Survivor Oz Top 10 – Top 10 Production Lessons Learned From Survivor Borneo


The show of Survivor has continued to evolve, but after the show's first outing in 2000, the producers quickly learned what worked and what to regale to the Survivor scrap heap. This week Rossi continues his recaps on lessons learned from Borneo with some of the stranger production flourishes we saw way back when, and why the just didn't work. Do you agree with his picks? What else improved after Survivor Borneo? Let us know with a comment!

10. The Mystery Torches


The traditional habits of tribal council consist of some discussion with Jeff about the events that occurred prior, which is then followed by a vote, and then culminates with one contestant being voted. The formula has not changed in the thirty seasons of show despite new twists. In the very first season, there was an inconsistency with the torches and each torch would rest at a varying height. Some torches would rest quite low to the ground, whereas others were quite tall when resting. This would be later improves as in the Australian Outback all torches were equal.

9. Conch Shell


A very short-lived idea implemented at the third and only tribal council was the Conch Shell. This item was meant to move the council along, as the only person that was allowed to speak was the one holding the conch. The contestants were then supposed to pass this around just to get their point across. The felt very childish and seemed really bizarre so thankfully it only lasted one tribal council.

8. Challenge Improvements


A large part of Survivor is the entertaining challenges that test the contestants both physically and mentally. At times, the challenges can feel slightly repetitive with similar concepts being used again and again. The original season definitely had some very memorable challenges, but there were quite a few challenges that did not deliver in terms of entertainment. One instance of a challenge not really delivering is the challenge in which the contestants had to hold their breath underwater as long as they possibly could. The concept is quite interesting, but gets pretty old after a while.

7. The Gong


The ceremonial gong located at the entrance/exit of the tribal council was to become a ritual for the tribal council ceremony. This tradition was generally unnecessary; it is quite confusing why the gong was even wanted. This silly add on was eventually scrapped going into the second season, and that was for the better.

6. Idol Fetching


In some of the pre-merge challenges, one it was all said and done and the winner was crowned Jeff would have the winning tribe go and grab the idol of some distant island. This was quite confusing, because as the winning tribe they shouldn’t have to do this extra work. One instance the winning tribe was to go to “Snake Island” where the idol was strung up to a tree. This was just absolutely ridiculous and fortunately removed.

5. Better Rewards


Not only were there general challenge improvement, but also the rewards for winning were greatly improved. There was also a great inconsistency with the rewards. After Sean wins a luxurious reward, Kelly then wins a challenge that only would give her a beer. After protest, her reward was upgraded, but this shouldn’t have happened in the first place. In modern Survivor the rewards may seem repetitive, but at least everyone gets similar opportunities. As iconic, as the Survivor Bar may be it still was a strange and not something overly helpful to win later challenges.

4. Tribal Council Seating Arrangements


There were a few issues that came with the early tribal councils, one of them being the seating arrangement. In the first season, the tribe sat in one row, which not only made it difficult to see all of the contestants at all times. The tribal council have greatly progressed and now it easier to see everybody and has a better feel with the double level system currently in place.

3. The Money Box


Probably the cheesiest feature about the first season is the chest that is supposedly containing the one million dollar grand prize located at tribal council. It was meant to serve as a reminder about what they are really fighting for, the money. It was definitely a good idea to eventually remove, because it looked really tacky and didn’t really fit with the rest of the surroundings.

2. Confessionals with Background Characters


Early on, the confessionals were not as controlled and as a result, when one contestant was giving a confessional others were passing around in the background. The separation of the confessional allows for unfiltered comments, where as these ‘open’ the people around them control confessional. Not to say that it was terrible visually, but in context to the game, it is slightly strange and uncomfortable. Technically, a contestant is talking about their tribe mates, so it seems unfitting to have them cooking or cleaning behind them. Confessionals are meant for the contestants to speak their mind in private and should be visually presented in the same manner.

1. Announcing the Winner on the Island


This is definitely one of the most drastic differences from the first season from what followed it. Announcing the winner on the island seems very fitting foe the show, but in retrospect was not the best choice. One major issue with it is the problem with spoilers. The ability to keep such a big secret is quite the challenge and by announcing the winner on the island, made it easy for the cast to indirectly spoil the ending. By holding off on the final announcement, there was a greater mystery and therefore less likely for the ending to be spoiled.

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!



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3 Comments on Survivor Oz Top 10 – Top 10 Production Lessons Learned From Survivor Borneo

  1. I think that the 1st season was very entertaining and unique because both the contestants and producers were figuring out things as they went along. I have some theory’s about Borneo

    1. I think that the challenges were made and thought up on the day or day before they were played. It just makes sense because they all used materials that you could find on the island.

    2. I think the confessionals were done by simply going up to a camera man/woman and talking to them. They were defiantly not secrete obviously it was more do it at your own risk. Even thought there was no real strategy anyway so no real fear of being caught.

    3. I think they didn’t check the votes at all. I think they just voted when they were ready and he just read them from 1st to last no order. I am pretty sure that TC was only like 10 minutes then vote then leave.

    4. I think they jury was informed to vote based on who went through the journey. I think they actually lost leave money if they were bitter in the early seasons. I heard that someone where.

    I think it was simply Production, contestants, camera people, and medical team. All arriving on the island with the only information being to vote someone off every 3 days. They probably were all just wondering how to survive and how to conduct the show. The cluelessness was what made it so obviously real and feel so natural.

  2. The above commenter nailed it. What made Borneo so watchable was that it didn’t feel over-produced like later seasons. I don’t know if you got this show in America but here in Australia around the same time there was a show called ‘Shipwrecked’.

    The premise was basically Survivor without the voting people off every week part. The production values on that show and Survivor Borneo were basically the same, which is how I ended up loving both shows, even though Shipwrecked didn’t evolve quite like Survivor did.

    I agree with everything on the Top 10 list but for all that modern Survivor and its production team gets right today, they will never be able to recreate the feeling of novelty and adventure the audience felt watching Borneo.

  3. Speaking as someone who’s watched Survivor since the very first season–Borneo worship really annoys me. I’ve rewatched it a few times recently and it just doesn’t hold up.

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