TV Recap

The Name Game

The premiere of ''Survivor: Fiji'' introduces us to a promisingly quirky cast of characters, including Dreamz, Rocky, Mookie, and Yau-Man

Survivor | NIGHTMARE Dreamz wouldn't let anybody sleep
Image credit: Survivor Fiji: Monty Brinton
NIGHTMARE Dreamz wouldn't let anybody sleep

The ''Survivor: Fiji'' premiere: What's in a name?

Growing up with the name Dalton wasn't easy. It certainly didn't sound very badass, and bullies used to mock me by addressing me as Dolphin. Why couldn't I have a cooler name — like Rocky? Or Boo? Or Yau-Man? Or Mookie? Or...Dreamz? Okay, Dreamz would have probably gotten me on the receiving end of a few ass kickings, and people may have simply added the word ''Wet'' before it to further humiliate me, but watching the premiere episode of Survivor: Fiji, I couldn't help feeling that this latest crop of contestants definitely were rocking some cool names (or nicknames, at least).

And there seem to be some personalities to match. Yau-Man is a sage elder who uses his brain to overcome his disadvantage in brawn (witness how he was the only one able to open the crate air-dropped by Probst. Rocky (whose real name is James and who also goes by Boston, because one can apparently never have enough nicknames) seems like a cross between Shane Powers (whose son is named Boston) and Rob Mariano (who of course also enjoys the Boston moniker). And Dreamz...well, I don't quite know what to make of the cheerleading coach yet. Speaking of odd professions, what exactly does Anthony's title of ''Expert Witness Locator'' mean? Is that like the time back in college I tried to find someone to witness me beer-bonging two Milwaukee's Bests in order to prove my mastery of cheap beer? Probably not.

First episodes are all about first impressions, so here's what else I think about Survivor: Fiji at first glance.

· Nice helicopter shot of Probst to start the game. How very All-Stars of him.

· I have to admit, for a few minutes I thought I was watching the wrong show. What is this, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Were the castaways dumped in the middle of a Home Depot? That was kinda odd seeing people get all those building materials so soon. Not sure how I feel about the whole haves vs. have-nots twist. Will have to reserve judgment until we see how it turns out.

· Askew. A-S-K-E-W.

· You know what I've also discovered to be a great way to get along with people? Start yelling at them right as they are trying to go to sleep. People love that. Especially when you ask all the white people to identify themselves. I don't know what Dreamz was thinking. (Probably the same thing as when he started identifying himself as Dreamz.) Rocky wasn't much better, but then again, you have to kind of expect a guy named Rocky to go looking for a fight.

· I thought Big Gary was a dead ringer for Big Tom, but Papa Smurf is a much better comparison. Minus, you know, the blue skin.

· There has been a lot of debate about the fairness of the hidden immunity idol in the past two seasons. Some people complained that those who found the idol were lucky enough to be sent to Exile Island at the right time with the right amount of clues, and that not having to use it until after the votes were revealed gave them too much power. I wouldn't go that far on either count, but I am looking forward to seeing things switched up. Having the idols hidden back at camp adds the twist of one person knowing things that others don't and watching how they decide to use and share that information. (Though it didn't help Judd much in Guatemala, did it?) It will also be interesting to see the effects of the new rule that the idol has to be played after the votes are cast but before they are revealed. This provides the opportunity for a lot of bluffing to take place, and bluffing is always fun. On paper, I like the switch. Now we'll just have to see how it plays out.

· Pretty cool opening challenge. I especially liked the chariot-race element. Jessica pretty much dug her own grave when she had trouble releasing the first set of puzzle pieces and then got smoked while trying to assemble the pieces. Frankly, I was upset to see her go. Sally Schumann obsession aside, I've always been more of a brunette kind of guy, and I definitely had Jessica pegged as my Survivor Hot Chick of the season. But like most of the attractive women I've come across in my life, as soon as she found out I was interested, she bolted.

· I didn't go on location this time around, so it's hard for me to pick a contestant from the get-go that I like to win the game. But since I picked Yul last time around before production even started filming, the pressure is now on, and the only pressure I like is when it comes in the form of a Queen song title. Anyway, what I'm trying to get across here is that I am none too confident in this season's prediction, because I don't really feel I've had the chance to see enough of anyone to make a good call. That said, I am going to have to go with Earl, mainly just because I loved his poker face. He also seems like a smart guy who is able to socially integrate himself with different groups of people. But what the hell do I know? I only saw the guy for a minute or so.

· All in all, I didn't find the first episode to be all that exciting. But I do think there are some decent characters (have I mentioned Dreamz yet?), so I am hopeful that the intrigue and action will kick in soon.

What do you think of Survivor: Fiji? Do you like the housing twist? And who do you think will win it all?

Sign up for EW.com's What to Watch Newsletter!

What to watch on TV. Hear what's on tap for the night ahead and get witty, morning after recaps of top shows (sent weekday mornings).
Originally posted Feb 09, 2007
Advertisement

From Our Partners