Murtz & Mario's Excellent Adventure:  Analyzing Survivor All-Star
Posted on 01.30.04

The following tape was placed in front of S-C Headquarters this morning. It’s a conversation you aren’t supposed to see. So you know what that means. We’re obviously going to show it.

Murtz Jaffer: Well Mario, it appears we are finally here. Can you believe we are actually discussing Survivor: All-Stars?

Mario Lanza:  It is still a bit surreal to me. I honestly never thought this day would come. And if it did come, I was afraid it would be made up of like four real All Stars and then twelve Ghandias. But I was stunned that they got an actual All-Star cast. It caught me completely off guard and I think it is great. I’m psyched.

Murtz: I never thought it would happen either, and here we are. Apparently, many Survivors had made the initial list of 24, but that was cut to 18. Do you think that the best players were selected?

Mario: I made a vow never to complain about the cast they picked and I wouldn’t even dream of it. I think it is a wonderful cast. They got so many players that I thought would never want to play Survivor again (like Colby, Richard, Ethan, Lex).  With so many big names, you can’t really go wrong.

Murtz Jaffer:  I kind of agree. You can’t really complain about a cast that includes Lex van den Berghe, Rob Cesternino, Rob Mariano, Richard Hatch…

Mario: …And Tina, of course. Don’t forget the best winner of them all. Even though I know you hate her, you gotta give props to the Wessonator.

Murtz: Oh yeah… her. Well, I guess she won so she should be there, but by that logic so should Brian and Vecepia. We know that Vee recently had a baby, but there is no excuse for Brian not being there. I know he hasn’t really been the friendliest guy, but if I could pick one person to put in… that’s who it would be. What about you? If you could throw in one more person (with my Brian selection) to make it a cast of 20, who would you pick?

Mario: I absolutely think Brian SHOULD be there (although if I was Burnett I would have stiffed him too). But if I could pick one name that I wish was there I would say Mike Skupin. Oh wait, you named a male so I should name a female. Damn you. Well if I could pick one female I would say Helen. Or Heidi. One of the two.

Murtz: Heidi. Good pick. I agree. A lot of people have been saying that this isn’t really an All-Star cast. I disagree. I mean, instead of focusing on Amber being there… we should look at how many people are actually there that we would like to see again. And really, I can’t complain at all. Can you?

Mario: People who whine about cast selection are crybabies. The cast is what it is. And they got a TON of top players to come back. Just enjoy the show.

Murtz: Alright, let’s get into it. First, let’s talk about the tribes. Which do you think is the strongest if we assume that they will all last until the merge without any twists (as erroneous as that assumption may be)?

Mario: Hmm. Well Mogo Mogo has all the strong males but their females are weak. Team Rob (Chapera) is decent but Mariano is really the best they have. So I would say the most well-rounded team is Saboga. The females are all jocks (Jerri, Tina, Jenna) and two of the guys are strong and fit (Rupert and Ethan). And Rudy… um… Rudy can cook!

Murtz: Ah, that Rudy. Always the bridesmaid… never the bride. Although, I actually can’t see him even being an usher at the big dance this time. I actually like Saboga as well. They are very strong in the challenges as you said with Rupert, Ethan, and Jerri all there and I can see them winning a lot of challenges. Maybe we weren’t watching the same Australia show, because in that team reward challenge where Jerri bitched about how she should be with Colby, Tina was paired with Rodger and she looked anything but the jock. Meh. As you said, I also like Mogo Mogo. How many times did Lex/Rich/Colby singlehandedly win immunities for their respective teams? And now they will be working together? Kathy is also a workhorse and I see this tribe thriving immediately.

Mario: They very well could. I worry that Jenna and Shii Ann will kind of hurt them in physical challenges but the guys should be more than enough to make up for it.

Murtz: That’s assuming they are even around long enough to participate in even more than a few challenges. Strategically, I think that the dynamics of Chapera will be the most interesting to watch. I read a fantastic article the other day by David Staples (in the Edmonton Journal) where he talked about how Chapera will be divided between the workers (Tom, Susan, Alicia) and the non-workers (Boston Rob, Rob C., Amber). He said that the way this tribe interacts will be the key to the game, and I agree. Strategically, they are the most intriguing. I mean we know Tina controls Saboga, considering that she will immediately get along with Ethan and Rupert, and also has Jerri in her back pocket. We also know that Lex/Kathy will get along and the key to Mogo Mogo will be where Jenna Morasca and Shii Ann fit in. That’s why I look forward to seeing Chapera the most. What do you think?

