Survivor Gabon debuts tonight

Survivor’s first-ever HD season debuts tonight at 8 p.m. ET with the show’s first-ever two-hour premiere, although they are two back-to-back episodes, so not really one long, extra-special episode. The show will face tough competition, particularly in its second hour, when it faces off against the season premieres of The Office and Grey’s Anatomy, in addition to a special episode of Kitchen Nightmares.

With its subtitle “Earth’s Last Eden,” this season of Survivor will highlight temptation and perhaps even good versus evil. Exile Island has been replaced by Exile, and those who go there will be forced to choose between luxury and finding the hidden immunity idol.

Speaking of Eden, as I learned this summer while in Africa, Survivor Gabon actually plays a role in Gabon’s future. The country needs visibility as it grows its eco-tourism economy, which is necessary because its president recently protected more than 10 percent of the country. Many Gabonese don’t understand that, especially because it involved eliminating some forestry concessions and they need jobs.

The episode will start with the 18 cast members organizing themselves into tribes, Kota and Fang (pronounced “fong”). Based upon my initial interviews with them alone, as they sorted themselves out, I immediately wrote in my notebook “loser tribe” for one of them. By the way, producers let the small press contingent run the first immunity challenge during its rehearsal, and we faced off against members of the Dream Team. I’ll let you know how that went tomorrow.

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