No show this week. It got pre-empted by some basketball thing maybe? Who knows. All I know is I didn’t get to watch Russell and Boston Rob crash into each other with a massive fiery explosion, and that makes me SADFACE.
I’m kind of glad for the off-week, though, because there’s an interesting topic to discuss about this season: people they might have picked to be on the show, but didn’t. Hundreds of people have played Survivor, and I admit I was a little put off that half of the Heroes vs. Villains cast were people who had already played twice, be it in All-Stars or Fans vs. Favorites. I’ve read that, when casting for All-Stars, every single person to have previously played was contacted for a possible repeat appearance. Judging by how many boring players they ended up bringing back, they must have received a lot of “no”. (Jenna and the other Jenna? Really?) Did they do that for Heroes vs. Villains? I can’t say, but given the player pool is over twice as large now, if they did, they must have gotten an ocean of “no”. Here are some people I would have liked to see say “yes”.
Paschal English (Marquesas) (Hero?)
I didn’t watch Marquesas. By all accounts Boston Rob placed terribly in it, and I don’t know any of its other players. I do know Paschal, though; he’s the first (and arguably only) player to be eliminated from the game for reasons completely 100% outside of their control. Due to a tie-breaker snafu (the details of which are extraordinarily interesting to Survivor trivia nerds, and utterly inconsequential to anyone else) Paschal was removed from the game and placed forth due to pure blind chance alone. Was Paschal a good player? A cool guy to watch? I don’t know. He made it to fourth, so he must have had some game. I think it’s be nice to see the guy get another shot. Of course, he didn’t appear on All-Stars either, so either he doesn’t want to play again or he simply wasn’t deemed interesting enough to put onscreen with Coach’s tae bo.
Burton Roberts (Pearl Islands) (Villain)
Everyone — absolutely everyone — hates Jonny Fairplay. Truth is, though, that Burton was the real villain of Pearl Islands. The story arc in the mid-game where Burton spends his time building up a friendship with Rupert for no apparent except for how much more it would sting when he finally got rid of him. He got served in the end when he won an individual immunity due to Probst screwing up and mistakenly calling a challenge in his favor. Burton lost his immunity because he can’t spell, and was ejected. The final cast doesn’t have a lot of interesting villains from the Old Guard; I think Burton might have been just the thing.
Chad Crittenden (Vanuatu) (Hero)
You have got to love Chad. He was the nicest bald dude you are every likely to meet, and he had this great “ZOMG!!” face he would pull at tribal council when the blindsides started dropping. Also, he kicked the entire game’s ass with a prosthetic leg. When Fans vs. Favorites was announced I figured Chad for sure was a shoe-in from Vanuatu, but we got the unlikable bitch and the weepy old lesbian instead.
Twila Tanner (Vanuatu) (Hero and Villain)
Twila was one of my favorite players from Vanuatu. She’s a mean old redneck lady who had a lot of trouble fitting in with the youthful gossip circle on her tribe, which consisted of all women. Twila’s alliances with some of the menfolk in Vanuatu was instrumental in some of the season’s best blindsides. Twila’s most interesting feature, though, is how much she was punished for something that would have been completely innocuous in any other season: she made a promise on her son’s life to another player, and then broke that promise. Now, broken promises are Survivor’s bread and butter, but her opponents picked up the morsel and ran hog-wild with it, causing Twila to be completely loathed by the jury in the finals. Now, I’m not saying she should have won — her opponent cut her knees out and more power to him. But the extent to which they played up the utter world-destroying horribleness of this broken promise makes her far, far more villainous than a lot of people they ended up picking. Or not, since Vanuatu’s reunion show featured her son totally exonerating her of any blame. In either case, Twila was a lovable old cuss and would have been great to see on either tribe.
Ian Rosenberger (Palau) (Hero)
Another player I figured was a shoe-in for Fans vs. Favorites, Ian is just one of the downright coolest dudes to ever play. He and Tom ate up their opposing tribe in Palau. Ian is famous for laying down and dying when he realized there was no way in hell he could ever place better than second, so he let the unremarkable dumb chick go to the finals to be the evil counterpart to the blemishless Tom. In the fantasy world of my brain, if they’d already decided to have Tom back and the choice was between Ian or Stephenie (who they eventually picked)… well, Steph already had her second chance and screwed the pooch on it.
Judd Sergeant (Guatemala) (Villain)
Judd was a foul, unlikable troll of a man. I remember him spending a lot of time yelling at monkeys and craving White Castles. I would have liked to see him back for no reason other than his ability to make other people miserable.
Lydia Morales (Guatemala) (Hero)
Guatemala was kind of a bleh season, with very few remarkable players. Lydia, though, is a midget with a pancake dance. By which I mean, at one point in the season, she danced for pancakes. (Maybe it was waffles?) She was very likable and made it quite far in the game, probably due more to her loyalty to far better players than any actual skill of her own. She probably wasn’t asked back because she doesn’t look hot in a bikini.
Shane Powers (Exile Island) (Villain)
Every once in a while you meet a player who is so batshit crazy you can’t even be sure they know they’re playing a game. Shane was that player. He didn’t have any cigarettes so he smoked twigs. He didn’t have a cell phone so he talked into a piece of tree bark. (It told him who to vote for, I think.) It’s possible that Shane was discounted from appearing on any future seasons due to his obviously unstable psychiatric profile which, shit, as far as I’m concerned means he should have been short-bused to the top of the list.
