Survivor season premiere recap: Making a Name For Himself

Familiar faces return, while one new player stands out, for all the wrong reasons
Ep. 01 | Aired Sep 14, 2011

THE NAME GAME John (or Cochran to his reality host) was ready with a quip, but not for the game

Image Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS

I have to admit, I didn't think Survivor could top itself in terms of controversy after the race war that was Survivor: Cook Islands. And it seemed as if after the network's own morning news anchor (Harry Smith) took the show to task for it, that CBS was backing away from such risky stunts. Little did I know that this fall we'd be opening a bag of Funyuns, plopping on the couch, and tuning into the most controversial twist yet: Survivor: Hitler's Nephew Edition! Of course, we all know Hitler can’t play Survivor. Dude's been dead over 60 years! That simply makes no sense. Plus, word on the street is that he sucked in challenges. But his nephew? Totally different story. I mean, sure, the goose stepping over to collect Tree Mail might be a tad much, and the big swastika tattoo on his shoulder could be a bit of a giveaway, but as long as he keeps his shirt on, who's to know? Hitler's nephew may actually have a little game!

Of course, it's not really Hitler's nephew playing this season on Survivor: South Pacific, but rather Russell Hantz's nephew, Brandon. And before any of you jump on me for comparing Russell to Hitler, remember, I didn’t make the comparison — his own nephew did. And not just any nephew, but his "loco" nephew who kept staring at a woman's breasts while implying that she needed to stop showing them off lest he not be able to stop himself from coping a feel like some sort of boob-starved zombie.

Wow, Hitler, zombies, and boobs already? It may be only be the season premiere but we're already in midseason form! Speaking of the premiere, it’s time to break this bad boy down. As many of you know, first episode recaps are handled a little different than the rest since I was actually out there on location and can sprinkle in a few behind-the-scenes tidbits for your edification. So here we go with some random observations and insight from episode 1 of Survivor: South Pacific. And make sure to stay tuned till the end because we have some special exclusive goodies waiting for you there.

• Can't lie. Was a little bummed Probst wasn’t on the edge of a volcano, or hanging out of a chopper, or somewhere else super-dramatic for the opening. Instead the dude was just kinda chillin' in Redemption Island Arena. Nothing wrong with that. I've just grown to love the over-the-top intros. Same way I miss him skydiving and motorcycling the votes to the U.S. in the finale. That's just rock solid entertainment, people.

• My favorite part of the opening, however, was something very subtle but told you everything you need to know about Coach and Ozzy. There was a great shot of the two of them in the helicopter that featured Ozzy more prominent in the foreground. Too prominent it seemed, because if you watched closely, Coach inched up in his seat to get more of himself in the frame. Classic Coach.

• By the way, for those keeping track — and yes, I was — it took Coach exactly 41 seconds into the season to utter the words "honor and integrity."

NEXT: Playing the game, or playing to the cameras?

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