new header

June 18, 2015

Top Ten Again! Survivor Edition

-- With creativity declining, another listing of favorite somethings

By way of live television, backwater internet channels, a dabble of CBS all-access and 60-plus bootleg birthday DVDs, I've now watched every single episode of Survivor. That's 30 seasons, 459 episodes, and a double-bird-to-the-face-of-productivity 20,196 minutes of Jeff Probst and friends. Could those 20,000 minutes been better spent on ... well .... anything ? Probably. But if so I would be nowhere near as qualified to present yet another (another!) Top Ten list, this time ranking my favorite castaways to don the tribal buff.

However, before moving to the top ten let's take a second and pause to remember the most incredible jungle hair television has ever broadcast. Shambo, Erik, we thank you for you contributions to this world.

Now onto the rankings. In tribute to the dearly departed Bill Simmons, we will split the ten into five tiers. Come back soon, Bill.

For previous Top-10 Installments:
Top 10 TV Shows
Top 10 Video Games
Top 5 Video Game Annihalation
Greatest Dunk of all-time


10. Phillip Sheppard

Annoying? Yes. Idiotic? Yes. Gross underpants? Yes. A favorite? Yes. How?

Well, it pretty much comes down to Stealth R Us.  I love the name and all the others Phil generated for random parts of his Survivor game (Operation Thunder Dome, The Specialist, Intelligentsia Attachè). He also gained points for butchering Francesca's name 100 times AND ensuring that she got voted out first in both of her seasons. No small feat, that.

Greatest Skill: Being a complete and utter non-threat to win the game.
Greatest Moment: Receiving one jury vote in his first season with his name spelled as PHILE.
Bonus Claim to Fame: Had 17 votes cast against him in one season. That is the most in Survivor history. (I don't think we'll ever know how truly impossible this guy was to tolerate)

#9. Michael Skupin

Skupin eliminated any doubts that Survivor was in some way scripted or otherwise unauthentic by delivering not just an all-time Survivor moment, but an all-time TV moment, passing out in the tribe fire and burning the skin and fingernails off his hands. Lest you think I'm a sicko that took enjoyment in this suffering … well, I guess I kind of am but this wasn't the only time Skupin entertained with foolish antics. Skupin returned 23 seasons later and proved his initial injury was no fluke, bleeding himself with the machete multiple times, cutting his face after shattering a diving mask, banging his head off the shelter and nearly BURNING HIMSELF AGAIN. File this away for future reference: if ever the three stooges expand, we know where to find our fourth.

Greatest Skill: Not killing himself.
Greatest Moment: Forgetting the fire for a second, Skupin crafted a spear and killed a pig while in Australia. As if that wasn't cool enough, he smeared the pig blood under his eyes as a football player would eye black in order to freak out his vegetarian tribemate Kimmi. If that isn't a perfect example of good (crafting a spear) better (killing a pig) best (blood smear) then I don't know what is.


#8. Jenna Morasca

One of the original Survivor smokeshows, few remember that Jenna went on a mini-challenge streak to cement victory in Survivor Amazon. In addition to that she … well, I can't think of anything else. Fine. She's on this list because of looks. You got me.11.  Even then a quick google search reveals that she was a bit of a two-face. Of course Survivor wasn't shot in HD back then so it's kind of hard to tell either way.

Greatest Skill: Looking better in the jungle than real life.
Greatest Moment: Went free spirit for peanut butter.

#7. Rudy Boesch

Navy seals are awesome, especially ones that are 72-years old, drink unfiltered water, have a flattop and play Survivor. Long live 
Rowdy Rudy’s Diner.

Greatest Skill: Of all contestants over 30 seasons of play, this is the person most capable of surviving on a deserted island. Unfortunately that only gets you so far in the game of Survivor.

Greatest Moment: In reference to his association with Richard Hatch: "We've become real good friends, but not in a homosexual way."
Bonus Claim to Fame: Rudy is the oldest to ever play Survivor

#6. Fabio

The man who brought me back into the fold! I'd gone years sans Survivor before randomly picking up Fabio's season. I just so happened to tune into one of the most naturally happy, entertaining, pee-in-the-challenge-pool contestants to ever win the million. Fabio's refusal to scramble and his game-winning challenge streak is how I'd hope to to play if ever I made the show. I'm a huge fan, and that's without even mentioning the mighty fine jungle locks.

Best Skill: Playing it cool
Greatest Moment: Winning the final immunity challenge despite having the most wobbly, gravity-defying tower of coins ever seen on Survivor.
Bonus Claim to fame: This season was most instrumental in lowering my Paranormal Activity panic levels. (October of 2010 was a scary time for me)


#5. Colby Donaldson

Does there exist in the ether of the interwebs a favorite Survivor's list without the original super survivor on it? Well yes, probably, but only because the internet is stupid. This list is not. Colby Donaldson was everything we ever wanted out of a castaway.

