Sunday, May 15, 2005

When the good guys win...

All right, so I still wish there was a way that Stephenie could have won ''Survivor: Palau,'' and I'm hoping we'll get another round of ''Survivor All-Stars'' sometime soon. Then she'll either have another chance to win it all, or to contend for one of a Rubert Boneham Consolation Prize.
That said, I was happy enough to see Tom get the top prize. He played at full strength, and he played well. Even when he was scheming, I never felt as if he was being dishonorable. He was playing the game, but with a sense of what was the game and what was a personal violation -- as he made very clear when he though Ian had crossed the line.
In contrast, Ian too often had that kid-with-the-cookie-jar look, gulping his way through falsehoods that were transparent to everyone else. As much as he wanted to be a player, there was always something too naive about Ian. His sacrificing a shot at the finals in order to re-establish his friendship with Tom was touching, even inspiring. But cynics in the audience will probably stack it next to Colby's taking Tina to the finals on ''Survivor: The Australian Outback'' as an example of being upright at exactly the wrong moment.
Still, I should have relaxed as soon as it was clear that Tom went to the jury against Katie, who kept trying to downplay her own meanness by calling it her ''sense of humor.'' But ''Survivor'' has had enough twists over its long history that I keep looking for them where there aren't any, trying to figure out a way the votes could add up to a shocker.
Yet the sentimentalist in me was glad not to be shocked. I hear fairly often from people who think all reality shows are trashy and lacking in quality. And yes, there have been some that have showcased nastiness, including ''Survivor.'' But when you look at ''The Amazing Race 7'' and at ''Survivor: Palau,'' you have a couple of shows that work very well as old-fashioned entertainment: There were happy endings, and the good guys won.

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