Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance host Jeff Probst breaks down the premiere

24 Sep 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Second Chance’.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Jeff, you know how much I love the fact that you all decided to hide idols in challenges this season. “This is the greatest opportunity I will probably ever have, to tell this kind of rich, deep, hour long stories about a group of normal people who just want an adventure.

Despite being the granddaddy of reality television shows that paved the way for the onslaught of non-scripted programming we have today, Survivor gets surprisingly little respect. Probst, 53, talked with PEOPLE after returning from filming Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance – and he seemed genuinely energized about the season. “The contestants were honored that people voted for them, so they felt an obligation to play hard,” Probst tells PEOPLE. “Many of them swing for the fences from the get-go.” PEOPLE asked Probst about this season’s contestants, even though he knows how each of them placed. I know Stephen Fishbach can, judging by that super awkward post-challenge hug we saw him attempt within the first 30 seconds of tonight’s season premiere. (There has never been a more awkward self-conscious celebrator in human history than Fishbach.

Vytas Baskauskas was the first player voted out of the game after his Ta Keo tribe lost the immunity challenge and then sent him home in tonight’s premiere. Yet as it enters its 31st season — no, you’re not that old, there are two shows per year since it started in 2000 — it remains the finest reality show on TV. Creatively, this is definitely one of those “big risk” moves for us as a show because if it fails and the players can’t pull it off, then we may not have any idols in the season. I want him to win every single challenge ever just to revel in his endless confusion over how to properly congratulate others.) That’s right, folks… it’s time for Survivor: Cambodia—Second Chance and the rambling, nonsensical recaps that go with it. It was a battle between old school and new school mentalities as Shirin and Spencer were able to flip Jeff Varner over to their side and vote Vytas out instead of Abi, who was the target for the minority alliance of Terry, Woo, Vytas, and Kelly Wiglesworth.

And this week will be even more rambling than normal because I will be bringing you some on-location insights from my time on the island during filming. We decided to let them find a note that at first they would think was an idol — so we get the high … followed by an immediate low when they learn it’s not the idol … followed by another high when they realize it will lead them TO the idol … followed by a major twist: You have to be daring enough to grab the idol in front of everybody while in the middle of an immunity challenge. Which is my way of saying — as perturbed as you may get with this recap, it’s worth soldiering on, if for no other reason than to find out how Jeff Varner completely freaked everyone out right before the voting. Kelley Wentworth was the beneficiary of that wrinkle when she found a clue back at camp and then boldly retrieved it while her tribe watched Wisgleworth compete in another portion of the contest.

It was an exciting day at the challenge because we had a dedicated camera following Wentworth with only one job: If she goes for it, we have to get the shot of her getting the idol. Also, we have a few exclusive deleted videos waiting for you at the end, and the return of EW.com’s Survivor Talk show on Thursdays, which you can start looking forward to right now. He can say, “No one is going to beat me in any challenge, so I’m not a threat.” But here’s the thing: He is a big threat, and it would be a mistake to keep him around for too long. Check out an exclusive video of Jeff Probst reacting to the first Tribal Council at the top of the post, along with our pre-game chat with the now eliminated Vytas. He is not afraid to call out or fully confront contestants if he feels they are out of line, making him the conscience of the show and the DNA of a very particular brand with a loyal following. “I’m a fan too.

So why wouldn’t you?” “So much has happened to them, and they are also in a country that is undergoing something of a rebirth and a second chance, so the symbolism is undeniable,” says Probst. “The local people are trying to rebuild the country. Choice is one of the cornerstones of our creative because it forces a decision and that often leads to conflicting points of views before, during, and after the decision has been made. And on the other hand you have the contestants who are playing the game of Survivor.” “When you have people wait, in some cases, eight or 10 or — in the case of some people like Kelly Wiglesworth — waiting 15 years, the motivation is so focused,” says Probst. “They’ve been thinking about this game for maybe a decade. The episode begins with a greatest hits — or misses, I guess — of past contestant failures. “A relentless nightmare of what-ifs,” Probst calls it. (Incidentally, Relentless Nightmare of What-Ifs is the name of my new indie goth band.) We are treated to contestants reminding us of their backstories inter-spliced with super dramatic slow-motion Local Action News Team-type shots of them walking through Angkor Wat. Personally, I would have preferred the action be sped up instead of down to Benny Hill levels of hilarity put to the sweet, sweet sounds of “Yakety Sax,” but maybe that’s just me.

