The first episode of Survivor Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites will no longer be two hours, but has been cut back to 90 minutes. CBS will now follow it with a repeat of The Big Bang Theory from last November. That episode is “The Habitation Configuration,” which guest starred Wil Wheaton and LeVar Burton.
A press release announcing the change didn’t specify the reason, nor even mention that it was a change, instead referring to Survivor‘s debut as “a special 90-minute premiere.” A January 11 press release referred to “a special two-hour premiere.”
In other words, a two-hour premiere has been shortened by a half hour at the last minute; the season has been in the can for more than half a year now, so there was no last-minute surprise. That suggests to me that the delivered premiere wasn’t working creatively as a two-hour episode, or the network just didn’t have faith that viewers would stick around for two hours, so they stuck in a repeat of one of their crowd-pleaser comedies to go up against the last part of American Idol.