Survivor Fan Friction – Colby Donaldson

It’s time for more Fan Friction, the series of essays where one of our columnists writes an ode to one of their favorite Survivor players while defending them against any potential naysayers (both real and imagined). And just when you thought we were only covering modern players, here’s Barbara Anderson on Colby Donaldson. He ain’t no Hershey bar.

Why He’s Great

As a Survivor online community, we typically fall into two camps: “Yay  gamechangers!” or “Yay characters!”. Unfortunately that means that players who don’t neatly fall into these categories often get forgotten, even when they are truly worthy of inclusion into the Survivor Hall of Fame. Example A of this phenomenon is a certain gentleman from Texas who only knows of one way of playing Survivor: Colby Donaldson.

In 2001, Survivor was the biggest show on television and Colby was the biggest star on it. His movie star looks (imagine a cowboy-influenced Captain America) and witty one-liners caused him to be in the right place at the right time. His honorable gameplay and challenge dominance (at the time) made him a deep fan favorite to the point that he was a lock to be both an All-Star and a Hero. He was Survivor’s first example of “the women want him, the men want to be him and everybody wants their baby/dog named after him”.

However, his next two outings on All-Stars and Heroes vs. Villains weren’t good for Colby. To be fair to Colby, if you finished better than fourth, then you were just doomed on All-Stars. In Heroes vs. Villains, Colby’s cardinal sin was that he wasn’t as good at challenges as he once had been (along with the minor sin of not pre-gaming with the Micronesia and Rupert crew). Yet, he still managed to make some social inroads to last until the finale. Of course, it helped that people (along with the editors) didn’t think he was a threat, but Colby was still there.

Of course, I would be a terrible person if I didn’t mention his involvement in the best overarching storyline that Survivor has ever done: his relationship with a certain devil in a blue bikini, Jerri Manthey. Their relationship started off as potentially romantic, then shockingly platonic, then adversarial, and finally truly platonic to the point that Jerri is crying as she votes out Colby in HvV and gives him a warm hug on the way out. At this point, it would just be weird to see Jerri or Colby on Survivor without the other one because their legacies are so intertwined.

So why does all of this make Colby great? He has experienced three vastly different seasons with three vastly different levels of success. He has been a physical powerhouse and a physical liability. He has blindsided and been blindsided. He has had a good social game and an awful social game. But what doesn’t change is his great confessionals and presence. Colby can make a season inherently better, and that is a sign of a great character.

Haters Gonna Hate

He’s Superman in a Fat Suit

Of course I was going to make this defense because it is a big argument towards him being the worst in HvV. Many still believe that Colby was not that great in AO physically, which may be true. He did beast out a water holding competition against REDACTED, so that’s something. However, those were far different challenges than in HvV. He won fire-making with a physical component, a slingshot challenge, Survivor Folklore, a memory game, and Fallen Comrades during his immunity run in AO. There are no real out and out endurance or puzzle challenges in this mix. In HvV, he did okay in the hardcore physical pre-merge challenges, but he is easily the leanest Hero male of the bunch. The Heroes made such a big deal out of him “being awful” because a) he was on the outside already and b) James and Rupert were injured fairly early already. Yet, he did fairly well in the endurance challenges towards the end, but he just couldn’t beat Endurance Queen Parvati. So, he is not great, but he’s not bad either.

He’s Not Good Strategically

I am not going to sit here and say that he’s the most underrated strategist out there, but I think he’s got more game than he gets credit for. First of all, remember what his luxury item was in AO? Of course you do, it was the Texas state flag. But, he craftily rigged up before he left to play in the Outback to serve as a tarp just in case Ogakor didn’t win one in a challenge. That would give him some credit as a tribe provider. He’s also the swing vote that rocks Ogakor by siding with the old folks to tie the vote and get out Mitchell in order to keep the tribe strong. He then helps Ogakor get the advantage at the merge by attracting the Kucha votes to him and deflecting them through the past votes rule. He also knows to wait until Ogakor safely has the numbers before he cuts Jerri in another strategic first.

In All-Stars, he leads the charge to get out Hatch, but he just didn’t see that he would be the next biggest target once Mogo Mogo went back to Tribal Council because of his AO popularity and lack of social collateral on a tribe that was ruled by pre-gaming. In HvV, he found himself quickly in the minority, but he was able to pull off a game-changing move (working with Tom, JT, and Tom’s idol to get out Cirie) in order to get himself in a better position in the Heroes alliance.

Now, you’re probably saying “Wasn’t he a key part of JT’s dumb move?” Yes, he was. He’s the one who tells Russell during the immunity challenge to talk to JT afterwards and he does sign JT’s letter, but to be fair to him, JT’s plan had potential to work. They just were working on faulty evidence. Later, after Candice has decided to prove why she wasn’t a Hero, Colby and Rupert have separate but good strategy moments. Rupert decides to fake out Russell with a fake idol (aka, a rock) in his pocket, while Colby decides to exploit the Villains split vote plan to dump his and Rupert’s votes on Candice to get some revenge on her.

What these moves show is that Colby definitely better at strategy than what you remember. He has been involved in major season-changing moves in his three stints on the show, for better or for worse.

He Pulled a Woo

First of all, phrasing. Secondly, yes, Colby’s move to take Tina to Final Council is arguably one of the dumbest moves in Survivor history, but there are two major issues to this argument.

