Jeff Probst blogs 'Survivor: Samoa': episode #14

Hey everybody, let’s get right into it…

ANATOMY OF A REWARD CHALLENGE

Long before the Survivors participate in a challenge it has already gone through an extensive testing process. It begins with a “test block” where our dreamteamers do a light run-through of the challenge so we can see how it’s coming along.

When we did the first test block for last night’s “Coconut Drop” reward challenge it was rough. We all agreed that it was a brilliant and inventive challenge but it wasn’t quite right. So we gave some notes and our art department made some changes and we tested it again. Technically it was working much better but it was still taking a long time to complete.

We debated reducing the number of coconuts so that it would play faster. But John Kirhoffer and Dan Munday, the geniuses who created the challenge, reminded us that if we reduced the coconuts the challenge would lose a lot of impact. The only way to change the challenge would be to completely redesign it. Well, this was a challenge that had already taken a couple of weeks to design and construct, so the idea of starting over was out of the question. We went ahead with the challenge as planned and it played beautifully. There was great drama and some character revealing moments surrounding Natalie and religion and Shambo and her hair. So, on that front it was a hit. But it took nearly four hours to complete. Four hours… and that’s simply too long.

To give context, not counting endurance challenges which are in their own category, the average challenge takes 15 minutes to run. The reason four hours is too long is that it affects everything else on the schedule. Because we’re behind, the reward itself is now delayed and could result in us having less time on the reward than we desire. The losing team of Survivors who are returning to camp have less daylight for us to shoot reality and conduct interviews. It’s a domino effect. If we have a tribal council that night, we might have to go later than normal and that means our crews are working longer days than we anticipated and then you have to get up the next day to do it all again and you’re already behind. You get the point.

The good news is that this rarely happens. I’m talking maybe once every other season. That’s how good our challenge guys are at designing these contests. They really know their stuff.

WHY WE DO TEAM REWARDS DURING THE INDIVIDUAL PORTION OF THE GAME

There is a specific reason that we will often run a “team” challenge during the individual portion of the game and that is because we want to continue to mix things up and cause conflict. When you send only three people on a reward and the other three are left behind you have a very good chance of a new alliance forming or somebody sharing information that will turn the game around.

The reason it works is because people are often either desperate and/or suspicious, as they should be, and they use this opportunity to do a little detective work or to stir things up. Survivor is so much easier to play from the confines of your living room, much more difficult to actually be “in” the game where every decision is a potential million dollar choice or mistake.

You saw it happen at the reward challenge where Russell, Jaison, and Shambo started investigating Natalie’s decision to choose Brett as her teammate. That simple little discussion could change the game 180 degrees. That’s all it takes for a month-long alliance to come crumbling down. Or if you’re Russell it’s merely another opportunity to capitalize on everybody else’s paranoia and move one step closer to the end.

BRETT IS AN ISLAND

There was no hiding that the Foa Foa four wanted to get rid of Brett. They talked about it at every challenge and at tribal council. It was quite refreshing to not have them pretend that “maybe Brett has a shot to stay.” Anything can happen but if Brett loses an immunity challenge he will be in serious trouble. If Brett makes it to the final, short of a total meltdown, I think he wins the million dollars.

IMMUNITY CHALLENGE

This challenge was the prototype for a Survivor challenge. It looks simple, you can play it at home, but after a 36 days of playing Survivor, merely counting pigs can drive you insane.

There were lots of different strategies going on. I stayed back in the counting area so I could monitor everything. Russell would memorize a couple of numbers and head out. Brett had a different strategy. He stayed for a long time, storing many numbers in his head, never panicking. I love watching challenges play out in front of me, knowing the decisions the Survivors are making are often do or die. Clearly for Brett, it paid off.

THE MULLET IS GONE

Well, there is no hiding my sadness that Shambo is gone. She was loved by some and despised by others, but from my little perch she was a great Survivor contestant. She had a point of view and she shared it openly. She had a sense of humor about herself, she was a pretty good player and without question Shambo was memorable.

I can tell you right now that some of the other Survivors from this season who are reading this as you are will be screaming at me for being nice to Shambo. Not my problem. I wasn’t in the game, I only know what I see and what I saw I enjoyed. I’m not saying Shambo wouldn’t get on my nerves over time, I’m only saying I liked what I saw.

SO WHERE DO WE STAND

When we finished shooting Survivor: Samoa I had mixed feeling about how the season would play for the audience. I knew we had a star in Russell but I wasn’t sure if we had anything else.

I have had hundreds of people stop me to tell me this is one of their favorite seasons. I realize that may not ring true to everybody reading this, but for a lot of people this has been a great season. Russell is truly a star and like him or not the fact that he is still in the game as we go into the final episode is a very good thing. The Foa Foa comeback has also been a major storyline this season.

Equally interesting is that Brett is still alive. Suddenly the quiet T-shirt designer is only a few days and one or two challenges away from a legitimate shot at a million dollars.

Even though I do know the outcome of who makes it to the final, I am still going to give you the same predictions I felt at this point when we were shooting the show:

Brett – If he makes it to the final, I think Brett has a really good shot at getting enough votes to win the money. Some of the jury may not feel he deserves it, but with a jury made up of Galu, the odds are in his favor.

