Survivor: Panama ~ Exile Island
Posted 26 April 2006 - 09:30 AM
Survivor: Panama's Secrets Revealed!
by Deborah Starr Seibel
Jeff Probst, Survivor: Panama — Exile Island
Are the exiled really alone on CBS' Survivor: Panama — Exile Island? And how much does host Jeff Probst know before tribal council? TV Guide scavenges for the answers to those questions and more, unearthing along the way an immunity-idol twist that you did not see coming.
A big deal was made in the promotion of the banishment to Exile Island as this season's new twist. Why do they show so little of what happens there?
"The notion of Exile Island was to remove someone socially as well as physically from the game," says Probst. "But there's simply not enough time, and you would see the same thing over and over: People hungry, sitting in the rain and trying to figure out how many more hours until they can go back to their beach."
When a contestant is sent to Exile Island, how many people are really there?
"Most of the time there's just one associate producer who's also acting as a camera operator," Probst says. "At certain times, we'll send a cameraman and an audio person. But even in those cases, there is zero interaction, unless the producer decides to interview the castaway about what's going on. You ask anybody who's spent a night on Exile Island and I think they'll tell you that they felt very much alone."
This is Jeff's 12th season hosting Survivor. What toll does the game take on him?
"When I started the first season I weighed 182, and I'm 5'9". Now I weigh 165 and I'm much more fit," Probst says. "There was a time when I got really thin and just wasn't feeling good personally. But I've definitely got a routine now. We have a kitchen department that cooks food for 400 people from 20 different countries, so the menu is not what you're used to back home. I bring a lot of food supplements to make sure I've got the kind of diet I want."
Are crew members allowed to eat or drink in front of castaways?
"Never," Probst says. "We're very conscious of not having water bottles around or people snacking on protein bars in front of [the contestants]. We try to cover our watches so they don't know what time it is. We're very aware of crew members smoking and try to refrain from doing anything in front of the castaways that would remind them of what they're missing."
Is it a good idea for any contestant — like Shane, who's trying to quit a three-pack-a-day smoking habit cold turkey — to try to change his ways on Survivor?
"There are probably better times to try to quit smoking," Probst says. "Everybody saw the signs that Shane was detoxing from the get-go. In addition, he put himself in a position where there's no food, no water. And he's with people he doesn't know and probably doesn't like. And he's away from his son." His chances for staying off the smokes aren't great: According to Mary
Ella Douglas of the American Lung Association, Shane has "cut himself off at the knees without any support. We say in our clinic that the first six months are the most vulnerable and that the people who are most successful go through behavior modification, use nicotine-replacement therapy and the drug Zyban, in combination. He doesn't have access to any of that."
Have Exile Island and the hidden immunity idol changed the way the game is being played?
"I am a student of Survivor, and so many cardinal rules are being broken left and right," says ousted contestant Bobby Mason, whose torch got snuffed in Episode 5. "Danielle, Courtney and Shane are three of the weakest players who've ever played the game, and they're still there. In the real world, when a group of weaklings like that get together, the whole group is weaker. But on Survivor, they become a strong force."
How much does Jeff know about the goings-on in the camps before tribal council, and how long does it typically last?
"I know the big events, like if a camp burned down from a fire," Probst says. "But in terms of the minutiae from day to day... not much. If somebody's just whining, I won't know about it, because everybody whines. But if there's a legitimate concern that a person may quit tonight at tribal council, then yes, I need to know that. Tribal council lasts anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half."
How does the show get away with challenges that include smashing humanlike skulls? It seems disrespectful to the native people.
"That is a fair criticism," Probst says. "The truth is that the skulls are made in our art department. They're props. [There used to be pirates and looting on the Pearl Islands, for example.] Killing each other was a big part of what they did — skulls washed up on shore. So it was our way of referencing that culture. But I certainly understand the intent of the question. And the feedback we get from questions like these go directly from me to our executive producers."
Will the secret immunity idol continue to wreak havoc with the castaways' strategies for the remainder of the season?
"Terry hasn't used the idol yet, but he may soon. Since the merging of his tribe La Mina, where he was the unrivaled leader, with the opposing Casaya, it seems only a matter of time before the surviving Casaya members try to vote him out. If they do, and he uses the idol, the vote could backfire on Casaya, since whoever gets the second-most votes will be sent home.
"And get this — the idol will live on. If Terry uses it to save himself, the idol will be rehidden on Exile Island. This means that players may want to be banished to the hellish island to find it and put its mojo to work all over again!"