First of all, AO had a different vibe than most seasons because all 16 castaways on the season knew that they would be famous, so they were careful about how they were presented on the show. Thus, almost everyone out was about how the people at the end should be the “most deserving”. So, Colby taking Keith to the end would have been a slam dunk win, but it would not have been a “good” win. He saw beating Keith at the end as an easy win against a undeserving person, but taking Tina would have been a battle of two good and deserving players.

The second issue to the argument is that Colby almost beat Tina. Had he had a slightly better FTC performance, he would have been the winner of AO. Was Colby outmaneuvered by Tina, a la Tony’s manipulation of Woo? Probably, but it made so much more sense when Colby made his decision than when Woo made his choice.

He’s Problematic

I wanted to bring this up because some people don’t like Colby because of some weird moments (possibly angrily throwing water on Jerri after they lose the Mountain Dew and Doritos reward, making mention of Hatch’s sexuality many times). I honestly cannot defend these choices, but I just wanted to acknowledge that they are there and if you don’t like Colby because of them, I get it.

He’s A Laughingstock in HvV

Yes, Colby is not as “good” in HvV as he was in previous seasons, but why is that so funny to many fans? Getting frog-marched by Coach in the first challenge was funny because it was so unexpected, but that should not be the visual representation of his season. He was able to make some head roads to the point that if he made it to FTC with any configuration of Villains, then he could have won easily. But, we only remember him only wanting to watch Treasure Island instead of fighting over the idol clue or yelling at his brother during the loved ones challenge because it fits the narrative of “Ha ha, Colby’s not good anymore”.

No wonder why he was so frustrated out there – the show just left him behind and he was just struggling to get something to go his way. When someone is so desperate that his final strategic move is saying that he is quitting, but really trying to get to the next day, then it should be clear that Colby was trying everything he could to stay and fight.

Compare that to Ozzy in Game Changers or Phillip in Caramoan – both of these guys just had these pathetic ends because either a) they were just there to go fishing or b) they just saw it coming and said that it was okay. Yet, we still see him as a bigger laughingstock, but we should change that.

Embrace Debate

Look, this was hard for me to write, not because Colby isn’t worthy of a defense, but because he shouldn’t need defending. His legacy should be enough, but he is simply seen as someone who ruined his legacy with his last outing to the point that he is barely mentioned as a contender for the Survivor Hall of Fame. If someone who has had as storied of a career as he has had can’t get into the Survivor Hall of Fame, then we are a really bad fan community.

Think about how much Colby has done for this show. He is the show’s first rootable hero. He gave male challenge beasts a playbook on how their type could get to the end and potentially win. Does he have flaws? Absolutely, but every great Survivor player and character has them. But, Colby’s unique strengths as both a player and a character are enough to make him truly iconic.

Barbara Anderson
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Barbara Anderson

After being an off and on viewer for 14 years, Barbara watched the season premiere of San Juan del Sur and the rest is history. And by history, she means winning two Survivor fantasy leagues, becoming the resident Cambodia contrarian and Survivor gossip queen and lurking in discussion forums. Oh, and she's totally not a witch.

Favorite seasons: HvV, Philippines, Australian Outback, China, Cagayan
Favorite players: Sandra Diaz-Twine, Jerri Manthey, Denise Stapley, Aubry Bracco, Courtney Yates
Barbara Anderson
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222 thoughts on “Survivor Fan Friction – Colby Donaldson

  1. No disrespect to Sandra, but it would have been a pretty amazing ending if Jerri had been taken to the end of HvV and won off of Colby’s tie-breaking vote.

    Anyway, no Colby entry is complete without this video. It’s easily his greatest contribution to TV.

      1. I don’t have anything of substance to add to this post (partly because @disqus_GpYJ355BVM:disqus’s gooood, you guys; partly because I haven’t seen AO), but I was going to post this clip if nobody else did.

  2. Ah now Colby is absolutely a perfect choice for this series. Great points here, calling out moments that highlight when he was strategic (where people though he was not) and when he was still physical (at a time where people most certainly thought he was no longer).

    Honestly to me Colby’s biggest blunder in his career was not the Tina pick (more on that in a moment) but his decision to target Richard Hatch during All Stars. He should have been working with Richard. It should have been obvious that the people who made it the farthest in their seasons were being targeted, so allying with one of the only other people to have made it to FTC on All Stars would have been smart – Hatch could have been a huge shield for him, possibly the only person on All Stars who could have served as a shield for him.

    I’m glad you called out the “everyone on AO knew they were going to be famous” point as well. I firmly believe that played a part in his pick of Tina. It solidified his image at the time. Here was a man who didn’t need to win the game to win the fame. He was iconic for years, not just only to Survivor fans fans. This is not to downplay Tina either – I still think she played Colby in a way. She had to know he was a young male looking to make his name and she used that to her advantage. It was one of the most mutually beneficial partnerships in Survivor history.

    Great write up. Colby is iconic. He set certain standards that we still discuss today. Love him, hate him, respect him, laugh at him, whatever, he’s one of the game’s most important characters ever.

    1. From a strategic stand-point, yeah, he should have worked with Hatch. But as noted, that wasn’t something I think Colby would ever do. While it can deviate a little, Colby’s game is based in honor and integrity, and those were his reasons for booting Hatch. Other’s were more focused on getting rid of a winner and a big player, Colby just saw Hatch as a “cancer” and someone who was bad for the tribe. He wanted Hatch gone because he didn’t mesh with Colby’s honor and integrity principles, and thus for him to align with Hatch would have required he throw all that aside. His conversation with Shii Ann proved he wasn’t about to change things up.

