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Survivor Hype

Saturday, May 05, 2001

By Rob Owen, Post-Gazette TV Editor

In the end, it was a kinder, gentler "Survivor," which meant it was too often boring. Thursday's conclusion, especially, was a wait-filled snooze.

How many times did we need to hear wistful finalists remark, "Tonight is the last night for one of us to be sleeping here"? And giving contestants an opportunity to reflect on their experience may be good for their souls, but it makes for dull television.

A lack of drama -- that's why "Survivor: The Australian Outback" paled in comparison to the original.

Unlike the first edition, where the nice people got kicked off first and we were left with the meanies, on "Survivor 2" the reverse happened: The meanies went early and we were left with nice people. Great for humanity, lousy for TV.

It makes some sense this would be the outcome after the outrage over "evil Richard Hatch's" win last summer. Even newly crowned winner Tina Wesson, speaking on CBS's "Early Show" yesterday, said the contestants agreed as they played the game they wanted the winner to be "someone America would like."

CLAWS COME OUT: Though much of the concluding episode was dull, the jury's questions sparked it to life. There was no "rats and snakes" speech, but Evil Jerri's failed attempt to wrangle apologies out of Tina and Colby was a hoot.

Shots of host Jeff Probst flying in a helicopter -- from the Outback to L.A., no less! -- were goofy, but kudos to costumers who assured contestants wore the same outfits in the L.A. studio Thursday as they wore when they cast their votes in Australia last year.

The Jerry Springeresque reunion show was better than the last episode. From Debb's tearful complaints about the show ruining her life to Kel's promise that Jerri "will never get a Christmas card from me," it was "Survivor" at its awful best.

STILL WAITING: Despite spin by executive producer Mark Burnett, Hometown Hottie Amber Brkich's supposed "other side," the one capable of crafty conniving, never saw the light of day, even in the jury.

WE GOT TREE MAIL! Well, e-mail actually, and it was from Amber Lanier, sister of "Survivor" contestant Maralyn "Mad Dog" Hershey. She wrote to congratulate us on spelling her sister's name correctly and added, "your 'Survivor' columns have amused me." Her nicest, most clever compliment was this: "Your tongue does credit to your cheek." We loved Maralyn when she was on the show, and now we love her sister, too.

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