Russell – Hands down the strongest player of this season. NO doubt about it. The big question is “Can he get the vote?” That really will depend on whether the jury takes an intellectual approach (if so he has a chance) or an emotional approach (his chances diminish significantly.) If he makes it to the final he will have his work cut out for him.

Natalie – With only five people left, I’d say Natalie has fairly good odds of winning this game. Her biggest challenge is going to be getting to the final. If Brett continues to win, Natalie could be in trouble because she is a threat to win the game. Her best strategy would be to continue to stand next to Russell and vote the way he says.

Jaison – He has a reasonable shot depending on who he is up against. If Jaison is up against Mick and Natalie I think he could make a pretty compelling argument and might sway the jury his way. He was a slow burn but I think people have come to appreciate his integrity.

Mick – I think Mick is the longshot. The one thing that could turn it for Mick is if he makes it to the final and then reveals that he has been playing “quiet” for a reason. If Mick turns out to be a great orator he could surprise everybody and change the minds of the jury at the final tribal council.

I hope you’re excited for our finale on Sunday. I think it’s going to be fun to watch and the Reunion show should be a kick as well.

AND THIS JUST IN…

On a separate note, I just found out that the pilot for a new show I created with Mark Burnett, called “LIVE FOR THE MOMENT” will air at 8 pm on Thursday, Jan. 28th, 2010. If you’re looking for something new that offers great adventure as well as an uplifting message about how to get the most out of life, I hope you’ll check it out and encourage your friends to watch. I’m really proud of it and I hope it connects with an audience. The only way a show like this gets a chance for a second episode is if people watch the first one! Thanks for the support.

FINAL BLOG

I may not be able to write a blog following the finale. I will do my best but I want to be up front and share that it just might not happen.

So with that in mind I will take a small leap ahead and say… “Survivor 20…..” Wait till you see what we have in store for you! I think you’re gonna dig it!

Thanks to Entertainment Weekly for letting me do these blogs again and thanks to Dalton Ross for the weekly reminders to get my blogs finished on time.

Finally, thanks to you guys, the fans, our loyal audience, the people who read this blog and respond with your comments. I read your comments every week and I learn a lot from them. Sometimes your comments even get copied and sent to our producers or our challenge department because you make some very good points in your analysis of the show.

I’ve enjoyed our back and forth, thanks for the honesty.

And now…. Let’s get to Sunday night already!

Check out our exclusive deleted scene below and read Dalton’s TV recap.

[ewbrightcove “57952993001”, “57958926001”, “475”, “345”]


Comments (829 total) Add your comment
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  • Tim

    Jeff, you da man. Merry Christmas!

    • redriding

      merry christmas indeed! This is the best season of survivor for a long long time. Jeff, I kno you love fans vs favs but the fans were forgettable and the favs, well, whatever

      and russel for the win!!!!!! I never thought I wld see a player as entertaining as boston rob again but russel is amazing!

      The challenges this season have been great as well! well done on the casting for this season. Putting a bunch of arrogant dumbasses on one tribe and putting a bunch of intelligent hard workers on the other tribe is brilliant!

      Sad its going to end soon :-(

      • SLB

        Russell is an obnoxious *sshole. I will never be a fan of his. I hope Jaison or Natalie win. If Russell wasn’t such a jerk, i would have been impressed by his game playing. His personality is just vile and i don’t see how anyone would want him to win. As for Shambo (the stupid name says enough), she was such an idiot throughout this game and it was just pure luck she got this far. Not a fan of hers either.

      • Anna

        So which tribe is the arrogant dumbasses, and which one is the intelligent hard workers? I saw some hard workers, plenty of arrogance to go around and dumbasses a plenty, I didn’t see a whole lot of intelligence – on either tribe.

      • Hanna

        I despised Russell for the first couple episodes (although editing can sway opinion) and although I still don’t like him very much, he is without a doubt the Survivor!
        The name of the game is to outwit, outlast and outplay, and Russell has done that. I don’t care if he needs the money or not, so far he’s played the best game and at this point he would get my vote.
        This season has been great! After every episode involving seating the jury, except the Shambo elimination which we expected, we’d turn to each other at the end of the show and laugh our heads off! So entertaining, such fun! Thanks for a great season!

      • movieloversmatch

        I am really liking this season singlechristiansmatch

      • Zoinks

        In a world where Obama won a Nobel “Peace” Prize for doing absolutely NOTHING…other than not being Bush, it’s completely appropriate that Natalie won Survivor for doing absolutely nothing other than not being Russell.

    • Dr Zechariah Zenith

      Russell dominated the game entirely. Even being cocky still is not enough to vote him off. The only drawback from his game is hurting his team initially.

      He was lucky to have a guy/girl like Shambo. Without her the FoaFoa comeback wouldn’t have been possible.

      Biggest threat is Brett – likable guy. And also a physical threat. Brett vs Russell. Brett could win.

      I predict a Natalie vs Russell finale if two and a Natalie-Russell-Jaison if three.

