Self proclaimed Survivor New Zealand expert Ryan Brink is here to run down what Survivor New Zealand can do better in Season 2.
Hear me out. This year I became more invested in Survivor New Zealand than any individual should. I watched every episode, read every blog, personally interviewed the players and even flew to Auckland to attend the finale. I loved it! Well most of it. For all it’s critics, the old school feel to the season had a strong appeal to me personally. I’d argue the drawn out edit and not the gameplay is what pushed people away. I became enamoured with watching 16 castaways battle it out on the sandy beaches of Nic-a-rag-u-a for 39 day.
The players were so well rounded, from challenge beast Tom, cunning gamer Shannon, Captain Mike Sparrow, the Godmother Barb with her offsider Officer Nate, hilarious Jak, not so shady Shay, the unluckiest player of the season Georgia and of course the best social player in recent memory, writing notes in his journal the whole way Avi. After 20 long episodes I got to know them more than a typical US season and I loved it! And of course meeting the incomparable host Matt Chisholm.
But for all those positives, there are also ways this game could be better. Here in know particular order are my thoughts on how Survivor New Zealand can be improved next season.
#1 No speaking before the game.
Ever wondered why Tom was a huge target on Day 1? Unlike American and Australian Survivor, New Zealand castaways were free to chat and got to know each other before filming had even started. This is a production mistake and CANNOT happen again. You need to save that drama and tension for the island when the cameras are rolling, not back at Ponderosa/Jury Villa (my suggestion – Villarosa!).
#2 More Survivors to start the game.
It was great seeing 16 Kiwis embarked on the journey of a life time. But with 20 episodes we did not have enough sustainable action at tribal councils to last the entirety of the game, especially with Lou being medically evacuated.
Starting with 18 or 20 gives you flexibility to end more episodes at tribal councils. Survivor is an outcome driven show. Fans want to see outcomes to the scheming they have witnessed, not another challenge.
#3 PLEASE! No day one vote out.
Won’t somebody please think of the children…? and Dee. These people have gone through months of casting and given up careers and other commitments to play the game. Respect them enough to allow 3 days in the game so they can live or die by the sword.
#4 Redemption Island needs to be fixed or go.
This leads into the previous suggestions. Personally I am not against Redemption Island if done correctly. Redemption Island worked best in 2017 when we had three people on the island later in the season. Once the game has started, there should be a minimum of 2 people on Redemption Island at all times, to see the continuing storylines of those who are eliminated and ‘surviving’ on Redemption Island.
Here is my two-cents worth, not that anyone is asking. Do not tell the players Redemption Island is back in play this season, neither confirm or deny. Have the first 3 people voted off on hypothetically Day 3, 5 & 7 and all sent to Redemption Island. On Day 8 tell the tribes through tree mail that today they will be entering the battle arena. As they stand on the mats waiting to begin, watch as the first 3 eliminated players walk back into the game. The shock that Redemption Island is in fact back will be great TV just for the reactions of the players left in the game. I’d also suggest ending Redemption Island at the merge. It did not work post merge last season and slowed the end game considerably as a viewer. Continue to accelerate the game play at the end, don’t slow it down.
Sidenote: Please make sure you have a camera there for more than 20 minutes a day to capture actual footage of what is going on there and the raw emotion of being voted out.
#5 Introducing a theme.
Who does not love a good theme? It does not have to be anything dramatic, just an easy slogan to divide the tribes on Day 1.
#6 Idols are up for grabs!
It does not have to be confusing. Place an idol on each beach. Introduce the idol through someone finding a clue or possibly during the second episodes reward. The gameplay has to increase dramatically if there is a threat of an idol in play. Just imagine last seasons episode when Georgia was sent home. How great would it have been if she spent the day looking for an idol and casting doubt into the minds of the other players.
#7 Challenges need to be improved.
There were some great challenges on Survivor New Zealand. The night quiz challenge was especially unique and had a great old school feel. However there were some excruciatingly poor challenges as well. Remember the challenge where the players were spitting water into a used drink bottle, after going under a trough, that Jak and Nate could not fit under. Challenges do not have to break the bank to be great. Be creative, see what American and Australian Survivor have done and find something unique. Challenges that also involve multiple elements and do not always end in a puzzle every time would also be great. 🙂
#8 Online Content
I love the idea of Little Survivor, 2 or more people chatting about the greatest show in the world Survivor. But in practice it did not work. Matty McLean is great, but was not used correctly. He is a huge fan of the show, so let him show it and talk about it. It is amazing that TVNZ went to the effort to make a show for Superfans of Survivor. But you need to make it something Superfans would want to watch. Survivor is not the Bachelor!
On Facebook, players were interviewed for around 3 minutes on camera. The questions were not great. This is something that Matty McLean should do. It is also essential you film a Ponderosa/Jury Villa (Villarosa… i’ll make it a reality one day) after the merge. This kind of content is amazing and gives great insight into what is going through the minds of the eliminated players.
#9 Episode structure.
This is for TVNZ about the timing and pacing of the edit. If TVNZ want 2 episodes a week again, then the longer 90 minute episode needs to be the episode with a tribal council. The long 90 minute episode at times was like watching crabs race in the sand… wait that happened and was great… Fix it.
#10 A few more strategists.
I loved the 2017 Survivor New Zealand cast. It is probably my favourite new player cast from 2017 from all Survivor seasons worldwide this year. However it lacked a killer punch. We needed another standout, who could fight against the honesty and loyalty of Sala and Avi. Join the dark side my friends!
I’m bias, because I loved the cast and the show this year. But we can all admit faults. Next year the game play will take a natural step forwards. With more prize money, now up to $250,000 and the show being seen this year by the new cast, 2018 Survivor New Zealand will be well worth watching.
In the end you may just decide to do it your way. 😉
What do you think, what would you change about Survivor New Zealand for the next season? Find all our interviews with the 2017 Survivor New Zealand cast here.