February 17 marks the return of the popular television show Survivor on CBS. This will be season 32 of the popular series that made its debut in America in 1997. The season is the second in a row from the nation of Cambodia and follows a setup used once before, namely Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty.
Over the years the producers have attempted to find ways to keep the popular television show viable. Fan interest was enormous in the first few seasons of the show, but has waned as the program has continued to run. This has led the producers to seek many different ideas on how to promote the show and captivate the audience’s interest.
In 2014 the idea of pitting three tribes against each other that were composed of the three B’s – brains, brawn, and beauty – was first enacted on the program. Season 28 was filmed in Cagayan, Philippines, where the format for the tribes was followed for the first time. The idea was to pit contestants against each other based upon the three most dominant physical attributes that are noticeable. The show did well in the ratings, generating more than 500,000 viewers on average than the previous season, plus it was generating high ratings with the coveted 18-49 year old group. The fact that it generated more viewers in this age bracket than the highly regarded American Idol, the first time it had ever done this, made producers believe that the concept should be tried again.
Both seasons 31 and 32 were filmed in Cambodia, with the Koh Rong portion being filmed for season 32. Interestingly enough, Season 32 was actually shot earlier than season 31, but the producers chose to air the latter competition in Cambodia for season 31.
The Rules of Survivor
For those who are unfamiliar with the show, a little explanation of the rules of Survivor may assist you in understanding how the program works. For the first 27 seasons of the show the contestants were broken into two different tribes that competed against each other. The purpose was to not only solidify your own position to stay on the show, but to also eliminate members from the other tribe to ensure that there was a better chance for members of your team to remain on the show.
With the show being Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty, this clearly makes it clear that there will be three different tribes. The shows rules will pretty much be the same, except the additional tribe will exist.
The primary rule that viewers should be aware of is that no contestants can plot together to split the winnings. The winner of the contest gets a $1 million prize, but to ensure that the contest remains fair and that there is clearly just one winner, contestants cannot work together and then split the prize. This is eventually a contest where every man or woman is on his or her own, and so no two people can cooperate in this manner.
In addition, there is no physical violence that is allowed between contestants. There are occasions where a wrestling match will occur as part of a challenge, but any other engagement like this is cause for instant expulsion. On a couple of seasons they had contestants that became overly aggressive and were sent home for this reason.
Contestants are also required to abide by the laws of the United States, as well as the laws and customs of the region where the Survivor contest is being held. This means that such things as stealing, assault, sexual harassment, and the like are considered as criminal offenses on the show and the contestant is expelled if they commit any of these acts.
The way a person is eliminated is at the tribal council meetings. While the tribes are still in existence, the tribe or tribes that did not win the challenge are forced to vote on who will be eliminated from the tribe. A person cannot vote for him or herself and also cannot refuse to vote. Players are required to show to the camera who they voted for to ensure that they did vote, but no other player will know who a contestant voted for unless the player reveals that on their own.
During the competitions that occur on each show there are immunity statues that can be won that remove a contestant from being voted to be removed from the tribe should his or her tribe lose the challenge. A contestant can also have a hidden immunity statue that they can play if they are voted to be eliminated. It should be noted that one player is allowed to steal the hidden immunity idol if they are aware of who has it. They can then use it to save themselves.
All contestants must attend and participate in the tribal council meeting. They must also be involved in challenges unless there is a concern about injury or if a player is injured. That has happened twice where a contestant was allowed to skip an activity due to injury.
One tribe is not allowed to enter the camp of another tribe unless that is part of the immunity challenge. They are also not allowed to visit where the television crew from CBS stays.
When the contest reaches a point where there are only a certain number of players left, usually 8-10, then all the remaining tribes combine to make one tribe. At that point there is no tribal affiliation anymore and players are competing to remove a contestant each week until there is a final winner.
While not competing as a tribe any longer, the affiliations and alliances that have formed during the first part of the show come out when the tribes combine. Frequently former tribe members will conspire to eliminate members from the other tribes before seeking to eliminate each other.
The Alliance Strategy
The alliances that form is one of the more interesting aspects of Survivor. Contestants are not allowed to share the prize money, but it is to each member’s advantage to form alliances that will protect each other from being eliminated. This usually means that every member of an alliance will find a person or two to join with in protecting each other.
Often those alliances will fall apart because of the failure of one member to do well in the competitions or because a member is conspiring with other alliances. The person is taking a risk by working with more than one group, but is also trying to increase their chances of surviving. The failure of a contestant to do well in the challenges leaves their alliance member(s) wondering if it is worth the alliance when this person is clearly costing their tribe the chance to be saved from any eliminations.
Locations of Previous Shows
Survivor has found itself on virtually every continent since its inception on American television. This has included tapings in Argentina, Germany, the Baltics, Azerbaijan, Australia, Brazil, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Israel, India, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, the Philippines, Slovakia, Scandanavia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, among others.
The show has always sought to find locations that are exciting and exotic to the consciousness of most Americans, and it has been a strategy that has been quite successful. Local areas are happy to have their nation spotlighted in this way, and cooperation from the host country has always been a key to the success of the show.
The original idea for the show was that two tribes of random people would be formed. The demographics of the contestants were split evenly, so there would be the same number of men and women on each time, same age range on the teams, and the same overall physicality of contestants. It was the design to give each tribe an equal chance to succeed in competitions.
Over the years as the show’s popularity began to diminish the producers decided to try to make the competitions even more interesting. This has meant making the tribes different based upon a wide variety of characteristics. There have been seasons where it was a competition of old vs. young. In these seasons the contestants were divided by age where the “old” team had only members who were older than 40, and the young team only had members younger than 30. This was used in a few different seasons.
