Loyal Survivor viewers were shocked to read reports last week that the dean of reality TV hosts may leave the show by spring 2006. Apparently, Probst wants to start a family with his girlfriend (Survivor: Vanuatu contestant Julie Berry) and thus no longer wants to traipse off to the tropical wilderness for three months of the year.
More power to Probst. After all, one would think that after 11 editions of the show, he would get a little bored with the contestants and their problems. I’m surprised he hasn’t flipped out — “You think there might be trust issues in your tribe? NO *#$&$*ING KIDDING!”
It is still a sad day for TV, however, as Probst drew nothing but praise from Survivor fans. Whether it was a snarky comment at tribal council or his memorably ridiculous “voyages to the studio” during the finale episodes, Probst was the piece of flint that kept Survivor’s torch lit.
Probst is notable not just because he did his job well, but because he is one of few who stands out in the bizarre career field of “reality TV host.” Hosting a reality show is the TV equivalent of getting a participation ribbon at a grade-school track meet. It is one of those jobs where just being competent is a massive accomplishment — other jobs in this category include roadkill cleaner, telemarketer and politician.
Reality show hosts don’t really have to ‘do’ anything. For example, who wouldn’t love the job of Amazing Race host Phil “My Accent Always Changes” Keoghan? He gets to travel around the world on the network’s dollar, and his only responsibilities are to greet racers at the pit stops and wiggle his eyebrows.
Traditional game show hosts (i.e. Bob Barker, Meredith Vieira) have to explain rules and maintain flow in spite of occasionally quiet or shy contestants. On reality shows, however, all players are extroverted loonies cast specifically because they might do something crazy in hopes of securing 15 minutes of fame. Hosts have little to do besides introduce the action, stay out of the way and try not to be overtly irritating.
Frankly, in the case of a multi-talented über-star like Probst, the Survivor people should have found more for their host to do. A quick check of his IMDB bio page reveals Probst is an ordained minister, an acclaimed indie movie director and is from Seattle. Look at the challenges they could have had Survivors doing!
* Writing vows to their teammates (which would then be broken)
* Making their own short films using a rock as a camera
* Seattle sports trivia
Q: Who is the Mariners’ all-time stolen base leader? A: Julio Cruz.
If you didn’t get this question, you’re off the island.
The ultimate ending for Probst? He returns as a contestant on a future Survivor series, matching wits against the very castaways he used to mock. Or, even better, an all-reality show host edition of The Amazing Race, where Probst bickers with Ryan Seacrest as they drive through the African outback on motor scooters.
The fans have spoken, Probst. Start brushing up on your Swahili.