<i>Survivor</i> Summer

50166 braver line
Resisting the impulse at first, CBS News Sunday Morning Correspondent Rita Braver finally caught up with her summer TV viewing. Here's her reaction to Survivor: An archive of The Braver Line is available. Rita Braver's email address is rbc@cbsnews.com.
Their rhetoric is getting so much better. They are really beginning to define themselves and elucidate their vision for the future. They seem to be more determined each day. I now feel a personal tie to them.

No, not Al and Tipper, Joe and Hadassah and the rest of the conventioneering Democrats. I'm talking about the remaining Survivors!

Its time to admit that much to my astonishment and slight mortification, I have found the Survivor contest to be the most compelling struggle of this summer, far exceeding the political race. Maybe it's because there are women in the running. Maybe it's because the goal is clear: $1 million. Or maybe it's because we have really gotten to know these folks, and that makes us wonder about ourselves.

Now, I realize that since Survivor is a CBS show, I can be accused of shamelessly kissing up to Mel Karmazin or Sumner Redstone or Les Moonves, who no doubt have nothing better to do than cruise our Web site and read this column. But I've got to tell you I was prepared to hate Survivor and willing to write a column about that. It seemed like such a gimmick, and the idea of people willing to debase themselves for money before the whole world was so depressing. Besides, what did I care whether a substitute school teacher or a San Francisco lawyer would be voted off the island?

But stranded in a hotel room and unable to resist the buzz and the urging of my Survivor-besotted husband, I tuned in one Tuesday night.

Spellbound! That was the only way to describe my reaction. I couldn't even tell the Pagongs from the Tagis, and some of the characters had already been kicked off. (Oh, Sonja, I never knew ye.) But the epic proportions of this adventure seemed immediately clear to me. Not only do we watch the Survivors battle the elements, we also see them try to outwit each other.

It's like witnessing the Iliad or the madness of King Lear in real time. And speaking of Shakespeare, are the shenanigans on the Survivor island any more outlandish than those of the characters caught in The Tempest?

So now I'm hooked. So much so that I was saddened when cute Colleen was voted off and pleased to see smarmy Sean ousted. A neurologist? Would you let that guy near you?

And what of the final four: Machiavellian Richard, the guy everyone hates and fears who somehow endures. Lucky Kelly, whom the gods have chosen to smile on, unless (and please don't let it be so) the show was fixed. Dogged Susan, so reminiscent of the policewoman in Fargo. And cantankerous Rudy, who at 72 hs defied all expectations. Oh brave new world that has such people in it!

I know, I know, a serious television correspondent should be concentrating on who will become the next leader of the free world. But we're still three months away from that. Right now the real cosmic combat is taking place on Pulau Tiga.