      1. It’s interesting. As BatLeon says, AO had tons of exposure, Richard Hatch was super vilified for being a schemer, and nobody wanted a national level of negative attention. Hell, Elizabeth was able to use her image to catapult to pretty decent popularity.

        On the other hand, Colby 100% makes the same decision even with today’s “it’s just a game” mentality. He and Tina were the right final two for that season.

      2. EDIT: BadPlayer91 don’t read this yet, didn’t realize you haven’t seen HvV!

        I mean you’re right. Honestly, Colby had drawn dead the minute All Stars was cast. His only hope would have been with a cast that had more people who’d made it to Final 2/3/4 in their previous season.

        Oh wait… that happened in HvV. And he made it all the way to the finale. How interesting…

        1. That reminds me of my favorite exchange from all of Evolution of Strategy-

          Rob: Do you think any of these people know Danielle was in a final 2?

          Josh: No.

          1. I saw her name and was, “Who is this?” It took me two minutes of concentrated thinking to remember her.

    2. I can even see why he didn’t work with Hatch from a strategic standpoint – he assumed he was in a solid alliance. and he should have been. Lex never, ever should have made his move on Colby then. He only did because of a pregame alliance nobody knew about. Its hard to fault Colby for that.

      1. It is also important to note that the Colby boot happened while Kathy was with Chapera on their reward, so Lex did not have his “better angel” saying “Why not Jerri”.

          1. Right. She would have said that we needed both Ethan and Colby around a little bit longer to make sure that we can get an advantage on Chapera. Pick off Jerri or Shii Ann and be done with it.

          2. I expect she would have pushed Jerri then Ethan. She was tight with Shii Ann and seemed interested in a Pagonging plan. Also, if they had cut Jerri first, they may not have gotten so decimated

        1. And the Kathy reward also plays in later, because the way she was welcomed makes her more inclined to trust Amber and boot Jerri. Could have changed the history of Survivor.

  3. Side note: In my role as an old school Survivor fan who’s come out of his bunker, it amazes me just how poorly the AO cast has aged. These were the most famous people in the world back in the day. Holy crap they do NOT look good now though…

      1. hahahahaha

        OK I guess I should be more clear. Aside from Colby morphing into “Superman in a Fat Suit” and Jerri getting into social media fights with airlines, exactly how many people from this cast are referred to by people here as REDACTED? This cast that was once so beloved by almost all of America hasn’t exactly held on to that affection…

        1. I mean, it *was* 16 years ago. There have been ~32 different casts since then. I would bet that of current Survivor viewers, less-than … 50% (?) saw Australia when it aired.

          It’s like going back and watching the first Fast and Furious film now after having seen all 7 of them. Its biggest action setpiece would probably be a pre-credits scene for FF8

          And just to be clear, you do understand why we say REDACTED here and which player we are talking about?

          1. I’ve done some backreading of other content here and I think I get the reference… though I thought I’d seen it applied to both Varner and Skupin in different spots so I may be confused.

          2. Aha – I’ve only seen it used for S because of his “current circumstances”. Haven’t seen it used for V here, but maybe I did and I just assumed it was S.

            They both deserve never to be mentioned by name here again though.

  4. Colby Donaldson is amazing and is one of the true bona fide Legends and Hall of Famers. It’s a shame Probst did him so dirty in Heroes vs. Villains, because he’s the biggest star the show has ever created.

  5. This gives me hope that before Fan Friction ends, I’m going to see a post about my favorite player ever: Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien!

      1. She has a great arc in Marquesas, and she has a very interesting story in All-Stars. It’s a much more uncomfortable story (along with a couple terribly unfortunate quotes), but it’s so watchable. I love KVO.

    1. I wouldn’t mind at all seeing a post about Kathy, she was my favourite player in Marquesas. But from what I’ve seen I don’t think anyone here has declared that they are a Kathy defender (I may be wrong about thatof course). Maybe you would write a post about her, if no one else did? I don’t think either John or Andy will mind.

      1. Count me in as a Kathy defender. Marquesas doesn’t get turned on it’s ear without her. Think of it this way – if the Rotu 4 voted out Kathy after the merge instead of Boston Rob can you think of a way that anybody outside of that group wins? There is no way Paschal & Neleh would have worked with a group comprised of Boston Rob, Sean, and Vecepia. Kathy was the key to that counter alliance, she’s the one who brings the five people together necessary to change the game.

          1. Don’t pester me with things like facts.

            hahahahaha in all seriousness I literally have not seen Marquesas since it aired a decade and a half ago so to say my memory is fuzzy would be an understatement.

            My overarching point stands though, Kathy was the pivotal player in bringing the other two duos together. She made inroads with Sean and Vecepia that I don’t think Paschal and Neleh were capable of doing on their own. I just did a terrible job of trying to get that point across…

        1. Exactly. Kathy is the key to the whole affair. She went into the merge expecting to be back in the Rotus, but she was clearly on the outs (in part exposed by Boston Rob). Paschal and Neleh were content to coast along with the Rotus (and perhaps to root on John in his success), but Kathy worked them hard to get them to join Sean and Vecepia. It’s great early-season social play. It’s just a shame that she gets burned by the same over-confidence that ended the Rotu 4 in the end, or perhaps ironic justice.

  6. It’s crazy to think that Colby still hasn’t been selected into Survivor Hall of Fame (although I think it’s likely that he will this year). But he was still great in AO, and I’m personally not as big of a fan of this season as most are, but I still like it.

