Survivor vs Battle of the Network Stars

by holditnow

“Gather round Guys .. See what you’re playing for”.

The Competitors

Long before there was anything in our TV lexicon referred to as  redemption island, there was a competition that pitted angels and sweat-hogs vs hulks and wonder women. An early reality TV pioneer: Battle of the Network Stars showed the prime-time heroes from the three major networks (NBC ABC CBS) competing against one another in various  sports and athletic  challenges. It premiered in 1976 and ran until 1988.

Survivor is a trailblazing game show that has influenced countless knockoffs and become ingrained into the fabric of pop culture. Being voted off the island became the model for all to follow. It is part physical challenge, part head game and a whole lot of drama. The american version premiered in 2000 and is still going strong.

The Challenges

Battle of the Network Stars‘ competitions covered a wide range of activities. The teams would face off against each other in running, cycling and swimming relay races, tennis, volleyball, golf, boat races, dunk tank, tug o’ war and of course the obstacle course. All events being highlighted and played back in wonderous slow motion.

Feats of endurance, target shooting, mind bending puzzles and obstacle courses that look like they were designed by NASA scientists are the day in day out activities of food and sleep deprived contestants in the tropical heat of Survivor.

Advantage: Survivor

The Hosts

Howard Cosell played it straight. He announced the tug o’ war like it was a heavyweight prize fight. He referred to the stars facing their personal demons and digging into the recesses of their souls to accomplish the near impossible. On a show full of shining stars he was the sun.

No other person working in TV today could do what Jeff Probst does. His commentary during challenges adds both encouragement and ridicule in equal measures.  During  tribal council, his ‘you haven’t seen anything yet’ attitude all the while dangling a million dollar carrot is  pure gold.

Advantage: Battle of the Network Stars

The Contestants

The alumni of Battle of the Network Stars reads like an ultimate version of Dancing with the Stars but with real stars: Gabe Kaplan, Linda Carter, Farah Fawcett, Ron Howard, Penny Marshall, Billy Crystal, Telly Savalas, Robert Conrad, Adrienne Barbeau, Kristy NcNichol, Scott Baio, Ricky Schroder, Valleri Bertinelli, Rob Reiner, William Shatner, Gil Gerard, Heather Thomas, Heather Locklear, Michael J Fox, Lisa Bonet, Kim Fields, Jimmy Walker and Tony Danza.

Survivor has its share of memorable characters: the sneaky one, the annoying one, the forgettable one, the sweet one, the religious one, the uber religious one, the hot one, the cold one, the jerk, the villain and so on.

Advantage: Battle of the Network Stars

Winner: Battle of the Network Stars

All in all Survivor stills survives and another season is right around the corner. Their formula of battle of the sexes, personal testimonies, scantily clad contestants and engaging personalities that become completely forgettable once the cameras stop rolling is a winning one. Their production values can make an isolated crab on a beach a harbinger of foreshadowing and doom. Blatant product placement finds it way into the most remote places on earth. Thank you Survivor for reminding us  that just because you are stranded on a desert island doesn’t mean you have to stop being a consumer.

 Youtube has become the unofficial television archive. Many fabulous things can be found there if you have the time and inclination. It has helped to spur on the  current  nostalgia renaissance. We want our Titanics in 3D, our movies recycled – 21 Jump Street,  Spiderman again and our TV stars battling it out. Watching  the stars of the Big Bang Theory go head to head with Community and Modern Family could be a ratings bonanza.

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