Friday, October 16, 2009

Survivor: A lot can change in a decade.

I just had a fantastic evening!

Not only was it a Survivor night, but my sister (from a different mother...and father) provided us with an extra special treat. Evelyn (*due to privacy rules, I am not using her real name - which happens to be Erin), brought over the Complete Season of Survivor I.

Yes! The first season. The VERY first season. Richard, Sue, Rudy, Jenna, Gervase, Colleen...the whole gang. I haven't seen that since it first aired...nine years ago! I handled the DVD case like it was a delicate family heirloom.

At 6:30pm, we tossed that baby into the DVD player and began our Mini-Survivor Marathon. For the next 3-1/2 hours, Nostalgic Survivor intertwined with Present-day Survivor. We watched Episode 1 and part of Episode 2 until 8:00pm, when the regularly scheduled program started. An hour later, we picked up where we had left off by finishing Episode 2, Episode 3...and even part of Episode 4. Then the party ended.

It was wild. To watch the latest episode, sandwiched between the episodes that started it all, was really quite amazing. It was the same show, but so...different.

In comparison, Season 1 just looked so unpolished. It's amazing there was even a Season Two, at all, let alone Season 19. I mean, the early stuff looked like it was shot on a handy cam and Jeff Probst sounded like he was reading from a script. He was far from the Emmy Award winning Host he is today. They didn't even have him do "play by plays" at the challenges. They just used stock music as background instead.

Back in 2000, they could have called the show "Hotel Survivor". Not only did the contestants get to bring a "luxury" item from home, but starting on day one, each tribe had fishing traps, machetes, rain coats, Reebok shoes, a medical kit and...a fresh water well! They were living large compared to today's Survivors.

As for the original challenges, my elementary school Play Days would have made them sweat harder. The first immunity challenge ever, had the tribes run in a straight line from the water to land, with one member lighting torches along the way. The hardest part about the task was that the competitors needed to keep one hand on the raft at all times. It was over so fast, I thought the DVD had skipped. And, when another challenge took me, at least, 30 seconds to realize it. Really? That was it. Actually, I'm not even sure I should be using the word "challenge", at all.

Season 1 was so "soft" that Jeff even cut one of the Tribal councils short, because it was starting to...rain. Seriously Jeff? It's rain, not hot lava! In fact, he even offered to let the losing tribe stay in the Tribal Council meeting area over night, so they didn't have to walk back to camp in the "torrential" down pour - which was anything but. Ya bunch of pansies.

Now, I'm not knocking the show, because I really do love it (see Season Premiere: Survivor). It's just that the show in 2009 is so much better than in 2000. And it wasn't until I watched them, side by side, that I became aware of it. I'm really not overly surprised by this...I just found it interesting. I mean, lots of things improve with time. Watch the pilot episode of Cheers, The Simpsons or any long running series, to see what I mean.

At the time, Survivor Borneo looked really good, because it was there was nothing to compare it with.

In 2000, I didn't notice Jeff wasn't wearing a hat, because he hadn't become known yet for his hats. In 2000, I didn't notice all the catch phrases that were missing, because they hadn't become catch phrases yet. In 2000, I didn't notice that the challenges were lame, because the more complex challenges hadn't yet been developed. In 2000, I didn't think anything about the show was lacking or weird - like the "gong" or the million dollars in cash sitting by the Tribal Council fire - because it was Season ONE.

Tonight was like looking through an old photo album. That funny looking hair cut...was actually cool at the time. Those scary pants...were actually "in", back then. The shocking home decor... believe it or not, was the accepted style of the day. The past always tends to look odd in comparison to the present.

I think the 2009 edition of Survivor is an excellent show. The way it's shot. The editing template. The challenge level. The character development. Everything is just...great! But in 2019, when "Evelyn" joins us for another Mini-Survivor Marathon and we watch Survivor 39 sandwiched between episodes from, this years, Survivor 19, I'll probably be laughing just as much at this most recent edition, as I did tonight at the 2000 footage.

Y'know, I love the fact that we live in a time where so much has been documented and preserved on video, in photographs and in print. It's really cool to be able to look back on things. There are some who are embarrassed by the past and desire to "hide" it, because it never looks as polished as the present. But the people who do that have the wrong focus.

We don't document the past in order to, at a later date, laugh at it's blemishes. We preserve the past so that we can marvel at the improvements that have been made since. Because, seeing where we came from helps us appreciate where we are, even more.

Hmmm...that's not bad for a piece of reflection written at 1:30am.

Of course, ten years from now, I'll probably read it and say, "Timmy, what were you thinking?!"

Have a good one,


  1. Timmy!

    Great great post!

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for reading and for your kind words...

    It's nice to know that sacraficing my sleep wasn't in vain :)


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