    1. I think Colby has missed out thus far based on a couple of factors, which mostly have to do with they style of inductions. I think a lot of voters try to balance out historical/middle era/sometimes recent players on their ballots. The other part is tangential to that – he, Tina, and Jerri were all missing out and I think that’s partially due to vote splitting – people were reluctant to straight ticket AO contestants so their votes were being split up. Now that the other two are in, you got to think he’s a lock, especially since GC did little to promote cases for any returnees besides Sarah (who still wouldn’t be on my ballot)

        1. I think those are good bets. Tyson had been getting some buzz but I think that has slowly died down. There has been some quiet support for JT (pushed by Dalton Ross), but I think that ship has sailed.

          I have a weird hunch that Zeke will get in.

          1. I might stump for JT again honestly. He managed to be bad in an iconic way across 2 different seasons!

        2. Colby and Steph are probably locks. The third will come down to campaign I think. Malcolm is a good bet. I’d say Spencer may warrant consideration (again, not on my ballot but I can see it happening). As Barbara says below, Zeke, Tyson, JT are all contenders. Hopefully some kind of push for Yul can be made.

          That all said, its a bit strange now in that I feel Colby is the only glaring omission at the moment so balloting is going to change. Will see how I feel in a few months, but I think my ballot would be Colby, Steph, JT

          1. The thing is most self-respecting Survivors don’t campaign for the Hall of Fame because it is not determined solely on fan vote. If it was, Rupert would have been in the first class and Amanda Kimmel would have not been anywhere close to it.

          2. I meant more the campaign among fans/bloggers/podcasters, which seems to have quite a bit of influence

          3. Also, I think most people are “off” on Spencer for his arc in Cambodia. The best bet from Cambodia is Wentworth followed closely by Jeremy and even then,those are like “Sure, I guess, but there are still better options on the board”.

          4. This is true. Probably especially the people who vote in this. I forget that people voted for Wentworth last time. I’m with you though, she’s great, I’m not sure she’s HoF though. Off the three, Jeremy is probably the most “qualified”

      1. I also think that you have a bunch of production crew that tends to vote in lock-step with Probst, who I believe has never put Colby on his ballot. After Coach finally got in to the Survivor Hall of Fame, his champion cause has been Stephenie. But the tides are turning thanks to those crazy alumni that voted. Last year was the weirdest voting cycle because Tina was able to get in thanks almost solely to fan vote because of how split the alumni was.

        1. That makes sense. I’ve never really analyzed the ballot breakdown, though I’m a bit surprised Probst never voted Colby, despite their awkward break up

    2. I decided to do a fun experiment by looking at the HvV cast and finding out who is not in the SHoF:
      In boot order:

      Out of these
      Should Be In: Stephenie and Colby
      Potentially Down The Line, They Are Locks: JT and Tyson
      Maybe: Courtney, Candice, James, and Randy
      Nope: Sugar and Danielle

      1. That seems right. Courtney and James in particular will depend on how it goes in the future. If we end up in a situation where we are digging for nominees, they’ll get it. If the rules change at some point, they won’t

    3. I don’t follow the Survivor hall of fame super closely, but I feel like instead of doing a pure vote just once a year, they maybe should have started out by just automatically putting the absolute biggest names from the early Survivor pantheon in there – I’m thinking like Hatch, Tina, Colby, Jerri, B Rob, maybe Parvati…Rupert, I guess. Then reset and do the annual vote thing to let like one or two more in at a time.
      Then again that’s not really how halls of fame work so maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. It’s just that they waited until so late in the game to start this so there’s a lot of ground to cover, and probably some recency bias.

      1. They kind of did that with the first round, which had 5 inductees – Hatch, BRob, Queen Sandra, Parvati, and stupid Russell. Since then it’s been 3 per year except one year they selected three tribal councils instead of players

        1. I think the only reason why they did that is because they had the two half and half seasons that year. I think they should induct 3 tribes the next time they do a “wacky” class.

          1. That makes sense. It also conveniently keeps the well from running dry too quickly.

            Three tribes: Koror, Casaya, and the Villains? (if the Villains don’t count, then Tagi). I’m looking at tribes as tribes, rather than the sum of their parts, if that makes sense

          2. I would say that it has to be original tribes, so Casaya is automatically out. Villains is an absolute lock. Koror and Tagi have to be in the mix. I would also throw in Millennials, Ogakor, Kucha, Matsing, and Timbira into consideration.

          3. I sometimes forget Casaya isn’t actually an original tribe. Those are all solid candidates. It would be a tough group to pick from. One more to throw in there is the original Favourites

          4. I kind of want this to happen now, just to push this debate. Although we’ve pretty much made a Top 10 list here

  7. I haven’t yet watched HvV, so I can’t comment much on Colby’s total arc yet. Generally, I find I like Colby, but he doesn’t illicit a huge response. I don’t think poorly of him in terms of gameplay, but I don’t find myself rooting for him either.

    His choosing Tina also feels a bit neither here nor there for me. A common theme of two person FTC’s is that the player who brought the other with them gets criticized for it and loses. Most often, that player claims bringing so-and-so was the honorable thing to do, and then the jury bashes them for it for various reasons, usually saying that the ‘integrity’ that players claims is false. But from my recollection, Colby really doesn’t suffer a lot of this. The others didn’t bash him for bringing Tina, they seemed to respect the move. But overall, the move wasn’t liked enough to get him votes, or disliked enough to lose them all, and most voted based on other factors. So while I think Colby made a mistake, he almost beat the harder-to-beat player at FTC, and it didn’t prove as fatal a decision as it would for others.

