The Host Has Spoken

Rob Mariano, Amber Brkich, ...
Image credit: Rob Mariano and Amber Brkich: CBS/Landov

7 Africa (SEASON 3)
On paper, Africa should have been a better season. We had some great players and characters in Lex and Big Tom. We had the most epic locale ever — the middle of Kenya, with giraffes and zebras and gazelle. But I think the fact that there was no water source made it miserable for them to live and miserable for everyone else to watch. It wasn't a fun season. And you ended up with a final two of Ethan, who is a nice guy but boring television, and Kim Johnson, who is a wonderful woman, but again — boring television. That's hard to hear when you're one of those Survivors. It's hard to hear that people didn't like your season, because you take it personally, but this group didn't work. As for the decision to do our first tribe switcheroo 13 days in, that was something we had talked about doing for a while, but the players hated it. I remember Lex looked at me like he wanted to kill me. I'm not sure he feels any differently today.

8 Marquesas (SEASON 4)
One thing that Marquesas has going against it is — worst location ever. I will never go back to Marquesas — ever. The No-No sandflies were eating people alive. Dramatically, I just felt like Marquesas never got any momentum, and by the time you got to the final two with Neleh and Vecepia — I'm sleeping. In terms of casting a good player, we cast well with Vecepia, but in terms of casting for the show — she was a snoozer. And Neleh was no better. It was one of the worst final Tribal Councils ever. It was sooooo boring. At least Kathy was around this season to pee on someone's hand. Although she says what really happened is that a couple of guys tried to pee on John's hand first and had some performance anxiety. So she did it. And then she couldn't stop. The most interesting thing about Marquesas — and what nobody knows — is that we screwed up on the colored-rock tiebreaker that knocked out Paschal. In the event of a Tribal Council tie, Survivors pull rocks out of a bag, and whoever pulls the colored rock is eliminated. The way it's supposed to work is that once the tie is revealed, the people for whom votes have been cast and the person with immunity all become safe; the others have to pull rocks. We didn't realize that process works for all numbers except for four. (With four people left, only one person is eligible to pull a rock since one has immunity and two have received votes.) I realized something was wrong about halfway through as Paschal, Neleh, and Kathy were all pulling their rocks out. Even if I had figured out exactly what was wrong, there would have been no way to correct it because we had already done it. Let me be clear — no rules were violated. It's just not what we meant to happen. And that's the truth.

9 Thailand (SEASON 5)
They're going to hate me for saying this, but this final four of Brian, Clay, Helen, and Jan was the least likable final four ever. And that, in a nutshell, explains why Thailand is No. 9 for me. There was so much negativity, with Ted and Ghandia's he said/she said sexual ''grinding'' incident, and Robb strangling Clay during the ''attack zone'' challenge. And then you felt like you needed a shower after watching Brian play, because he was so sleazy. It was a mean-spirited season. There was a lot of hostility, a lot of ugliness, and that's not fun to watch. We love conflict on Survivor, but conflict that is fun to watch, not conflict that is uncomfortable to watch. It's kinda odd that on the season I liked the least, they decided to ask me to host the reunion special for the first time, although I honestly think that's just because they couldn't find anybody else. I don't think it was that they suddenly thought I could do it. They just couldn't find anybody they liked, so they were like, ''Okay, we'll try Jeff.''

By Jeff Probst, as told to Dalton Ross

Originally posted Feb 07, 2005 Published in issue #806 Feb 11, 2005 Order article reprints