Survivor: Borneo - The Complete First Season
8 out of 10
9 out of 10
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Rating: Not Rated
Contains all 12 episodes plus the Grand Finale and Post-Show Town Hall Meeting on four discs
Commentary on two episodes by host Jeff Probst, and contestants Richard Hatch, Gervase Peterson, and Rudy Boesch
"Survivors Leave Los Angeles and Arrive in Borneo" featurette
"The Late Show with David Letterman" Top Ten List
"A Look Back with Richard, Rudy, & Gervase" featurette
Fifth disc is the previously released "Survivor Season One: The Greatest and Most Outrageous Moments"
Running Time: 11 Hours 4 Minutes
This is the entire first season of the reality TV series "Survivor" which aired on CBS in 2000.
On this show, 16 players are marooned on an island in Borneo for 39 days. They are divided into two teams, or tribes, and must survive on the local resources and their own talents. They must also compete in challenges for rewards or for immunity from being voted off the island. The teams that lose must go to the "Tribal Council" and vote one of their team members off. This continues until only two remain, and the winner goes home with $1 million.
Along the way the players must deal with each other's eccentric personalities, form alliances with other team members, and generally deal with a lot of drama. They must further deal with the local wildlife, hunger, and exposure to the elements.
If you're like me, you probably didn't jump onto the Survivor bandwagon until well into the first season. I saw the final episode when it first aired, but I missed the first few shows. To be able to go back and watch them is quite a treat. I was expecting the first episode to be quite different from the latest version of the show, but that wasn't the case at all. It had the same style, format, and general feel as even the most recent episodes. The difference comes in the fact that the players aren't as cutthroat the beginning, they are given more luxuries starting out, and they generally take a while to develop strategies. Also surprising in the first episode is the infamous Richard Hatch. He starts out being rather nice and also trying to play the role of corporate facilitator. His repeated attempts to hold meetings with the tribe are brushed aside. Then, as the show progresses, he starts to turn into the villain and his cocky side emerges (and I'm not talking about the fact that he went naked). And in true dramatic television fashion, he's the bad guy that ends up winning the entire show.
And if you think I spoiled things for you with the above statement, then you're wrong. The covers for the DVD boldly proclaim who is voted off of each episode and that Hatch ultimately wins. If you thought you were going into this series cold and not know the final outcome, you'd have to find some way to view it without looking at the case. They seem to have devoted this set to the die-hard Survivor fans who already know what happens.
In viewing the first season, I realized how the contestants who were voted off early really faded into obscurity. I didn't have a clue who some of the people were. Yet many of those who lasted till the end are still familiar to me today and went on to have promising careers beyond the show. And who can forget Sue's legendary "if I saw you in the desert and you were dying of thirst" speech? It was definitely one of the most shocking moments I've ever seen on TV, and it still remains awkward and disturbing.
Going back and watching the old episodes, it becomes clear again why the show became such a hit. It was unique, something people hadn't seen before, and it hooked you. While I never made a point to sit down and watch Survivor, I'd always find myself stopping while channel surfing if I ran across it. It was always interesting to see the competitions and observe how otherwise intelligent, rational human beings behave in difficult circumstances. It's no wonder that Survivor was the one to really kick start the "reality TV" craze. It made eating rats and bugs cool before you saw it everywhere.
Here are the highlights of the DVD extras:
Post-Show Town Hall Meeting – This was the show hosted by Bryant Gumbel after the final episode aired. On the show all of the contestants, cleaned up and restored to their original beauty, discuss the high points and low points about the show.
Commentary on two episodes by host Jeff Probst, and contestants Richard Hatch, Gervase Peterson, and Rudy Boesch – The stars of the show and the host provide commentary for the first and last episodes. Their commentary is really entertaining to listen to and they are all very candid about their experiences and their former teammates. I was especially amazed at how laid back host Jeff Probst was in the commentaries. Even if you've seen these episodes, you'll want to listen to their commentaries. Their thoughts about the speeches given at the final Tribal Council are also particularly entertaining.
"Survivors Leave Los Angeles and Arrive in Borneo" featurette – These appear to be home movies from the production crew of the cast right before they leave for Borneo. They are seen taking publicity photos, going to the airport, and flying to Malaysia. In an odd moment, each cast member is shown holding up their passports to their faces. Their passport numbers and personal information are clearly legible to anyone with a "pause" button, so I'd think this would be a big security problem for the cast.
"The Late Show with David Letterman" Top Ten List – The whole Survivor cast help deliver the Top Ten List for Letterman on one episode. It's a cheap promotional stunt, but still fun to have on the DVD.
"A Look Back with Richard, Rudy, & Gervase" featurette – These guys provide some additional thoughts in this 10 minute video. Hatch and Rudy talk about their friendship, Gervase talks about how losing still bugs him, and other stuff. It's a fun, though brief video.
Fifth disc is the previously released "Survivor Season One: The Greatest and Most Outrageous Moments" – The final extra is a DVD that has already been released. It shows highlights from the first season, the contestant's original audition videos, unaired footage, and Richard Hatch's unblurred butt crack. If you're not interested in watching all the episodes of the first series, this is a good alternative. All of the high points are highlighted and then some. Also included are detailed profiles on the cast (telling their favorite color and more), a map of the island, and other stuff. One of the highlights of the DVD is a conversation with Probst and producer Mark Burnett where they discuss how the show was made. They talked about the logistics of filming the show, how the idea for it came up, picking contestants, etc. I found this to be one of the more interesting features on the whole set.
The Bottom Line:
If you've never seen Survivor before, you may want to just watch the latest season airing on TV. This may be a little much for you and it doesn't offer a lot of surprises. If you're a casual Survivor fan, this set may be worth a rental. But if you're a die-hard Survivor fan, this is worth adding to your collection. There are enough extras here to keep you entertained for quite some time.