Monday, May 18, 2015

Survivor 31: Second Chance - Who I'm Voting For

After 30 Season, and almost every theme one could imagine and a few we'd like to forget (I'm looking at you One World), Survivor has come up with a new twist. They have brought back a group of 32 players who believe they deserve a second chance to play the game.  Out of this group, fans have to vote for ten women and ten men.  Those with the most votes will be revealed after the finale of Survivor 30, Worlds Apart this Wednesday night.

By definition, this crop of contestants did not win their season and have not had another opportunity to play.  Some of the players had bad luck on their side, some had twists that undid their game, and others simply made mistakes.  Since the pool goes back to the very beginning of Survivor, we have some players in contention that never played with a hidden immunity idol before.  Never went to Exile Island.  Never had the chance to buy an advantage at an auction.  Never saw booted players return to the game.   Some played when the show was focused more on scenery than strategy, when survival of the elements was bigger than surviving the social game.  The show has evolved over the past fifteen years as has the way the game is played.  Add onto that the fact that some players are ten or more years older than the last time they played and others may be on the island with past friends or foes, you can see the appeal of this upcoming season.

Best of all, we the fans are casting the show.  No more wondering how that person made it on.  We put them there.  So, in the interest of an entertaining and exciting season, having watched every season of Survivor since the first, here are my picks for Survivor 31: Second Chance.

My Top 10 Men

1. Jeff Varner
Season 2, “Survivor: The Australian Outback”
Varner was my favorite contestant in the second season of the show, with his wry wit and his devious mind.  He promised to play both a strategic and social game, with more charm and looks than the inaugural winner Richard Hatch, but just as clever.  Unfortunately, a twist since dropped - having prior votes cast against you used in case of a tie - and Kimmi Kappenberg's loose lips sunk Varner's ship way too soon.

2. Andrew Savage
Season 7, “Survivor: Pearl Islands”
Savage is an alpha male who was dominant in the game, back when physical threats were not the early targets.  But his run was cut short when a new twist, thankfully never to be repeated, was used.  Unbeknownst to anyone, eliminated survivors were not sent home but were kept nearby, fed and then given the chance to compete to get back in the game.  The return of two of the "outcasts" spelled the end for Savage.

3. Shane Powers
Season 12, “Survivor: Panama”
If you enjoy good TV, you want to have Shane Powers on the show.  He will not bore, he will not under-perform.  He will be crazy, frenetic, irrational, spontaneous, upset, and loud. Shane is not boring.  He talked on a rock pretending it was his Blackberry.  He had a special thinking stone.  The guy is nearly certifiable and one can only imagine they either failed to give him the psych test or there were a lot of erasure marks before it was submitted for scoring.  For the love of everything holy, he has to be back on my TV.

4. Terry Deitz
Season 12, “Survivor: Panama”
He's Captain America and Superman rolled into one. An honest to god fighter pilot.  He'll carry his team on his (nine years older) back.  It will be interesting to see him butt heads with Savage, and watch as the two older alpha males have to compete with golden boy Joe.  Terry is used to being in front of the camera and has the swagger and attitude that comes with being an airline pilot.  What he lacked in strategic play he made up for with an immunity run.  If he learns to work on his social game, he could go far.

5.  Stephen Fishbach
Season 18, "Survivor Tocantins"
Stephen had a great bromance with country boy JT Thomas and the two carried each other to the end. That's where Stephen's game fell apart.  He was still so enamored of his partner in crime, so mesmerized by his dimpled smile and aw shucks demeanor, Fishbach he could barely articulate a reason not to give him the million.  Stephen has since spent the past few years analyzing not only his own mistakes in the game, but everyone else's game play both for as well as the Survivor Know-it-Alls Show on Rob Has a Podcast.  I'd like to see how his picking apart strategy week after week helps him in the game and whether he can manage not to take pretty boys like Joe or Woo to the end with him this time.

6. Jim Rice
Season 23, “Survivor: South Pacific”
We need some players with HUGE chips on their shoulders, and Jim has been carrying around the Cochran flipped vote for years.  If Cochran hadn't flipped, and they'd gone to pulling rocks, there might have been no need for a second chance.  Whether that's true or not, Jim Rice believes it with every fiber of his being.  Almost more than anyone else, he feels wronged and will go back with an intensity and a desire to do whatever it takes to get to the end that should make for good TV.

7. Spencer Bledsoe
Season 28, “Survivor: Cagayan”
Spencer is a super fan, like Shirin, Kelley and Stephen, and knows how to scramble for the hidden immunity idols and play strategic.  His last time out he was hampered by one borderline psychotic rice trashing tribemate and another more vindictive than savvy.  Spencer makes good soundbites and though not a physical threat, should get another chance to use his social and strategic skills.

