The Key Elements of a Great Survivor Challenge with Myles Nye

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Survivor 2014: Rob with Myles Nye aka “Challenge Lefty”[/caption]

On this weeks Survivor off season podcast, Rob and Myles Nye (@MylesNye) a former consultant for the challenge department sat down to discuss the ins and outs of Survivor challenges. Rob and Myles take us on a tour of a museum devoted to Survivor challenges.

Myles explained how if the mental component is at the end of the challenge it is not as exciting. He came up with the challenge called “Blade Runner” for Survivor: China, which was actually a part of his interview.

Myles tells us that there is a huge learning curve to making challenges. He explains how you have to consider where the cameras are and how fatigued the contestants are. Myles goes on the break down how he prefers the Charlie Parson side of Survivor rather than the Mark Burnett side. He would love to just have another classic game of Survivor again with just 16 castaways.

Rob and Myles now discuss what make a good challenge

Myles explains that what ultimately makes a challenge great is how it plays out on TV. He tells us that we can see this in Survivor: Guatemala where it was a huge challenge but didn’t make for good TV and in Survivor: Nicaragua where it was quite a small challenge but made for very good TV. Myles expresses how the elegant integration of physical and mental in “Gate Crasher” from Survivor: China and “Crate Idea” from Survivor Tocantins makes for a very good challenge in his eyes.

Myles has collected a few challenges that he feels are remarkable in some way

  • “Retention to Detail” from Survivor: China. Myles felt that lent very interesting editing and sprang something on the contestants that they were not expecting.
  • “Supply Dump” from Survivor: Palau. Myles liked it because it gave the castaways a choice in the middle of the challenge and the tribe that was not greedy prevailed.
  • “The Memory Shack” from Survivor: The Amazon. Myles thought that the set on this challenges was very elegant; however, Rob suggested that the Q&A challenges are not the most exciting to watch.
  • “Swiss Cheese Please” from Survivor: Tocantins. Myles really liked this challenge; however, he doubts it will ever come back as it has a health and safety hazard.
  • “Snare the Drum” from Survivor Philippines. Myles felt that the mechanism in the challenge was very good
  • “Kitty Litter” from Survivor: Nicaragua.
  • “Fruit Bat” and the giant ball rolling down the hill from Survivor: Gabon.

Myles and Rob discussed some challenges where contestants have outsmarted or cheated at the challenge

  • Parvati Shallow in “Stepping Stones from Survivor: Micronesia. They only used one platform for the whole challenge.
  • Eric R. in the first challenge from Survivor: Micronesia. Eric threw sand into the faces of the Favorites tribe.
  • Jonathan Penner in Survivor: Philippines dug up all of the bags for his team to save time.
  • Ozzy in the mud carrying challenge used the back of his neck as a shelf to carry huge amounts of mud.
  • Darrah from Survivor: Pearl Islands was able to put her hand down the shoot to retrieve a key because her wrists were so small.

Myles and Rob break down the different combat challenges we’ve seen on Survivor

  • “The Attack Zone” from Survivor: Thailand. In this challenge 3 contestants were kicked out of the challenge due to unacceptable behavior.
  • “Kicking and Screaming” from Survivor: Cook Islands. Myles feels this is a great physical challenge.
  • “Rice Riot” from Survivor: Micronesia. Myles loved this challenge and felt that even the smaller contestants could do well in this challenge.
  • “Battle Dig” from Survivor: Panama. Feels it is a classic Survivor challenge and made for some very memorable moments.
  • “Keep Away” from Survivor: Gabon.
  • “Build it up, Break it down” from Survivor: Palau.

Myles and Rob now discuss contested calls in challenges

  • In Survivor: Marquesas, Kathy Vavrick O’Brien won her tribe immunity after pointing out something the other tribe did wrong.
  • In Survivor: Pearl Islands Burton won immunity however he spelled a word wrong so the last 3 people had to compete again.

Myles and Rob break down the best and worst of Survivor challenges

The Worst:

  • “Tooth Pinata” from Survivor: The Amazon. Rob and Myles both agree that this challenge is too gross and not that entertaining.
  • “Running up a Hill” from Survivor: Gabon. All they had to do was run up a hill and it was not close at all.
  • “Battle Ship” from Survivor: Fiji. Myles found it very odd; he called it a fiasco.
  • “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Jack and Jill”

The Best:

  • “The Hot Pursuit” from Survivor: Palau. Myles and Rob both thought this challenge had a good mix of strategy and endurance.
  • “Simotion” from Survivor: Tocantins. Myles thinks that this is a beautiful challenge. He wishes he could have it in his backyard.
  • “Square Peg, Round Hole” from Survivor: Samoa. Myles really love this challenge. Laura Morett won this and completely dominated it.
  • “The Vertical Maze” from Survivor: Vanuatu. Myles felt that it was early enough that the puzzle was not too easy and he felt that the build on this challenge was amazing.
  • “The Blindfolded Maze” from Survivor: Heroes vs Villains. This challenge made for a really exciting finish and very fun to watch.

Special thanks to Shane Gallagher for today’s episode recap!

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