As you know, I'm a huge Survivor fan. Ever since the show first aired in the spring of 2000, I've been addicted. And even though the last two seasons have been sleep-inducing with their clueless and worthless castaways, I still can't wait for the next season.
I've tried a few times to get on the show, but my being Canadian precludes me from getting an audition. Dumb bastards, every last one of them. Per capita, Survivor is more popular in Canada, so it's about time they allow Canucks to at least audition.
France bought the rights to produce their own version the year Survivor came out and the first season of Koh-Lanta saw the light in 2000. Unlike Survivor, whose ratings gradually went down and stabilized over the subsequent years, making the show drop from the number 1 spot to about a top 10 or top 15 show in America, Koh-Lanta remained the most watched TV show in France for a decade. Indeed, only the crappy 2010 season, Koh-Lanta: Vietnam, saw its ratings go down. Still, the show remained in the top 3.
I've always known that there was a French version of Survivor, but never had the chance to watch it. Last fall, Canal Évasion aired the 2008 Koh-Lanta: Caramoan season. Believing (wrongly) that it would be a poor man's version of Survivor, I didn't really pay much attention to it. Hence, I did miss the first half of the season and didn't get to watch a full episode until the merge.
The concept is the same and the rules are identical (even if there are a few small differences), I was shocked by the fact that the game is played in a thoroughly different fashion from its American counterpart. Imagine if Survivor was played based on merit! Strategy and blindsides are not frowned upon, they are reviled. There are no puzzles, only physical challenges. They suffer for 40 days, only for 100.000 euro!
Imagine a Survivor season in which people like Parvati, Ciree, Boston Rob, Russell, Johnny Fairplay, Tyson, etc, would get voted out at the first sign of duplicity. Merit is not everything; it's the only thing. I would have thought that taking the strategic element out of the game (by the way, it's not a rule. It's the way people play.) would be to its detriment, but no. Getting rid of ill-intentioned or undeserving castaways makes for a totally different and enjoyable watching experience. The challenges take on an importance that we haven't seen on Survivor since the first couple of seasons.
In any case, since last fall I started watching past Koh-Lanta seasons on the web, and basically all of them are much better and fun to watch than the Survivor seasons of the last couple of years. If you understand French and like Survivor, you should definitely give Koh-Lanta a shot. And like Survivor, Koh-Lanta has its own cast of all-stars, many of whom could kick the ass of any American players. May you have the opportunity to get to know Jade, Christelle, Grégoire, Mohamed, Claude, François-David, Tony, Clémence, Moundir, Freddy, and many more!
So to make a long story short, although Russ Landau's Survivor soundtracks are awesome, the Koh-Lanta music also serves as a perfect backdrop to the TV show.
And though Canadians are not eligible to be a part of the show, I was able to get a dispensation to partake of the casting for the Koh-Lanta season which will be aired this summer or fall. Wasn't picked, but maybe I'm slowly getting there. Who knows? Perhaps you'll see me, starving and dehydrated, running around in my swimsuit, trying to win the jackpot! ;-)