The First Ever Survivor Think Tank – Stephen Fishbach on How to Fix Survivor

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Stephen Fishbach came all the way from NYC for the 2012 Survivor Think Tank, making history as the first in-person live spreecast guest who is not married to Rob. Rob received 150 submissions for ideas on how to improve Survivor, and narrowed them down to 50 for potential discussion points. Stephen wagers that there will be only 3 good ideas. Rob and Stephen dive into the listener submissions and take some celebrity calls, all to determine which ideas are worthy of “making it to Samoa.”

Matt Quinlan is the first celebrity caller. He thinks there is too much Pagonging on Survivor, and proposes starting out with even-numbered tribes.

A.J. Mass suggests having no tribes– each immunity challenge is a schoolyard pick ’em. Stephen dubs this “Survivor: No World.”

Troyzan, sans shirt and possibly pants, is the third caller. He thinks the biggest issue is with casting. He would like to see a season of 18 Troyzans. (But how would we know whose island it is?) He would also like to see more festering legs and survivor elements. Stephen advocates having more All Star seasons because the players know how to play and are hungry for it.

Jeff Pittman calls in with a similar idea to A.J. Mass. He also has thoughts on the Final 3, which was originally intended to prevent worthy players from being booted in 3rd place (ahem, cough, cough). Jeff would like it to be a surprise whether it’s a Final 2 or Final 3. Rob also proposes having the jury vote out one person at the Final 3.

Samoa-worthy ideas:
-The “Black Vote” (suggested by Mark), from the French version of Survivor. The person voted out is able to cast a vote against someone still in the game. Stephen and Rob really like this idea, but decide to call it the “Payback Vote.”

-No tribes/ “No World.” Immunity challenges are schoolyard pick ’ems. (A.J. Mass/Jeff Pittman)

-An “early boot” season. (Nathan) One suggested returning player is Marisa from Samoa. While Rob doesn’t know who she is, Stephen daydreams about a season “full of Marisa” before suggesting other memorable early boots: MJQ, Brian Corridan, and Silas.

-Pairs of rivals (e.g. Sandra and Russell) working together, casting one vote together. No tribal immunity. (Stephen Fishbach)

-Sequestering the jury at Ponderosa to avoid bitter juries. (Carl H/Shannon K)

-Expiration date on the Immunity Idols (Carl Hedlund). Must use in the next 2 or 3 tribal councils.

Honorable Mention idea:
-Hidden Immunity Idol only available during team immunity challenges. Individuals could go after that rather than help their tribe win immunity. (Cameron via Dalton Ross)

Ideas snuffed by Rob and Stephen:
-Two coaches, who are not eligible to win, lead the tribes and try to influence the game. (porkstorekiller)

-Individuals can gain extra votes in exchange for $100,000 of prize money per vote. (Josh Dean)

-Casting only people who really need the money. (Brandon) Instead, Rob and Stephen would rather see a season of all millionaires.

-The immunity necklace can be played after the votes are cast, like an idol. (Stephen Fishbach) This idea suggested by the Think Tank co-host is met with crossed arms and an averted gaze from Rob.

-The immunity winner can grant immunity after the votes are read. (Perry Whyte)

-All players (other than the winner) get the same amount of prize money. (Ron Chan)

-Increasing the prize money (Brian Hickey)

-Include the whole cast in the jury (Lance)

-Each F3 member picks 3 jury members (Simon). Stephen points out that this would be a sure-fire way to finally see a 3-way tie at final tribal.

-Teen Survivor (Brandon Donlon)

Listener Mark suggests carrying 3 tribes all the way to the merge. Rob talks about the 3-tribe format on Survivor All Stars, which still ended up with a Pagonging. Rob thinks there’s not a lot of room to maneuver and change up the game with groups of 6. Rob provides a “what if” scenario where you start with 2 tribes of 9, then switch to 3 tribes of 5 when you get to 15.

Rob thinks there will be at least 10 more seasons of Survivor, but it may end up on another network. Stephen disagrees, believing that Mark Burnett would not allow that to happen.

Josh Dollinger suggests that tribe swaps should be mandatory, and fairly early. Both Rob and Stephen are fans of tribe swaps, but Stephen would like producers to have some discretion about whether or not there is a swap. John Sciacca suggests that the show should have more survival elements, like in the early seasons. Stephen’s voice goes up an octave as he dispels the myth that later seasons had it easier in terms of creature comforts.

Rob reads Frank Clark’s impassioned letter about his disappointment over Survivor: One World. This leads Rob and Stephen into a discussion of casting, and whether eccentric characters such as Tarzan or Phillip are helping or hurting the show. Rob would not cast anyone who does not have a working knowledge of the game, yet he does leave one slot open for a token hot chick.

Rob and Stephen also discuss returning players– neither are fans of the seasons with 2 returning players. They then take a couple of video calls from fans.

Be sure to tune in to this web show, as there are some things that a recap or audio version cannot capture– namely the smoldering testosterone stemming from the spreecast hosts and increasing exponentially with each caller, culminating in a skull-capped Leonardo. And if you have any ideas on how to improve this recap, feel free to submit them via Shane’s Island blackberry.

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