Category Archives: Survivor

An Open Letter to Regarding Spoilers


I have been a reader of your site for the past number of years. I stumbled across it in my search to gain TV ratings data, and it has become a permanent stop on my entertainment news trawling ever since. It offers a wide range of commentary, quick news updates, and an occasionally biting sense of humour within its briefs that I find to be quite engaging. And yet, despite all of these positive qualities, I have a serious beef with you. Why?

Because you have spoiled more episodes of Survivor for me than I could count on my two hands.

Survivor is one of those shows, as I was discussing last week I believe, that I don’t often watch live. It is much more often that I am waiting to watch it until at the very least Friday afternoon, having not yet found the time to peruse it. And yet, during that time, I would like to be able to spend some time at…but I cannot.

You insist on placing a picture of the evicted castaway on your main page, sometimes unavoidable when loading it. When Anthony was eliminated earlier this season, I knew before watching the show because I headed to Zap2it to see if the ratings were up yet. This, effectively, makes the show’s last 15 minutes absolutely worthless. In essence, these episodes of Survivor are being ruined for me.

I know that you’re trying to bring people in to read your recaps (Hell, I write my own recaps of shows all the time), but is putting a picture of the castaway eliminated REALLY necessary? Just slap a picture of Jeff Probst up there, include a little headline which hints at the episode’s actions, and then save the photo for the From Inside the Box post itself. It’s so frustrating to know that a simple change like this one could keep people from unwillingly discovering who was unfortunate enough to get the boot the night previous.

You need to realize that this is the age of TiVo, where people will often have not watched a show for a few days after it airs. This is especially true of Survivor due to the large amount of programming within its timeslot. There’s Ugly Betty, ABC’s award-winning drama. There’s Smallville, for the young teen set. And then there’s The Office and My Name is Earl for the 18-49s. And, for the unintelligent, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader? on FOX. There are a lot of options here that people might choose over Survivor…and they are.

But this doesn’t mean that people aren’t watching; the recent Nielsen data regarding same-week DVR viewings showed that Survivor gained two million viewers compared to its initial same-day viewing total. That’s two million people who didn’t watch the show that night, and yet who would be entirely capable of mistakingly coming across that picture when browsing your site.

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Filed under Ratings, Reality TV, Survivor, Television

Thursday Night TV Club – April 19th, 2007


I really don’t have much to say about last night’s episodes, to be entirely honest with you. While I watched everything that was new, I honestly felt that every single show just treaded water outside of one. That one, surprisingly enough, was the one show which seems to be falling off the cultural radar.

While I gave 30 Rock credit last week for continuing storylines over multiple episodes, this week was…just the same as last week. It’s disappointing to see Floyd leave, really, but at least it keeps the show from becoming complacent. This episode was exactly the same as last week’s, in most ways, except this time we had a small dose of Jenna (And yet even the writers seemed begrudging about it, keeping her out of most key storylines and dissing her ability to carry the show in Tracy’s absence). I thought some of her lines were funny, but then they had her trying on underwear and falling down. The character is simply out of steam. Jack’s relationship with Phoebe is frustratingly dull, and the only character currently surviving is Tracy, mainly for the Black Crusaders portion of his storyline. And even then it was fairly low on the comedy scale outside of Gordon from Sesame Street being one of its inner circle. Liz’s trip to Cleveland was cute, but it was all wrapped up in the same cloth as last week’s episode.

Scrubs was on the same boat, as it was one of their annoying “Let’s have other people do the voiceovers” episodes. I think that it wasn’t a half bad episode of Scrubs based on this season’s standards, but I’ve been watching Season One on DVD recently and I can’t help but compare. I do not care about Elliot and Keith, stripper pole or no stripper pole. Ted is fairly boring, and him standing up to Kelso felt dated. Jordan has lost much of her character depth since the intense botox treatments, and I don’t think she really demands our attention. And, while I love The Todd and felt that his internal dialogue was by far the most interesting (and actually funny), it still wasn’t much of a real storyline. All three of the focused-upon characters are never going to actually become anything important, so why bother spending so much time on them when it will all be forgotten by next week?

