In the world of Survivor one of the most talked about potential future seasons is an All Winners edition. With 29 different winners currently crowned, such a mouthwatering season seems to become more and more feasible as each year passes. In today's feature article Ozlet Cable Brandon delves into some of the key elements such a season should include, from the all important question of whether the game should end in a final 2 or 3 to small touches like the buff colours for each tribe. Click below to read some thoughts on what Survivor fans deserve from an All Winners season.
When Survivor made it’s debut way back in 2000, who could have possibly imagined this social experiment for a million dollars would outlast many other television shows by having 32 seasons spanning 16 years?
Over the course of those 16 years and 32 seasons (yes, 31 & 32 are in the editing stage) we’ve watched full returning player seasons, and new players mixed with returnees. And we recently had the flattering task of having a say by voting in Second Chance players for the upcoming season.
For years fans of the show have speculated on potential future returnee seasons with rumours sometimes leaking from former players themselves; ‘Brains vs. Brawn’, ‘Heroes vs. Villains’, ‘Old School vs. New School’, ‘Fans vs. Favourites’, and ‘Second Chances’ but for me I’ve always wanted an ‘All Winners’ season since I first heard it speculated on over 10 years ago.
While ‘All Stars’ was the first returning player season, was it the first conceived by Mark Burnett, Jeff Probst and co.? Well apparently not. Back in late 2002, Australian Survivor winner Robert Dickson mentioned in a radio interview that he had been consulted by producers about possibly returning in the future for an ‘All Winners’ season, which would be an international Survivor event. So at that time that would have been Richard Hatch, Tina Wesson, Ethan Zohn, Vecepia Towery, Robert Dickson and all other winners from all international versions of the show.
I have no idea how far down the track this season had come to fruition, but I can see why it never went ahead. Whilst the US CBS version was a juggernaut, many of the international versions failed to live up to the hype because they were simply not as good as their CBS counterparts.
With poor results the Australian version only lasted one season and the UK version only 2 seasons, giving us hardly enough winners to support a full 16-player season. Trying to organise several players from different parts of the world to play Survivor would also have been an arduous task for production. Plus winning players from non-English speaking backgrounds would be at a major disadvantage in the game and imagine editing that for a North American audience.
Lastly would a US audience watch their winners take on winners from the international versions they had never seen? That’s hard to answer, but the Castaway Productions contracts between several networks across many countries would made any chance of the season seeing the light of day extremely remote.
Do fans want to see an all winners season?
I know I definitely do (yes, I loved both All Stars & Heroes vs. Villains) and even though it is sure to be epic, I pause, hesitate and think, do I really want to see some of my favourite winners comeback and fail miserably? I’m just not sure I can handle seeing Danni Boatwright or Chris Daugherty be a first or early boot after so long out of the game.
I think back to ‘All Stars’ and on reflection that is one of the main negatives I have for that season, the systematic execution of all the winners early. I get why it happened, if I were on that cast I probably would have done the same thing as well. While it didn’t it tarnish their reputations in my eyes, it does devalue their achievements in a sense when you analyze all the finishing place results.
I guess the big difference between All Stars, Heroes vs. Villains and an All Winners season is every player equally has a target on their back or effectively a clean slate. All players will start on equal pegging and that has to be a good thing. Actually, maybe Sandra has a slightly bigger target if she plays. But overall everyone starts anew.
The only downside I see for us as an audience is seeing our favourite winner/s going early, but surely the positives outweigh the negatives. Currently we know of 29 winners, with two more to join that illustrious group shortly. The big question is who would come back?
Well that is a question I will answer in the coming weeks. I will give my opinions and thoughts on the potential castaways in a future Top 10 but for now let’s focus on the season itself.
What do we want to or deserve to see?
I feel like, if an ‘All Winners’ season is one of the last seasons they ever make it would be only fitting they go back to where Survivor all began; Borneo!
We have seen several locations used multiple times – Palau, Philippines, Samoa, Panama and Nicaragua but obviously not Borneo. I have absolutely no idea if it is a financially viable option but I just feel this is the way it has to be. Let them use Pagong & Tagi beaches and see how much the location has changed in the 15 plus years.
I can’t think of a more fitting end to Survivors’ story arc then to have an ‘All Winners’ season set in the location that started off this epic journey.
Personally I would love to see Borneo again, but I’m also not naïve enough to realize that this location may no longer be suitable with the budget constraints of a season. Other factors like environment, seasonal weather or country politics may exclude Borneo as a legitimate option.
If I had a second choice, the Cook Islands were aesthetically amazing on the eye, and the location also allows production the ability to give us lots of water challenges by filming in the Aituaki Lagoon.
Rites of Passage
Bring back ‘Rites of Passage’; I have no idea why it has been dropped and whether they’ve even bothered to film it some seasons, but it’s always been one of my favourite parts of a season and I get the feeling there are many fans like me who feel the same. Rites of Passage while some may think it’s corny, is an important part of the journey for the finalists (and audience) to reflect on the game and the players that were part of that experience. As a fan I always loved seeing this journey, collecting the torches, the music, the confessionals and the ceremonial burning at the completion of the walk. Bring it back Probst!
Okay, so tribe buffs is a very trivial thing when it comes to a season but as a buff collector I decided to analyse the colours that could be used for an ‘All Winners’ season. So I looked at every winner and what his or her original Day 1 tribe buff colour was. Seven winners started the game with a yellow buff, whilst red and orange buffs covered 5 winners each. Assuming the season is a two-tribe affair, I propose that the tribes start with red and yellow buffs, with orange to be the merge buff, exactly like Survivor Vanuatu. If the game was to start as a three-tribe format, the next most popular winners colour was blue.
