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…
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…
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!
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….
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…