Speaking of forgotten, I was woefully bored with this week’s episode of Ugly Betty. I enjoy the show, but this episode just did absolutely nothing for me. Wilhelmina seducing Bradford just isn’t entertaining to watch, and Daniel sleeping with a 16-year old is decidedly regressive (moreso than it really needs to be). The show was rolling at a really good clip dramatically for awhile, but this episode dropped the major component of this: Henry. Christopher Gorham’s likable accountant was the thing that kept Betty on track, and watching her fall off the rails wasn’t good television in the least. The show lacked the charm of the rest of the season, and its darker turns don’t seem like the right step forward for the show…and the less said about the terrible Ignacio storyline the better.

For details on Grey’s and the best episode of Survivor in a long time: Continue reading

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Filed under 30 Rock, Grey's Anatomy, NBC, Scrubs, Survivor, Television, Ugly Betty

Cultural Catchup: April 2nd-9th

Okay, so there’s isn’t a whole lot I didn’t get a chance to comment on, but I figure I’ll fill in some gaps here.


Ahead of tonight’s episode, I am perhaps the least interested in the season thus far. To be honest, there just isn’t anything really interesting happening at this particular point. Sure, Fahed has been captured and Gredenko is off bleeding into the pacific, and President Palmer has launched a nuclear missile, but I just don’t care at this point. When 24’s president launches a nuclear bomb, I should at least care; in this case, I thought it was ridiculous but didn’t overly care about its intended target (Especially when, although it’s for good reason, it’s known as ‘Fahed’s country in the Middle East’). At this point, something needs to happen which totally changes the way we look at the series, or at least provides an interesting construct. Jack going from torture session to torture session is not, in my view, interesting television, no matter how hard Kiefer Sutherland tries. They need to get back on their feet, ASAP on this one…we’ll see how they manage this evening.


This week’s episode of Lost, “Left Behind,” was unfortunately recapless here at Cultural Learnings due to the two 3500 word papers due on Thursday. However, I did get a chance to watch the episode live, and I must say it was quite enjoyable. We didn’t get any major revelations (Although the Smoke Monster flashes now), but we did get a great setup for future episodes. Juliet being integrated into the castaways is a fantastic way to move forward, as it makes a romantic square out of Jack/Kate/Sawyer/Juliet that I think works well. Plus, by uniting some characters together for the first time I think there’s a chance for some new dynamics, and some interesting changes heading into the final portion of the show’s season. It’s picking up a whole ton of momentum at this stage, and I’m guessing it will do quite well with it. This week’s episode promises to bring Jack back to the beach for the first time all season, and I’m sure we’ll see some spark fly between he and Sawyer.

American Idol

Gina Glocksen going home was annoying, but none too surprising. The real question right now is whether or not we’re heading for our 2nd all-female final between Lakisha and Melinda. I think that Jordin is the most likely to get Tamyra’d or Hudson’d in this scenario, perhaps exiting before Blake, but those two seem relatively unstoppable. Only time will tell what happens to Sanjaya, but in all honesty I couldn’t really be bothered.


While I’m certainly still watching, I’m not too perplexed with this season of Survivor at this stage. I think that the merge upcoming this week will shake things up fairly well, but there’s just nothing to really shock me in the meantime. That said, this past week’s episode featured the awesome archery/spear powers of Yao Man, who basically destroyed everyone else with his unorthodox style. It’s nice to see someone like him sticking around, and perhaps even moving into a position to get into the final four. However, I have to think that the old guy who everyone likes is going to be pretty well doomed in a final three situation. No one will take him into it, and he’s far too weak to last in an endurance challenge of strength. Still, if the challenge is suited to him, he could well end up the Survivor champion. That would be a breath of fresh air, in my book.


The episode last night was fantastic, and I am officially already annoyed that I have to wait an entire week after watching the rest back-to-back-to-back-to…you get the idea. The breakup between Ari and Vince being handled like an actual breakup was absolutely fantastic, with Lloyd and Drama on either side to help establish the scenario in their respectively awesome ways. It’s so funny that Vince is finally at the centre of the show’s drama; so often Eric gets placed as the real centre of things, but in this episode he was the money and the occasional mouthpiece. Vince is really running the show right now, and as the end of the episode shows this was a rather terrible idea. One person who certainly thinks so is new agent Amanda, who is played by the ridiculously stunning Carla Gugino. Pitting Ari against a power-female isn’t anything new (They do it with Mrs. Ari all the time), but it works extremely well here, and I think the episode bodes well for the rest of the season.

