OK, guys. This is it. One month until Survivor Season 31. The new season premieres September 23rd, 2015 and Cody Clark and I will be posting our rankings of the 30 preceding seasons before that day. That’s right, we’re ranking all 30 seasons of Survivor!
Now, it’s time to get serious about watching and ranking because we need your help!
In terms of ranking: Cody and I will be ranking the 30 seasons as subjectively as possible and then comparing those rankings to a more (admittedly still subjective) mathematical approach. Obviously, I’ll go into greater detail on the show.
But, here’s where you come in … we’d also like to include as much listener data as possible. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE SEEN EVERY SEASON TO PARTICIPATE. Just email us your rankings to moviestreamcast [at] gmail [dot] com for as many seasons as you’ve seen and we will factor those in.
In terms of watching: Some of you know that I have made a deal with Matt and Liz from The Sci-Fi Podcast that they will watch a season of Survivor for every season of Buffy and Firefly that I watch.
Listener David from Scarborough then said that he would possibly be willing to watch a season of Survivor if I would watch a season of Peep Show. Next, Listener Juan from Houston said he would possibly watch a season of Survivor if I watched the Netflix original series Daredevil. There had also been a lot of talk on the boards here about Game of Thrones, which really got my wheels turning.
Ultimately, David, Juan and Listener Dino from Cleveland each agreed to watch two seasons of Survivor if I would watch the first two seasons of Game of Thrones, the first season of Daredevil and the first season of Peep Show.
MSC co-host William Rowan Jr has also been watching Survivor for the first time ever (because I’m convinced that he can win the game and I was trying to train him) and already watched 2-3 full seasons during the time that I was in Colombia.
Ry, from Geek Cast Live and Movie Podcast Weekly, is a long-time watcher of the show who stopped just a few years ago during a time many viewers refer to as “the Survivor dark ages.” I’d really like to get Ry as a guest on our 30 Season Ranking show and even recommend a few of the newer seasons that he’s missed that are really must-watches.
Even Jason and Andy from Movie Podcast Weekly have each seen a season of Survivor. Jason saw one of the worst. Andy saw one of the best. Neither was sold. If they are brave enough to get involved, this could be really fun.
The reason that I am so adamant about this right now is because I think it will make our eventual 30 season ranking a lot more fun for everybody in the community. I also think that Survivor is one of the best television shows of all time and certainly the best unscripted, non-fiction show. You all know that I love non-fiction. I love real human drama. I was a fan of The Real World from day one for that reason and this show added survival, physicality and one million reasons to stab someone in the back.
Now, the remainder of my comments here will be directed toward Matt, Liz, David, Juan, Dino and Ry, but if anyone out there would like to join the Survivor challenge, just let me know via email or in the comment section below and I will give you recommendations, as well. For instance, Listener Sal, is a championship homework-watcher and I’d love to get someone like him involved. Listeners like Jennifer, Nisu, Vance, etc that are faithful Survivor watchers and aren’t in need of any recommendations, please send me your season rankings.
Matt, Liz, David, Juan, Dino and Ry … I have recommendations for you.
This was extremely difficult. It’s very hard to find that perfect season recommendation. So many start out great, but end weak OR start weak, but end great. And the hardest part is that the best watching seasons are not always good introductory seasons for a new viewer. For instance, Heroes vs Villains is one of the best seasons of all time, but much of that season’s story arc is built on the expectation that you already know these returning characters from their previous games and it’s a little underwhelming and disorienting, otherwise.
For Matt and Liz: I am recommending Season 10, Survivor: Palau and Season 30, Survivor: World’s Apart (“White Collar vs Blue Collar vs No Collar”). I think Matt and Liz will appreciate the gameplay and players in these seasons. We’ve got one old school season and one new school season, which is nice. I chose the seasons I thought they’d like as general TV watchers–over the seasons that I thought Matt could relate to as a potential game player–because I think you have to grow to love the show before you can think about playing it. And Matt is another person that could really play this game. I have two totally different recommendations for Matt to watch after he falls in love with the game (like I know he will) so that he can see how his own organic set of social skills could win him a million dollars, but lets start here.
For David and Juan: I am recommending Season 8, Survivor: All-Stars and Season 10, Survivor: Palau. These are good, solid, foundational seasons. They are both old school–which I do regret–but taking survival, Lord of the flies social dynamics, and physical challenges into account, I think these are amongst the most balanced. They are also just damn good seasons that show two totally different approaches to the gameplay and a good base to understand (and hopefully appreciate) the show. However, do keep in mind that the strategic gameplay has stepped-it-up a few thousand notches since this time. These are classic seasons and I think after you watch these you’ll be ready for some fast gameplay recommendations–hopefully deeply entrenched in your newfound fandom. These are also amongst the same seasons that I started William out on, just FYI.
If William does end up reading this, I’d recommend Season 19, Survivor: Samoa, Season 20, Survivor: Heroes vs Villains and Season 22, Survivor: Redemption Island for his next ventures in to strategic training.
For guys like Dino and Ry who have watched in the past, but not recently, I had much more trouble narrowing it down to less than 6 must-watch seasons.
Ry, you need to check out some of the excellent past few seasons that you’ve missed. I think you’ll most enjoy Season 28, Survivor: Cagayan (“Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty”) seeing as you were a Russell Hantz fan. There are a few players on this season that play every bit as hard as Russell did and this is a fun one. Also, Season 27, Survivor: Blood vs Water is a must-see! You’re going to love it. If you like those, also check out 25 and 30. You won’t be disappointed.
Dino, the two seasons I chose for you are to illustrate 1) what a new school season can look like and 2) just how much the game has been flipped on its head in recent years. Dino, please enjoy Season 20, Survivor: Heroes vs Villains and Season 27, Survivor: Blood vs Water. Both seasons have several players you’ll know and several players you don’t, but this new level of gameplay should have your head spinning. Especially BvW. Make sure you watch that one with your wife!
If you catch the bug again and want more, watch Season 25, Survivor: Philippines, Season 16, Survivor: Micronesia (“Fans vs Favorites”), Season 30, Survivor: World’s Apart (“White Collar vs Blue Collar vs No Collar). Even Season 19, Survivor: Samoa and Season 22, Survivor: Redemption Island are worth watching eventually. As I mentioned to you before, there are several seasons you could skip between Fiji and World’s Apart, but most of these I’m recommending here are better than most of the seasons you’ve ever seen.
Again, I cannot overstate how difficult it was coming up with just two season recommendations for each of you. For the new viewers, I feel like you need to watch four–minimum–to really get the big picture. But, I will take what I can get.
For watching: David (and others overseas), I don’t know where you can watch these seasons. For those in the U.S. you can find Seasons 20 and under on DVD. Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime are streaming most of these for free for subscribers, but you’ll want to check the details. CBS also has an “all access pass” where you can watch every CBS show ever for about $15 a month. That might be the best option for the old school seasons.
My final note is that the real fun of this show, in my opinion, is not just in the passive viewing, but in getting involved in the strategy. Really trying to figure out what the best moves are and what you would do in the situations. For those that want the best experience, I’m going to provide links below to some great companion podcasts that will really light the fire of strategic interest. You are all smart people that I respect and I believe any smart person that watches a full season of Survivor will enjoy Survivor. I’m sure this sounds ridiculous and cliché, but I honestly envy you and wish I could watch some of these seasons again for the first time.
Hit me up with any questions. Get me your rankings if you have them. Now, get busy!