at all.
- And Katie gets to double her speaking time on the show.
- Denise on Jeff: "Great, great athlete". You don't say?
- And then Jeff makes references to playing baseball with spoiled brats. If you listen closely, you can hear him say "Barry Bonds" under a cough.
- Denise on Abi: "Tumultuous and tenacious." Well, at least you're biting your tongue now.
- And there it burns!

- A fantastic final immunity challenge. Some physical, some mental, some concentration (balancing a ball on a cylinder between two handles. As time goes on, you add more pieces to make balance more difficult.)
- Malcolm's advantage? He gets another shot. That could be huge, but I don't know that it's better than Abi's.
- Malcolm is the first to show a wobble, which indicates how difficult it is.
- And sure enough, Malcolm is the first to drop.
- Another huge thing is that it gives everybody else a chance to relax.
- My goodness, Malcolm is out.
- This is probably the biggest immunity loss since Terry at Panama, or Rudy in Borneo (aka the first season.) Win and you win has never been so true here.
- And Denise is out as well. Which makes things more interesting. If Denise won, a Malcolm boot was inevitable. But with Denise and Malcolm as viable options to be booted, who knows?
- Skupin might get to tell his underdog overcoming the odds story.
- But then again, so could Lisa. And if she can tell the story, it's even more powerful.
- Honestly, Lisa has been incredibly impressive.
- They could probably think of nothing but the challenge is they didn't have to hear you nattering on Jeff.
- Lisa drops! Skupin has the story to tell.
- The returning player streak continues!
- And now the scramble begins!
- (Or at least the "Skupin has a moral dilemma" part of the show begins.)

- I find it hard to believe that Malcolm gets nervous around a girl.
- Wait, I figured out how Skupin controls who goes. Since he has immunity, it doesn't mean that
- Lisa is amazing. Malcolm says that Denise will come along and tell them to throw the vote his way. Lisa asks should we just go along with it (ie play along)? After getting past the confusion, Malcolm says "If we're good, I don't care." Another mistake. You should have said "Just let her down easy." Instead, you've given them every reason to be able to agree with Denise with no remifications and no chance to scramble if absolutely necessary.
- It is funny that Denise is no longer on the "Best of the best makes it to the end" train.
- Skupin doing a confessional, just lounging around with the immunity necklace is pretty bad-ass.
- Denise is trying to play the friend card with Skupin, which is a good idea, but also comes across a bit ingenuous.
- That Skupin is still drawn to the "winning against the best of the best" argument is crazy.
- Lisa is going to do whatever it takes to make sure Malcolm doesn't make it into the final three.
- Malcolm mentions that he was super close with Angie, and had to cut her throat before even considering to do the same with Denise. Which sets off Denise's radar and has her say essentially the same thing about Malcolm.
- Lisa mentions that she and Skupin had voted seperately in the past. Paving the road to another split vote?
- Carter is pissed off. Or baffled. I can't tell from his look.
- Skupin says taht Malcolm has "favors" for life. While Lisa
- Malcolm mentions that Denise floated as though that's a good thing for a jury story. The other stuff about going to every tribal council (first one ever?) is good though.
- Lisa straight up says that she isn't going to keep Malcolm along. Does that turn Skupin?
- Seriously Skupin should vote for Malcolm unless he's worried about Malcolm winning the fire challenge.
- Obvious that Malcolm gets 2 votes, but does he get the third?
- Yup. Bad play Skupin.
- "Congratulations Denise" On making the final tribal, or winning overall? Artis seems to think that it's winning overall.
- "Maybe I pushed them too hard to start playing the game" Or maybe you were too good?


- "You were a great ally...but this is where I outwit you." Denise
- "I'll have a lot to say about that one" Skupin on Malcolm's guarantee that Denise wins.
- "Here I am, this little old sex therapist..."  Uh, you make this sound so innocent.
- Oh know, did Lisa hurt herself?
- Time to burn down the beach, always my favourite. "Hey guys, let's see if we can start a massive forest fire to celebrate the end of our journey!"

