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The Art Of The Blindside

April 24, 2009 - John Whittaker

When I was growing up, Donald Trump wrote a book called The Art of the Deal -- right before he put out Trump: The Game and then went bankrupt.
Well, Survivor has absolutely perfected the Art of the Blindside.
Every season has blindsides. To be honest, most seasons don't have enough, because the game is decided six weeks in when alliances are formed in the tribes and then no one is willing to break the alliance to further their own game.
There was a time last summer I was ready to write Survivor off because the ending was indescribably predictable.
After back-to-back power player blindsides (I think this should be a new Survivor statistic, by the way, as part of a possible fantasy league, along with "He/She's Annoying Me Quotes", Challenge winners, Spearhead points for those who lead the charge on an elimination and the winner of the CBS cell phone poll for move of the week. It could work.), it's safe to say the Art of the Blindside is back. Expect a book by Jeff Probst sometime this summer for $19.95 at your local book store. He's such a w___e for money.
When power players were voted out in the past few seasons, they knew it was coming. They were resigned to their fate. Their exit interviews were lame as hell - if it wasn't for the News Gal (or should we change that to News Wife in another 29 days), most of the time, I'd be flipping to whatever ballgame was on at 8:58 p.m.
A little backstory - I hated all reality TV until I met the News Gal, who loves Survivor. So, the first year we dated, we'd sit on the couch with ice cream sundaes watching Survivor. When Judd, a 34-year-old hotel bellhop from New Jersey, was blindsided by his alliance, before he stormed out of the Tribal Council area, he shouted at his tribemates, "I hope you all get eaten by crocodiles."
Then, it just got better in his exit interview.
"I think you're all a bunch of scumbags. It sucks being lied to. I can't wait for the Final Two, man. I'll have a lot more to say than that, man."
I was hooked. That was great television - and I've been watching Survivor ever since (though it's evil twin, Big Brother, is low budget and kind of sleazy. It's even on Skinemax, for crying out loud). Unless I'm filling in on a Thursday night here at work, I'm on the couch with the News Gal watching Survivor, though the sundaes have gone by the wayside until after the wedding. You know, the whole fat guy in a little tux thing. Have you ever seen a fat penguin? But, I digress.
But, then, predictability set in. People knew they were going home. They got all touchy-feely with their exit interviews. "I hope my tribemates do well. I wish them luck. This was such a life changing experience. I'll never forget watching the sun set over the mountains."
That, my friends, is crappy television. It's like watching the WB, for crying out loud.
Meanwhile, I'm sitting at home thinking, "Dude, you just lost a chance at $1 million because your so-called friends lied to you and couldn't even tip you off to the fact you might be on the chopping block. Why aren't you more ticked off?"
Personally, if that was me, they'd be bleeping my reaction like a National Weather Service storm warning. They'd need a 20 minute delay for the F Bombs I'd be dropping. My torch might be impaled in Jeff Probst's chest. Maybe, I'd even go Mike Tyson on the person I hated most from camp and tell them I was going to beat their butt and then eat their children. Tell me people wouldn't watch that meltdown.
A week after destroying Brendan, one of the odds-on favorites to be in the final four, Tyson, the smug prick, got his. As much as I didn't mind seeing him voted out, he had one of the best exit interviews I've seen in the last few years.
"Sneaky bastards. Now I know how Brendan feels. It was a big shock, I thought I had my game in the bag."
He went on to rip on Sierra, who he can't stand, but I loved the sneaky bastards line. It's about time. Since I was working for Brendan's elimination, I missed his reaction, but something tells me it wasn't as good as Tyson's.
Now, on to the problem with blindside heaven.
As has happened in the past, physical threats are being eliminated because people don't think they can beat them in an immunity challenge late in the game. While I liked Coach's idea of a Warrior Alliance being in the final 5 and then duking it out samurai-style, you knew it wasn't going to happen.
The final four will probably be some combination including three of the following five players: Sierra, Taj, Erinn, and either J.T. or Stephen (who are the only two men thinking more than five second ahead so far).
That used to annoy me -- I even wrote a partial blog posting last year with some pretty radical changes that I thought would bring the more physical people to the forefront. I never posted it, but there those words are on my computer, taunting me now that I've done a complete 180 on this.
I love the power player blindsides. If the best way to stay in the game is to lay low, not alienate anyone, hang on by the skin of your teeth and then make a great play in the final show, so be it. That's the way it is in real life.
And, in the case of Tyson-Brendan, who doesn't want to have a live camera this week in the jury house to see Brendan, who hates Tyson and lost his chance to be set for life because Tyson helped eliminate him from the game, and Tyson hang out, just the two of them?
I guarantee I'd tune in for an hour just to see the frosty silence over the dinner table.
Survivor: It's Fannnntastic, and stuff.

 
 

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