Second of all, though the omigod thrill of last year's TV super-phenomenon may be gone, the "Survivor" business model still looks sound. The cheesy editing, the quick-boiling cattiness, the scantily clad bods (no, Virginia, there will never be a "Survivor: The Arctic," because that would require parkas). The talk-to-the-TV voyeurism of it all. "Survivor: Australian Outback" won't take the world by storm again, but Sunday, with absolutely no competition from a punter's-battle-cum-rout Super Bowl (or, down the road, a graying "Friends" filled out with "SNL" leftovers) the second go-round of the Jeff Probst Hour looks like a decent way to kill an hour in front of the tube.
Especially now that Debb is gone. The gritty and grating corrections officer's expulsion from the island, um, riverfront, by her Kucha tribemates was about as easy to call after 30 minutes as the Giants' loss. The first feud of the 42 days was between Debb and Kimmy, the Long Island bartender, who in turn provided the first, second, third and fourth breast shots and a good deal of heavily accented naughty talk when night fell. Debb didn't like Kimmy, and nobody liked Debb. And then there were 15.
Who'll be the new Colleen?
First rule: Try not to be too annoying, at least until you've caught the rest of the tribe some dinner. (Second rule: Find something else to eat besides the bug-infested figs.)
Undoubtedly wiping his brow after the vote was Rodger, a sweet and useless fogey type who may have won his pass when he let the would-be fire-makers use a few pages of his Bible for tinder. As was Jeff, the nauseous neo-Richard whom Debb had unsuccessfully targeted for Darwinism. Mike, the Ed Harris lookalike, looks to be a good egg with some staying power (think Gretchen).
In the Ogakor tribe, we have an early candidate for human calendar: Jerri, the look-at-me-I'm-an-aspiring-actress aspiring actress, who swaggered onto the scene with Felicity hair and a prop-room Aussie hat but by Day Two was looking like a very regrettable one-night stand. In two Thursdays her career will be about as promising as those figs. Amber, keeping quiet and pouty, is the early favorite for Colleen's old Most Winsome title, and Colby ("I'm thankful I'm alive, and I'm thankful I'm a Texan") will be around a few weeks if George W. Bush has anything to say about it.
More predictions: Kel, the appropriately strong-and-silent Army intelligence officer, will be voted off quickly by his terrified and unappreciative tribemates after he runs down a kangaroo and slits its throat with the hunting knife. Elisabeth, a promising watch, will make it long enough to land a MTV gig, but will quit when she is forced to hang out backstage with 'N Sync. And Jeff will shake off his Chardonnay withdrawal and regain his abdominal composure in time to give the ghost of Gay Naked Machiavelli a run for his money.
And what now for Kimmi?
Kimmi's a little harder to peg. Certainly she's already cost some tired castaways a good night's sleep, and that's the kind of grudge that sticks with a tribal voter. But she does bring a certain zest to the proceedings, along with the cleavage, and the betting here is that she makes it midway on entertainment value alone.
Full disclosure: In TIME.com's for-entertainment-purposes-only (and if you believe that one, I have a million-dollar check to give you) "Survivor" Pool, this reporter drew Maralyn, who is either this season's Sonja or this season's Rudy (cha-ching). But to be honest, after watching her adjust her load on the way over to the campsite, I'm not so sure I want her around for another 12 weeks.
At first glance, "Survivor 2" does seem a bit star-deprived, and the standard contestant boilerplate, whether it's "I'm here to win, not make friends" or "I love these guys," really hits the ear hard now that we've heard it all before. But water-cooler America has already learned that reality TV can be stranger than fiction, and the strangers-in-paradise human elements the gossip, the grousing, the strange bedfellows are already taking shape.
One troubling aspect of Sunday's episode and Debb's departure from same: If the castaways keep voting off the person that annoys them most, by Week Seven there won't be much reason to watch the show.
Remember "Big Brother"?