Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Survivor: Australian Outback

Back before Tivo and DVR and online streaming, unless you had figured out how to program a VCR, there was this thing called “appointment television” (I can feel people under the age of 18 rolling their eyes).  Back in the Dark Ages, besides having to walk uphill to school both ways in 12 feet of snow and actually having to be at home when your favorite TV shows aired, I also didn’t know anyone with a digital camera, I was amazed by my dorm room's Ethernet cable's ability to provide 24 hour internet without tying up the phone, and the only people I knew with cell phones were my parents.  My mom had a Zack-Morris-esque brick we called “the car phone”, which she didn’t answer ever.  Much like her use of her smaller, snazzier cell phone today, actually.

But I digress.  Reality TV started hitting it big in the early part of the new millennium, and the biggest boy on the playground was definitely Survivor, which premiered in May of 2000, featuring a naked Richard Hatch and one of the best reality TV speeches of all time.  Oh, Susan.  Tell me more about snakes and rats and how you wouldn’t give me a drink of water if I was dying in the desert.

I got seriously hooked in January of 2001, when the castaways were sent to the Australian Outback.  It seemed like my entire dorm was addicted.  We met in the common rooms on Thursday nights to watch sweet Elisabeth Filarski (now known as humanity’s common enemy, Elisabeth Hasselbeck), Amber Brkich, who would go on to marry "Boston" Rob Mariano and compete on like 80 billion more shows, and of course, the dreamy Colby Donaldson take on 42 days in the wilderness.  (On a side note, the Australian Outback season was the only season of Survivor to last 42 days; the rest have all been 39.  Thanks, Wikipedia!)

My favorite Survivor that year was, in the words of the elimination chart my freshman year boyfriend kept on his dorm room door, “eliminated due to infuriating injury”: Michael Skupin.  He was TOTALLY AWESOME!  He killed wild boars and painted his face with the blood, he led his tribe to victory, and, if we’re being honest, was a total fox.  Colby was a cute boy, but Michael...Michael was a man.

But then disaster struck.  On day 16, he was stoking a fire in camp, inhaled too much smoke, and passed out into the fire, ending up with 2nd degree burns on his face, hands, and chest.  Thank God we didn’t have Tivo back then; seeing the skin peeling off his hands once was icky enough.   He was airlifted out and Tina Wesson took home a million bucks.

I watched the live finale from a hotel room somewhere in Ohio after my parents picked me up from Boston to go home for the summer.  I might have cried during the finale since I wasn’t with the friends I had bonded with watching the contestants outwit, outplay, and outlast.  And that's the only time I watched an entire season of Survivor.  I don't want to tamper with my memories of the Australian Outback, back in the good old days when I had to watch it live.

Check out Mike today on his website
Thanks to Wikipedia for jogging my aging memory.  


  1. Boston Rob wasn't on Survivor Outback.

  2. Whoops, flaw in my research. Rob and Amber met on Survivor All-Stars.