Posted 28 April 2006 - 12:47 PM
by Ken McGilvray
April 27, 2006: The Fire Dancer Is Snuffed Out
OK, I realize it must be horrible to be forced to interact with the same set of people week after week, but Shane's imaginary Blackberry? That was just sheer insanity. It allowed him to "talk" to people "not on the island," but I wonder if he was also able to get through to his home planet. It's an amazing feat to be the oddest person on a team that includes a yoga guru and a fire dancer, but Shane has handily won the distinction. The guy also looked way too much like Charles Manson during tribal council, so if I were Aras or Cirie, I wouldn't let him near the machete. Terry not only won the reward and immunity but also the spankin' new SUV. I wonder if anyone has told him about the Survivor "car curse"? He might be the first to overcome it if he can make it to the final two. Terry will clearly have Austin's and Sally's votes and also Courtney's now that she's been stabbed in the back. Bruce may go either way and could potentially make Terry the winner. Now I'm jumping ahead of the game, just like the castaways did this episode. Lots of scrambling went on, but ultimately she who caught the biggest fish also caught the best break. But Cirie's temporary takeover could come back to haunt her, especially where Shane is concerned. In any case, she definitely had a good day, and provided plenty of comic relief. I was ecstatic to see Courtney depart because the tactic of antagonizing your way to the final two has been done to death. Katie, Twila and Judd (who failed at his attempt last season), I'm looking at you. Plus, I love when the person getting booted looks shocked.
The game should get very interesting from here on out. Terry knows he can't trust any former Casaya members, Shane will probably spin into an insane bout of paranoia, and how will Aras manage to stick around if Terry keeps kicking everyone's butt in the challenges? Also, I wonder if all of Danielle's talk of not going out in third place was a foreshadowing of things to come. It was great to see Bruce looking so much healthier since he's cleared up his blockage problem. I'm sure the remaining players will look equally as satisfied once they finally flush Shane from the game.
Posted by Ken McGilvray 04/28/2006 12:19 AM
Posted 05 May 2006 - 12:29 PM
May 4, 2006: Casaya Continues to Eat Itself
Shane sure was thrilled to have crazy Courtney gone, wasn't he? Loved him calling her a "loopy broad." Pot, meet kettle. He was placated much too easily by the others and once again walked directly into their trap. It was good to see Aras, Cirie and Danielle all scheming and playing the game, but nobody can handle him- or herself in this game as well as Terry. The man is unstoppable; except it's highly unlikely he'll win. I know it's completely in vain, but I still hold out hope that some of the Casaya members might flip (especially a bitter Courtney and Shane) and Terry could prevail. Nah, who am I kidding, he doesn't stand a chance. I'd also love Cirie to win it all, but I don't think anyone will take her to the final two, so sadly I see her going out around the final three. We can at least go online and vote for her to win the new truck. The reward challenge was great, with Terry able to "play God" and make both Aras and Danielle resent him. But they would have sent Terry off to Exile Island if given the chance. I was amazed at how normal Shane's son was, but I guess the only way to rebel against a father like Shane is to act completely mature and sane. Boston does seem like a really good kid, so despite his crazy Survivor antics, it seems like Shane is a competent dad after all. Danielle's mom only looked a few years older than her daughter, and not only does Terry win everything, he's also the only one in Panama to get a conjugal visit. I understood Aras' frustration about Terry's choices, but dude, a wife and a mom are not the same thing, and if you think they are, then you better call Dr. Freud. Cirie's husband H.B. was hysterical and it made me like Cirie even more to see them together. It took true devotion on his part to do all her bidding around camp, but the pride in his eyes was very touching. Shane was a complete putz at the immunity challenge, but I guess I'm about as mature as he is because I snickered every time Probst announced Aras' or Terry's "flags were rising." But Shane took things too far by telling Terry to shut up and then mimicking Jeff. After the last tribal council, Shane should have been more vigilant, but he simply strutted around camp with his belly sticking out. (How does that happen with no food around, anyway?) Courtney's death glare as the jury entered was very telling. She has clearly not forgiven Danielle's deception. And speaking of expressions, Shane should never play poker because shock was written all over his face as he was ousted from the game. But his final words to his son did the one thing I thought would be impossible during this season — they made me actually like him.
Posted by: Ken McGilvray 05/5/2006 12:05 PM
Posted 12 May 2006 - 01:49 PM
May 11, 2006: Clash of the Egos
To be continued? What? Are you kidding me? I should have known something was up because the battle of the final four is usually saved for the finale. With Shane gone I figured the whining quotient would be cut in half, but I was wrong. From Terry flipping out at Cirie over her torch placement to the sniping and shoving at the challenge, it looked like Shane's crybaby crown has found a new head. Several heads actually, though I did laugh at Aras' "whambulance" comment (only the first time – the second was overkill). His "Terry is anti-woman" bit was pointless and I would have loved it if Terry's wife came out of the bushes to kick his yoga-boy butt. Sorry, Terry, but if misunderstanding the rules earned you a second chance, then the clueless Ulong tribe in Palau might not have been decimated so easily. The editing appeared to shift a bit in this episode, with Terry no longer coming across as unbeatable (even before the immunity challenge) and Danielle seeming desperate. But I wouldn't describe her as an "underdog" since she's been in the dominating alliance right up until this point. The reward looked fantastic, but I didn't need Aras reciting a fourth-grade geography lesson about the Panama Canal. And I really could have done without hearing the toxic aftereffects of his dinner (poor Cirie!). This season has really gone overboard in the bodily functions department.