      Mick or Brett is gone if either one can’t win immunity.

      Looking for Season 20 Heroes vs Villains. Can’t wait to see it. Great year for CBS and Survivor, the Superbowl of Reality Shows.

    • AA

      Merry Christmas Jeff!

    • Survivor Blog

      I knew Brett would make it through that episode. He’s gone next week though. Take a look at my Survivor blog for a few more observations: turnonmytv.blogspot.com

      • Miss Jackson

        Would you please stop pimping your g@damn blog on the comments every week. Seriously,EW…delete this moron.

    • Dana

      I love Russell; he has been the most interesting player on Survivor ever in my opinion. I do not think he is mean or vile at all, Survivor is a game and he has done an excellent job of playing that game! He deserves to win the million and I hope he does! JP thanks for the blogs!

      • Bond Girl

        Thank you Dana!! I know I’ve said it before, but its so annoying when people forget that this is a game.

      • Jonnycat

        I predict Russell will offer to donate the million dollars to sway the jury. He won my vote which is the only one that matters.

      • seattleellen

        I never would of thought at the beginning of the season that I would be rooting for Russell as I could not stand him, but now I want him to win as he deserves it for the game he has played, not to mention finding 3 idols with NO Clues. I worry though as it seems like an incredibly bitter jury, but they only have themselves to blame. And…
        THX JP for your fun, insider scoop blogs.

      • Miss Jackson

        It’s gotten to the point that I can’t even come these comment pages anymore because I am so OVER all the new Russell love. CBS has been feeding you idiots the Russell Kool-Aid and like good little lemmings,you’ve all been drinking it. I can’t stand Russell,not because of the way he’s played the game,but because of the way he’s been pimped out and shoved down my throat by CBS and Probst. It really strikes me that the powers that be think that the viewers are too stupid to know who the “villians” are and who is playing the game and who isn’t without the need to constantly push it. We are smart,we can figure out who we like and who we don’t. STOP PUSHING YOUR AGENDA CBS. Jesus. You dopes that love Russell and are now rooting for him are laughable and it’s sad that you don’t know you’ve been programmed. God,people are stupid.

      • Fiona Bloemker

        Miss Jackson you have your right to your opinion, and I respect that, but there is no reason to swear using Jesus’ name. Please remember there are others out here, thank you.

      • Anna

        Dana, what do you call burning socks, dumping water, bullying, menacing, and intimidating women, feigning a physical attraction and touching a tribemate in inappropriate, gratuitous and sexual ways, and hoarding a food source while still in the two tribe formation? I call it mean, vile, and a whole lot of other things – none of them good.
        Bond Girl, stow your annoyance, no one is forgetting that it’s a game. People are quite rightly pointing out that it is not necessary to be an obnoxious, amoral jerkwad to win at the game. All you boo hooers out there sulking about how a bitter jury isn’t going to give Russell his million convieniently forget that social skills are also part of the game. Russell has none. If he can’t sway the jury, well then, I guess he hasn’t got so much game after all.
        Jonnycat, do you honestly believe that Russell would do something as asinine as donate his winnings to charity?
        Fiona, thank you for keeping it classy.
        Everyone, aside from the iniative of searching for hidden immunity idols, how has Russell revolutionalized the game? How is he any different from
        previous Survivor contestants and winners who walked into the game with the goal of winning a million dollars?

      • sonny

        I’m sorry Miss jackson, but you hit the nail squarely on the head. I wish I could have put my thoughts into words, because if i could, they would have been synonymous as yours. Right on, Right on, Miss Jackson

      • sonny

        Jonnycat, I agree with you that Russhole will offer to donate the million to charity. However, like everything else in this game, and even in real life, he lies. he would just chalk it up, if he were to win, as part of his GAME. He figures he’s get a pass, since everyone knows he lies, and it’s just a game anyway. He lied coming into Survivor. Anyone who believes he made a million dollars last year, and he is some oil tycoon, well, I’d like to talk to you, as I’ve got some prime land deep in the heart of the everglades!

      • Z

        I agree w/ Anna. Russell is slimy and manipulative. Yes, he played the game well. But would you vote for someone so crude and evil to win a million dollars in real life? And may I remind you that he is already a millionaire?

      • @ Fiona

        Hey “Blow-me-ker”
        God damn, yeah- we all have the right to our opinion, even the atheists and/or agnostics. So, get off of your religious soapbox and comment on the show- not your biblical agenda.

    • Nicole

      I love the Jeffie-Pop!!!

      • Selene

        Miss Jackson- That’s kind of a gross generalization, don’t you think? I like Russell because of his intense strategy and gameplay, not because CBS has been advertising him all season. You have to admit that the guy is good, and truthfully, he’s pretty clever. Granted, he’s a cocky a** and that’ll probably end up being his Achilles’ heel, but just because multiple idiots like Russell because the network keeps pushing for him, that doesn’t mean that everybody else likes him for the same reason.

