TDT Survivor: Africa recaps

Boran, doing what they do bestMark Burnett promised the first three minutes of this show would be edge-of-your-seat exciting, and boy, did he ever deliver.  First there was the ever-so-slightly altered Survivor theme song, now stretched out for added annoyance.  Coupled with this was the fascinating visual imagery of sixteen pampered, overfed Americans riding in a truck emblazoned with the show's title, as it moves past native Kenyans, specially bedecked in traditional tribal garb for the benefit of the ubiquitous TV cameras.  And, in the long-awaited foreshadowing of the show's "explosive dynamics," hordes of hungry-looking village children raced out after the truck, begging for food, trinkets, anything.  The truck responded by kicking up a cloud of dust in their faces.  Host Jeff Probst yelled out to the worried contestants, "Never fear, our driver has a machine gun!"  Without further ado, the Survivors proceeded to the Shaba National Reserve, which had been "virtually untouched by humans," except, of course, for the massive production camp containing water purification and sanitation systems, an internet cafe, and legions of reporters and camera operators from entertainment news shows. 


Upon arrival, the gun-toting driver orders everyone off the truck, quickly, because he's in a rush to get home and spend the next six weeks not getting paid to drive tourists through the park, thanks to CBS shutting down Shaba for "security" reasons.  The tribes split up, and begin the long trek to their respective camps.  The Boran tribe, wearing a festive yellow, quickly starts bickering.  Diane, apparently intent on proving that the U.S. Postal Service is in fact speedy and reliable, grabs the map, and swiftly sprints off out of visual range of her tribemates.  Sadly, in doing so, Diane expends all of her energy in the first three minutes, and spends the rest of the next two-and-a-half days laying around.  Ethan, who built up massive arm strength kicking soccer balls and jumping around to prevent them from going into the net, responds by throwing down the supplies he's carrying.  The tribe quickly decides that, since they can't drink the local water, they should dump out two-thirds of the free, drinkable water the show gave them.  They look to Kelly, who Mark Burnett describes as "off the charts" in intelligence, despite a merely above-average 1520 SAT score, and she agrees this is an excellent idea.  Meanwhile, Samburu, clad in red scarves that Brandon somehow finds a way to make look pink, scampers along to their campsite, chattering like a squadron of rabid chipmunks. 


After reaching their camps, the two tribes are faced with three tasks: (1) rebuild the thorny fence around the camp, to cause lions wandering through to get stickers in their fur; (2) find the water conveniently shown on their maps, and (3) boil the water over a fire.  Both tribes remarkably accomplish the first two objectives with seeming competence, although not without extensive bitching and moaning about not just having the water conveniently packaged in clean, disposable plastic bottles.  Then both tribes proceed to further demonstrate that, despite the fairy tales told by the Boy Scouts, Americans are genetically incapable of starting a fire by rubbing two sticks together.  But all is not lost.


Spurred on by the extensive complaints of their teammate, Tamponia Richter, Samburu rifles through their first aid kit, looking for a muzzle.  Unfortunately, all they find is a telescope, but they use this to start a fire.  Having completed the planning part of the project, Kim P nobly steps aside, and allows Silas to do the actual work.  Suddenly, a crisis emerges.  As smoke begins to rise from the tinder, Kim P frantically warns Silas, "Don't inhale the smoke! We don't want you passing out like that Skupin guy, and falling face-first into that slightly-warmed pile of dried elephant dung!" Thankfully, Kim P's quick actions avert certain tragedy, flames billow from the burning dung, and Samburu all take the hits of ecstasy Linda found in the first aid kit, and commence dancing around and hugging each other.  Lucky for them, because now it's time for the immunity challenge, where they win fire anyway.  More dancing around, chattering, and hugging ensues.


Meanwhile, back at Boran, things are not looking good.  Because Lex is developing a blister, the tribe decides to just give up trying to build a fire, and instead just sit around the campsite, mistrusting each other.  Mark Burnett seizes upon this opportunity to revisit his favorite theme, "The guy with the dark skin just can't be trusted."  Passing around a can of delicious cherries, the Borans decide that, even though the first people in the circle are going to end up eating more than the last people, Clarence is an evil, selfish troublemaker, because he took two (despite weighing more than twice as much as Kelly, who weaseled her way into the head of the line).  Everyone decides to sneak off to the water hole, and talk about Clarence behind his back.  They leave Clarence behind to watch Diane, who, despite her claims that her job has given her lots of experience walking fast while carrying heavy loads, collapsed at the challenge.  Everyone agrees that, damnit, they just can't trust Clarence, and that they had better hustle back to camp before he eats all their food.  But first they pause to enjoy the delightful antics of singing Tom, who we suspect may actually be a CG character like Jar-Jar Binks, or may perhaps have been digitally spliced in from an old episode of "Hee Haw".


Tom provides the insight that, from the smell, they could tell Clarence had been eatin' some beans.  Being the brilliant tacticians they are, instead of forcing Clarence to squat over the fire while they rub sticks together, Boran decides to just spend the rest of the day yelling at him.  Especially Tom, whom we now suspect may have been digitally spliced in from an old episode of "Sally Jessy Raphael."  Then they're off to tribal council, where, despite the last 15 minutes of misdirection due to Mark Burnett's editing, they near-unanimously vote off Diane. 

Africa Episode 1 recaps and commentary

  • Official CBS Episode 1 recap


Exit interviews - Diane Ogden

  • Ann Oldenburg at (10/15/01): "Ogden first to get canned"