Survivor 30 recaps

Willard!CBS's pre-season ads for Survivor are an interesting set of data for (mostly predictive) analysis of the season. In the old days, there would be multiple waves of ads introducing anywhere from one to four contestants at a time. Originally, these were fairly balanced, and everyone appeared in at least one ad (in Palau, even Willard got one... albeit misspelled, but hey, you can't have everything), although players the network saw as potential stars were more frequently featured. Russell Hantz, for example, had multiple ads featuring just him heading into Samoa.


In more recent seasons, the ad output has become increasingly sparse, reaching an apparent nadir with San Juan del Sur, in which the bulk of the campaign was blown on multiple variants of a 30-second spot touting John Rocker. He was gone by Episode 4. His girlfriend, future quitter Julie, got to smile prettily in a clip from a preseason co-interview with Rocker, and the rest of the cast was ignored. Most insultingly, it's about the only San Juan del Sur video left on Survivor's YouTube channel, after an unexplained end-of-2014 purge. To be fair, CBS did air several spots touting the return of the Blood vs. Water format, which showed Rupert, Vytas, and Ciera (from S27)... and none of the new contestants. The sole exceptions: Natalie and Nadiya had an infrequently shown ad trying to convince their Amazing Race fans to cross over to the Probst Side, and there was one, almost-never-shown ad in which Natalie/Nadiya, Val/Jeremy, and Keith/Wes were all shown. That was it.


Taken as a whole, then, the frequency and variety of pre-season Survivor ads serve as a measure of the degree to which the network is excited about the season and/or the contestants. Secondarily, they also usually highlight important players, usually including the winner, and often give a glimpse of the first boot. (For example, in Philippines, most of the ads focused on the Skupin/Russ Swan/Penner trio of returning former medevacced players, and the only non-returning players given confessional spotlights were future returnee Malcolm and Ep.1 bootee Zane.) But don't worry, spoiler-phobes, there are no guarantees. While most of the Cagayan cast were featured in confessionals, Tony (Tony!) was not. Go figure.


So, with just over a week to go until the premiere, we present here our collection of the ads CBS has deigned to air for Survivor: Worlds Apart. The bulk of the airings have gone to variants of the first, dual Survivor/Amazing Race ad, since the two shows are sharing the same premiere night. After that slow start, however, the pace and variety of ads has increased. This may actually be a season CBS likes. Let's hope we, the audience, do as well.


Note: If you're one of the many people who have been avoiding these ads because CBS insists on including shots of challenges from beyond the first episode (because one multi-stage challenge was exciting enough for the Meet the Cast video, but not for prime-time TV, apparently), fear not. We'll alert you if the ad contains spoilers.

Teaser ad: Survivor's Back
Aired January 18, 2015, during NFL playoffs || Confessionals: None



Almost nothing to see here. Five seconds worth of rocks, the backs of the Blue Collar tribe, a snake, and another rock. Better than nothing? More or less.

Ad #1: Joint Survivor - Amazing Race premiere
Aired January 27, 2015, during The Talk || Confessionals: Mike (late substitution: Dan)

(Spoiler free.)


This one again highlights the Blue Collar tribe (although the entire cast - except Max - is shown in close-ups of each tribe), and Mike gets a confessional about getting his hands dirty. Half of the time is spent on The Amazing Race, as well. But it's hard to complain about seeing the cast, including in challenges, instead of stock footage of rocks or animals. (Don't worry, it's just the first challenge, and contains no spoilers about that challenge.)


Note: Two shorter versions of this ad aired the following day, both of which contain additional scenes from challenges, and thus potential spoilers. (Don't click if you don't want to know.) The first shows a tribe winning the first challenge. The second includes that clip, plus a brief look at a post-Episode 1 challenge, so it spoils at least some of the people not booted in the first episode.


Update (2/20/15): In the past week, this ad has been re-cut with Dan as the person giving the confessional, instead of Mike. For what that's worth.


Ad #2: The Drowned God/ What is dead may never die
Aired February 7, 2015 || Confessionals: None

(Warning: contains spoilers.)


This one begins with the curious choice of showing stereotypical "White Collar," "Blue Collar," and "No Collar" stand-ins being dumped into the water. Because... simulated drowning represents your life, we guess? Then it flashes through a blizzard of random body-part shots, rectifies the absence of Max in the first ad by showing him solo, then proceeds to show one tribe in yet another challenge from beyond the first episode. So if you're trying to avoid spoilers, you may not want to watch. The challenge does look interesting, though. No confessionals.


Ad #2.5-ish: Tribe introductions
Aired February 11, 2015 || Confessionals: So, Rodney, Jenn

(Warning: contains spoilers, but not until around 20 seconds in.)


This one continues with the semi-drowned stand-ins theme, but then features an actual contestant from each tribe (So, Rodney, and Jenn) describing how they fit Jeff Probst's definitions of white-, blue-, and "no" collar, respectively. And then, after 20 spoiler-free seconds, proceeds to show a bunch of shots of future challenges. Watch at your own risk if you're spoiler-free.


Ads #3: Finally, the contestants
Aired February 15, 2015 || Confessionals: Dan, Sierra, Rodney

(Warning: contains lots of spoilers after Dan's part)


Finally, the prime cut (as Rodney states he, himself is): actual contestant confessionals. Sadly, for those trying to remain unspoiled, also a prime cut of post-Episode 1 challenge footage. But despite that, solid introductory confessionals by Dan, Sierra, and Rodney, all addressing why they're "blue collar" (except Rodney, really).


We've heard there is a White Collar version of this ad, which suggests there may be No Collar ones as well. We'll update accordingly if we catch them. It would be cool if CBS could put them on YouTube or their own web site, but since someone accidentally (?) deleted 12/18 of the Worlds Apart "Meet ___" videos from their YouTube channel, don't hold your breath. In the meantime, the fact that CBS decided to focus on specific contestants, and actually give them lower-third names and occcupations (unlike in the first few ads), would appear to bode well for the season. Especially if we also get to meet people from the other tribes. Fingers crossed.