by Melissa Brunner
Okay, so maybe it's too soon to say the new season of "Survivor" is a winner, but, for the first time in a while, I wasn't bored watching the premiere episode.
For starters, I'm pleasantly surprised by what bringing Rob and Russell back did for the game setup. Unlike the all-stars and the fans/favorites seasons, where several former players returned, the concept of one on each team isn't overpowering everything else. Yes, you still have some people who are starstruck, but they're also keenly aware of how these two operate. It's different than the season where they brought back the likable Stefanie and Bobby Jo (which, incidentally, Kansan Danni Boatwright won!).
Recent seasons also disappointed me because it seemed like the contestants were all playing roles instead of acting like themselves - as much as one can act like themselves in such a contrived setting!
On to the game: I was disappointed Francesca went first, because I was really liking her. Kristina - I understand you wanted to pull a power play, but you need to bide your time in getting rid of Rob because everyone will eventually be on your side with that.... and you don't tell anyone right away that you have the immunity idol!! And Phillip? Oh, my! I was surprised that Russell's team turned out to be so physically dominant in the challenge - in part, because they didn't think they would be. And Russell's teammates are doing wha Kristina should have done with Rob - humor him for now, then take him out!
I'll be interested to see how the Redemption Island twist plays out. While it will be fun to see someone voted out return, I'll reserve judgment until I see it in practice. If it simply brings someone back who's in a minority voting block only to remain in the minority and be sent right back off again, then that's just delaying the inevitable and that's not any fun.
What did you think? Any early favorites?