  • Dave

    Very bizarre. I think this is the first time in 19 seasons where we didn’t get the emotional episode with family members showing up. Wonder why? I can’t imagine it happens on the final episode, but I guess it’s possible. Maybe I’m forgetting but has there been any season where they didn’t throw that in?

    • Daniel

      I never liked those episodes

      • Madam_P

        Me, neither. Booorrring. Plus sometimes the family member ends up costing the player a challenge or even the whole game, and how fair is that? CBS, axe the family thing permanently, please!

      • Jen in NY

        I couldn’t stand those episodes, either. I love my family loads, but, believe me, I could go a month without seeing them in order to be on Survivor and possibly winning a million dollars. I hated how the Survivors would bawl and moan because they wanted to see their loved ones again. I bet a lot of that was feigned. I mean, it’s not like the Survivors were being held against their wills after being captured by some enemy forces or something. Good riddance!

      • Anna

        I think you make a good point Jen in NY. If I had my head deeply into the game my family would distract the living daylights out of me.

    • Pugsly

      No family member challenge, letter, video, photo, nothing. What ever happened to the car reward? Last 5 in a vehicle driving down the beach. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Big Brother ‘esqe challenge where a previous winner comes to host or is the reward to have their brain picked about social strategy.

    • sandy lewis

      What happened to the giveaway of a car also…has happened in a while..

      • Dia

        Didn’t the car sponsor drop out over the Cook Islands race brouhaha? Hasn’t been a car since then.

      • puppy dog

        Dia, what race brouhaha are you referring to? I hadn’t heard about that one.

    • Ty

      Dave, I might be wrong, but I don’t remember a loved ones episode in Fiji.

      • stacimcc

        I’m pretty sure they had a family member reward last season; didn’t we get to see Bob’s wife? I haven’t seen a car challenge since Fiji – the infamous Yau Man/Dreamz immunity deal… I always liked the car challenges, esp the one where the girl – forgot her name – had to choose to keep her car or forfeit hers and give everyone else a car. She chose to keep it and was voted off next.

    • Carol

      I think it may have something to do with the distance and the logistics of travel. Then again, they brought the families into China.

      • Don

        In Fiji, there was a coup, so the producers were forced to provide letters as part of another reward instead of having family members visit.

    • Terri

      Merry Christmas as well! I was wondering the same thing about the “loved ones” as it really gives insight into the true nature of the player. It takes them out of game mode to a degree, and puts them into a more vulnerabe place.

      • A

        Yeah, I would have liked to see Russell with his family member to see how he is with them.

      • stlcardsfan

        who can forget –your grandma died?

    • Brian C.

      Those episodes are so lame. I’m very close to my family but I haven’t seen them in months (way more than 36 days), and I’m not crying about it. Maybe Survivor just finally picked contestants who aren’t complete babies.

    • JA

      Those are my least favorite episodes.

    • lls

      finances. they probably didn’t want to spend the money to fly them out and house them.

    • Siri

      I don’t like the family episodes, so yay

    • i’m a lady

      i’d rather watch them strategize than get all weepy over people they willingly said goodbye to for a short period of time. it’s not like they’re in the witness relocation program.

    • Christina

      WOW…. feel super sad that all of you dislike the family episode so much!!! It is my favorite one….shows how much we take for granted and how much our family anf friends can give to our lives and our attitudes when facing tough situations! Almost everyone in who sees family during survivor talks about it being an uplifting that brought them so much energy! This is why our world is at such a low….a value for money and material over love! Like Jeff I say LONG LIVE THE FAMILY EPISODE!!!!

  • vartmoses

    RUSSELL FOR THE WIN! He is the only reason why this season is what it is, he better take it.

    • Rio

      I’d rather see someone who needs the money win it. Like Natalie. But he played a great game. Not sure if the jury will see that way though.

      • Bond Girl

        Its not a charity.

      • I’mNotHereToMakeFriends

        Natalie needs the money? Really? She’s a pharma sales rep and probably doing fine–fine enough to leave her job for 39 days anyway.

      • Lorrie

        A pharm rep, a lawyer, a doctor, an oil company owner and a t-shirt designer walk into a room….and everyone forgets this isn’t a sob story about who NEEDS the money. This is a game.

      • GATXBUCK

        i hear ya bond girl,this is no charity.it’s a competition with a prize that goes to the winner…period.doesnt matter who “needs” it the most.rio,i wonder how you would feel if you worked your but off @ a job for years only to have some slacker get a raise and/or a promotion over you because they have more kids or more bills and “need” it more than you do.

      • Lisa

        The best player should get it, not the neediest. Need is an asinine way to pick the winner!

      • KC

        Of course it’s not a way to pick the winner but it is also a factor in the jury’s minds if someone doesn’t need the money at all.

    • Leo

      If the Jury realizes that it was Russel behind everything and what he did to them they will resent him for it and not vote him in a million years. And wrongfully so as this is all part of the game and you gotta respect what he did. But in the past the ones who did that lost and big by the jury and other times they got the respect and won. It can go either way honestly. But don’t be surprised if Russel loses big time with the jury when all is said and done due to all the hatred they have for him.

      Especially now that it’s known that he is already rich. So don’t be surprised if Russel wins nothing after all his hard work and effort.

