It’s Wednesday, you’re having Survivor withdrawal's and don't know what to do about them? Well, Guess what… we have the answer! Wednesday is Survivor Oz Top Ten day and this week our New Zealand Ozlet, Nick Chester, brings to you the Top Ten Season Premieres! Of course, we have had twenty-six seasons of Survivor, which means twenty-six premieres; but which ones have stood out the most? Is it a season with returning players? Is it the debut episode of Survivor? Or is it a season that promised so much in the opening episode but let you down for the remainder of the season? Read on to find out and then let us know your list below!
With the premiere of Survivor: Blood vs Water now confirmed, it seems a good time to look back on some of the past premieres and what makes them so memorable. For many fans, the opening episode of the season brings many highlights: Jeff’s opening speech, (filmed in ever more outlandish places), the opening credits and theme song and of course the introduction to new players. Often the first challenge is exciting and even epic in construction, and sometimes the first Tribal Council can be explosive. It is also fun to look back on this episode later to see what hints and clues the editors started to drop about how the game would play out and who would be the eventual winner. Here are ten of the best season premieres that tick many, if not all of these boxes.
The season starts with Jeff giving his opening speech from on top of a volcano. Doesn’t get much more epic than that. Episode one of Vanuatu also features an incredible starting sequence, with the players being escorted onto the island by Vanuatu Warriors, before a kava and spirit stone ceremony. The opening challenge and Chris’ epic failure in it also created a great moment to highlight his turnaround and eventual win at the end of the season.
For a season so derided by fans, Redemption Island has a fantastic opening episode. The arrival of Rob and Russell threw the players for a loop and the Immunity Challenge was epic. But the dynamics between the players were especially interesting, particularly on the Ometepe tribe. Francesca put the target on herself by immediately pointing out that Rob was a threat and Christina finding the Immunity Idol kept attention on her too. The first Tribal Council was perhaps the best in an opening episode, with Phillip completely flying off the handle, Rob threatening Christina and trying to get her to give up her Hidden Immunity Idol made for great drama so early in the game.
Once again, Jeff’s opening was in a spectacular place, right on top of a Maya pyramid. The return of Bobby Jon and Stephanie was a great moment and the intense jungle trek was one of the most memorable moments in Survivor. The episode also showed a fantastic location in all its glory and showed players being pushed to their physical limits, which is something that is often lost in later seasons.
The premiere of Palau was memorable for a number of reasons. The swim to shore for Immunity and then the entire cast not being split into tribes made for a unique dynamic not seen before. Of course having two players leave without being voted off or even getting a buff was a first and a brutal end to the experience for Wanda and Jonathan. Seeing the Ulong tribe having to start from scratch halfway through the episode was tough, yet entertaining watching. The introduction of the military theme and opening credits made the premiere really stand out.
With such a unique location and culture to show off, it was no surprise that China’s premiere was particularly strong. Seeing the castaways start in a city and gradually travel to the remote location where the season would play out was a lot of fun, and gave the season an “old school” feel. The Buddhist ceremony to start the adventure was also a great touch. Then of course there were the players themselves. Meeting what was a very strong cast of players was fun to watch and seeing the start of Todd’s game and how Jean Robert already had tabs on him was really interesting. Plus who can forget such a memorable first boot as Chicken. Daym!
Another totally different location and great cast got Africa off to a quick start. Seeing the truck leave the African village with “Survivor: Africa” emblazoned across the roof was a nice touch, and made all the more fun when the players get thrown off the truck, almost literally, by their driver. The Immunity Challenge was another epic one, and then the fallout back at Boran was rather intense. The fight between Dianne and Clarence, and the tribe coming down hard on Clarence made for gripping TV, and certainly put a lot of doubt on who would go home first, which isn’t often the case.
The first episode of the first “battle of the sexes” season was always going to be particularly entertaining. The premiere of The Amazon went so well, you couldn’t have written it any better. Seeing the guys lose the challenge after being so cocky and arrogant set the season off to a good start and was a perfect beginning. The dynamics amongst the characters immediately set up some great interactions and conflicts on both sides, and made for a very entertaining opening in one of the best locations in the show’s history.
The first ever episode of the show really is compelling watching. There is no doubting that it lacks the slick production values of current seasons, but watching people who had no idea what they were doing build shelters and learn how to cope with each other is fun. It’s worth watching just to see how challenges are different now, (Borneo’s first challenge is over almost immediately, quite a difference from the set pieces of today), and the awkwardness of the first Tribal Council when no one is quite sure what to do.
Perhaps the greatest season has one of the greatest premieres. From Jeff’s intro with choppers flying above him, to the great Q and A session on the beach, the season got off to a great start. The Reward Challenge that followed was an instant classic, with two injuries, Sugar losing her top and Colby getting frog marched to the mat by Coach. Both tribes had hilarious moments back at camp, (perhaps Coach’s quest to climb the coconut tree takes the cake), and almost every character delivered what the viewer would have expected. The icing on the cake was the somewhat unexpected Immunity Challenge win for the Villains, putting the Heroes on the back foot and setting the rest of the game up nicely.
The best season premiere of all time, hands down. Pearl Islands starts off with the players finding out that they are about to be thrown overboard with nothing but the clothes on their back and a small pouch of money to spend at the local village. The looks on people’s faces when they find this out is priceless. The scenes in the village as Drake haggle their way to a great start in the game and the Morgan’s flounder sets up the first half of the game perfectly. But the fun doesn’t stop there. An epic Immunity Challenge is seen, with tribe having to drag heavy cannons through the jungle and onto the beach. At this point the guys on Morgan get naked. How that helps, I have no idea. The episode has so many iconic Survivor moments and is the birth of some of the greatest and most memorable players of all time. The producers really sell the pirate theme right from the beginning in almost everything they do, and this starts one of the best seasons off in some style.
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!