Outrageous! [1977]

America has spoken. Survivor was one of the rare lightning-in-a-bottle television events that became an instant pop culture phenomenon, like Roots, the first season of Twin Peaks, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and Suddenly Susan (just kidding). Sixteen contestants were left to fend for themselves on the most famous tropical isle since Gilligan's. What begins as a happy and healthy competition inexorably turns, in contestant Jenna's words, "malicious and evil." And the whole world was watching. For devotees of the show who yearn to go back to the island, this two-and-a-half-hour video souvenir replays the most memorable moments of season 1, including all the tribal councils that sealed the castaways' fates. What makes this video collectible are the never-before-broadcast audition tapes (Susan's is a jaw-dropping hoot), as well as each castaway's parting words after being voted off the island (Stacey is particularly bitter). There is gratuitous rodent skinning, uncensored profanity (from Susan and B.B.), and nudity (unfortunately, all Richard). Thankfully, we are spared Sonja's ukulele playing. The one mystery that remains is why the castaways didn't pull a Lord of the Flies on hokey host Jeff Probst. Even those who originally avoided the show like a rat dinner will have to admit: from Jenna's heartbreak at learning that her video greeting from home did not arrive to Susan's classic what-goes-around-comes-around "snakes and rats" speech, Survivor is compelling television. --Donald Liebenson

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