Mario: I agree that the Chapera tribe already single-handedly makes the season worthwhile. This is a dream tribe of personalities. I have always seen them breaking down more by age, young (Robs, Alicia, Amber) and older (Sue, Tom). My guess it would be based on age. I just can’t see Tom and Alicia being that close. But both of us seem to agree that Rob Mariano and Amber will be a close pair. I think those two will be important this season.

Murtz: Let’s run through each of the All-Stars, and their chances to win the game. We’ll start with Chapera since we both seem to agree that they will be the power tribe. What do you think about Mariano’s chances? I think that Boston Rob is in a great position. I think he will use Amber as his new Sarah and immediately connect with Rob Cesternino. Then all he has to do is go over to Big Tom/Alicia and sell out his best friend. Tell me that isn’t ripped straight from the Godfather. My only concern for him is that he makes too many moves too early. He will also have to work hard to get along with Tom and Alicia… but I think that he will be up to the task. He’s a great guy that I have hung out with many times, and he will be the main castaway that I am rooting for along with Lex. How do you think he will do?

Mario: I think Rob Mariano will be a star. He is ready and he is perfect for All-Star. He has less stigma attached to him than Rob C so he will kind of be their go-to guy around camp for strategy. I’m predicting more “Godfather Part 2” from Rob and less “Godfather Part 3.” I think he’ll be an important player (but I don’t think he’ll win).

Murtz: People always slam “Godfather 3.” I thought it was okay. It’s clear that Rob Cesternino was the best player from the Survivor Amazon, and he is a friend of both of ours… but unfortunately I think he is in tough at Chapera. I think that there is a reason both of the Rob’s were placed together, and that’s to see which one will stab the other first. I think that Mariano will be the guy and this spells immediate disaster for Robasu. I pick Mariano to win… not only because he is my favorite but because I think he can combine good nature with strategic discourse. I think Survivor’s best player may be All-Star’s first victim.

Mario: He very well could be. He will be a target every time his tribe goes to Tribal Council. I think the first boot of the game will be one of six people: Rudy/Jerri (Saboga), Richard/Jenna M (Mogo Mogo), Rob C/Sue (Chapera). But yeah I’m pretty sure Mariano will outlast Cesternino. Mariano should prove to be the game’s best Italian.

Murtz: Ha, maybe they should pull a Matt and Dan and converse in Italian. That would rock! Anyway, let’s move to who I feel will be Rob’s partner in crime and the person who many believe doesn’t belong on this show. Amber, Amber, Amber. Have you seen a more pre-maligned contestant before the premiere even airs? I actually think that she is getting a lot more publicity this time than she ever did during Australia. I have to tell you that the sadist in me finds it quite funny that the contestant that Bryant Gumbel referred to as “the dumb one” in the Australia Reunion Special was selected for the show in the first place. Most seem to think she was picked only as a replacement for Elisabeth and Colleen who both turned the offer down. That being said, I think her chances this time are significantly better. She has a lot of Australians that she can use, and I am interested to see whether she sides with Rob and Rob (as I predict) or if she decides to befriend Alicia from her season. In any event, I think she is a lock to make the merge.

Mario: I predict final four. Never underestimate the under-the-radars. In the post-Cesternino world of Survivor, NEVER underestimate the quiet females. She will be around for a long time.

Murtz: Yeah, but that is such a chicken way of playing the game. This is a game of stars. The last thing we need is someone coming in and squeaking by. So let’s go from one of the most under-the-radar players to one of the loudest. Alicia did not make my initial list of All-Stars, so her inclusion surprised me. Especially because they have 4 Australians already there. I think she was a good player the first time, and was screwed after Kimmi killed Jeff Varner. I think she will get along with Tom, but I am not sure if her desire to work and play hard will help her get along with Sue. Unfortunately… there might be some more finger-waving… shudder the thought. I know she was a finalist in your All-Star Hawaii story… but this time, I don’t see it.

Mario: I stand by Alicia's All Star selection vehemently. She would have been a HUGE star if Kucha had taken over the Australia season. She just happened to be on the wrong team. She is the type of player All-Stars was made for. Besides, Rob Mariano could very easily be her Varner this time around. You can’t tell me you don’t see a parallel there? And besides, she won Hawaii so she will probably win this one too. The stories always come true. Remember that, people! The stories always come true!

