Then Charlie Parsons and Mark Burnett brought to CBS an idea that, while not entirely original in concept or design, was remarkably different than anything currently being aired in the United States. It was a "reality" show, based on the hit Swedish program "Expedition Robinson", in which a group of strangers were dumped on an island and forced to fend for themselves, and vote each other off one by one. They called their version "Survivor", and it kicked off a TV revolution that does not appear to be going away.
This first season of "Survivor" established all the rules which, eight seasons later, are considered gospel by fans and contestants alike: sixteen players are divided into two tribes where they must build shelter, find food, and compete in challenges. Lose the challenges and you face Tribal Council, where the tribe votes out one of its players, be they the weakest link, the bossiest leader, or the slimiest snake. Eventually the two tribes merge into one where the challenges become individual and the field is ultimately levelled to two remaining players who are judged by their fallen peers. One is left standing to claim the million-dollar prize and the title of Sole Survivor.
With these parameters, sixteen Americans volunteered to be the initial guinea pigs, and were marooned in Borneo. Some were there for the adventure, some for the fifteen minutes of fame, and some for the money. It was, in the end, a game, and those who sought the pot of gold proved the most ambitious. One of the only rules of Survivor is that you cannot conspire to share the prize money. The Pagong tribe, consisting of mainly younger players like Jenna Lewis, Colleen Haskell and Greg Buis, were quite content with this and opted to lay back and let the cards fall where they may. But the Tagi tribe (including Rudy Boesch, Susan Hawk, and, of course, Richard Hatch) discovered early on that you could bend the conspiracy rule without actually breaking it. If they all voted together as a bloc, they'd have the numerical advantage to ensure a slot in the final four or five. You could call it an arrangement, or agreement. They called it an alliance.
The alliance strategy ultimately proved the obvious way to go, and it was perhaps that one aspect of this first season which proved the most influential on the seasons which followed it; nearly every subsequent winner of the game has used a solid alliance to get them to the top. It is not always the ringleader, not always the strongest or smartest. No one person or personality is guaranteed victory in this wholly unique game, because the game is shaped by the people who play it, and no two people are the same. Survivor was an almost instant ratings smash, and the first season finale ranks among the most watched events in recent years, and this can be attributed not to its sex appeal or entertainment quotient, but its curiosity. Random people scheming and plotting to outlast each other in a democratic process. Survivor is, at its core, a microcosm of Western society and politics, a grand sociological experiment of the Pax Americana.
The DVD release of the complete first series allows many fans who have forgotten or did not see the original Pulau Tiga castaways to experience, or re-experience, the show that they fell in love with those four long years ago. And coming with the hindsight of eight sequel seasons (season nine is being cast as of this writing, and producer Burnett and host Jeff Probst are reportedly signed through season twelve), it is a real trip to go back and watch how it all started; when grubs were considered "gross food", sloppily-edited credits gave away future events (giving berth to the wild internet "spoiling" subculture), and "alliance" was considered a dirty word. Probst is shaky here; the job is new to him and there is no edge to his attitude. It is a new experience to him, as it is to everyone else. And all the great moments are here: Greg and his "coconut phone", Sean's alphabetical voting strategy, and of course Susan's infamous "snakes and rats" jury speech, often imitated but never duplicated.
Survivor fans will need a copy of Season One. Others may want to consider this as the perfect place to start catching up on what they've been missing.
I then watched it and could not stop after each episode. I only
took breaks after 4 or 5 in a row. This is the one season I had
never seen and am glad about my purchase. The back of the cases
are bad though as they reveal too much info and the cases are
soooooooooooooooooo small but I can live with that. The video
quality is astounding, but the special features are pretty
boring. The top 10 is okay and the LA to Borneo was useless.
However this collection is great and further ones can only get better.