Survivor and The Amazing Race are two reality television juggernauts that share a very long and entwined history. From Jeff Probst and Phil Keoghan originally squaring off for the Survivor hosting gig to contestants first appearing on one show and later returning for the other, these two shows have a whole lot in common. Before their back to back premieres this week, Ozlet Alex Morella looks at the strengths of each show and what they can possibly learn from one another. Read on to find out why these shows should pool their wisdom.
I’ve been doing a lot of writing for The Amazing Race recently, and by watching a lot of another reality show…you tend to find a few different elements that you sometimes just think…it would be nice to see more of that in Survivor! They’re not huge things at all, but they add to the experience of watching the whole show and given that there are a lot of similarities as to where the two shows are at, it’s interesting to look at some small elements of one…and how they were/could be applied to the other.
So if anyone has lived under a rock…The Amazing Race is about 11 Teams of Two racing around the world to find Phil Keoghan and not get eliminated…I don’t really feel saying any more is necessary because…there’s been 25 seasons of the thing…and it’s also on CBS…surely you’ve seen it at least once!!! I’m definitely not condoning the whole teams of 2 thing being played in Survivor…That’s what Blood vs Water is for…where Nadia and Natalie showed that it is apparently easier to win Survivor than it is to win the Amazing Race if you look at the basic numbers (3 Survivor teams – plus a 2nd attempt from Rob and Amber…have tried the Amazing Race – 0 successes…1 team from the Amazing Race has tried Survivor…1 win!). Yeah…pointless statistics! What I do like though is how some of the introductory format of The Amazing Race is used…and has previously been used in Survivor…so I’d love to see some of these things return!
We all talk about this…A FULL INTRO…And while even The Amazing Race has made it small at one point…it returned to a full introduction segment for the 25th Anniversary! There’s just something enjoyable about seeing the full cast, the music you’ve been familiar with for the past 25 seasons, and the tad moments of sadness as you see your favourites who have been eliminated! We haven’t seen this for a number of years in Survivor, and for 40 seconds of our time…it’s not too much to ask! It adds to the experience and it’s just…needed ok???
Since Micronesia…these credits have been shortened, it’s a shame…I even get disappointed when I find out that The Amazing Race ones have been done half-arsed to only have the same image basically shown from two different camera angles, compared to the early days where two completely different scenarios were utilised, although I know this is so that they can put in small snippets of each team actually well…racing!
What do we miss in that 40 seconds? Well possibly half a confessional (don’t really want to give those up), possibly small segments from a challenge (I can live with 20 seconds being cut), cuts to wildlife (I like them…but they can be shortened), images of people on reward challenges (Can be shortened…we get it…they have food), and there you go…40 seconds saved to give us the introduction I so crave!
First Episode Introductions
I feel this is something I love in The Amazing Race…where Phil introduces us to each team…each member…and their relationship. We get 20-30 seconds with each…they tell us about themselves…why they’re doing the race…and why they will win…and it’s that first bit of interaction and a chance to get to know the teams. I enjoy this segment as it just gets you familiar with every team…who’s racing again…how they’ll race and ultimately you can form some first impressions on everyone without even having the race start.
Survivor has this in early seasons…well…it was Jeff telling us who each player was, plus their name and occupation…so it wasn’t as in depth…but all you get now is really a random set of survivors telling you about themselves…and 90% of the time they are big players in the season! It’s not hard to just give everyone a small segment to talk about themselves…so that the fans who haven’t watched the videos beforehand, and even those that have, can quickly have a meeting with all of the Survivors! It’d take 2-4 minutes to do on just the first episode…and would set up the season much more effectively than having us kind of gradually learning who everyone is through random confessionals…at least we can say we met them all!
I acknowledge there are videos online and full cast previews and cast interview things that everyone can read, but it’s never going to be enough for everyone, and in a time in which several big characters can dominate the screen, it would be nice in the first episode if they just touched upon everyone! I know we hate giving in to casual viewers all the time…it would just be something so easy to do that would help everyone…it happens in nearly every reality show…and I feel it’s just something that Survivor has been missing out on for years!
If you win a leg on the Amazing Race…you get a holiday…or a car…or in the Australian version you seem to get a Home Entertainment Package or $5000. In any case…these prizes are awesome…and people are very excited to be getting them! On Survivor…I get it…you win food and nice trips on boats because you’re hungry and smelly and sick of seeing everyone at camp and it’s a nice change…
But bringing back the Car rewards or giving a few big rewards would be a refreshing change for a few rewards challenges!