Terry Deitz (Exile Island) (Villain)
Terry is currently tied with Tom for most challenges won in a season. Terry was Public Enemy #1 for nearly the entire post-merge game, and only managed to hang around due to his stunning and almost supernatural ability to win immunity idols. He was cocky and complacent, secure in his belief that he could just coast to the end on physical prowess… but the final four challenge involved balance, and he couldn’t hack it. I’d love to see if he learned anything about the strategic aspect of the game. Fun fact: I’ve been planning to write this post ever since the cast list was revealed, and I intended to say something like “Terry could be the Villains’ Tom, evening out the playing field a little”. Obviously the Villains ended up not needing that, so Terry very well may have been worthless. Oh well.
Yau-Man Chan (Fiji, Fans vs. Favorites) (Hero)
Yau-Man is a wonderful player. His devotion to the sciences let this little, tiny man dominate challenges he probably couldn’t have placed in otherwise. He would do things like, say, pick up the bow and arrow, stand there perfectly still for four or five minutes while calculating things like wind direction and string tension… then hit the bulls-eye. He knew how to turn every single aspect of the game to his favor, and he did it without ever stepping on anyone’s toes. His eventual elimination came when he played the game too much with a person who ran purely on emotion and whimsy. His fault? Perhaps. His skill with strategy and observation caused him to be voted off way too early in Fans vs. Favorites; I’d like to see him play again for real.
“Dreamz” Herd (Fiji) (Villain)
Speaking of the guy who screwed Yau-Man… Dreamz is the Forrest Gump of Survivor. He had no plan, no course of action. He would do whatever crazy thing sprang into his head, for any reason or no reason at all. He built, nurtured, betrayed and discarded alliances seemingly at random. You could never tell what this guy was going to do at any given challenge or tribal council… even Probst was utterly baffled by him. Dreamz created and thrived on chaos, and I’m not even sure he knew he was doing it. What a great player to have in the game, especially a season like this one which is so populated with so-called “strategic players”. How great would it have been to see some machination of Russell’s or Boston Rob’s come tumbling down because Dreamz saw a mouse or whatever?
Peih-Gee Law (China) (Villain)
I had completely forgotten about Peih-Gee until I went trawling through the list of past players. Peih-Gee would have been a good, strategic player if she could have kept her damn mouth shut. She spent practically the entire game grating on everyone’s nerves and just barely squeaking by the votes. I remember her being consistently frustrated that she wasn’t doing as well in the game as she expected she would. If she could keep her utterly irritating personality in check, she would have been the perfect comeback. Even if not, well, a little annoyance and strife never hurt nobody, right?
Erik Reichenbach (Fans vs. Favorites) (Hero)
I was baffled that everyone returning from Fans vs. Favorites was a favorite. That season ended up being kind of a wash, sure… what did you expect was going to happen when you put a group of people who have played before up against a group of newbs? The Faves were all veteran players picked from the upper echelons of Survivor gamedom; the Fans were just the typical random schlubs. Absolutely nobody was schlubbier than Erik though. Erik is a big-haired ice cream scooper who is obsessed with Survivor. In other words, he’s Brickroad, Age 19. Erik also holds the title for Dumbest Move Ever Played — he gave away his immunity idol in the final five because the nice girls he was left on the tribe with swore they wouldn’t vote him out. This was a group of women which included Amanda, Parvati and Cirie who, it must be stressed, Erik had watched play the game already. What a lovable doufus! Give the kid a second chance.
Bob Crowley (Gabon) (Hero)
Bob was Gabon’s million dollar winner. As biased as I was about having previous winners come back, Bob was just a wonderful old man who everyone loved. I doubt he could go very far in a comeback season, but it would have been neat to see him try.
Erinn Lobdell (Tocantins) (Villain)
You’re watching Coach and Tyson in this season, right? Those guys could have made it to the end. Tocantins was very much a numbers game, and those two numbskulls had the numbers… except they threw them away. They hated Erinn. They alienated her. They ignored or abused her at their will, and why not? They were the alpha males on the tribe with the numbers. Why not kick some dirt on the folks at the bottom of their totem pole? Oh, wait — because they’ll switch to the underdog tribe after the merge and outlast both of you. Erinn spent the entire early game bitching about how she didn’t fit in with her tribe… then she got her act together and used that to her advantage. I’d have liked to see her back even if for no reason than to act as a foil to Coach.
Russell Swan (Samoa) (Hero)
Samoa had two Russells, and they could not have been more different. The Russell that already made it on is a calculating player who employs slash-and-burn strategies; the other Russell was a big, charismatic guy who was a natural leader. Russell worked so hard and so much at keeping his tribe strong that he literally collapsed from exhaustion at one of the challenges. I’ve seen a lot of people removed from this game for medical reasons, but Russell was the first that really frightened me. “Is… is he dead? He can’t be dead. Can he?” No, he wasn’t, but it was still an utter tragedy. I hate when great players get removed because of injury or illness.
So there are my picks. Pretty much any of them would be a great substitute for disappointments like James or Coach. I guess the show’s coming back on Wednesday this week; why is anyone’s guess, but I’ll be back bloggin’ about it next weekend.