CBS recently made the announcement that they had picked up Survivor for two additional seasons after the upcoming Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites. Fans vs. Favorites, which premieres next week, will be the sixteenth season of Survivor. It had been rumored that the sixteenth season may be the show’s last. Jeff Probst’s contract was up and it’s not like a series can go on forever. This latest CBS announcement, which included the re-upping of Probst’s contract, is therefore great news for Survivor fans. I certainly am not ready for the end of Survivor, nor was I enthralled at the possibility of Survivor without the immortal Jeff Probst. The extension of the Survivor franchise, though, did bring up one question: When should the show end?
The longevity of a reality franchise is much different from that of a scripted series. With scripted shows, two major stumbling blocks arise when a series gets long in the tooth: 1) The actors want to leave after so many years, seeing as a TV series is basically a full-time gig for actors and, 2) The writers run out of material, the well eventually runs dry. Some dramatic series have avoided these trappings by having a premise that circumvents both of these problems. For example, E.R. can go on and on because actors can shuffle in and out and the writers will never run out of medical stories. Law & Order can also shuffle through actors, and even better, the stories are not dependent on the main characters – the drama comes from the outside. Survivor, weirdly, is similar to those two shows in that the cast always changes and with new characters comes new drama and conflict.
I’ve made the argument before that Survivor doesn’t ever have to end. What may eventually signal the end of the series, however, stems from problem number one for scripted shows as noted above. Jeff Probst might eventually get tired of his Survivor gig. He’s said before that he loves the job, and why wouldn’t he? It only takes up a few months out of the year and he gets to hang out in tropical locales doing something he does better than anyone. Of course, maybe CBS would be able to unearth an equally as talented host if Probst ever decides to leave, but for Survivor purists like myself, it just wouldn’t be the same. My hunch is that when Probst decides to call it quits, the show will take its final bow. When that will be is the real question.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of CBS)