      • Ron

        he didn’t need to be such a sleazy jerk to get as far as he has. in that respect his attitude is the one flaw n his game play. his social game has not worked well.

  • Robb

    In the immunity challenge, was there a rule that players could not help eachother? Because if they really wanted Brett to not win, the other five would have shared numbers with eachother. Or did they just not trust eachother enough?

    • Sarah

      Each person had a different combo, but I’m sure they weren’t allowed to cheat.

      • Ken

        Well the order of numbers was different for each (six players, six number sets, makes that easy), but the numbers themselves were the same. And I doubt there’s any rule about not helping each other. I remember on the Australia DVD commentary, one of the episodes that Jeff and Colby did, Jeff gave a big piece of advice: “if you have a question of ‘is this allowed’ then don’t ask me, because I’ll probably say no.” If it’s not spelled out in the rules that they can’t do it, they can.

        Good example is in Micronesia. The stepping pole/platform challenge that originated in Cook Islands, they did it there as intended, moving from one pole to the other. In Micronesia, someone obviously paid attention, had an idea, and didn’t ask Jeff if they could do it…transport your person on one pole by carrying them. Listen to Jeff during the challenge, he keeps saying “not how we planned or expected it to go” – makes me think if someone had asked him “can we do it this way” he’d have shot it down.

        All that said, and no offense to Brett (winner of the “where’d you come from and were you here the whole time?” award), but if he goes to either of the next tribals (assuming final 3) without the necklace, he might as well just keep walking and pass Jeff his torch. His only shot would be Natalie at four tying it up and putting Brett against someone else in a fire challenge, but she has to realize that she’d be possibly sealing her fate as well (that jury is almost ready to write Brett the check right now).

      • Cowcharge

        As soon as I saw those combination locks, I thought of bike chain locks, which are absurdly easy to pick. And since these locks tonight were Gilligan-tech, I suspect they would have been even easier to pick. Jeff, if anyone had tried to pick their lock, would they have been “cheating” and thrown out? Or imaginative? I bet I could pick one before the first person came back from the counting area…

    • A

      They would be really stupid to do that. You never trust anyone that much in Survivor.

  • Mark

    To think people have been complaining that Brett was non-existent. I miss those days. I hope that anyone else wins.

    • persia

      I agree! I though he was cute in a curious sort of way for alot of the season, and that it was hilarious he got no airtime. Listening to him this episode just made me cringe-so boring! They really did have a reason for giving him no confessionals. what a fabulous recruiting job!

    • C

      Really, I am sort of pulling for Brett. It’s the same way I pulled for Galu at the beginning of the season: it’s nice to root for the underdogs.

      At this point in the game, Brett has become the underdog! I really do find myself pulling for him now.

      Honestly though, I don’t think the Jury could pick a bad winner. Now that Shambo is gone, I’d be happy to see any of the remaining contestants win.

      • C

        *I meant “Foa Foaf”, NOT “Galu” :p

      • Sue

        I don’t appreciate players who hide under the radar and that would be the only reason I don’t want Brett to win. Also Mick – who has a leader, never made a move and he always just agrees with everyone, never coming up with his own plan. So I hope its Nat, Russ, and I would not mind Jaison either.

      • alex

        ha ha ha I was going to say…wtf galu the underdogs? that is what I find the most funny…galu is SO BITTER at russ…and so many people call him russhole…why? because he played a game of survivor? with people he DIDNT KNOW? Its worse on those real world challenges when they screw friends…Russ didnt do anything other than verbally bash the girls week 1, and shambo last week..

        other than that hes played the game, anyone mad at russ is sour grapes over galu being stupid…fact is they can blame the idol, and continue to claim it was placed(dave ball) but the fact is he had 3 idols, you couldve voted him out, more than 3 tribals…its just a COP out…however russ will lose because he didnt win challenges…period…well and moreso due to galu being a bunch of whiners, other than john who people dislike, I dont get it…but I also rooted for jessie in BB this past season

    • Dr Zechariah Zenith

      I have watched all 19 seasons of Survivor. All I could say that this is the best season so far.

      • Robin

        I second that!

    • i’m a lady

      seriously. if all you do is quote scripture and sit around with a dopey smile on your face, don’t bother wasting my time.

  • missyae

    Great job all season Jeff – as usual!!! Good luck on the new project but sign that new deal with Survivor!

  • TJ Andrews

    FIRST!

    I think these blogs should be mandatory for you Jeff. How dare you be unable to write a blog after the finale? Also, I think you should write the blogs as the game is being played.

    • Sarah

      That would be nice, with little sidenotes on how your opinion has changed by what was shown on tv.

      • Lorrie

        I second that Sarah, it would be great to read an “at the time” portion and then an “as I watched” portion.

    • Pugsly

      Jeff I will miss your blog. I will notify Howard 100 news of your news of the new show. I look forward to hearing you discuss it with Steve Langford(who has a big….).

      • Miss Jackson

        Ha! I love this….so nice to see another Stern fan around these parts!