1)  A challenge dominator
2)  An all-American Texas gentleman
3)  The hero who withstood Jerri’s evil advances
4)  A face/voice/body made for TV, so much so that after Survivor he got his own show to host
5)  A competitor so true he brought an actual threat to the final tribal rather than the dead horse everyone always aims to drag along

Alas, despite all his perfections Donaldson never took home the title of sole survivor. Still, near universal popularity has to be worth something, right?

Greatest skill: Challenge Monster; tied for most individual challenge wins in a season (7).
Greatest moment: Blindsiding Richard Hatch in All-Stars, which led to Hatch’s memorable exclamation: “I’ve been bamboozled!”


#4. Boston Rob

His first go in the wilderness was less than inspiring, but he bounced back memorably in his subsequent stints. To this day no one has played Survivor longer (117 days!), and his extensive experience has made him into one of the great all-around players. He was kind of a jerk in his coast-to-coast win in Redemption Island, but his sins are forgiven due to his absolute awesomeness in All-stars and Heroes vs Villains.

Greatest skill: Challenge master; puzzler extraordinaire.
Greatest moment: Begging protection on behalf of his wannabe girlfriend (Amber), then later backstabbing those who granted his wish. Reality television at its finest.
Bonus claim to fame: This book.

#3. Robert (Bob) Crowley

The bowtie buff alone was enough to ensure immediate adoration. Being the oldest player to win Survivor (57) sealed the deal.  That made the fake idol bomb on Randy the cherry on top: it was so humiliating I felt slightly uncomfortable for poor Randy, who thought his life might be saved by what was, in the words of Eliza Orlins of Vanuatu fame, an “effing stick”. Throw in 5 straight individual immunity wins, a second fake idol (not as successful as the first, but still) and some jedi mind tricks on Sugar that ultimately won him the million  and it's a minor miracle he only climbs to third on this list.

Greatest skill: Forming a bowtie from a bandana without a mirror; fake idol production.
Greatest moment: Nothing tops the fake idol bomb, but winning a fire-building challenge following a tie after somehow persuading Sugar to vote with him in the final four was impressive all around.


#2. Tom Westman

Back in 2004 Randy Johnson struck out 13 in a 27-up, 27-down perfect game. Tom did the Survivor equivalent in his Palau season, winning every tribal immunity, completely eliminating the opposing tribe prior to the merge, betraying not a single jury member, informing soon-to-be-voted-off mates of their impending doom without it once backfiring, somehow coming off equal parts dominant, honest and personable. Oh, and he also won the longest challenge in Survivor history, an 11-hour, 55-minute marathon. Salute the boss.

Greatest skill: Telling people he was going to dispatch of them without them getting mad about it. I'm still not sure how he did it.
Greatest moment: 11-hours and 55-minutes.

#1. Parvati Shallow

The ultimate triple threat: socializer extraordinaire, physical challenger,22.  I believe she's the only Survivor to list her profession as 'Boxer '... even if it is just, uh, model boxing. master strategist. How she didn’t win Heroes vs Villains, becoming the only Survivor to win on two occasions (a crown someway, somehow held by Sandra (!?!) of all people) remains the greatest blindside in Survivor history. The stats back up Parv as an all-timer.33.  Of course there are Survivor stats!. She is second in number of days played only to Boston Rob (who played 4 times to Parv’s 3), second in average days lasted per season (38 days lasted per season to Sandra’s 39), first in all-time opponents voted out,44.  A somewhat tricky statistic, for every tribal council in which the person you voted for was the person in fact sent home, you record a statistic. Parv sent home 26 tribemates over her 3 seasons; Boston Rob and Russel follow with 25 boots. and perhaps most incredibly doesn’t crack the top 25 for votes against despite having played 114 days. (Put another way, our old pal Phillip collected more votes against in 39 days than Parvati did in 114.) 

That said, she’s not my favorite due to stats, but because of the way in which she could charm men, women and anything inbetween to do her will. Watch Parv work her magic and you can’t help but think, is she using the imperious curse on these people? Such was the power of her charm, and her game at large. No one was immune. Including -- clearly -- yours truly.

Greatest skill: Good at everything.
Greatest moment: Finding a hidden immunity idol, obtaining a second hidden idol via the imperius curse on Russel, then using both of those idols not on herself but on two of her allies after mind-reading the enemy gameplan from her friend-turned-foe Amanda. The series of events was so fine that it alone should have been enough to win Heroes vs Villains. Whatever jury. Whatever.

No comments:

Post a Comment