I'm a big fan of Survivor. However, I've been discouraged the past few seasons by the routine to the strategies: On Day One, a handful of players from each tribe commit to each other to be a strong, small alliance until the very end. More and more, these alliances remain strong, and a result is that suspense and strategy about who might be voted out for any episode is pretty much non-existent. When the contestants walk up to Tribal Council every week, we pretty much know (despite the producers' best efforts to create red-herring possibilities) who will be voted out.
When I heard about this season's "twist", that the contestants would all be sharing one beach, I was intrigued. I thought it might make for some interesting cross-tribe secret alliances. But, when the teams were divided by gender, that pretty much smothered any chance for cross-tribe alliances, since it pretty quickly became a Women's Tribe Against Men's Tribe situation. That Women vs. Men vibe has maintained throughout the season, and as a result, once the numbers were in the women's favour during teh Individual Immunity portion of the season, there's been very little suspense episode to episode as who might get voted out. We know/knew it'd be a man. Maybe not *which* man, but it'd be a man.
Anyway, Survivor is still a great show to watch, but it is becoming a bit stagnated when it comes to surprising strategy.
So, I came up with what I think they should do next time to drastically increase the potential for surprises and scrambling by/for the contestants:
EPISODE ONE: Keep the idea of all contestants on one beach. Day One, Jeff tells them that they are all sharing one camp, and that they'll be divided up into teams later on.
Let them all do what they usually do on Day One - try and scramble to create their small, strong alliances. This will become much more interesting in these first few hours, because the players won't know what team they'll be on, so alliances will likely be more tenuous.
At the first Tribal Reward Challenge, Jeff informs them that they'll now be divided into two teams. How they get divided doesn't really matter. They get divided, are told the team names, and then compete for reward. One team wins, one loses, and then they go back to camp.
Now that they've been divided, they'll begin to create what they think are more substantial mini-alliances with contestants from *their* team.
Onto the first Tribal Immunity Challenge... They compete as teams again, and the players from the losing team go to Tribal Council where one of them gets voted out of the game. That's Episode One.
EPISODE TWO: Bring them to Tribal Reward Challenge, and this is where the bomb gets dropped. The teams from the last challenges are completely disbanded, and brand new teams are randomly created (must be random). These two new teams will compete against each other in the next Reward and the next Immunity challenge. Jeff informs them that this is the way it will continue - random new teams each round - until it's time to switch to Individual Immunity challenges.
They do the Reward Challenge, with these new teams. Go back to camp and freak out as they realize the implications of the Always-Changing-Team-Members format. Go to Immunity Challenge, and you might be competing against alliance members, and they might lose, and be voted out that night.... then your alliance is in shambles. That's Episode Two
The subsequent episodes would continue in the same way: Every week, they're divided up into new random teams - always switching up who you are competing with/against each time...
If they did this, it would totally change the way the contestants play the game in the first third of the season. They'd still try and form alliances, but sometimes they'd be competing against people in their alliances, and there'd be more possibiltiy of people in one's alliance getting voted out when they're on the losing immunity challenge team.