    • E

      TJAndrews, I thought the same thing, that Jeff should write the blogs as the game is played. I don’t think he will ever do that because only one hour is aired for him to comment on. If he blogged as the game is played, he would have to comment on days per episode instead of only one hour per episode.

  • Beth

    Jeff – Hope to see a blog from you after the finale – I will hold on to that hope. It’s surely one of the highlights.

    I must say that this season has made me excited about Survivor again. I have been looking forward to each week once we got into it. It’s been a while since it’s been must watch TV for me!

    • VickiH

      I completely agree, your blog is part of my whole “Survivor Experience” each week, I watch the show an wait, somewhat patiently for your blog, Dalton’s recap and then Survivor Live. Hey, you should do a Survivor Live with Dalton after the show, I think that would wrap things up nicely.

      • Liza

        HIV is the result of a selxualy obsessed society. Today’s culture of instant gratification, and sex is the event, just keep doing what we want to do week-acting impulse and desire, without any thought to the Konsequenzen.Werde discipline has b? This word in this country, what we have to show f? r they doing?

  • Sarah

    Thanks for the recap, as always. Part of me thinks Russel deserves to win at this point, but I would also love it if Brett actually managed to pull out a win. I’d be happy with Natalie, too. That particular “dumb blond” has played a lot harder than some people give her credit for.

  • TJ Andrews

    i really HATE the family episode and i’m GLAD that we didn’t get to see that this season. Also, I think it would have diminished the appeal of Russell (as hardcore villian) or decreased Shambo’s crazy appeal. I’m sure they did it, but edited the visits out.

    • Mark

      That would mean they edited out a whole challenge. Unlikely. It’s more likely that they dropped it, as you said, to avoid altering perception of Russell and Shambo

      • Shelly in NoHo

        Jeff always said those family episodes are his favorite part of each season. I like them too. If the reason they didn’t have it is because of the Russell/Shambo show, that is very disappointing!

      • sonny

        Personally, i would have welcomed an altered perception of the Russell/Shambo show. I wouldn’t be surprised if the next new program designed by Jeff and the producer of survivor is some kind of show with those 2. I won’t watch it. The only part of Samoa I disliked was all the facetime given to tthose two, and that was the whole show. I guess I have been naive all these seasons since Hatch won, but this is the first one where I felt that almost everything: challenges, rewards, hidden idols, etc., were contrived to keep Russhole is the game, and to a lesser extent Shamu. I forgot for a minute, this is a business first, so Survivor felt they needed these characters for ratings.

      • barbarag

        The whole show is mapped out way in advance of who the cast turns out to be. Its not produced “on the fly” as personalities emerge.

    • Josh

      I agree, I hate the family episode too. I’m sure it’s rewarding to the participants, but it breaks up the pace of the show as well as the remoteness illusion to show creates so well. The other thing I wouldn’t miss is the Lets Make Some Memories with the Palm Pre from Sprint! I realize you gotta do some advertising but be less korny about it. Besides, the last thing that makes me want to do is buy a Sprint phone :)

      • Daniel

        I agree, I never liked those episodes

      • alex

        well and lets be honest, all the crying over not seeing a family member…Im SORRY but didnt anyone go to college and spend a few weeks or months away?

  • Winston

    Probst!!! You must write the blog about the finale AND reunion show. At least write it before 2009 is over. As the host of an incredible show, you should bring all the fans some closure for the Russell season. Your thoughts and insights are very valuable to us loyal fans.

    Even though Dalton does his little skits, you probably nailed the ideas in your blog: Natalie and Brett’s divine beliefs, and Shambo’s hair, which sounded like Medusa’s hair with Russell’s comments.

    Anyways, the One True Galu is sticking strong. I really hope his air time increases from 0-60 in the 2 hour finale, because though he may hve played under the radar, it is the final five after all, and to make it to the last stages of the gave without adequate air time is a huge dis-service to him, his friends/family and all the viewers out there.

    The reward challenge was ingenious! I absolutely loved it!

    4 hours? Wow. Major cuts there. I wish Survivor had 1.5 – 2 hour slots each week to show more drama, character developments/interactions and challenge time.

    I’m guessing you don’t want to be reminded of Palau’s final IC? Almost 12 hours between Tom and Ian.

    Anyways, please write a finale/reunion blog. Loved reading all the previous ones this and prior seasons.

    • StormD

      I think most of the 4 hours in the challenge that was cut was counting and cleaning up coconuts that wouldn’t have been interesting to watch anyway :)

      I agree with you about Jeff’s blog though. I look forward to it every week, as a bit of closure to each episode and some “post-game analysis”.

      Jeff, Thank you for spending another season with us. I hope that maybe you’ll find the time to show up on one of Dalton’s Survivor Live post-boot interviews with a cast-away someday, that would be cool. See you Sunday/Monday hopefully, or if not, in the Spring for Season 20!

  • The Dude

    Probst, have enjoyed these recaps immensely! I am already planning our finale party!

  • Jaimes

    I want a good endurance challenge in the finale! If that happens, I will be happy with any outcome. Fiji is the only season that has had a really good final challenge since Guatemala.