So Probst begins by reminding them what losers they all are (“You failed in your goal”) while Kelly Wiglesworth gets a sitting ovation (don’t want to tip over the boat after all) before telling us that she replays her Tribal Council loss in her head every day… which is the exact opposite of what she told me just the day before, but whatever. So that even the guy who shouldn’t have gotten up off the couch, with skin so translucent he should never be in a jungle, with the right strategy can win. Probst tells them they can find a bag with their buffs and map in their boat, but in actuality he threw the bags to all four boats, which was wisely edited out because it took too long and none of the throws really landed so let’s just get to it already. So Woo’s story is, “I’m just as likable and athletic, but I need to be less trusting.” That’s hard for him; he’s trying to change something that is fundamentally Woo.

And while this is not technically a challenge, both tribes have to decide how much time to spend gathering supplies on a big boat before leaving to try to claim a large bag of rice on a smaller boat about 100 yards away. Did you notice a difference in the energy or tone of TC by bringing them straight to Tribal from the challenge instead of letting them go back to camp and strategize?

I am also curious if it carries on in future seasons or was simply a byproduct of having true “second chance” players who came in with a very different motivation. Folks like Terry, Wiglesworth, Woo, and Vytas are at the heart of an “old school” alliance, even though Vytas and Woo are from the past four seasons. In a scene somewhat akin to me trying to connect with my 12-year-old daughter over what makes Justin Bieber so gosh-darn dreamy, Terry searches for common ground with Spencer by telling him how his kids told him to align with the human temper tantrum because they think he’s swell. He tells Peih-Gee how beautiful she is, informs Wentworth how excited he is to be with her, tries to give Abi a massage, and then attempts to win over the women through the power of yoga. There’s a truly romantic story of love, there’s a moment of empathy and comfort from someone you wouldn’t expect, there’s another exciting challenge that results in more tears at the thought of Tribal Council.

They’re building things, tearing down trees, snapping towels at each other’s butts — well, maybe not that last one, but if there were a locker room around, I guarantee you they would be. She comes into this game with the feeling that “I’m my own woman.” On day one, she can begin to play the same game she was playing when she was voted out last time. She’s so fun.” She came into the new game with a massive burden, trying to convince people that “Chaos Kass” was a version of herself, but not all that she has to offer. While Savage tells Joe how his teen girls think he’s perfect — what is with all the older men telling younger guys how infatuated their children are with them?

— Stephen sits by himself like that kid at the birthday party who only got invited because the moms were friends so the birthday boy had to, but no one really wants him there. “I feel exactly like I felt last time,” says Stephen. “Out of place on a tribe with guys who are not like me.” This would all be super sad if it was not immediately followed by footage of Stephen being unable to break a small limb off a branch. It’s, like, you’re asking us to feel sorry for the dude before completely reversing course and saying “You know what, screw it” and then practically begging us to mock him for his pathetic display of physical non-prowess.

Go play Survivor and then ask for forgiveness.” Tasha said it brought her to tears to get that support from her congregation, and it released all her barriers. If I were on her tribe, I’d be saying, ‘Listen, you got on either because you have a big fan base or because you’re hot. you didn’t get on for gameplay.’ And if she came out thinking she’d get by on charm and looks, that will not work. And then to ensure that Fishbach gets the absolutely least masculine edit possible, what do producers do but bust out the bumbling goofy background music as Stephen attempts to look for the hidden immunity idol in a swamp. Andrew uses words like “perfect,” “incredible,” and “awe” to describe his younger tribemate, while Tasha informs us that, “all I could think about was Joe’s body” while doing yoga. (And somewhere Vince Sly quietly curses the gods.)

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