    1. Yeah I mean honestly everyone has always taken “Colby would have beaten Keith” as a foregone conclusion but there may have been some backlash towards him for betraying his biggest ally in the game shy of the FTC. Who knows.

      1. I think there would have been backlash. I don’t think that backlash results in many people writing Keith’s name down.

          1. Wikipedia says Jerri voted for Tina. The Colby votes were Rodger, Amber, and Nick. Coincidentally, the last of those is the answer to the question that’s been bugging me all day: “who made the Australia jury that I just do not remember.”

      2. It honestly would have taken probably a Brian esque performance from Colby and a Clay esque performance from Keith for him to even get 3 votes, which seems wholly unlikely. He was just an asshole and Colby wasn’t that bad of a guy.

  8. Colby is an iconic Survivor player. Even if you have no real knowledge of Survivor, he’s one of a handful of people that you might be able to rattle off the name of from the vague memory of the show’s initial period of being a sensation.
    Also, shut up, James. Stop picking on Colby.

  9. The explanation for Colby’s “Woo” move is worse than the common criticism for it in my mind. Props to Woo for actually trying to win, because I can’t get behind a player who is prioritizing post show image over the game. Even if it’s not “dumb”, the lack of will to win makes him a bad player. I think AO as a whole suffers from this attitude, which is why Jerri is the best cast member of the season.

    1. That’s completely fair. However, I feel that Colby still thought he could beat Tina. He mentions in a confessional that it would be 50-50 between him and Tina, and he’s right.

    2. Remember when they booed Jerri offstage because she had the gall to explain to the fans that players actually have emotions? And then Probst asks Colby to intervene and the crowd starts cheering before he even opens his mouth.

      Seriously, fuck Survivor fans.

      1. That AS reunion show was a train wreck of epic proportions. I highly recommend listening to the TEOS description of it.

    3. I think Colby was thinking about post-show image AND a win. Considering what Survivor was at that time he had to think that way. Players these days have the luxury of not worrying what a significant portion of the American public will think of them after the fact….

      In Colby’s mind I am sure he could see a path where he had both in the bag. He came pretty damn close…

      1. I think this was the case for Tina too. She played more cutthroat than some part of the fanbase is giving her credit for.

        1. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a LOT more strategic discussion going on in AO that we don’t see. The season was so early and so popular that it makes sense strategy hadn’t become the focus, but I think a lot of the ‘who should be vote out and when’ talk isn’t shown in favor of things deemed more rewarding for the massive audience.

          Considering that the math of pagonging wasn’t challenged in any way at this point, it’s somewhat surprising that AO isn’t a pagonging. Instead, Colby and Tina do a pretty smart balancing act, carefully removing the other tribe and the potential threats in their own alliance in a manner which never allows the possibility for them to lose power. Before Jerri and Amber can even consider teaming up with the Kucha remnants, they’re the target. It’s almost like Colby and Tina knew everyone would expect a pagonging, and used those expectations to their advantage to put themselves in a perfect spot for final 2. Pretty smart play, no matter who you attribute it to.

          1. Yeah! After watching AO, I couldn’t help but feel like a lot of what got cut was some very smart and careful strategy that shows more clearly how Tina and Colby dominated that season. But I get why that happened, Survivor just wasn’t at a place that strategic gameplay could be at the forefront, and in all fairness, AO has some of the best narratives as a result.

          2. She probably would have won if she had won that last immunity challenge, I think. And she was cutthroat enough to beat her own daughter in a challenge to stay in the game.

          3. Yeahhh, it was disappointing. I’m wondering if she had won, if she would have booted Monica or Tyson. Guessing everyone takes Gervase because he’s a pure goat, but otherwise not sure.

          4. Its also worth noting that they should have been vulnerable at 6 and 7, after they booted Jerri, but because of the “deserving” narrative that Tina and Colby strategically pushed, Rodger and Elisabeth wouldn’t align with Amber to take them out

    4. As said, its weird. Colby sacrificed his game for probably a whole lot more publicity and money post-show. And he wasn’t 100% sacrificing it. As dedicated Survivor fans, we hate that of course. But from a real life standpoint for Colby? Hell yeah, its what I would have done in his shoes

          1. I know these are jokes BUT they are a good place to make this point: people can look back on his post-show work now and laugh but at the time it really did look like he could become a HUGE star off the back of that season. So if post-show fame was the plan it was not a bad plan.

          2. But would Colby have been seen as a villain if he had taken Keith rather
            than Tina? I tend to doubt that his post show fame was a result of this move. AO had the highest ratings of any season. I think he was going to parlay it into post-show opportunity either way.

          3. This is why if Colby can’t be judged by people who weren’t watching at the time. Judging him from modern standards isn’t fair and doesn’t properly give you the right perspective.

  10. Here’s my Colby take: too many Survivor fans are too young to understand and/or remember what a big fucking deal Colby fucking Donaldson was. And they need to get the hell off my lawn.

      1. I watched AO 2 years ago and enjoyed it a lot. This season may have the best cast of all time.

          1. This seems like another potential ranking. Off the top of my head, I agree AO has a top 5 newbie cast.

          2. Top 5 casts of all time not including returnees (so in mixed seasons I only accounted for the new players):
            1. Cagayan
            2. Australia
            3. Pearl Islands
            4. Kaoh Rong
            5. Philippines

            Bottom 5 casts:
            1. Nicaragua
            2. Micronesia
            3. Redemption Island
            4. Cook Islands
            5. San Juan Del Sur

            (Please note I only counted the seasons I’ve watched)

          3. I personally see why Cook Islands should be in bottom 5. There were definetely a couple of stand outs, but besides them the cast was REALLY forgettable. I would probably not put it in THE bottom 5, but it’s close. My top 5 and bottom 5 casts would be:

            Top 5:
            1. China
            2. Tocantins
            3. Kaoh Rong
            4. Cagayan
            5. Guatemala

            Bottom 5:
            1. Redemption Island
            2. Thailand
            3. Caramoan
            4. Fiji
            5. Nicaragua

          4. I have not seen Caramoan.

            And Cook Islands ended up there because it has Parvati, Penner, Yul, and …….

