Survivor: Tocantins: The Brazilian Highlands

Sarah Hentges

In the first episode of Survivor: Tocantins, we learned that temperatures in the Brazilian Highlands are often in excess of 120 degrees.


Airtime: Thursdays, 9pm ET
Cast: Jeff Probst (host)
Subtitle: Tocantins: The Brazilian HighlandsSeason 18 Premiere
Network: CBS
US release date: 2009-02-12

In its 18th season premiere last week, Survivor: Tocantins: The Brazilian Highlands dominated the ratings, averaging14.2 million viewers. As always, the show delivered an exciting location, fresh faces, and imminent plot twists. And the first episode followed the well known formula: establish conflict, introduce characters to love or hate, and show plenty of skin juxtaposed with lurking animals and dangerous scenery. We also learned that temperatures in the Brazilian Highlands are often in excess of 120 degrees.

Host Jeff Probst says that this season's cast is exceptionally likeable." Indeed, in his PopWatch blog about Episode One, Probst seems to be in love with “Coach” (Ben Wade), even though the man is already looking arrogant, dedicated as he is to his own “theory” of the game, which he shared with us immediately. Other contestants are potentially more likeable. Jerry, for instance, downplayed his physical fitness and hid his military experience and recent return from Afghanistan. And, Debra, an “older” woman about whom we learned very little in the first episode, appeared intriguing.

Other introductions suggested a focus on those who are perceived (by others or by themselves) as weak. Stephen is afraid he won’t fit in as the “anxious New York Jew” and “Coach” Ben shows little concern about fitting in, as he’s so busy standing out and on top. Sandy was immediately deemed the “older lady,” and Sierra, suffering from a fever. Both were voted out -- not out of the game as we were led to believe at first, but out of “this adventure,” as Probst put it. (Certainly anyone who has seen Survivor should know to listen carefully to what he says.) Both tribes looked disappointed that their votes were not votes out.

The episode began much like past seasons, but rather than pillage a local village (like in “The Pearl Islands”), contestants stripped everything and anything they might need from the vehicle transporting them. One tribe, Timbira, ended up with all of the food and water and both tribes had to transport their goods to their camps about four hours away (like Survivor: Africa). Timbira won the immunity challenge over Jalapoa. Unlike many initial challenges, this one allowed six members to do the most physical part of the challenge, reserving two tribe members to put together a puzzle staircase. Thus, it was not simply a matter of dragging along the one or two physically weakest members. The new rule also added a more equitable dimension to the first test of teamwork. In fact, the team members initially voted out for their perceived weakness led their teams through this part of the challenge.

If there is nothing particularly new Survivor: Tocantins, the first episode promised more revelations. Some of Probst’s predictions fell short immediately, like his guess that no one would be getting rid of Carolina any time soon since she is so darn cute. No doubt, the departure of Carolina’s “nice rack” left many Survivor fans disappointed while Sandy’s ability to survive past first impressions had other fans cheering. And certainly we’ll be seeing a lot more eye candy, conflict, and wilderness scenes from this “deserted and unforgiving section of Brazil.”

What we didn’t see was “advance team” member Alton Desiree, who died helping to prepare this latest Survivor location. Instead, the first Survivor: Gabon episode was dedicated to his memory. But we’re not surprised that our reality TV leaves out reality. That is, after all, why we tune in.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.