I know reward challenges are supposed to a) Reward team members with food to be stronger at the immunity challenge and b) Try and annoy other people to potentially change the dynamics of the game…but San Juan Del Sur showed us that reward challenges are…becoming more annoying…with players giving up rewards many times for those who didn’t deserve it…and making some of the most entertaining challenges seem pointless! If you brought in a prize that would make a difference long after the game has finished…it would make the challenges more entertaining…we know how much people wants cars or holidays…we’d see less niceness and politeness…and more passion and commitment…WE CAME FOR BLOOD!
Plus…the car curse was entertaining to see how it went…especially as it seemed to tun the game on it’s head…and Yau-Man’s infamous deal with Dreamz in Fiji was one of the memorable moments of the season…it doesn’t have to be every reward, just a couple to freshen them up and have everyone think about the real world again…and show more of their true colours!
It’s probably because there are less teams…but The Amazing Race feels like everyone gets more of a story…and I know it’s a race so there are legs and it’s much easier to do that…but it feels like more members of each team get time on screen…and while it’s probably declined a bit in the past few seasons…it still feels so much harder to pick a winner…and again…I get that it is because it is a race…but no teams feel overly favoured. Survivor just needs a bit more of this in a few of the recent seasons, where a winner has been able to be picked from a fair distance away (all credit to SJDS for throwing a few plot twists in!).
I mean…did anyone seriously think last season that Amy and Maya were a serious chance of winning The Amazing Race??? If you answered yes…you’re lying! I was one of their biggest fans…and I thought they were due for an early boot! But they lurked through all the way til the end, and it’s the same with so many other winners of the race…you can’t pick it! The winner’s edit is just a bit too obvious the majority of the time in Survivor and it could create a lot more talk and interest if it was just held back to give others time…I feel this issue has come up a lot as well!
It’s not all one way though…there are many ways in which The Amazing Race can improve from learning from Survivor as well! The main one being…..
Reunion shows…One of the highlights of the Survivor season at one point…now…it’s just kind of another episode you watch at the end where we learn a tiny, tiny bit of information and listen to a little girl get excited over Malcolm! But they are still more than we get on The Amazing Race! It’s a bit odd that you finish a season, give away a million dollars to a team, and then that’s it! You hear nothing else, you never get to address any issues from the show, and you literally leave them like that! There are some interviews online (and I loved getting the chance to speak to some of the teams from the Australian Amazing Race about their experience!) but…it’s just not really enough!
It’s not hard to put on a 30-60 minute reunion (or longer would be preferred…but if Survivor can barely give us that now then it’s too much to ask for a longer Amazing Race one! But just…something! We get the questions of how are relationships going now…are dating couples still together…what really happened at a few of the challenges…there’s so many things that just never get answered!
And there’s a lot of props to Survivor for this…and I guess that’s why shows like us and RHAP get a lot of Survivor fans downloading interviews we do…because it has that depth we crave! TAR just doesn’t give much at all and it would be so nice for just an easy TV reunion…especially as the final episode is normally just an hour, and these reunion shows should be mainstays in the season. I have the same qualm with Big Brother Australia…we get 3 hours of a finale…but about 2 minutes with the winner…we want to see them all talking about their time together!!!!
Reaction Videos at Pit Stops
We see teams get eliminated…but you kind of don’t get the reaction of everyone else when they find this out…besides the occasional shock that a team is still there…I’d love to see teams find out at the pit stop and give a bit of a reaction to this…did they like them…are they happy…what does this mean for everyone else…it’s a small thing that you get with Survivor early on when the tribes come in for a challenge after Tribal…and it’s just interesting to see the facial reactions of everyone as they try and figure out the strategy behind it. While there wouldn’t be as much discussion over strategy and why a team was eliminated (they were the slowest…so they are out) it would give a bit more insight into how teams feel about each other, and their mindset before each leg! It’s just one of the ways you can see how teams react to situations…it’s valuable vision!
These are just some elements I reckon could be utilised across shows in order to create overall better programs, they aren’t huge things that will dramatically alter the television landscape…or even the programs much themselves, but it’s just a few areas where I think each show could learn off the other…both are still amazing programs, but a few small tweaks to each could make them just that little bit better!
Do you think Survivor and The Amazing Race can learn from one another? What elements of one show should be brought to the other? Let us know in the comments below!
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