"He doesn't say please, he doesn't say thank you."
May 22, 2001 9:58 AM   Subscribe

"He doesn't say please, he doesn't say thank you." Yeah, it's Survivor, British-style. A natural leader with survival experience emerges, gets his tribe organised, and is promptly voted out in the quietest of revolutions. My American girlfriend, who'd watched Colby marshal his people through the Outback season, is visibly gobsmacked. ("I really couldn't do psychology in this country.") Different levels of power distance at work?
posted by holgate (12 comments total)
Pulau Tiga? Cheap bastards are using the same old set! Is your host as unctuous as ours?

Too bad there'll never be an Arctic Survivor; no T&A to show off there.
posted by aaron at 10:08 AM on May 22, 2001

Nice. Learn all you can from someone competent, then eliminate him as a threat before he can get any kind of momentum going. An interesting strategy, compared to the simplistic 'kill-off-the-deadwood-first' strat of the US contestants.

I wonder if the Brit version has as many product placements?

aaron: I'd love to see Siberian Survivor, but you're right, it'll never happen.
posted by darukaru at 10:25 AM on May 22, 2001

Oh, I don't know. Sweaty scenes inside the tribal yurt… diving nude from the sauna into a snowbank… there's potential there.
posted by rodii at 10:36 AM on May 22, 2001

I'm an American that's been living in the UK during the entire Survivor phenomenon, so I'm interested to finally find out what I've been missing. I posted my thoughts on the episode on my website this morning. To answer the questions above, the host is nowhere near as annoying as Jeff Probst is. In fact, he sounds sorta like an anthropologist, sorta paternal and cool. Not at all smarmy (except for the stupid lines they make him recite about fire = life, etc.). And so far there hasn't been any product placement that I've seen.
posted by web-goddess at 10:37 AM on May 22, 2001

Too bad there'll never be an Arctic Survivor; no T&A to show off there.

Well, that and surviving in a really cold climate actually requires some survival skills, which is one thing the contestants to date have seemed rather short on.
posted by binkin at 10:38 AM on May 22, 2001

For me the whole thing seemed over-produced - anyone watching 'Living in the Iron Age' in the UK will appreciate how much more fun these shows are the grungier the production. Plus, I don't feel the same excitement knowing that some has already one the million, and that some renegade tabloid hack might just do their job and release the outcome . . .
posted by feelinglistless at 10:48 AM on May 22, 2001

And be fooled by the producers, the same way the renegade hacks were on US Survivors 1 and 2. ;)
posted by darukaru at 10:55 AM on May 22, 2001

The Iron Age show? That's the one where everybody nearly DIED? I agree that such historical programs (like the 1940's House) are interesting, but comparing them to Survivor is apples to oranges. I mean, Survivor's never claimed to be anything accurate. It's a game show, and a pretty cheesy one at that. So far the UK version looks less image-conscious than the US one, but it's still all about the money.

And seriously, as much as some of the Survivor contestants annoy me, I'd rather watch them scheme and compete than watch a group of men, women and children get malnourished, walk around in mud and filth for six weeks, and ultimately have to be carted away for medical attention.
posted by web-goddess at 10:56 AM on May 22, 2001

web-goddess: You obviously arn't a fan of the kind of dark introspective cinema I enjoy. I see 'Kissed' is on Channel 4 next Thursday in a double bill with 'SwingBlade' - lovely. And seriously - I was talking terms of production, not human experience. It's all down to personal choice, but 'Survivor' is just that bit too Hollywood. Give me an indie cinema version any day. Imagine if it had been filmed to the rules of the Dogme 95 Vow of Chastity. DV-Camera ahoy!
posted by feelinglistless at 11:38 AM on May 22, 2001

Of course they're using the same set, Aaron; it's all licensed from the same people: concept creator Charlie Parsons and his partners, one of them Bob Geldof (obligatory parenthetical: yes, that Bob Geldof -- Boomtown Rat makes good to the tune of some $50M, on top of his dot-com winnings.). For all the publicity that Mark Burnett gets for being the line producer on the American show, you'd think it was his idea after all. Anyway, ours wasn't the first anyway: Parsons first shopped it all over Europe until Swedish TV bit and made the concept a hit.
posted by dhartung at 12:45 PM on May 22, 2001

Hey, I can do "dark night of the soul." Kissed is on Channel 4? I didn't realise they did necrophilia. (Or is it Film 4? I don't have cable.)

My problem with the Dogme 95 thing (speaking both as someone with a Film B.A. and somebody who enjoys pop culture) is that it's great until you start thinking everything has to be that way. I like variety. I think that "Breathless" was a great film. I also think "Bring it On" was a great film, for entirely different but no less valid reasons. Man was not put on this earth for hand-held DV alone.

Eh, I'm just arguing for the sake of it now. Since leaving the college cocoon I haven't found many willing to have a good ol' debate on aesthetics and culture anymore.

To wrench this post back on topic... I don't think "Survivor" aspires to be "Great Television". It aspires to hook 12 million + people's attention for the next six weeks. It's summertime! Have some fun. Besides, you don't know how good you have it over here in England. In America, stuff like that "Iron Age" thing never makes it off PBS.
posted by web-goddess at 1:07 PM on May 22, 2001

I don't see the cultural difference here. Same game, same mindset. Survivor I in the U.S.: Bibi, the sixty-something leader of the Pagong Tribe, labors under the sun building his group's shelter while others recline in the sun. Result: Bibi is the first one Voted Off by his tribe.

Survivor II in the U.S.: Army Intelligence Office Kel spends his first days in the Outback trying valiantly to find fish for his tribe to eat while others recline. Result: Kel is the first one Voted Off by his tribe.

Survivor is about knowing how to lead with the right mix of aw-shucks charm and control.
posted by lock at 1:32 PM on May 22, 2001

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