Stronger 'Survivor' start

Wednesday, 22 February 2012 12:00 AM Written by 

survivor_one_world

In the face of Sunday's ho-hum return of "The Amazing Race," CBS's "Survivor" (8 tonight, KDKA-TV) returned last week with a strong opening episode. It's too early to proclaim this new season a success but it at least opened with promise.

Read more after the jump. ...

I haven't been a regular "Survivor" viewer in recent seasons because the format grew tired, then efforts to inject new blood in the show just seemed like desperate gimmicks ("Redemption Island"). Also, the plot became predictable as to who was going home each week. So I stopped watching.

For the new season, "Survivor: One World," Redemption Island is gone. The tribes have been split along gender lines, which we've seen before, but this time both tribes are on the same beach -- the "One World" -- from the start. Maybe that's been done before, too, but it struck me as a new twist that might amplify interpersonal drama without resorting to changes in how the game is played.

The casting also seems to be better than usual, particularly when it comes to villains. There's Michael, the Seattle banker who stole an ax from the women's team in the show's opening moments. There's Colton, the gay Southerner who's more comfortable with the women's team but seems like he might be a schemer. And there's the Alpha Males on the men's team, led by Matt, a San Francisco lawyer who seems like a complete and utter tool.

The women were less remarkable in the premiere episode although I'm ready to see Alicia, who was argumentative and wrong in her description of events at tribal council, get the boot.

Casting is key to "Survivor" and so far "One World" seems like it might have the right mix of crazy for an entertaining season.

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