I noticed Cirie tell Aras they'd go to the final two together several times, but Aras never outright agreed. There is no way he'd win against her, but if she goes after the tiebreaker then he's in a great spot. That challenge was close, but Terry's immunity streak finally came to an end with the hidden idol never once coming into play. When the guys were giving the ladies fire-making tips, I was waiting for flaky Aras to tell Cirie to just "use her energy" to get the fire going. This is such an awesomely expressive jury! Everyone smiled sweetly as Cirie talked about her experience, which contrasted with Shane's and Courtney's reactions to Danielle. Wow, they really hate her, don't they? Those two will not be happy if Danielle gets her fire going first. What was up with describing Aras as a "peace-loving warrior," and which one of the women will join him and Terry in the final three? No answers yet, as Burnett and company want to keep us in suspense. See you all at the finale on Sunday!
Posted by: Ken McGilvray 05/12/2006 12:09 PM
Posted 15 May 2006 - 12:57 PM
by Ken McGilvray
May 14 2006: Yoga Boy's Got It All Stitched Up... Plus: Reunion Time
Another season down and another million awarded (along with some sage tax advice from Jeff Probst). Aras might have had a sweep if he had a better answer for Bruce and if Shane hadn't thrown out a pointless question. In any case, Aras played a strong game and even earned the respect of rival Terry. As we learned in the reunion, Danielle really had no way to win — she would have had the same 5-2 result if she had picked Terry. I'd like to know what kind of conversation Danielle and Aras had before the final challenge that made him jump off after a simple nod from her. Terry's ouster had the Burnett-inspired foreshadowing all over it. He was too confident after winning the final reward and his trust in Danielle was too firm until she started wavering. And she blamed it on being a Gemini. Who did she think she was — Courtney? Those final endurance challenges are so dull but the editors did a good job catching and magnifying every wiggle. But they really pulled out all the stops for the "fallen comrades" moment. Sure, we got the same melodramatic music and the usual "what I learned on the Island" clips, but the huge skull bonfire was pretty cool to watch. And at the final three, Tribal Council Aras' "sales pitch" really came to fruition: Terry's torch was finally snuffed, to the obvious chagrin of Sally, Austin and Bruce. In the end, the Casaya bonds held tight as one of the strongest alliances in the history of the show.
Aras' misfortune now adds a whole new rule to the unofficial Survivor guidebook — do not guzzle down a mimosa and then go traipsing along slippery rocks. I swear we've seen more of the medical team this season than Melinda, Misty and Ruth Marie combined. Those gashes did look painful, but a million bucks can buy lots of iodine. Plus, the sight of the intrepid yoga-boy all bandaged up could only evoke the sympathy of jury members Courtney, Cirie and Sally. In all honesty, I was expecting more fireworks from the jury, but instead we got Courtney babbling about the "sea of forgiveness" and becoming a bird and Shane asking one of the dumbest jury questions in the history of the show. I think Danielle really blew it during her final words, when she said "I have lots of things coming up in my life and this will really help me." Those are not the things people sitting in bitter judgment want to hear. Aras was much wiser in the amount of jury booty he kissed.
I was waiting for that silly moment with Jeff flying to the reunion show in a helicopter, or paragliding in, or whatever, but alas, he just sauntered in without fanfare. Aras' big winning moment was eclipsed by the amount of applause for both Terry and Cirie, but I'm sure he didn't mind. It was great to see Cirie's husband HB again, and I just knew she'd win the truck. She's truly an inspiration to all us armchair Survivors. I'm glad that Bruce is healthy, Tina is coming to terms with her loss and Shane isn't as crazy as he seemed (sort of), but I still didn't learn much about any of the others. So props to Aras, the winner with the most high-maintenance hair in all 12 seasons of Survivor. And now on to the next season in Cook Islands!
Posted by Ken McGilvray 05/15/2006 3:26 AM
Posted 02 June 2006 - 02:39 PM
Survivor Women Score Soap Cameos
Popular Survivor castaway Stephenie LaGrossa will visit Guiding Light on Thursday, June 8! She'll appear as a waitress in the Cooper family's restaurant, Company. Survivor fans fondly recall Stephenie from the Palau and Guatemala seasons. If that girl could kick butt in a primitive fire-making challenge, she should have no trouble serving Springfielders their morning cuppa coffee.
In related news, two women from Survivor: Panama — Exile Island will drop by Guiding Light on Thursday, June 22.
Tammy Faye look-alike Melinda Hyder — who was voted off Panama early on — plays a waitress. Spunky finalist Cirie Fields — a fan-fave who scored herself a GMC Yukon — plays an internal affairs detective from the Springfield P.D. Perfect role for the no-nonsense Cirie!
Posted by Daniel R. Coleridge 05/31/2006 4:42 PM
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