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Survivor: South Pacific Episode 1: First Impressions

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Written by : published Thursday 15th September 2011

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And so it begins!!!

For those of you new to this column, welcome!  This analysis does contain spoilers from the episode, so watch Episode 1 first, and then be sure to read my Survivor Examiner Episode 1 Recap before reading any further!

All caught up?  Let’s begin, shall we?

Initial reaction to Survivor: South Pacific?  It’s got potential.  It was apparent in the show’s first 5 minutes, that this could be a memorable cast.  As the tribe’s stood and awaited the announcement of Ozzy and Coach into their teams, we got a few memorable sound bites that had to make the Survivor producers feel great.  How about Christine calling them both “temporary players,” or John asking for Probst to refer to him as “Cochran,” since all the great players are mentioned by their last names?  This may help overcome the lameness that I find with Ozzy and Coach in terms of entertainment value.  Don’t get me wrong, both are likeable, but Ozzy outside of challenges isn’t too interesting to watch, and only when Coach gives us a “Coach-ism,” like when he spoke Russian, is he great.  Luckily, he usually spouts Coach-isms early and often.

So what stuck out to me from the first episode of the season?  Here you go:

  • Cochran…smart player or predictable loser?  Not since Rob Cesternino (and yes, even some of Russell Hantz) have I laughed out loud while watching Survivor (OK, I also laughed when I found out about the Medallion of Power.)  Cochran is pure gold when it comes to entertainment value, and his unintentional Woody Allen impression is spot-on.  The thing with “students of the game” are, that they are sometimes so enamored that they made it finally, they actually lose sight of their game knowledge.  And let’s face it, social skills can’t be taught.  The interesting thing with Cochran is that as a so-called student of the game must know that weak players are almost always targeted in the beginning…so why come in and draw attention to being so weak and so geeky?  To his credit, Semhar was a bigger target this week, but he’s lucky that her performance at challenge stuck out like a sore thumb.  If they lose again, he may not be so lucky.  Conversely, if he can somehow make it to the merge…who in the heck would vote him out?  He can’t possibly win a challenge right?  Either way, Cochran will truly be a mastermind if he can go deep into the game, I just don’t see it…yet.

  • Coach and Ozzy 3.0.  Is the third time the charm for Coach and Ozzy?  It was crazy to see the different ways they were received by their respective tribes, and it looks like Coach clearly has the harder road to navigate.  But while it appears that Coach is slowly gaining favor on his tribe, I feel that Ozzy is slowly declining.  He never seems to know when to go with the flow, and going out on a limb for Semhar was clearly the wrong move this early on.  He’s clearly helpful in challenges, but nobody will want to let him get to the individual portion of the game.  Good news for Ozzy fans, is that he is made for Redemption Island.  It wouldn’t be a bad idea to vote him out early, to increase his chances of losing at Redemption.  Still, it appears that he is in the slight minority already on his tribe, and if they lose again, will Jim and the others vote out Cochran or will they turn on Ozzy?


  • Quick Cast Reactions:  We didn’t see much this episode from many of the castaways, but at Savaii, it was Jim who stood out as a player who has what it takes to go far.  Dawn stood out, for maybe the wrong reasons, but surely memorable.  At Upolu, I think Brandon is setting himself up to fail, hiding his relationship with Russell when the name “Hantz” is tattooed on his body not once, but twice.  And in a small moment, Sophie having the intuition to sense Brandon was hiding something, to me, says that Sophie could be someone to watch as well.  Boston Rob was a brilliant player for a lot of reasons, but most of all it was his intuition and awareness of those around him. Does Sophie possess that same skill?

  • Twitter During the Show…Must Tweet TV!  If you’re not following Jeff Probst on Twitter during each episode by now, what’s wrong with you?  I find it very cool to experience the show alongside Probst and millions of others.  But the normal Twitter experience was interrupted by Russell Hantz, who also was tweeting live during the broadcast!  He hasn’t changed, let me tell you, and took exception to his nephew comparing him to Hitler, which seems to have stung him pretty good.  Still, being on Twitter during the show, or just reading through them after the show (an option for those looking to avoid spoilers) is pretty fun, and enhances the viewing experience.  When he tweeted, “Looking for the Idol?  I got it,”  I LOL’ed, for real this time.  You can follow Probst on Twitter, @jeffprobst, and the REAL Russell, @russellhantz7.

  • The Tout.com Experience.  As an expirement, Jeff Probst utilized the new website Tout.com, to answer questions from fans during commercial breaks of the broadcast.  What is Tout?  Think of it as video-Twitter, with short video messages from Probst.  So is it worth your time?  The short answer…Yes!  Video is even more personal than a tweet, and Jeff really gave some good insight.  He also created a “Survivor Drinking Game” for those interested!  So what were his questions?  Here’s a list of questions, register for Tout.com and follow Jeff Probst for the answers:

                    o   What’s with the green shirt (usually Probst wears blue)?

                    o   How do you think Cochran will do?

                    o   What do you think of Coach?

                    o   Did the cast know that Rob had won prior to the season starting?

                    o   Is Ozzy still with Amanda?

                    o   Will they find out if Brandon is Russell’s nephew?

                    o   What is Tout.com?

                    o   Are you a cake or a pie person?

                    o   Why are the Survivor’s dressed the way they are?

                    o   How are challenges put together?

                    o   How long do challenges take to build?

                    o   How did Brandon have all that fishing gear?

Lastly, via Tout.com, Jeff Probst gives two big teases for next week’s show…One, that somebody will find a hidden Immunity Idol, and Two, that a “big revelation is made.”  Tune in next week for another episode reaction!

Go to tomsantilli.com and subscribe to FilmSurvivor.com for all-inclusive coverage of Survivor: South Pacific.  Also be sure to follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

About the author SurvivorTom


Tom Santilli is a respected journalist and member of the Detroit Film Critics Society.  He writes several on-line columns, most notably as the Detroit Movie Examiner and the Survivor Examiner for Examiner.com.  He also is a contributor as a Survivor-Insider to TVGeekArmy.com and writes exclusive Survivor in-depth episode analysis for TheTVKing.com. He has been featured on Rob Cesternino's "Rob Has a Podcast" and most recently landed the only exclusive Richard Hatch interview given since his latest legal trouble has surfaced. All of Tom's Survivor coverage as well as movie reviews can be found on his blog the "FilmSurvivor", at FilmSurvivor.com

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