There have been seasons where the competition has been men vs. women. The objective was a battle of the sexes where the audience could stand behind their gender to see who would be the Survivor winner.
In a few different seasons, the producers brought back past competitors. This has meant pitting former players versus new ones or an all-star cast of former members to compete once again.
The format for this season’s show was used once before. The idea of Brains vs. Brawn vs. Beauty is an attempt to create tribes that are based on the three characteristics that most people recognize as the dominant ones in each of us. While beauty doesn’t seem like it would be a great characteristic to have in a competition related to survival, it is clear that this characteristic has just as much chance of winning. People are naturally attracted to the people that are considered “beautiful,” and this gives these men and women a great chance at doing well.
This Season’s Contestants
As mentioned. The three tribes are based around brains, brawn and beauty. The brains group will belong to the Chan Loh tribe. This is a very interesting group which includes Peter Baggenstos (Minneapolis, Minnesota), AubryBracco (Cambridge, Massachusetts), Joseph Del Camp (Vero Beach, Florida), Neal Gottlieb (Sausalito, California), Elizabeth Markham (New York, New York), and Debbie Wanner (Reading, Pennsylvania).
The Brawn Team, referred to the To Tang Tribe, consists of Cydney Gillon (Douglasville, Georgia), Darnell Hamilton (Chicago, Illinois), Alecia Holden (Dallas, Texas), Kyle Jason (Detroit, Michigan), Jennifer Lanzetti (Salt Lake City, UT), and Scot Pollard (Carmel, Indiana).
The last of these tribes, the Beauty or the Gondol Tribe, has as its members Michele Fitzgerald (Freehold, New Jersey), Anna Khait (Brooklyn, New York), Nick Maiorano (Redondo Beach, California), Caleb Reynolds (Hopkinsville, Kentucky), Julia Sokolowski (Boston, Massachusetts), and Tai Trang (San Francisco, California).
A few of the contestants have very interesting backgrounds that are making their addition to the show very interesting. Scot Pollard is a former National Basketball Association (NBA) player who used to play for the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. He was selected by the Detroit Pistons in 1997, and played with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2007 when they reached the NBA finals. Pollard played 11 seasons in the league before retiring.
Pollard had some interesting highlights to his career that were not necessarily related to making shots or grabbing rebounds. In 2007 he was criticized by NBA pundits for an incident when he grabbed a camera during a timeout and said “Hey kids, do drugs.” Pollard laughed it off, but others became overly outraged by the incident, forcing an apology. He was also known for his Mohawk style haircut while he played, which has a single pony tail down the back.
He was actually asked to the do the show previously, but chose not to do so. It was a decision he regretted, and so when the opportunity arose again he jumped at it.
Caleb Reynolds is a former model, who was once referred as the “Beast Mode Cowboy.” He competed in another CBS show previously, The Amazing Race, and was quite a hit on the show. Reynolds came under heavy scrutiny when it was discovered that he made insensitive comments about homosexuals and that he had referred to President Barak Obama as the “Muslim Monkey.” He also appeared on Big Brother on CBS, where his comments became public as the show was being taped.
Neal Gottlieb was a former Peace Corps Volunteer who later became an entrepreneur. With just $70,000, he started Three Twins Ice Cream, which has become a giant in the ice cream business. Three Twins ice cream is sold in grocery stores in every state in the country, and his sales have increased over 100 times from 2005 to 2015. He is truly a great example of the American dream.
It is interesting that the three most well-known contestants were divided into each of the three different tribes.
Facts About the Show
Season 32 was filmed from March 30, 2015 to May 7, 2015, a period of 39 days. There were 18 total “castaways” that were included in the show, with six players being in each of the tribes.
Contestants sent in a video explaining why they wanted to be on the show. While absolute numbers were not provided, it is believed that tens of thousands of videos and requests were sent to the producers asking to be chosen as a contestant.
Survivor: Cambodia begins to air on CBS starting on February 17, and will air weekly until the tribes are reduced to just one tribe. The episodes have already been taped, but contestants are not allowed to talk about what happened on the show until there is the Reunion Special episode at the end of the season. In this show the contestants get to talk about their experiences and share their strategies with the audience.
The first two episodes have already been named. The February 17 show is called “I’m a Mental Giant,” and the February 24th episode “Kindergarten Camp.”
A Little About Koh Rong
The island of Koh Rong is just off the coast of Cambodia, and is considered part of Ream National Park, a wildlife preserve where the largest number of endangered and threatened species of animals and plants resides. The island is also referred to as “Monkey Island” because of the large indigenous population of Reese monkeys. There are 23 total islands in the park area, with Koh Rong being one of the largest of the group.
It has only been within the decade that the island has been open to tourism. Because of the Cambodian government’s desire to protect the land and its wildlife, the island had seen very few people living there. Now it is one of the most popular places on earth to visit, primarily because there is only a small amount of people that are allowed to visit.
The island is home to High Point Adventure Park, a rope adventure park that allows visitors to experience Koh Rong 100 feet above the ground. The park is built of several hundred ropes, platforms, and bridges that allow tourists to feel like Indiana Jones on a great adventure. It is truly a remarkable place to take the whole family.
The island is home to many rare and exotic plants and animals. The inner portion has a large rain forest area with two hills that are separated by a small river. The outer portion of the island is surrounded by some of the most beautiful beaches on earth, and there is a great sea life that surrounds the island as well. It is truly an island paradise.