The Amazing Race

It’s really too bad that last night’s episode was quite so anti-climactic, because it contained some potentially exciting elements. Just one flight can kill a team, and it doesn’t make for great television. It does, however, make picking a winner incredibly hard.However, I’m nonetheless officially going to put on my “Prediction” hat and perhaps jinx a few racers in the process. As a result, here is my predicted finish order for The Amazing Race: All Stars.

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Filed under 24, American Idol, Entourage, Lost, Reality TV, Survivor, Television, The Amazing Race

Cultural Catchup: March 21st-26th

While I may yet do some CUSID related blogging, I figure that I should at the very least acknowledge that my absence has not coincided with a stoppage of television-related news and events. Considering the fact that I’m currently recovering from some pressure-related troubles from the flight home, as well as a lack of sleep/nutrition resulting in relative illness, I’m not quite in the business of writing up individual posts of great length in regards to some of the week’s events. So, let’s do a little bit of Cultural Catchup.

Wednesday March 21st

Survivor: Fiji

While it was certainly not the show’s most eventful episode, it was at the very least a recognition that things needed to be shaken up a little bit in terms of the show’s dynamics. I think that this shuffling of the teams actually accomplished quite a lot; by shaking up some alliances, some individuals (Like Boo) became far more endearing. His performance in the challenge was a sign of leadership, something which Moto never seemed to worry about before. He showed an ability to step up, perhaps more than any other individual, without seeming like a complete asshole in the process.

Meanwhile, while the episode was redeeming for some, it did little for the men of the new Ravu tribe. And, I think this goes both ways; the manly men for their treatment of Anthony, and Anthony for being so darn self-defeatist and clueless about it. I don’t get his attitude; he’s a nerd, so he just accepts that he can’t do these things? His self esteem may have been challenged in the past, sure, but he seemed more than capable of assisting them in collecting word or starting a fire. His ostracization by the rest of his tribe was unfortunate, but I would place at least a majority of the blame on his own attitude. As much as we nerds have to stick together, I can’t justify his reaction without wondering how he could be so clueless.

Also, small note: the preview for next week is just the first of two “Person falls down and it’s funny” segments on CBS this week. And I found it far too funny, especially since I like Michelle.

Thursday March 22nd

Ugly Betty

The battle between Alexis and Daniel heated up this week, and…well, I felt like the show was reverting back to weeks past without recognizing the tangible change in these characters’ relationship. They haven’t been truly at odds for weeks, and I found it more than a little convenient to just ramp up their actions. If this storyline shall remain central, and it appears it shall, I can only hope that the contents of Daniel’s letter get out into the open. And soon.

That said, the rest of the episode brought some nice moments. Betty posing as Marc’s girlfriend was charming, and the moment with Henry was absolutely heartbreaking. The writing continued to be sharp in terms of dialogue, and it’s good to see a positive side to Marc’s character again. The show is still searching, I feel, for its drive forward to a finale, and I’m hoping that next week could help in this endeavor. Henry + Betty needs to happen, dangit. Also, as some google searches foretold, the episode featured the arrival of Max Greenberg (‘Veronica Mars’, ‘The O.C.’) as Alexis’ new assistant.

Andy Barker P.I. and Scrubs

The 2nd week for Andy Barker P.I. was a fairly good one, and I would consider it to be a success on the whole. Nicole’s transfer into Andy’s office was incredibly well-handled, and it was good to see the comedic and melodramatic detective drama/action meld together so well. The show is forming an identity, which could be bittersweet when the axe likely falls come May.

As for Scrubs, as I noted in a comment to my post regarding its possible cancellation, I think that this week’s episode was good. I was incredibly frustrated by the way Dr. Cox and Laverne had their discussions regarding faith. One of the problems I’ve had with Scrubs lately is that these moral discussions seem very forced. Dr. Cox becomes a complete jerk in these conversations in order for his episodic shift to feel more powerful. It’s rather manipulative, and forgets a lot of character development in past seasons. That said, the episode’s emotional conclusion was quite powerful, which is a feat for the show at this point.

