A voice-over announces that "from this tiny Malaysian fishing village, these sixteen Americans are beginning the voyage of a lifetime," and that "this is their story. This is Survivor," as camera shots of indigenous people and animals alternate with a sailboat that looks like a pirate ship. I guess they'll never go hungry on this island; one minute into the premiere and they're generously spreading cheese all over the place.
The credits, full of dramatic music and quick-cut images, try very hard to make me invest in this show. Luckily, they're being shown to me, and being a television disciple, I'll bite. We see photographs and live-action shots of the Surviving Sixteen (S16) wearing their best turmoil faces. Just in case we've forgotten the premise of the show, we're reminded that there are sixteen Survivors, and that the process will take thirty-nine days. You might want to remind me of that again in two minutes, since I might forget.
The narrator appears in the flesh. I can't figure out what he's doing here and I don't understand my already passionate dislike of this man. I think I hate him. Does that mean I want to have sex with him? This is TV-Land, right? He hammers home the up-until-now ambiguous point that there are sixteen Americans (Americans and only Americans, mind you) who will co-exist on the island for thirty-nine days (thirty-nine, you said?). At the end of the thirty-eight days (oops, I meant thirty-nine days, silly me) only one will be left and that person will win ONE MILLION DOLLARS. Say it in your best Dr. Evil voice and it sounds much better. (And while we're on the subject of Austin Powers, I have to share that for Halloween this year our big dog Pandora was Dogder Evil and our little dog Piglet was Mini-P. Isn't that the cutest thing you've ever heard? All together now. Awwwww.)
The S16 are given two minutes to salvage various crates and packages from the pirate ship and load them onto a raft. It's self-induced chaos as they shout, push each other, and jump overboard at various times or all at once. The narrator informs us that the contestants have been divided into two teams: the Pagong and the Tagi. He gives first and last names; I'll only give first names with the minor exception of saying Kelly's last name is Wigglesworth and that Susan's last name sounds an awful lot like "Hick."
The Tagi team will always wear orange and consists of Sean, Kelly, Rudy, Sonja, Richard, Susan, Dirk, and Stacey. According to the Survivor website, Sean is a neurologist from Long Island. Kelly is a single river guide from Nevada whose motto is "Bring it on!" Rudy is a retired Navy S.E.A.L. from Virginia Beach; Sonja is a musician from California ["and a cancer survivor" -- Wing Chun]; Richard is a corporate trainer from Newport; Susan is a truck driver from Palmyra, Wisconsin; Dirk is a substitute teacher from Wisconsin; and Stacey is an attorney from San Francisco. Later in the show, a caption notes that Dirk is a farmer. Maybe he's a substitute farmer or a farming teacher. I think they should get their stories straight.