Murtz: Yeah, maybe she will connect with Rob. I just don’t see it though. I mean I can’t see many people wanting to be just a pawn this time. Everyone will be playing for themselves which is why this will so great. Sue Hawk will be a lot of fun to watch and will most certainly be playing for herself. I really don’t see her going too far, but I hope she does because she will bring a ton of drama to the beach. The only thing that will save her is an alliance and I don’t see her getting one this time around. In all actuality, I just don’t see the first Survivors doing too well in general. They simply have not ingratiated themselves into the Survivor-life afterwards and I think they will suffer because of their isolation.

Mario: Sue’s toast. Count on it. Her team is too young and she won’t give a crap about sucking up to them just to fit in. She kind of reminds me of you in a way…

Murtz: Yeah, there is a parallel between her style and mine. Whether you win or lose, I like people that play their own game and do not succumb to somebody else’s. I think that Big Tom is actually the complete opposite of this. He can fit in with anybody. I think this guy will do well no matter where he is. We already know about his endearing personality and there is no question that he will dominate any individual immunity challenge. The question is if his team will seek to use his strength or ostracize him as a threat. I think it will be the former, and he will stick for awhile.

Mario: I think he’ll be around for a while but Chapera just seems like the Amazon to me. Young kids lounging around like high school. I don’t see him fitting in much more than a tribe mascot. They’ll keep him cause he’s fun to watch.

Murtz: Ha, that’s a nice idea. He’s the Buchanan Bear. Just there to entertain, but careful because we all know the mascot always gets the glory. Moving onto Saboga… I think this tribe should be renamed to “Wessons To Learn From Saboga.” There is no question that the Knoxville mother is in a premium position here, and even though she is a former winner… I just cannot see how she does not ride this out until the merge. Rupert and Ethan will almost immediately gravitate to her, and she has connections with Jerri as well. Survivor is a game of targets and I think that there are many people in front of Tina as Saboga so that she can just coast to the merge. The fact that she is there with such strong athletes as well leads me to believe that they won’t be going to Tribal Council many times. I know Tina is your favorite player Mario, and even though I don’t like her style even I can admit that she is in the best position of any of the former winners pre-game. The key word is pre-game. There is a very strong possibility that all of the other players have made a pact to take out the winners. This is kind of why I had hoped that all the winners would be on a tribe together. Tina is the most likely winner to break out, but it is still unlikely especially given the fact that Ethan has ties to Jenna Lewis already.

Mario: Murtz, your puns make me sad. Is this what they’re teaching in those Canadian schools up there? But yes I agree 100% about Tina. It’s almost as if they stacked her tribe specifically so she could succeed. I’m surprised they didn’t make the tribe orange just for her (She’s a U of T fan).

Murtz: Careful. I went to U of T, and there is only one that means anything. I think Ethan will be in immediate trouble. I think that he will be seen as a threat, and I just cannot see him getting along with Rudy and Rupert. Unfortunately for him, their personalities are not the same as Tom and Lex and as a result… he will not have the Boys Club from Africa to align with. Because it is only a tribe of six, I do think that his bond with Tina will help him (if she makes it past the first few votes… which I waver on), and we all know that Jerri is a sucker for a pretty face so I think that will be the power core. After the merge however… he is toast.

Mario: Yeah I think he’ll be around until just after the merge. Maybe even before. I don’t think he’ll be too terribly significant to the season as a whole. But I do like to point out that he was on Eco Challenge with Jenna already and they know each other quite well.

Murtz: Ha, maybe you are a closet spoiler. You would be correct. His ties to Jenna might just be Ethan’s only shot of surviving. Much to the chagrin of myself and millions of his other fans, I think that Rudy does not have a prayer in All-Star Survivor. It doesn’t matter where he was placed… he just does not have the ability to adapt. He is the perfect alliance partner since he keeps his mouth shut and is true to his word… but other than Rupert, I don’t know who else would want to keep him around. He is separated from Richard and Susan and that spells immediate disaster for everyone’s favorite grumpy old man. I think he is in a lot of trouble for the first few episodes.

Mario: We put Rudy in the All-Star Alaska story and he got trounced right away. So many people yelled at us for that but honestly I couldn’t see a way around it. Rudy’s inflexibility will only work once on the show. He is a goner.

Murtz: Yeah, he’s a dead man walking. I do think that Jerri will be fun to watch again. She was still just as bitchy as she was in Australia on The Surreal Life, and I think that she was a must-cast on the first All-Star edition of the show. I think that she is in a decent position to do well, but my concern is that she will not be able to stifle her own opinions. That’s critical in Saboga since Rudy and Rupert will want to delegate as much as possible. As long as she can keep her fiery temper and attitude in check, I think that she should stick with Tina/Ethan and she will do well.

