"Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites" debut: History repeating

Survivor contestants Reynold and Malcom fight for a life saver as the 26th season of hit show "Survivor" kicks off. CBS

The tribe has spoken.

Is there any kiss-off more ubiquitous in the modern lexicon than those dreaded words from the granddaddy of reality shows, "Survivor"?

CBS' hit show is back for its 26th season with some familiar faces and new twists -- but staying true to the basics that have kept it atop the ratings for 13 years. Pretty people and oddballs in exotic locales, hollow promises and sketchy showmances, sunburn and insect bites -- it's all back, this time in the Caramoan Islands, which for all who don't know, are a very picturesque corner of the Philippines.

Wednesday's season debut of "Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites" wasted no time in getting down to good television. The two teams, hence forth known as tribes, had barely landed on the beach before they were stripped down to their skivvies for a hands-on, butt-flashing, tug-of-war water battle. At stake were 20 lbs. of beans and a piece of flint, which as we all know, is crucial to avoiding the arduous process of creating fire by rubbing sticks together.

When the splashing subsided, the winning tribe was the "favorites" -- 10 former contestants returning for a second chance at the $1 million dollar prize.

And then it was on to hut building, fire kindling, and all the rudiments as the contestants sorted themselves and got down to the real game that makes "Survivor" so juicy: who can you string along to get your way.

A few of the fans that stood out on Wednesday's show included:

  • Andrea, a New York "television host" who may be a little too slick for her own good
  • Eddie, a New Jersey fireman who easily wins most annoying character with his declarations that he's the best looking of the cool kids

On the favorites tribe, notables included:

  • Francesca, a pleasant-spoken New York attorney who got into a flame war with another contestant on a previous season and ended up going home first
  • Phillip, a California software salesman who seems a little out of step with the rest of his tribe
  • John the geek, a Washington law student who fired off some amusing lines and got some sympathy for a painful looking sunburn

When the fans managed to win their immunity challenge, the finger of doom turned to the favorites tribe, who began jockeying to build quickie alliances and settle on a sacrificial lamb for tribal council.

The trends were a little hard to read on this first show, with everyone making half-hearted promises to be true to each other. When the dust settled, it was poor Francesca, who was voted out first on her previous season, reliving the nightmare. Francesca lost a 6-4 vote to Andrea, the TV host who seemed like a deal maker but then inspired a lot of paranoia among the skittish favorites.

Francesca gets her torch snuffed and relives the nightmare of being the first one voted off the island in the debut of "Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites" on Wed., Feb. 13, 2013.
CBS

"I cannot believe I got voted out first -- again," said Francesca, as the credits rolled.

"I'm not gonna, like, cry about it. I did make 'Survivor' history. And the good thing about being voted out first again is that I know how to deal with being voted out first. I guess I'm not cut out for 'Survivor.' It's over, it's done. So I'm no longer rooting for the favorites. Now I'm rooting for the fans!"

What's your take on the new season? Post your comment below and then check out the coverage at our sister site CBS.com, where you can get all the inside scoop on the "Survivor" home page. And check out their the post-show coverage each week.

  • David Hancock

    David Hancock is a home page editor for CBSNews.com.

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