    * I realized when typing this that it may come off in a slightly bitter tone of voice.

    Thanks for the blogs, Jeff! It’s always great insight into the show.

  • joe

    Has anyone seen the Shambo Ponderosa clips? So much for “We’ve been nothing but nice to Shambo” stuff. She was annoying, but she didn’t need to be ostracized at Ponderosq like she was,

    • TJ Andrews

      I haven’t watched the Ponderosa Shambo clips yet; but i would imagine that Galu has been lamenting on how they never would have been voted off if it weren’t for shambo’s betrayal. Maybe, they’re giving her a taste of her own medicine –again.

      • Courtney

        Galu actually broke the tribe by voting out Erik at the first vote after the merge. Shambo didn’t vote for Erik. So really the other members of Galu broke the tribe first!

    • Lee

      Shambo deserved everything she got. She played an emotional game so why shouldn’t her reception at Ponderosa be emotional? As Shakespeare said: “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” Or, what goes around, comes around. I don’t resent the cold shoulder that Shambo got.

      • JD

        And Laura is supposed to be such a good Christian!! Yeah right!

      • Randy

        I agree. She was a B to the them. At least the girls. She deserves to be ignored, I would if I was part of the Galu jury.

    • April C

      RE: Popnderosa Shambo 1&2:
      Wow. I thought I was over my Laura hatred.
      No, wait, I will always hate Laura.
      Anyway, WAY to show your TRUE COLORS, Laura and Kelly! What complete and total beyochtes!!!!!! I have never seen such cold hearted, snobby, juvenile behavior, even when I was in school myself.
      John made a great point too, about those girls not learning to get along with people they don’t like. Gee, maybe that is one of the reasons those stupid girls were among the first to go??
      At least Monica and Eric were fairly nice. That was good of them.
      I don’t LOVE Shambo, but her positive and adult behavior made me respect her as a person and as a competitor. At least she was an interesting player, unlike Brett. I just can’t get behind any competitor that plays dead for 30 days and THEN decides to try hard. It’s truly lazy in my estimation. Natalie might be surviving because of her proximity to Russ, but when she has to play hard, she HAS. Russ or Nat FTW. Mick is useless and (for me) Jaison has never redeemed his quitting attitude from the beginning.

      • jj11

        While I hate Laura as well, Sham did act like a mean girl too when she openly laughed when Laura missed that Immunity Challenge. I can’t remember what they did, but when Laura threw her stick/ball/rock?? and missed Shambo fake laughed out loud. Kinda snotty. But then again, maybe she already knew what the rest of us were to find out, that Laura is a nasty skank and has an ugly heart.

      • Neil

        Shambo was mean to Laura and Dave so she deserves it from them. Don’t know about the others since the show is edited and we don’t see the complete story. Maybe Sham was mean to Kelly too. Who knows.

      • Shelly in NoHo

        Brett didn’t necessarily go 30 days without working hard. We just never got the opportunity to see how the others were playing since this season was all about Russell and Shambo. It’s not Brett’s fault.
        Also I disagree about Jaison, he has worked hard and has been playing the game a LOT since his “quitting behavior” in the beginning. He has proven how much he wants to be in the game.

    • Carol

      Ah, was really hoping that those folk would adult-up and treat her respectfully.

      • sonny

        Shamu got what she gave. Remember, time wounds all heels.

      • barbarag

        Those women were the first to push Shambo away and be hateful to her. That’s why she bolted to the Foa-Foa…had they been nice to her, she’d have stayed with the Galutians.

      • Sue

        I have not watched, but that whole group at Ponderosa is childish. I hope Laura and her family are embarrassed by her behavior.she was not especially warm with Monica showed up either. It is just a game people! Poor John stuck with these idiots.

      • Poindexter

        Me too. They are acting like junior high kids. Pathetic.

      • Jaimes

        Kelly actually has a personality…unfortunately it’s a freakin’ awful one.

    • Lorrie

      I actually enjoyed John’s comment the most where he stated that none of them ever worked in an office so they never had to actually get along with anyone. It was very sad to me. What saddens me is that there is a woman who served her country, played a game, and other than Jeff blogging that she was great, came off to America as a bit slow and childlike. From last season’s Ponderosa episodes, I recall they had a psychologist talk to them on the way back to Ponderosa and remind them it was just a game, etc…but you didn’t see that this season and I wonder if they stopped doing it and that is why everyone at Ponderosa can’t seem to shut up about who stabbed who in the back. Then again maybe Kelly will pass a note to Laura in study hall and explain it.