While I’m an old school fan of two tribes, I’m not totally opposed to a three-tribe setup. I guess it all depends greatly on who decides to come back and how they split the tribes. One of the reasons I don’t like a three-tribe season is historically one of the tribe’s struggles badly (yes, Worlds Apart was the exception to the rule), but my fear would be that a tribe would struggle from the outset and we don’t want to lose winners that way. We want and crave a close, hard fought, epic competition!
An interesting idea came from Ozlet Colin Hilding, he liked the idea of having one tribe of aggressive players (Mike Holloway & Boston Rob) while the other had the more ‘fly under the radar’ sneaky types (Vecepia Towery & Sandra Diaz Twine), which I also find extremely interesting. But more of this will be explored in the next article.
From a production point of view, I would limit the amount of tribe mix-ups or swaps. Personally I can’t stand a season where there is an overuse of tribe switches. And please please please please bury the draw new buffs tribe switch; it is simply the worst, I can’t think of a fair or decent outcome from this type of switch. I pull my thinning hair out every time Jeff approaches the players with a bag full of buffs. This way of tribe mixing is too random and really invites lopsided uneven tribes that even producers would hate to see. Surely Jeff Probst and production see some of the tribe switch results and think “WTF did we just do that for?” The last season; Worlds Apart had a terrible tribe swap, with the tribes not even remotely in the same league.
One of my favourite mix-ups was the way they mixed the tribes in Gabon. Have them rank each other as a tribe, then have the most important players pick the tribes. Or just come up with an original way to move the players around like have an individual based challenge where the first finishing male and female become tribe captains and alternate picks like the start of Thailand or Gabon. Viewers want to see equally matched tribes after a switch, not a massacre like we just saw in Worlds Apart.
Final 2 or Final 3?
For years I’ve been a massive advocate of a final two and have bitched and moaned for it to stay as it brings more tension to a finale. A final two places the pressure on the winner of immunity to be the sole decision maker in firstly eliminating one person from the game and secondly choosing the person they sit next to at the final tribal council.
Personally this is why I hate final 3, the immunity winner of a final four has a say and a vote, but there is not as much tension or repercussions of their vote. Perfect example just happened this season when winner Mike Holloway made the perfect move by setting up a fire making challenge between Carolyn & Rodney. Instead of taking Carolyn out, he made them fight it out and effectively put the decision of who moved forward into their hands. Apart from the fire building zzzzzzz there was no tension in that vote.
For me, I just don’t think I’ve seen enough interesting, and close final threes to like it enough.
Having said all that, an All Winners season would be the first time I would ever be open to a final 3 as I think it would be 3 deserving players unlike a normal season where we generally see a goat or dead fish get to the end.
Bring back classic challenges from across the whole catalogue of Survivor seasons and lessen the amount of ‘puzzles’ for the season. I really liked that they brought back classic challenges for Heroes vs. Villains, with Jeff telling us when they were used and who participated.
The auction is a must but with so many savvy players, mix it up by not having any special items like clues for idols, challenge advantages or extra votes. Producers should rewatch the Survivor Guatemala auction with ‘loved ones’ and use that as a template for all future Auctions.
In recent seasons, I’ve hated reward challenges with randomly drawn teams. Make them all individual with the winner picking one or two players to take. Similar to a Final 2, these decisions bring more tension and drama to the episodes and also can have further consequences moving forward in the game (See Palau when Greg takes Jenn & Katie as one of many examples).
Another challenge that brings out the drama is ‘Touchy Subject’. Why this challenge is not a guarantee for every season is beyond belief. They get so much material from this challenge it’s ridiculous. It’s the easiest way for producers to create fights, divisions, drama, tears, alliance flippers, mistrust and paranoia with very little effort. Imagine Jeff asking the question of who is the most overrated winner or most undeserving? Heads would explode!
While very simple and probably not the most exciting, I love the ‘Hands on the Idol’ final immunity challenge (actually any endurance challenge for that matter; see Top 10 Final Immunity Challenges) and what it offers psychologically to the finale.
I won’t bore you here on why it’s so great but Hatch stepping down knowing he is going to the finals, Vecepia’s deal with Neleh, and Amber & Rob negotiating for the final necklace are good reasons. Add to that Rob Cesternino bargaining with Jenna and Ian stepping down against Tom in similar challenges, only again emphasizes why Final 2 is better than a Final 3. Final 3 can never be as epic as Final 2 because it simply doesn’t have this element. What made Micronesia even better than it already was? Making it a Final 2 with Amanda cutting Cirie’s throat. Change that to an easy Final 3 and Natalie boot and it’s just not as good. And stop the Cirie was robbed garbage, the biggest nonsense and fan fiction ever created!
Anyone that says Final 3 is better than Final 2 to me will get this Penner response “You know what, that’s bollocks and you know it”
I’ve just realized again that I hate Final 3 soooo much that I take back my earlier statement. I don’t want a Final 3 All Winners. Make it Final 2.
So there are my thoughts and ideas for ‘All Winners’, what would you like to see? Keep an eye out for my Top 10 list of Winners who should return.
What are your thoughts on an All Winners Season? Do you like the idea? Dislike it? What elements would you like to see included in such a season? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!
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