What's behind 'Survivor's' allure?
You have to hand it to the minds behind “Survivor.” The “Exile Island” edition of the show has been off the air for two weeks, thanks to college basketball, but Thursday’s episode (7 p.m., WBBM-Ch. 2) will suck you right back in.
CBS sent the episode out for review, and there are surprises in Thursday’s outing that are far too juicy to reveal here. One thing I can tell you (and it’s not the big surprise, since this event happens early on) is that the tribal merge happens in Thursday’s episode. Beyond that, all bets are off. Whatever you’re expecting to happen -- well, don’t count on it.
What Thursday’s show proves is that, more than any other reality show, “Survivor” has mastered just how much to tweak a reality program’s format without ruining it. “The Apprentice” has stuck to its relentless -- and by now boring -- format religiously, with a resulting drop in ratings and interest. Even “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart” didn’t vary the formula much, which it could have done, considering it was a spin-off starring a mogul in a very different field.
“The Amazing Race,” to its credit, took a huge risk by trying out the family format. That experiment didn’t work -- and ruined that edition of the show for some -- but you can’t fault the show for at least trying to change things up.
Time after time, “Survivor” displays just the right amount of tweakage. The immunity idol and Exile Island were great additions to the show, and made things that much more complicated for students of the game -- not just the ones at home, but for the contestants too.
And though there are old reliables on every edition of “Survivor” -- the family reunion, the tribal merge, the overnight reward at a posh hotel, physical endurance challenges and the like -- the show doesn’t trot out those chestnuts in the exact same order every time.
There are good reasons that “Survivor” has been sucking in viewers, time after time, for six years (some of them are discussed here). And its ability to change the game just enough each go-round is one of them.
Plus, this time around, well, Aras is pretty easy on the eyeshttp://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2006/03/whats_behind_su.html