On season 4's debut, Peter gets the boot | EW.com

TV

On season 4's debut, Peter gets the boot

''Survivor: Marquesas'' gets off to a decent start. Maraamu -- with its chicken-chasing, name-calling bunch -- is the tribe to watch as the show hearks back to its first season, says Dalton Ross

Peter Harkey

(Survivor Marquesas: Monty Brinton)

On season 4’s debut, Peter gets the boot

What a difference a year makes. Last March we were still in the grips of ”Survivor” mania. Everybody was wondering why chef Keith couldn’t boil up some damn rice, whether Kel was hoarding beef jerky, and if Kimmie would ever shut up. Each episode became the ultimate watercooler conversation. My TV-phobic mother was calling every week asking how ”that Jerri can always be so mean.”

My, how times have changed. ”Friends” is now once again the hot Thursday-night ticket, and as ”Survivor”’s fourth installment kicked off there was a noticeable lack of buzz. Even my mother’s moved on to bigger and better things – in her case, bridge. But that’s okay, now the program is back where it belongs – in the hands of the true fans who were there back in the beginning. It’s like when you had that favorite band you used to catch at the local pub. Then they got huge and suddenly you were paying $50 a ticket to sit next to screaming teens in a gigantic stadium. The accompanying laser show was cool, but it just wasn’t the same. Alas, two years later, they were back playing the local pub, and all was right with the world.

But all was NOT right on the island last night as we got our first glimpse of the 16 new suckers… er, contestants doing battle in the Marquesas. What to say about the Rotu tribe? Well, the team momentarily broke up its love-in with a minispat over the fire, but otherwise its members just enjoyed their free getaway. Hopefully this season’s new no-food-water-or-fire policy will shake these guys out of their complacency by the next installment.

Over at Maraamu, however, it was a veritable diss fest just a few hours into their epic journey. Sean from Harlem – who is BY FAR the most entertaining ”Survivor” contestant since Rich, Sue, and Rudy – began the smackdown session when he demonstrated his impressive historical knowledge in comparing Sarah to Cleopatra for refusing to help row the raft to shore. He also chastised her for showing up ”with her boobs hanging out,” although, truth be told, he was probably the only guy really complaining on that subject. Why, even Vecepia seemed impressed with her boobalicious teammate, commenting ”Sarah has a very cute body. She paid a lot for it.” (Oh wait, she was being sarcastic, I get it.)

In other nasty news, chicken-chasing Rob called Sean and Peter ”off their rockers” for their enthusiastic appreciation of God, and later referred to Peter as a ”fruit loop.” (Talk about your dated put-downs.) And Peter may have retaliated with some harsh words of his own, but what with his freaky accent and the constant crashing of waves behind him, we really couldn’t understand what this guy was saying. Something about ”holes.”

All and all it was a satisfying beginning to a new season. But even Mark Burnett’s creative editing couldn’t make the boring torch-lighting race seem close, as Rotu easily defeated our bickering boys and girls from Maraamu. It meant someone from the latter tribe had to go, and that person was Peter, most likely because no one could figure out what the hell he was talking about, anyway. At least he gets a fine parting gift, returning with the seasonal Sonja Christopher We Hardly Knew Ye Award. Congrats, Peter, on a job well done.

And let’s hear it, too, for our old pal ”Survivor.” It went off and became a star, and now it’s returned to its roots – a little humbler, a little wiser, but really the same old show we knew back before it got so big.