Grey’s Anatomy

I hereby refuse to discuss this show until George and Izzie somehow go back in time and not have sex. Continue reading


Filed under 24, Grey's Anatomy, Reality TV, Scrubs, Survivor, Television, The Amazing Race, Ugly Betty

The Pros and Cons of Survivor: Fiji – “Love Many, Trust Few, Do Harm to None”

Dreamz and Cassandra

Despite the clash at the beginning of the episode with Dreamz struggling with the coffee press (“They don’t have those on the streets?” was waiting on the tongues of his other tribemates, who I’ll get to in a second), these two held their heads fairly high in the wake of a clear divide within their tribe. It was nice to see Cassandra come back later with two strong challenge performances, and Dreamz showed some actually strategy within his testimonials. These two are, at the very least, aware of their position without being high and mighty about it.

Lisi and Stacey

Girls, what was that? The idea of returning from the challenge refusing to even speak with these people shows an absolutely lack of class as Alex rightly pointed out. While everyone else seemed to be fairly normal about things, even if they refused to listen to Alex’s view, these two were outwardly ridiculous to a degree I did not expect…well, of Stacey, anyways, Lisi has been on the Con List since last week’s disgusting performance.

Yau Man and Earl

It was a smart move on their part to try to give Yau Man time to look for the Idol; it appears to have been a tiny bit of a failure, as far as we know, but the fact of the matter is that these two are in a good position if they can hold the Idol and stay alive to head into the merge with a good set of numbers. It was some intelligent play that gives them a heads up in a tribe that is otherwise falling apart.

Survivor Producers

Sorry, folks, but you’re in a rough place with me right now. While I think that the episode itself was fine, I’m hoping you stop dangling the amenities out in front of the teams. It’s clear based on next week that you’re reorganizing things to make up for the clear physical divide (See: The Reward Challenge), but if you’re going to be giving them anything and everything it’ll limit its effect in the future.


Seriously? How did you not get the 9? Pathetic. And you’re annoying.

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The Pros and Cons of Survivor: Fiji – “Let’s Just Call Jeff on the Jeff Phone”

With Thursday Night TV Club taking a bit of a break this week, and an episode of Survivor that was rather broad in its effects, I figure there’s no better chance to discuss some more Pros and Cons about Survivor: Fiji.


Survivor Producers

I would like to thank the Survivor producers for finally throwing a wrench into the whole camp issue, much later than I expected them to. While I think you waited a bit too long, the idea of using the camp comforts in exchange for immunity is a decision that should have been much tougher for them to make (which I’ll get to in a second). While it’s still clearly ripping off themselves, considering the Apprentice’s use of the same basic concept, it’s coming across better because of the more physical nature of the game. Honestly, on the Apprentice it’s just silly; here, it seems natural because it’s actually changing the way people play the game and truly affecting them both mentally and physically.



Moto gets put on the Con side for making the decision to keep their comfort in exchange for their immunity win. While I get that their decision was made for their future success, they should have realized that at this point their solidarity is more than just numbers. Now, whereas this wasn’t the case before, the alliance lines are clearly drawn within the tribe. While they might have lost their luxury, they would have at least stayed 7 strong without the need to draw the battle lines. Whereas it was once a silent five alliance, it is now clearly out into the open. While they might still have their comfort, their unity is shattered; that’s not a trade they should have made, and they’re going to suffer because of it.

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The Pros and Cons of Survivor: Fiji

Now, before I begin, let me note that I watched this from about 3:30am to 4:10am in a hotel room in Antigonish on Friday Night, so perhaps my mind wasn’t as sharp as it could have been. Also, this will be replacing Thursday Night TV Club this week, purely based on my current schedule crunch. That being said, let’s get to it.

Pro: Contestant/Audience Confusion

Seasons of Survivor that start with watching 19 confused individuals try to figure out what the hell to do are often the best. The season started with all 19 on one island, building a shelter together and being forced to work together with no idea what was coming next. It reminded me somewhat of the Pearl Islands shopping excursion in that it was a neat shift of pace in the opening episode that kept me interested far more than last season’s racial divide.

Con: Mark Burnett is ripping himself off

The latest season of The Apprentice started in exactly the same way. Everyone works together to build a tent, two leaders are selected to head the teams, and then they schoolyard pick from those teams. If one of the contestants had not backed out of the game so soon before its opening, it would have turned out in exactly the same fashion. It just made Survivor seem somewhat repetitive, although it is the better reality show overall. Continue reading

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