8. Jeremy Collins
Season 29, “Survivor: San Juan del Sur”
There is not one player, not even my beloved Shane, who is more entertaining to watch.  Jeremy gives the best confessionals of any player.   His frustration and aggravation-laden rants against the stupid people on his tribe are so funny.  He's like the lovable dad in every TV sitcom, who sits and complains about everyone else, sighing loudly at the nincompoops he's forced to deal with.

9. Vytas Baskauskas
Season 27, “Survivor: Blood vs. Water”
Vytas was hamstrung by playing with his brother, a former Survivor winner.  Despite this, he managed to use his looks and way with the ladies to stay in the game longer than he should.  Physically fit and hungry for redemption (and wanting to best his brother), Vytas will play hard this time out.

10. Keith Nale
Season 29, “Survivor: San Juan del Sur”
Why do I want to see some old guy who spits, knows nothing about Surivor and couldn'st spell strategy?  Four words:  stick to the plan.

I'd have voted for Mike Galloway but I'm pretty sure that he's the winner of World's Apart.

My Top 10 Women:

1. Kelly Wiglesworth
Season 1, “Survivor: Borneo”
She lost to Richard Hatch, one of the greatest players in Survivor history, by just one vote.  She was the subject of the famed rats versus snakes speech.  She was a young girl with outdoors skills who came for an adventure and ended up helping carrying her foursome all the way to the end.  She's fifteen years older and wiser and I believe we owe it to the island spirits we have come to know to let it end in the way that Mother Nature intended, for the rat to have a second chance.

2. Kimmi Kappenberg
Season 2, “Survivor: The Australian Outback”
I am automatically voting for all of the old timers.  I have a nostalgic twinge in my chest just at the thought of these early seasons and I appreciate those whose gameplay for better or, in Kimmi's case,  worse have left an indelible mark.  Kimmi was loud and feisty and stirred the pot.  And the opportunity for her to play against, let alone with, Jeff Varner gives me the goosies.  

3. Teresa “T-Bird” Cooper
Season 3, "Survivor Africa"
Again, early Survivor = automatic vote.  She's sweet and loyal and we can't have a season with all crafty back-stabbing jerks.  And us old ladies need to stick together.  

4. Abi-Maria Gomes
Season 25, “Survivor: Philippines”
I hated her on the show.  I never, ever, ever wanted to see her on my TV again. I was thrilled that she lost.  I'm pretty sure I cheered.  She was a pain in the ass who thought she was god's gift to the world. But I'm willing to put that aside for the fireworks that will result when anyone does or says the wrong thing and she sets her sights on them.

5. Kass McQuillen
Season 28, “Survivor: Cagayan”
Kass is another player whose game I did not enjoy, but who I think will make great TV.  She flip-flopped more than a recently caught flounder and made moves as much to hurt others as to benefit herself.  She acted without thinking, dug her own grave, and then jumped in.  But she fully embraces her Chaos Kass nickname and promises to bring the same level of craziness and overplaying that led Cagayan to being one of the most entertaining seasons ever.  

6. Tasha Fox
Season 28, “Survivor: Cagayan
Tasha is the Yin to Kass' Yang.  She's affable and endearing, cute as well as smart (she could easily have been on the Beauty tribe instead of the Brains) and had she been playing with smarter "brains" could have gone even father.  She's got a good mind for strategy and can play a great social game.

7. Kelley Wentworth
Season 29, “San Juan del Sur”
Kelley is a hardcore fan and a devoted member of the Survivor family.  Unlike many relatively early boots, she does not have any animosity or hurt feelings, but she does feel like she was robbed of the chance to really play.  And I tend to agree.  Her father made himself a target and she was the unlucky recipient of the collateral damage.  She's strong and fit and smart and personable and would make a good heroic foil to some of the villains in the cast.

8. Peih-Gee Law
Season 15, “Survivor: China”
Peh-Gee played a hard game, was a good strategist, and was good in challenges, but let her emotions get the best of her.  This is perfect candidate for a second chance season.  She was a leader of her tribe and was in a good position pre-merge, but lacked the numbers after the merge and couldn't make any headway against Todd's alliance.

9. Shirin Oskooi
Season 30, “Survivor: World’s Apart”
I'm hoping, especially with Max not there to amp her up, that Shirin can put aside her geeky fandom and actually play to win.  She showed no signs that she had learned anything for her years of devoted fandom, not until after Max's ouster.  Only then did she start to show signs that she could play a strong strategic game.  I'd like to see her have that chance.  And no Will to crush her spirit in the process.

10. Ciera Eastin
Season 27, “Survivor: Blood vs Water”
If Keith Nale squeaks into the tenth spot on my list for four words, Ciera does it with five:  She voted out her mother.

Cast your votes here and then tune in Wednesday night to see who gets their ticket for Survivor 31: Second Chance.

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