Pop Rocks

Not So Sole Survivor

While performing a cursory channel scan last Sunday, I noticed perennial viewing options like Undercover Boss and *cough* C.S.I. Miami were nowhere to be found, replaced by the blockbuster season finale (and reunion episode) of Survivor.

I guess I don't watch enough CBS, because I gotta be honest, I had no idea the show was still on the air. A quick check of Wikipedia, however, tells me it's already gone through 21 seasons.

21 seasons? That's over two a year since the series' debut in 2000 (when a nubile Richard Hatch won America's heart). And even though I couldn't name a winner past the first season, the show about a bunch of unlikeable neurotics vying for one meeelion dollars somehow endures.

In fairness, I did watch the first season. It seemed new, at the time, to have a group of people struggling to live off the land and by their wits...while surrounded by camera crews and support personnel. Plus, my wife and I would watch the show during happy hour at Mesa on West Grey. They used to serve these blue margaritas that were 1/3 tequila, 1/3 Everclear, and 1/3 antifreeze, so that probably helped.

And it isn't as if I'm anti-reality programming. For example, COPS has been in my regular viewing rotation since 1989, when a typical Saturday involved getting off work around 6 PM, grabbing some dinner, watching "the men and women of law enforcement" nab some crackheads, then go out and do my best to not make a guest appearance on their Austin installment.

But while COPS may be the grandaddy of reality TV, it was Survivor that really paved the way for subsequent shows about the mentally ill, like Hoarders, Intervention, and The Bachelor. It's initial success was understandable from a novelty perspective...but 21 seasons? I can think of at least...five "Survivors" I'd rather sit through.

Asia, "Sole Survivor"

The quasi-prog rock supergroup gets unfairly maligned, but they produced some enjoyable tunes in the early 1980s. And I'm not just saying that because I still have their eponymous first album...on vinyl.

Chuck Palahnkiuk's Survivor

Palahniuk has what can charitably be called an enthusiastic following, who are doubtless anxious for the long-delayed film version (the hijacked plane motif deemed unsuitable for a post-9/11 America) of the "Tender Branson story."

Destiny's Child, "Survivor"

This video has inspired me to write my Gilligan's Island remake script. Only with fewer clothes for Ginger (Beyonce) and Mary Ann (Kelly).

Resident Evil: Survivor

I'm pretty sure it's not spoiling anything by posting the final boss fight from a ten-year-old video game, but I'm sure someone will complain.


Ah, the 80s...when a Members Only jacket and a grandpa hat covering your balding dome was still a guaranteed chick magnet...as long as you were in a band, that is.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar