Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance - Season Preview
By Jim Van Nest
September 21, 2015
Hello, good people! Can you believe it's that time already? We are one night and a workday away from the premiere of the 31st season of CBS's reality trailblazer, Survivor. As I'm sure everyone is aware, Survivor 31 is officially being titled Survivor Cambodia: Second Chance. Twenty people that "America chose" are being given a second chance to finish what they started. I put that in air quotes because yes, America got to vote for the 20 person cast, but we got to choose from a small group of 32 choices, narrowed down by the show's producers. While I'm thrilled to see some players back (hello, Jeff Varner and Stephen Fishbach), this is not my ultimate list of 20 people I'd like to see get a second chance (why do you forsake us all, Greg Buis?)
The whole hullabaloo surrounding the voting and selection of this Second Chance cast has made the Survivor offseason, especially the pre-game hype, a very odd case. Obviously, there was no "Survivor Cast Reveal Day" for this season, because we all already know who made the cast. There's no getting to know the players as we've seen all of them play before. Granted, a lot of people will need to go to the Survivor Wiki to remind themselves who Monica Padilla and Kelley Wentworth are. What's been very much different this time around is the complete acceptance of the players talking prior to the season and the setting up of pre-game alliances. America was given a few weeks to vote for the cast and in that time, the potential players took to Twitter, Facebook, Rob Has a Podcast and every other available medium to plead their case for inclusion. We all saw that. What we didn't see was all of the back door phone calls being made between the candidates. Working the phones and setting up pre-game alliances was in overdrive, if you're to believe some of the players.
I'm going to do two preview columns for this season - one for each tribe. I'm going to make predictions as I always do and I'm going to do my best to leave all of the pre-game alliance talk out of my predictions. There's so much out there it's hard to know what's real and what's Memorex. So, I'll do my best to analyze the players by what we've seen in past seasons and how I think they'll alter their games for a new season. But before I get to the previews, I feel it's necessary to give my opinion of the cast and how I think America did choosing them.
Overall, I think America did pretty well. There was one HUGE screw-up, one medium size mess-up and a couple tweaks I would make to MY cast. The huge screw-up - and it's viewed this way by SO many people I don't understand how it worked out this way - is Shane Powers. Shane was TV gold in season 12. He was a complete nutball - and I mean that in the absolute best way and as a huge compliment. When I saw the 32 choices, Shane was my #1 for people that absolutely positively HAD to come back. America - you screwed the pooch on this one. Keith Nale - as lovable as he is - should have stayed home while Shane played.
Also on the men's side, a personal preference of mine was Jim Rice from South Pacific. A big strategic mind who had a lot more to offer the game was cut down when Coach pulled Cochran over after the merge on South Pacific. In my perfect cast, Jim Rice replaces Woo Hwang - again, another lovable guy, but not much of a player.
The women's side is where the medium-sized mess-up occurred. I think America missed the boat on Mama C, Carolyn Rivera from Worlds Apart. She played an amazing game on Worlds Apart and I think she would have been fantastic to have on Second Chance. She could take Peih Gee Law's place for me and I'd have been happy. The final change I would have made would have been to put T-Bird Cooper on over Monica Padilla. Maybe it's because I'm old school, maybe it's because I honestly had to look up Monica to even remember what season she was on. I think T-Bird would have been an awesome throwback player to have on and she's been dying for a second chance for 12 years now.