Mario: I think Jerri is here to show that she was misedited in Australia and I think she will make an honest effort to be nicer this time. Out of them all I think she’s got the most to gain by playing again. She probably wants to restore her image and show that she isn’t really that bad. I think Australia was painful for her to watch.

Murtz: Images are important. Many people see Rupert as a nice guy and will be rooting for him, but apparently he isn’t the most well-liked among the cast. I think that he will be one of the most fascinating to watch again. Considering that All-Star was filmed directly after the Pearl Islands and is in the same location, I think he will be at an immediate advantage. He will know the area and will once again be the main source of food. Unfortunately, I think that the 18 people that were selected by Mark Burnett and Les Moonves will be prepared to starve for the entire 39 days if it means making it farther than they did before. I just think that Rupert will be too strong and too dominating to ingratiate himself with anyone other than perhaps Tina and Rudy. Not enough for him to stay and I see him being an early casualty with Rudy unless Saboga goes on a long immunity streak (which should not be discounted considering their athleticism). The key is surviving the first few shows. If he manages to, then he is gold all the way to the end.

Mario: In my column this week I am writing about how I think CBS made up the character of Rupert just to have a good guy and I am worried for his chances this time around. I’m worried that maybe the guy isn’t as warm and cuddly as we saw on TV. Plus add in that none of his tribemates have even MET the guy before. He may not even be accepted by the Survivor alums as one of them yet. I think Rupert’s in for a rocky ride. So much for his dreams. Again.

Murtz: I actually think that the fact that his teammates haven’t met him will help. He won’t be a victim of any stereotypes before the fact. Hell, Rudy might even confuse him for Richard. I think we both agree that Jenna Lewis will be the center of attention (just after Tina). We all know that she will be one of hungriest competitors out there because of the Pagonging that she suffered at the hands of Rudy et al. I think that she will recognize her chance to oust Boesch and will work to do so immediately. The fact that they are both from the same season will not save Rudy and her friendship with Ethan will immediately help her side with him. I am interested to see how she interacts with Jerri as that could be the key. My initial feeling is that the main alliance will be Ethan and the ladies. Rupert and Rudy are toast. I like Jenna’s chances heading into the merge.

Mario: I think Jenna could very well be a favorite to win. The first season people must be DYING to play for real this time. Now that they know what they are getting into. I expect Jenna to play like a little hellcat. I bet she plays HARD.

Murtz: I just hope she gets her video. I cannot deal with that display again. Can you imagine if they actually come to visit her? Tears = Ratings. Almost done now. The last tribe is Mogo Mogo. And this tribe will certainly have a lot of Mojo with so many Alpha personalities sharing a beach. It will be a lot of fun to see Richard Hatch again, and I am interested to see where he finishes. About the only thing I am sure of, is that he won’t win again. Don’t you find it interesting that he agreed to do it? I mean, what does he have left to prove? Personally, I think he is just asking for trouble. I think that he will try to get together with Colby and Shii Ann, but I am not sure if he will be successful. In any event, he will be hard pressed to make the jury.

Mario: He’s a big strong mountain of a man so you’d kind of be stupid to dump him right off the bat. I think he may be around for a while but this is one team that can afford to dump some manpower. But yes you are right. He can’t win again although I have a great deal of respect that he would even try. What a good sport.

Murtz: I think we are both pulling for Lex van den Berghe. I think that he is quite possibly the best player ever, and I know he will be out for nothing less than victory this time around. He will have a solid partner in Kathy. I want to see who he tries to befriend. Strategically, I think that Richard would be a good ally for him… but I don’t see them meshing for some reason. In any event, I think that there are many targets around that are bigger than him. As is the case with Tina, that’s the key and why he will have an easy ride into the jury and hopefully beyond. Lex was screwed in the African Fallen Comrades challenge (as was Tom). For that reason alone, he deserves support.

Mario: I predict a final four spot for Lex. He is strong and respected and smart, yet there will always be someone else who is a little more respected, a little smarter, or a little stronger. I think he is one of the most well rounded players who will be forgotten because he doesn’t look like a Colby or an Ethan. I think he’s gotta be one of the favorites to win All-Star.

Murtz: Kathy O’Brien is who many people are rooting for this time around. I think that she is someone who will have learned the most from her prior mistakes. I think that she will make a more conscious effort to fit in with her tribe and while I see her feuding a little bit with Jenna and Shii Ann, I think her work ethic will be appreciated by Colby and Lex. It’s hard to say, but I actually think Kathy will be able to fly-under-the-radar for awhile.