        1. Only cast to have half its members return.

          On the other hand, it’s leading the league in players whose names we try not to say.

        2. Probably easier to cast a show that everyone wants to be on. Although that doesn’t explain Thailand, so…

    1. Last week was Millennials week, and this week is for all the players Millennials don’t remember?

        1. I’m planning to listen to it tomorrow night. I’ve had almost no time to do anything in the last three weeks, let alone sit down and savor a 3-hour podcast. So there’s a one-day window between my pre-semester craziness and the start of the semester that I’m taking advantage of. You can post your thoughts if you’re itching to, or I can tag you in the comments of the Wednesday post if you want to attract more people to any discussion we might have.

  11. First of all, I will never not laugh at Colby in HvV.
    But seriously, this was a well written and well argued entry. Colby definitely stands out as a star among a cast that created multiple stars that transcended the Survivor fandom. I remember seeing him on an episode of Bones once and it was so startling that it took me a minute to figure out who he was.
    Anyway, I can get behind an argument that his first outing and his personality make up for his lackluster performance in subsequent seasons. I can’t particularly agree with painting him as a strategic mastermind, though it is a good point that he was part of the scheme that ousted Cirie in HvV.
    All in all, I definitely agree that Colby belongs in the hall of fame as an iconic Survivor player. It’s not necessarily his fault that his stardom outlived his ability to excel in the game, both strategically and physically, but it is a legitimate knock against him as a player in my opinion.

    1. Please note that I would never say that Colby was a master strategist, but I think he needs just a bit more credit especially since a lot of his moves have become part of the Survivor foundation.

      1. Yeah the way I phrased it seems like a massive strawman, looking at it again. My take away from the article def was not that you were arguing he was any sort of mastermind. Just an acknowledgement that he had some strategic ability, which I can agree with.

      2. He is competent to above average at strategy, which paired with charm and athleticism, is truly dangerous.

    2. He was a top 3 strategic player in the first 3 seasons, really. He played a better strategic game in Outback than anyone did in Africa, and anyone else in Borneo besides Hatch.

      1. Even though a lot of people may not necessarily like him, I do think Lex played a great game in Africa, and he didn’t win due to some things outside of his control, and even Tom, Ethan and T-Bird played well, but Colby probably did play a better strategic game than those three, but I would say Richard, Tina and Lex are the top 3 of best players in the three seasons.

        1. I think Lex was too trigger happy and easy to throw off in Africa. Colby kept his cool for his own benefit until the absolute end.

        2. Lex played the best game in Africa, but things like his paranoid vengeance quest, and totally fucking up said quest, have to be taken into consideration.

          1. Yeah, this was definetely the lowest point in Lex’s game. I’m just probably a bit higher on the rest of his game, than Colby’s entire game.

          2. Lex’s game is great, but it’s primarily social and physical because Africa really isn’t a strategic season. There’s really only two strategic votes the whole thing through: throwing the challenge to get rid of Silas and permanently crippling Samburu by pulling in Brandon to vote out Frank. Other than that, Africa is just, “who has more numbers.”

            Compare that to Australia, where Colby had to finesse flipping to the Tina/Keith side, then play a huge role in giving Ogakor dominance after the merge, then thread the needle of voting out Jerri and Amber in between the remaining Kuchas. It’s just a higher difficulty level.

            I don’t fault Lex for that. It’s hard to play a heavily strategic game when you can’t go off and talk to people because you’re stuck in a little fort surrounded by things that want to kill you, but Colby did have to do more, and he did it well.

          3. Second the Lex thoughts. Whenever Lex comes up I think about his move pulling in Brandon which was brilliant at a time when everyone just assumed you Pagonged your way to a win. Perfect example of managing the people at the bottom when you’re alliance is on top, and maybe the first example of it really mattering. If he hadn’t flipped Brandon there is a real chance Lex’s alliance would have been taken down. Lex deserves props.

          4. Yeah, he basically cancels out his own greatness. Flipping Brandon was great, but he wouldn’t need to do that if he didn’t burn Kelly.

          5. Right, but I might say Ethan played the better game because he was more consistently good than Lex.

  12. Big Brother thread:

    It’s basically the same as it was for the last couple of weeks. If someone wants to discuss about some certain things regarding this season, I’m open to it.

    And I just finished watching BB6, and tomorrow I will begin BB7:All-Stars and I’m very excited.

      1. Yeah, that was really sweet.

        This season had so much promise, but I think what ruined it was just casting Paul, and it isn’t necessarily because of him (although I’m not a fan of certain things he has done), but it is because they casted some returnee PERIOD. In my opinion, this season has solidified that putting 1 to 4 returning players is a bad idea, because newbies always come to that person to get some game advice, and to tell them what to do (especially if they’re a recruit), because they know the game better. And because of that their whole game spins around the returnee, and it removes the fun of seeing newbies learning about the game naturally, and how to play it. I don’t think this cast needed another player, because it was good before, even though there weren’t really any great players. But without Paul, I don’t believe for a second that someone would just run the game, and it sucks that because of this decision, we couldn’t see how it would’ve played out.

