I haven’t watched “Survivor” in about 20 seasons, but Wednesday’s season 30 premiere became must-see TV here because of the participation of Grand Island resident Kelly Remington.
And I learned a lot from the 90-minute episode.
Spoiler alert: Here are my six top takeaways from the entertaining premiere of "Survivor: Worlds Apart” set in Nicaragua and featuring castaways divided into White Collar, Blue Collar and No Collar teams.
1) It Isn't a Good Idea to Lie Now: I should add, unless you are extremely good at it. That’s especially true now since every castaway has been watching every episode, knows how the game is played and can easily spot a liar. The first castaway to depart, So Kim, a member of the White Collar team, was terrible at lying and that led to her downfall. I’m not lying in saying I bet a lot of male viewers – and even the “Survivor” producers – were sorry to see her go so quickly.
2) Remington Wasn’t Lying: She said her plan was to go under the radar and that couldn't have been more obvious. She was barely in the opening episode. That was an early clue that she was going to survive, because I remember from 20 seasons ago that the castaways who are booted usually get a lot of screen time in the episode. By the way, Remington is aware that some WNYers were surprised that a New York State trooper is considered “Blue Collar.”
“I just think they are judging by our salary,” Remington told me. “It didn’t affect me. That was people’s opinions. They (also) said, why ‘are we paying her salary while she is out there?’ They don’t realize I wasn’t getting paid by them.”
She was on unpaid leave while filming the show.
3) It Isn’t a Good Idea to Eat a Scorpion: Okay, I didn’t need to see “Survivor” to know that. But apparently oil driller Mike Holloway of the Blue Collar team needed to be taught a lesson. He got very sick after eating one.
4) Some People Shouldn’t Wear Skimpy Bathing Suits: I’m thinking of Dan Foley, the 47-year-old postal worker on the Blue Collar team who seemed to be wearing less clothing than Neil Patrick Harris in his “Birdman” parody on Oscar night. At least Harris is ripped. Seeing the heavyset Foley in a skimpy suit wasn’t a pretty sight. He certainly wasn’t under the radar. He quickly established himself as the show’s most unlikable character.
5) Older Contestants Can Play the Game: White Collar executive Carolyn Rivera, 52, who talked about being an older castaway, appeared to be taking a risk when she saved the immunity idol she found for another day rather than use it to save herself on opening night. But she knew what she was doing and now has it for another episode. Let's see if she overplays her hand.
6) “Survivor” is No Longer a Ratings Power: Even with Remington’s appearance, the premiere only had a 6.9 rating on Channel 4, the local CBS affiliate. That was only slightly lower than the 7.2 for last year’s premiere. But it did get a higher rating here than TV’s hottest new show, “Empire,” which had a 6.7 on WUTV and is a huge demographic hit. Of course, both shows should get much larger audiences from DVR and On Demand viewing over the next few days.
February sweeps addendum: In scoring the local news competition, I almost always compare news ratings from year-to-year. In the latest case, that meant comparing February of 2015 to February of 2014. But Channel 4 understandably would prefer a comparison to the last sweeps period in November of 2014 because its newscasts from 5 p.m. through 6:30 p.m. significantly lowered Channel 2’s lead in those time periods. However, the November ratings period deserved an asterisk because of the snowstorm that shutdown the area for several days and impacted viewing habits. That’s another reason for staying with my usual comparison formula.
Channel 7 was unlikely to complain about using my old formula. In November, its low-rated 6 a.m. newscast appeared to be gaining some ground on its competitors. However, all the gains it made in November were lost in February, when its rating was flat with its February 2014 results.