Okay. I admit it. I’m a reality television fanatic – Big Brother, The Amazing Race, The Biggest Loser, The Pick-Up Artist, even Tool Academy (which arguably has the cheesiest elimination line ever: “I’m sorry. You’re just a tool.”) But the granddaddy of all reality television shows has to be Survivor, which is just beginning its 19th season ­(this time the castaways are on the tropical islands of Samoa).


But, after watching the first episode last night, I couldn’t but feel that it is getting a little formulaic – predictable challenges, stereotypical contestants, etc. After the first episode ended, I thought to myself, “How could executive producer Mark Burnett infuse new energy into the show?” I began thinking of interesting potential sites straight out of some science fiction and fantasy classics. Like…


Survivor: Pyrrus

Harry Harrison’s masterwork The Deathworld Trilogy from the 1960’s would make for a wildly entertaining (albeit short-lived) season of Survivor. On the planet Pyrrus, every living thing is predatory – from the animals to the plants to the very microorganisms in the air. Tribal council would most likely be held in the digestive tract of a giant carnivorous plant…


Survivor: Arrakis

From Frank Herbert’s Hugo and Nebula award winning 1965 novel Dune, the desert planet of Arrakis would make for a fascinating locale for Survivor. Castaways would not only have to battle the harsh environment but also the Fremen, rogue spice collectors and highly irate sandworms. (I’d love to see the clichéd delusional, know-it-all guy try to ride a sandworm for some chocolate and peanut butter!)


Survivor: The Island of Doctor Moreau


H.G. Wells’ classic 1896 novel The Island of Dr. Moreau would be an unforgettable venue for Survivor. Jeff Probst could be the demented doctor/host and those voted off would be forced to undergo genetic experimentation and turned into beast folk!


Survivor: Middle-earth

The castaways could be dumped off deep inside Mordor from J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, the ring could be the equivalent of the immunity necklace, and Jeff Probst could be Gandalf wearing a safari vest and cargo shorts. The sole survivor would not only win one million dollars but also have the satisfaction in knowing that he or she vanquished Evil forever.


So, if you’re reading this blog Mr. Burnett, I hope you can integrate some of these science fiction/fantasy-inspired ideas into future seasons of Survivor. I particularly like the genetic experimentation angle, although I’m guessing that it’s probably illegal in most countries….


Next up:

The Bachelorette set in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake universe (we’re currently accepting applications from all single werewolves, shapeshifters and vampires) and Charm School featuring Robert E. Howard’s Conan…

by on ‎09-18-2009 08:33 PM

(rolling on the floor laughing)

by on ‎09-18-2009 09:37 PM



This is great and if they added some Sci-Fi/Paranormal stuff to it maybe I would watch more.



by on ‎09-19-2009 09:44 AM

OK, I watch some reality TV. But I would watch Survivor with your twists ( that would be my first Survivor). The Bachelorette would definitely get much higher ratings and what good selections.

I have to admit I have watched the Housewives of Atlanta, it was terrible. Maybe you could help them out with some ideas.

I have also watched Bridezillas a few times, but I think that show has already introduced alien lifeforms.

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎09-19-2009 10:09 AM

"I have also watched Bridezillas a few times, but I think that show has already introduced alien lifeforms."


Great line, Pen!

by B&N Bookseller Thomas_T on ‎09-22-2009 12:20 PM

Well, the Hamilton books have already pretty much bec ome Bachelorette.

Your post did remind me of the Larry Niven and Steven Barnes Dream Park novels that came out in the 80s. The reality show/ Fantasy Role play setting is just like what you are talking about.

by Chomp on ‎09-22-2009 12:53 PM

Paul, if your suggestions were implemented, I might actually be inspired to watch "reality" shows. :smileyhappy:


I do like the Island of Dr. Moreau approach, as well.



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