        Even though it’s a very unpopular opinion, but I’m still rooting for Alex. I think she was one of the people who made a right decision in aligning with Paul, she’s a competition beast, and I like watching her in small doses, so I’m not as annoyed with her as I would probably be, if I watched live feeds (even though I do not like certain things she has done). She just has to find out that some people are targeting Jason, and try to prevent that from happening, and she has a very good shot in winning.

          1. Although I don’t like it, this may indeed happen unfortunately. But I don’t think she will willingly cut Jason, if she is HOH, or has POV, if she has a choice (I may of course be wrong, and I will admit it if it happens, but that’s just how I see it).

          2. The only thing that I would say is different with Kevin than with Jason, is that she felt this way about him way back during her first HOH, but she let it go until just now, while she never really showcased any thought of turning on Jason at least till Final 3, so that’s why I have more hope in sticking with him, but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Paul would manage to do it.

          3. Yeah, I’m always a blind optimist lol. I guess I will be stubborn until it eventually happens *gasp*.

    1. Opinions on BB6?

      I’m about 2/3rds of the way through All Stars right now and am very much enjoying it. It was also interesting for me to find out who I’m rooting for despite knowing most of the boot order.

      1. It was great. I definetely still like BB3 more, but it’s close for me if I liked BB5 or this season more. I think I still more towards season 5, but not by much.

        I would call this season a much better version of season 4, were the cast played with someone they knew in outside, there are two sides taking shots at each other, but the cast here is much stronger than there, with more great moments.

        The cast here was good, but like Ms. Sweaterfan said before, it suffered from the SJDS syndrome, where in each pair there is one stand out, with the other one being much weaker entertaing wise, but I don’t think there were truly THAT many duds, and many still managed to be at least above avarage. The stand-outs of the cast were definetely: James, Janelle, Maggie, Kaysar and Ivette. Sone of the thoughts reagarding each of them:

        -Janelle – yeah, she was really fun, She was great in competitions, and so easy to root for. But I do think because of all the hype she has, I was a bit underwhelmed, and while she was above avarage in terms of strategy, I wasn’t really that impressed by her gameplay. And I would prefer if I wasn’t spoiled about “give me the key, bitch”. But she’s still really likable.

        -Kaysar – he was SO likable, and he has a great smile. Another easiy to root for houseguest. He wasn’t that great strategist though.

        -James – I think I would actually call him my favourite this season. He was really fun to watch, and I’m not convinced he may not actually be a robot. And I think he was competent strategically (while still with flaws of course), and he was great in competitions.

        -Ivette – while I didn’t root for her, and I felt she was a bit hypocritical at times, she was still an entertaining character, cause she was so emotional many times (and with her being so obsessed with Cappy). And her DRs were great too.

        -Maggie – wow, she played EVERYONE like a violin. She was basically a mob boss outthere. I was so amazed by what she was doing there, and she was so well positioned week after week. She is probably one of the best winners in both Big Brother AND Survivor.

        And my favourite moment of the season was when The Friendship STABBED Kaysar in the back by Matt-Elroding him, immediately followed by Janelle winning HOH, getting revenge for him.

        And I hope will talk about BB7 when we will both finish it. I know which peculiar houseguests made it far, and I know who the winner is (well, I know who the winner is for every season lol), but I hope I will still really enjoy like I have been with the previous seasons that I watched so far.

        1. I’m glad you liked it! Maggie is fantastic, you can’t help but respect her. Janelle doesn’t compare to her strategically but what’s so great about her is that it seems like she’s cast for drama and eye candy but she’s sharper than she seems and greatly outperforms everyone’s expectations for her. Kaysar isn’t a great player, but the way he created an alliance out of half the house during his HOH week was one of the more amazing things I’ve seen on Big Brother. I don’t think I took to James quite as much because of how boring his relationship with Sarah was. And you didn’t mention him, but I think Howie kinda sucks.

          I think the one thing season 4 has over 6 is the final 2, which is my favorite from any season. For whatever reason Jun and Allison and their matter of fact mean comments made me laugh more than pretty much anyone else in BB. Watching the 2 best casting choices out play everyone else was awesome to watch, even if the people around them weren’t that interesting.

          1. I agree with Janelle. And I thought Howie was ok, but I didn’t have many strong feelings towards him one way or another. I prefered Rachel personally.

            Oh, I LOVED Jun and Allison, and I was so glad that they were the final two, and they were also two best players there, definetely one of the best Final 2s ever, plus I loved the twist that season. And it’s not like I disliked it, I thought it was ok. But mediocrity of the rest of the cast was just too big of a problem for me to fully enjoy the season (I also liked Jack, and Dana was ok, but that’s pretty much it), and I didn’t felt that Jun and Allison greatly dominated the screentime to make up for it.

      2. Oh, and regarding season 19, I do still watch episodes, but it’s now somewhat reluctanly. But the RHAP coverage has been great as always, and I’m excited for the next two guests (ESPECIALLY for the second one).

    2. Wow you passed me in BB6! I switched back to TAR for a few days because I was about 2/3 through season 6 so I figured I might as well finish it before joining the season 7 rewatch. OMG Freddy and Kendra are the worst. Bring on TAR 7!

      1. Oh, they really were worst. Jonathan from the same season is also terrible. They were basically the lowest point of the season for me. But despite that, I still enjoyed the season mainly cause of the fantastic route, some great moments, and I really enjoyed Adam and Rebecca, mainly cause of the funny fights they had.