- Final tribal starts!
- Denise starts out by saying that she isn't going apologize and that she deserves to be there. Outwitted, yada yada, outlast, yada yada. I survived every tribal council (will somebody bring that up as a negative?) It was a good statement, but it wasn't anything that we hadn't heard before.
- Lisa refutes Denise's opening statement, but then starts talking about playing with heart which is a non-starter. Her boxing analogy about taking out Malcolm is strong though.
- Skupin begins with the worst opening ever "Returning player." But he brings it along by saying that he had his back against the wall from the start because everybody wanted returning players out. He brings up his clumsiness as a positive, saying he has pieces of mask in his face. He loves the game and so does everybody else. Good start.

 So far Skupin's in the lead, Denise is right behind and Lisa needs another knockout punch.

- Artis is talking to somebody about not being congratulated for not being loyal, and "in the end karma is a bitch." Who is he talking about? (Skupin.)
- Carter asks Skupin about what Skupin was thinking when he knew Carter
- Pete asks Denise about why her game was better than Skupin's and why she deserves a million dollars. She points out surviving
- RC calls Lisa smart and sneaky and she wanted Lisa out very quickly. Um, huh? She asks Skupin if he knew that RC was going home and Skupin immediately says no.
- Malcolm says he is considering voting for Lisa after the opening statement. Malcolm tells Denise to not nod, and to stop appeasing people and playing the "being a friend" card. He asks Denise why she outplayed Skupin and Lisa. Denise gives an answer about appeasement and Malcolm then says
- Jeff asks Skupin what he did in the game (essentially)? Skupin says that he was in trouble from Day 1, unlike Lisa and Denise. He had to scramble until Penner left. Jeff asks Lisa how she didn't float like Denise did, and Lisa says she took sides all the time, and uses an example where somebody else came up with a plan, and she stuck to it. Jeff wasn't impressed by this.
- Abi asks why should I vote for you? Lisa says she was loyal until the end. Skupin says that he outwitted, outlasted and outplayed Abi. Abi says that doesn't include out-disrespect and Skupin agrees. Denise apologies if Abi is traumatized
- PENNER TIME! He gives a fantastic soliloquy about everybody being bitter, but offers his congratulations. Penner says Denise looked like a bitch. Skupin says he was scrambling and in danger, but he got no votes ever. He has a clean record, and might still have one after this.(This kinda came across as a brag as well - Skupin was in trouble, but never voted for? Well played.) PENNER OUTS LISA AS BLAIR FROM THE FACTS OF LIFE! Lisa fights back with saying "Did you talk about what you did as a teenager?" "No, but I didn't talk about when I went to the bathroom 16 days ago either. We can talk about what I did now, but it won't have an impact on the game." PENNER FOR THE WIN!

I think this is Skupin's, but honestly I wouldn't be surprised by anybody winning.  Frankly, if I was on the jury, I would have voted for Penner.

RC votes for Lisa
Penner votes for Denise (calling the game flawless. Eh, there were a few flaws, like if Malcolm won immunity.)
Carter votes for "Skoopin" (The first year in a long time when everybody got a vote.)

Off we go to the States!

- I wonder if Jeff asks to wear something different than what he was wearing at the tribal council?
- A moment of silence for the Newtown victims first.
- Wow, none of the final three look that different.
(It's Denise. Shows what I know.)

I think that Denise's victory is going to be hurt by her edit - she wasn't shown to be doing that much in the game thanks to Malcolm's giant shadow, but it is entirely possible that she did a lot. But unlike, say, Sophie, Denise did face weaker competition who weren't in her alliance from essentially day one. So it wasn't just her being the lesser of three evils.

And then I was proven wrong. Apparently Malcolm would not have beat Denise in the final three. My mind is blown.

I'm going to need a day to absorb that fact (and the thank you video that ended with Jeff Probst just nodding into the distance). I'll be back tomorrow morning with my season rankings, and sometime later with my winner rankings and general thoughts about this season.

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