Probst says long Survivor title sequence won’t return; his tweeting needs more insight like that

Minute-long title sequences are a thing of the past on Survivor, host Jeff Probst revealed. “We are using very short main titles this season – too much story to waste time on this… they’ll never be :60 again,” Jeff wrote on Twitter.

He said that during his live tweeting of the show, which CBS now smartly advertises on-screen before the episode starts, and which now happens twice, once for the east coast broadcast and once for the west coast broadcast. It’s part of Jeff Probst’s expanding online empire, which now includes his new web site, where he now recaps the show instead of on Entertainment Weekly’s web site.

Jeff’s frequent Twitter usage is already being mocked by a satirical “not Jeff Probst”, a sure sign that he’s doing something right, but Jeff has unfortunately started to follow Nigel Lythgoe’s Twitter footsteps and lash out at fans, asking one if they were “high” and and telling a critic of his tweeting “bite me.”

And his live-tweeting of the show–twice, which is impressive–has been, on the whole, as uninsightful as his old EW recaps. That’s unfortunate, as is Probst’s responses to frequently asked questions, in which he’s being coy and/or not fully truthful. That masks the truly great stuff that he does sometimes deliver.

Like I said when I criticized his Entertainment Weekly recaps, it’s amazing to have the host of one of the most-popular and best reality shows in the country be so accessible. And it’s not like he’s just having a publicist write this stuff for him. But it’s a waste of his time and ours to repeat things we have already seen or make obvious comments about what we are about to see (which he does frequently during the live tweeting).

And it’s especially lame to offer behind-the-scenes insight that skirts the truth. For example, he said the tribes find the challenges because “We help them :)” The contestants are actually driven (or, in past seasons that had island locations, boated) to the challenge locations.

Probst also insisted that “castaways can go wherever they want but we will follow them.” That’s not entirely true: All of the tribe locations I saw over three seasons had “Off Limits to Tribe” signs marking boundaries which restricted their movement toward the production’s camera camps, where camera and audio crew and producers rest, eat, go to the bathroom, and park their vehicles. In Tocantins, the two camps were so close to each other on the river that they shared the same camera camp, and thus had contestants gone past that sign, they could technically have ended up in the others’ camp.

I love how accessible and honest Jeff Probst can be, which means he sometimes steps in messes of his own making (like the not-a-real-fan nonsense). But his old behind-the-scenes videos from three or four years ago seem to have been replaced by more noise and less insight. And that’s too bad.

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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.