        1. I agree! For a season with some of the worst people ever, it’s actually pretty enjoyable. Also, it helps that some pretty awful stuff happens to F&K (the pepper soup ~incident~ for example)

  13. All I really remember about Colby is his big Texas flag and that he was Probst’s first love interest on the show. Remember their cowboy date?

        1. No, he and Kelly Wiglesworth went on one in the first season, to a bar to watch the first cut of the pilot.

          Rumour is that this reward came about when the cast went on strike due to the shitty rewards being offered for challenges.

          1. Wow, forgot a ton about those early seasons. or have just lost a lotta brain cells in 17 years. I do seem to remember the show being more Survival oriented, that would’ve gotten old fast, glad the game evolved.

          2. It’s weird to think in Season 1 they were complaining about rewards not being good enough. Cause compared to later seasons, they are certainly shitty, but how could they have known that?

            Survivor is rigged, the whole thing is a giant conspiracy, orchestrated by Jeff Probst to fool America into caring. The proof is there people, the proof is there!

        2. My favourite time was when he third-wheeled Rob and Amber’s date for a while, after the car reward

  14. Great article Barbara!

    Colby is not my favorite character and I think Tina did a lot of the strategic work for him in AO. Having said that, he is absolutely one of the most influential and important people to play Survivor. He is someone who is the victim of recency bias and a lackluster third outing, where he was just mentally checked out for much of the game. Although mentally checked out Colby was still good enough for 5th place.

  15. This is required viewing for this article. I have loved this particular confessional since I have seen it a year ago with @PurpleTally and I still love it. After all, it’s my second favorite confessional of all time (also this is a massive hint as to what my absolute favorite confessional is)

    1. Is your favourite confessional the one where Stephen says why he targets Joe in Cambodia?

        1. Is is the one where Stephen has #SevereGastroIntestinalDistress and he’s crying about how he’s in pain but he won’t quit the game no matter what?

    2. Yeah even after his dominant performance in AO this is the confessional I always remember from Colby too. In a narrative that was dominated by the villains this was actually one of the best confessionals of the entire season. And that is saying something from THAT season.

    1. His reaction reminds me of the way overly jacked guys who get hurt put all their rage into intensely lying about how okay they are. “I’M FINE! I’M FINE!” *paces around flexing*

      1. Yes, that’s the one I was looking for. If you blinked and missed that final vote, you would think Colby had just won.

  16. I *love* that “Hi Colby. Hi Jerry.” scene in HvV. It’s real quick, but if you’ve watched their previous seasons, it means so much. One of the many reason that although HvV is the best seasons, I would never tell a person new to the show to start with it – you miss out on too much.

    Colby lost to Tina 4-3; if he had changed one person’s mind, he would have won. I think there have been enough post-game WA interviews to confirm that in a Woo/Kass final two, Woo would have easily won in a blowout. It’s no comparison.

    “possibly angrily throwing water on Jerri after they lose the Mountain Dew and Doritos reward” Wasn’t it hot in Australia? Maybe he was just cooling her off? And who wouldn’t be mad about losing Doritos?

    1. I had to include “possibly” in there because it seemed to be out of frustration. They were literally seconds away from winning. However, Jerri definitely plays it off as “thanks for cooling me off”, but there was already tension.

      Also, everyone seemed desperate for those Doritos.

  17. C’mon, Colby dousing Jerri with water after that challenge is amazing and anyone who says otherwise is a party pooper.

  18. Since we are discussing a Legacy player, I was thinking back to old school Survivor and wondering if you guys can remember the first time someone asked you, “Survivor? Is that show still on?” I seem to remember hearing this all the way back to Cook Islands. And every season since.

    Tangentially related to that (and to my screen name) should we be worried that Game Changers apparently had the lowest viewership in the shows history for the Premiere (7.64 mill) and Finale (8.48 mill)? Is Survivor ramping down?

    I understand the Finale low viewership, because that season got ugly, but I personally haven’t been as excited for a premiere in a long time as I was for Game Changers.

    1. Just guessing, but I imagine that Survivor’s viewership is diminishing much more slowly than it is for legacy network TV shows in general. If I’m in charge of CBS and my entire program lineup is hemorrhaging viewers, I’ll take it.

      1. I’m no network exec, but those numbers still seem solid. If you only drop by 1/3 or so after 35 seasons, thats a good run. I’m hoping we make it to 50 seasons!

        Related to this post AO premire had 45 million viewers, best season ever ratings wise. Hovered around 10 million ever since Samoa. As long as they don’t drop to 2-3mill, should be fine.

    2. My first “is that how still on” moment was just a couple seasons ago. I was at work, minding my own business and listening to either PRP or RHAP at my desk and a coworker walked up to talk and was being really nosy about what I was listening to. I was trying to be vague but he kept pestering me until I finally said it was a show about Survivor and he got a really judgmental face and did the “oh, that’s still on?” thing. I was like ‘dude, you’re the one bugging me’ :/
      Anyway, I hope Survivor stays on as long as Jeff is willing to do it. Even if CBS wants to cancel it, there are so many other options besides the major networks these days where those numbers would be amazing. Someone like Amazon or Hulu could pick it up. Who knows, in a few more years original network shows might not even be a thing anymore.

  19. RED ALERT SURVIVOR FAM! I don’t use twitter, but I’m pretty sure I just saw Woo on a Mastercard commercial.

    EDIT: Well nevermind, he is in tons of commercials, after all. I guess we will see him soon for 3rd run at Survivor.

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