Australian Survivor is coming back on February 3rd with its first All Stars season. With the previous two Aussie seasons I’ve recapped, I didn’t do a preview article like this. With this being an All Star season, I thought it would be worth diving into this season’s cast and giving my thoughts.
Surviving US Survivor
As with my previous recaps, I like to start out by giving an overview of what’s go on with the US show. It’s no secret: I’m not a big fan of the show in its current form and my interest is rapidly declining. This previous and next US are no exceptions.
As expected, Island of the Idols (Season 39) was another mediocre season. Like the last few seasons before it, the season had a gimmick tied to it. The titular island was a place where contestants would go to from time to time, where they would be greeted by Survivor veterans Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine. On the island, Rob and Sandra would give contestants “lessons” and then a task- after which they would receive an advantage if completed. The cast for the season was really strong, being the first cast picked following the firing of long-time head of casting Lynn Spillman. However, the season was tainted with controversy- with contestant Dan Spilo being shown inappropriately touching female contestants. It was addressed in the first episode and wouldn’t be brought up again until the merge episode. In the episode before the finale, it was revealed that Dan had been removed from the game for inappropriately touching someone in production. Based on what I’ve read and heard during the season, I think this whole situation was set up by production in a desperate attempt at keeping the show relevant with the MeToo movement. The “incident” that supposedly happened involved Dan accidentally touching a crew member’s leg while getting on a boat after a challenge. Even if this incident didn’t happen, the season was already mediocre. While I did like contestants like Noura, Janet and Elaine- the overall season is still weak.
Come February 12, Survivor will be airing its 40th season Winners At War. As the title would suggest, this is an all stars season featuring 20 previous winners competing against each other for the increased $2 million prize. There’s a lot of hype for this season, given that this is the show’s way of celebrating their 20th anniversary. However, some fans (including myself) aren’t too excited about the season as changes have been made to the game. First off, the show is bringing back the Edge of Extinction twist- a twist used in Season 38 that acted as purgatory for voted off players and allowed them two chances at getting back in the game. On top of this, the show is adding a new twist in the form of an in-game currency called Fire Tokens- which players will earn throughout the game. With Fire Tokens, contestants can spend them on things such as food, idol clues and advantages. I hated the Edge of Extinction twist last year and I despise the currency twist. While the show has been declining for several years, Fire Tokens might be the final nail in the coffin for me: this is no longer Survivor. While I look forward to seeing some of these winners return, my expectations are at an all time low.
Australian Survivor: All Stars
For 2020, AU will be airing two seasons this year. Even taking the first two non-revival Australian seasons into account, this is the first time the Aussies have done an all stars season. As far as US Survivor goes, there have been four previous all-returning-player seasons: All Stars (Season 8), Heroes Vs. Villains (Season 20), Cambodia- Second Chances (Season 31) and Game Changers (Season 34). When it comes to all star seasons, it’s really hit or miss for me. On paper, it sounds like a good idea: taking some of the show’s best characters and putting them on the same season sounds like it would make for good TV. However, all stars season aren’t really Survivor given that the contestants aren’t exactly strangers. With AU, the revival has yet to really disappoint me so I’ll give this a chance.
For this article, I will be going through the contestants returning from each of the four AU seasons.
Thoughts: Only five people from the revival’s first season are coming back. This is a decent batch of people. Of the five, I think Nick is my favorite. I know some found him to be too much in his first season but he had a good story arc in being voted out of Vavau and moved over to Saanapu. Of the five here, I think he might be able to make it the furthest. Lee is a strong competitor but that makes him a target come the merge. As for the three ladies, they are some of the savviest players AU has seen. Flick and Brooke made it very far in their first season while Phoebe was able to stay in the game longer than she should’ve mostly due to the number of idols she played. With that being said, I think all three of them are big targets.
Not in the cast: I would’ve liked to seen Matt Tarrant or Craig I’Anson come back. Both were pretty funny throughout the 2016 season and it’s a shame they weren’t brought back. Also, I would’ve loved to have seen winner Kristie Bennett return. However, Kristie’s story was already perfect so I’m okay with her not being here.
Thoughts: The 2017 season of AU had some great characters and players. While I feel the season was a little too heavy on the strategic portion of the game, it’s still a great season. I’m happy to see Tarzan back as he was voted out way too early. Sadly, I don’t think he’ll be in this season for long given his age. The same can be said about Jacqui. A.K. and Henry are another two savvy strategists while Locky is a physically strong player. Michelle seems like a merge episode boot while I don’t see Jericho winning again.
Not in the cast: For obvious reasons, Luke Toki couldn’t come back for All Stars- given he just competed last year. Other than Luke, I think the returnees for 2017 are all good.
Thoughts: Considering her age and the fact that she already won, I don’t see Shane going far. I’m happy to see Moana return as she was voted out early in that season. Unlike Tarzan, Moana could go further considering she’s younger and she’s not sick this time around. Lydia, Mat and Zach are all strong competitors- which might get them to the merge at least. Sharn isn’t too bad of a competitor herself, but she could be targeted due to the game she played in 2018. I think if things work out for her, Shonee could do very well in All Stars.
Not in the cast: Samuel Hinton would’ve made for a great addition to this cast. Although he became paranoid towards the end of the game, he provided some laughs that season. Fenella McGowan is also not in the cast- but from what I’ve read- she was pregnant at the time the season was filming.
Thoughts: With 2019 being the most recent season, it’s no surprise that only five people were cast for All Stars. I’m happy to see David and John back as they could provide for some laughs- especially David. I don’t mind Daisy and Abbey being here either. Similar to Phoebe, Harry was another player that heavily relied on idols- which might result in an early boot for him considering how far he made it.
Not in the cast: Janine Allis obviously couldn’t return consider she’s the CEO of Boost Juice. Baden Gilbert or Pia Miranda are also not present but again- these people just played.
Australian Survivor: All Stars is shaping up to be an all out battle. While I’m a little skeptical, AU as yet to disappoint me.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.