      • Mark

        I just watched the Ponderosa clips for this season… Every one of them shows the ‘shrink’ waiting at the car. If you watch Eric’s he actually says to her “What Kind of doctor are you”
        “Psychiatrist”
        “Great”
        … I actually really liked the Ponderosa clips, except for after laura gets there and seems to rub people the wrong way

    • Lori689

      Galu, Shambo, and Russell – Lessons to Learn: How do you create a situation where EVERYONE feels INCLUDED, no matter how “odd” or “annoying” they might be? How do you truly integrate a group of very different individuals so that no one feels un-appreciated? How do you transcend the tendency towards developing “cliques” or “sects” within one (any?) organization or team? Granted, it was not the most “above board” approach, but Russell has made every one of his team members, as well as Shambo feel at some point along the way that they were in a “special” alliance with him. In that respect, he really did not “play favorites” even though he did play on each person’s desire to be a “favorite” with him. If there was an error in the Galu psychology and game play, it was that the team members were more “picky” about who they were going to “be friends with” within their own tribe, and otherwise, they weren’t even really thinking strategically at all along the way. Consequently, there were ultimately internal divisions which tore them apart. Russell has held Foa Foa together by keeping each of them aligned with him. That was his “leadership style” as well as his strategy in the game, and Shambo hit the nail on the head: That “loyalty” factor is what helped all of the remaining Foa Foa members get as far as they did.

  • da seth

    this is the frist time that brett was relly in a episode the other episode he was just in the backrond

    • TJ Andrews

      Yeah, that has to be the part i hate the most about this season. You cannot introduce a character to the audience on the 13th episode. He literally spoke for the 1st time , last week. It makes everything obvious. I KNEW that brett would win last week and this week’s challenge. Him speaking was like his coming out party. He’ll prob win the next challenge as well.

      • Poindexter

        Agreed. He seems like a nice guy but was never shown until last week.

    • Cari

      I’ve loved this season, but I agree that this was a big problem with the season: TOO FOCUSED ON RUSSELL!! The editing has been so favorable of Russell that it is almost nauseating!

      To be honest, I think the show gives Russell too much credit. Sure, he’s a great player, but is he the amazing ruler of the game that they make him out to be? No! Take tonight for example: the focus was on Russell and whether he would decide that they shouls vote out Shambo or Mick; once again, making it appear that he was in control and it was all up to him…. But in reality, it was Jaison who made the switch from Mick to Shambo, and Russell was just going along with it! That was not a brilliant move by Russell; that was Russell not getting his way. But the editing painted it like there was no one else involved — it was all Russell! If Russell had had his way, Mick would be gone. But guess what, Editors? RUSSELL IS NOT THE ONLY ONE IN THIS GAME!

      • TJ Andrews

        Totally agree! There has been several votes that were not russell’s masterminding (ie. ben, erik, shambo) all of those were Jaison. I think that Jaison is the true mastermind and he allows Russell to do the dirty work to feed Russell’s ego. Jaison ensuring that Mick stayed instead of Shambo helps no one but Jaison! Shambo nor natalie will EVER write Russell’s name down (giving russell an automatic shot at final 3). With Shambo gone Jaison and Russell are kinda even, Last week’s episode made it clear that Mick is ready to make a big move. Well played Jaison!!! DUMBA$$ move Russell, i’m sure you’ll regret it later.

      • sonny

        Russhole found a few idols that were located out in the open- just about. Without that fact, he is just a regular survivor player-nothing special. where some say, he’s the best player ever, I don’t gett it? How many challenges won? He’s a loud mouth that got alot of airtime, and that computes to best player by the flock of followers watching survivor from a superficial place.

      • Different Take

        Sometimes you have know when to go with the flow. The people who decide they are only going to do things their way generally go home next because you alienate others. Think it’s been pretty smart for him to realize you can’t always get your way and sometimes it’s best just to bide your time.

      • Kevin

        I agree, we didn’t see how Natalie reacted to the decision and it angers me that it’s all about Russell. There other players there that I would like to get their input in the decision making. It makes no sense to me why they edited it this way for the season. I hope they change their editing ways for next season or I’m just not watching, period.

      • Madam_P

        Jeff Probst addressed this issue in one of his very early blogs. I can’t believe people are still criticizing CBS’ editors about this. Jeff said (paraphrasing) “We can only work with what we get. If castaways have no personality, we can’t film something that isn’t there, and thus later we can’t show or edit something that wasn’t filmed. If all you’re seeing is one character, it’s because that one character is the only one doing anything interesting.” So get a clue, guys — it’s not CBS “shoving” Russell down anyone’s throat or anything. Unless you’re saying Probst is a total liar, then the other players truly were not giving the goods like Russell was, period.

      • puppy dog

        Get real. They film footage of everyone all the time. That they have the gall to think THEY should decide what the fans want to see is ridiculous. The past seasons have shown the characters in day to day activities. We got to know who we were watching. This season they didn’t bother to show anybody but Russhole and stupid sidekick. Now, Madam_P, if you think they didn’t film all the contestants on a daily basis, and then leave that footage on the cutting room floor, you are sorely mistaken. While Probst, and those (powers that be) didn’t find anyone to be interesting except the troll, and his brainless little crony (Shamu), it doesn’t mean the fans agree. This type of editing is ruining the show. If I want to watch Jerry Springer, type characters, I can do that elsewhere. Give me the real people, let ME decide if they’re interesting. Don’t cram your taste in intertainment down my throat. Russhole had NO “goods” PERIOD!

    • Lorrie

      While I am rooting for Russell, I have to say that I think that this is all a production ploy. A month of “Who is Brett” and suddenly the guy everyne is joking about wins.

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