The official announcement of Survivor Redemption Island on Sunday night was followed by additional details about the new, game-changing twist. Among other things, there will usually be two challenges per episode, a combined reward and immunity plus the new redemption duel, while the twist is something that CBS has rejected for years.
USA TODAY calls it a “long-term tweak to its format,” meaning we can expect this twist for future seasons (and the show will be renewed, and Jeff Probst will be back, unless someone does something really stupid).
The paper also reports that “Probst says he and executive producer Mark Burnett have been pushing CBS to make the change for two years,” which is really interesting. Why have they resisted it, besides the obvious general fear of change and risk that television network executives have, especially controlling ones?
Also, Probst says in a press release–I mean, in an Entertainment Weekly interview–that this is different than Survivor Pearl Islands‘ outcasts twist because “it didn’t work and it didnâ€™t please the audience and there was one fundamental flaw: We didn’t tell people up front it was going to happen. I just told everybody [at the opening] it’s going to happen. Make no mistake: When you’re voted out, you’re not going home, and somebody that you vote out could come back and bite you in the ass. So I have no problem with people coming back into the game because everybody knows up front. A rule can’t be unfair if you know going in. It’s an equal opportunity.”
Before the season taped, Probst also told the magazine, “This is the most excited I’ve been in a long time when it comes to a twist. I really hope Redemption Island adds a new layer that we can use for years to come. We have no idea what’s gong to happen. It’s a big risk. It could fail miserably. I don’t think it’s going to.”
I agree: I think this is a smart move. The game needed a shake-up, and this is a perfect way to do it, even if it does borrow heavily from MTV’s Challenge shows. As with most of Survivor‘s twists–none of which have been big structural changes like this–it retains the core integrity of the show while forcing people to play differently. And that has the potential to be awesome.