Mario: It is a male dominated tribe (in my opinion) and they will love someone like Kathy around. I think she’ll do well. She was all about building a strong team in Marquesas so guys like Colby and Lex and Rich will LOVE to keep her around.

Murtz: What do you think about Jenna Morasca’s chances to repeat? I am fairly certain she won’t make the jury… but I do think that she will immediately connect with Shii Ann. The problem that she will face is the same one that Rudy and Rupert will have on Saboga. She will just not have the luxury of having enough allies. I think that she will work hard and will be nice to everyone… but will just not be able to save herself unless her team does not go to Tribal Council very often. If she does make it to the merge, she can easily connect with Jenna and Ethan and her chances will improve significantly. I don’t think that she gets enough credit for her win in the Amazon, and I am hopeful she can answer her critics.

Mario: I like Jenna a lot and I wrote a ton about her in my column. But that being said I doubt she’ll be around long. Mogo Mogo will have no need for her (unless she somehow seduces Colby, which could happen). She could easily be a first casualty.

Murtz: Shii Ann is the player that is the hardest for me to read. I am sure she will work hard and I know Lex and Colby will like that. She will also very likely get along with Jenna, and the question is whether this friendship will cost her. Shii Ann is a good player who knows that an early alliance is essential, so I want to see how proactive she is in making one. She is also an underdog considering that she is the only Thailand All-Star. I can’t see her winning, but I do see her being an impact player.

Mario: I don’t see her having too much of an impact. I don’t see her fitting in with this group at all. I doubt she defers to males much in her life and this is the wrong team for that. Start kissing ass to Lex and Colby right now or you might as well go home.

Murtz: Did you think Colby would play again? I know that he is perhaps one of the most acclaimed players of all-time, but I think this is mainly because of the terrible mistake he made in Australia. I also thought that he was separating himself from the show, but apparently All-Star is too big an opportunity to pass up. Can’t blame him for that. I think that Lex will see him as a Clarence. Someone who can be a huge asset for the tribal challenges, but who will have to go immediately after the merge. That’s exactly where I see Colby finishing. Early jury.

Mario: I think Colby was the greatest casting choice they got. That was HUGE that they got him. And I will disagree until the day I die about what he should have done in Australia (read my column). That was the last truly great act of loyalty on the show. It will never be repeated. And I think Colby will be around for a long time. Everyone likes the guy. He is a huge hit with the females. And can you imagine the power duo if he and Tina get a chance to reconnect? I have high hopes for Colby. And I hope he silences all the critics (including you) who like to criticize the guy for keeping a promise. I would love to see him win this time. More than anybody.

Murtz: So there we have it. Our 18 All-Stars. Like I said before, I think that Chapera will be the most fun to watch, and I think that is where our winner will come from. I think that Chapera are the players that have the most to prove, and this will cause them all to do anything necessary to win. That’s a very powerful weapon in this game. The fact that there aren’t any winners on that tribe either leads me to believe that they will be out to destroy first, and smile second. I am sticking with Boston Rob as my pick. He knows the game. He is very down-to-earth. And he is cut-throat. The only problem is that Chapera might overplay. As a result… I think that Saboga is the safest tribe. Admittedly, I want Boston Rob to win and that is influencing me… but he is my pre-show pick. I also like Lex’s chances. Jerri is my darkhorse. I think that she can do well. What about you Mr. Lanza? Closing thoughts?

Mario: Well I have a few players who I am quite certain will do well: Amber, Alicia, Boston Rob, Jenna Lewis, Lex, and Kathy. I have a few who could go early or could go really far. They are the high risk, high reward picks, like Tina and Colby and Rob Cesternino. And then there are the ones who could slip right past everyone unnoticed and pull off a win. Like Tom. But if I had to make some hard and fast picks, I would say this: Saboga is Tina’s tribe, through and through. Your standing will be determined by how well you are in with her. Mogo Mogo is the man show, plus Kathy. They may or may not scrap Richard at first opportunity, depending on how cocky they get. And Chapera is tribe chaos, the Samburus of the game. I see them as the young cocky ones. And if I had to pick a final four right now… hmmm… well I might as well pick the four players I think will all be around for a while. Jenna L, Amber, Boston Rob, and Lex. And I’ll go completely out into left field and call Jenna Lewis as our winner. I have no idea why but I just think she is ready to show the world that Pulau Tigans can play Survivor too.

Stay tuned to S-C for more opinions as All-Star progresses.