Survivor wrap-up: JT’s historic win, creating the opening sequence, charity auction

Survivor Tocantins is over, and it’s been another strong season. From my first conversations with the cast to Ben Wade’s firing to Coach Wade’s elimination, never mind everything else that happened, it’s been a dramatic season. I’d place it in the top third of all seasons, but since the show has been exceptionally strong these past few years, there’s been more competition, and I think it’s a slight step down from Gabon, which was a step down from Micronesia. Still great seasons all around, though.

Anyway, here are a few lingering items of interest from the Brazilian Highlands and beyond:

  • JT Thomas won unanimously, but he also set a new record by receiving zero votes all season. He was the first person in 18 seasons to never once receive a vote from anyone. The other person to win unanimously, Earl Cole, received a single vote in the third episode of Survivor Fiji. As to the other winners, Television Without Pity poster broke down votes against them, and both Tina Wesson and Brian Heidik received zero votes during the season, but did not win unanimously.
  • I have a feeling we’re going to see nice people voted off early, and that for a few seasons, at least, the Bobs and JTs of the game won’t be able to make it near the end as a direct result of their recent wins.
  • Props and stuff from the show, from Tribal Council stumps to flags to puzzles, are now being auctioned off on eBay. Like last season, proceeds benefit Jeff Probst’s Serpentine Project charity.
  • The Ponderosa web series, which follows the jury’s post-game life, is always entertaining, and is worth watching. In the second episode, Brendan gives a tour of Ponderosa, which was pretty shitty; among other things, there was no running water. But post-game, the jury lived in permanent canvas wall tents instead of the dome tents they had pre-game, and the crew erected one of the prefabricated cabins so they could have A/C and TV.
  • Coach’s introduction to Ponderosa is what you’d expect, starting with him being voted out and saying it was “a fitting end for a king” and then saying he has “a great Samurai look” as a result of getting a tan and losing 31 pounds.
  • Finally, two great videos on CBS.com look at the creation of the show’s signature title sequence. Scott Duncan, the man responsible for creating it ever single season (he also does The Apprentice, films the early days of the game with a high-speed camera (actually six cameras), capturing those great slow-motion images and giving it the cinematic look. He talks about the logistical challenges, like traveling with 26 pieces of luggage. The second video follows the editing–12 hours of footage have to be cut to one minute–and includes Russ Landau recreating his theme song for the new location. All that for 13 episodes, and they’re now doing it all over again for Survivor Samoa.

Surprisingly, man not eaten alive on Eaten Alive

Eaten Alive

Discovery Channel’s happy family holiday special Eaten Alive aired Sunday, rewarding viewers for their two full hours of viewing by ensuring that they spent quality time in the company of others instead of wasting that time doing something else that might not have been as satisfying, such as buying things that have labels which accurately reflect their contents.


Winter 2015 reality TV debut schedule

winter 2015 reality TV schedule

Mark your calendars with all these upcoming reality TV show debuts, including Celebrity Apprentice, The Bachelor, and another season of MasterChef Junior, all of which kick off in early January.

There are also 20+ shows debuting in December--including the one-off return of The Sing Off. No winter break for reality TV.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.