Showbiz Commentary: Heidi Oringer

Directly following the Super Bowl, millions of Americans were treated to views of the Australian Outback on Survivor II. For good measure, CBS ran the episode again on Wednesday, and now the show that just won't go away faces its biggest test yet — surviving on Thursday nights.

With this bold move, CBS is hoping it can make a dent into NBC's ratings powerhouse Friends. The Peacock network is upping the ante with a special 40-minute version of the hit show, featuring a guest appearance from Seinfeld's Jason Alexander.

And if that's not enough, the rest of the hour will be filled with a 20-minute version of Saturday Night Live. Meet the New Castaways

While we all know our friends at Friends, introductions are in order for the new crew of castaways. After the first Survivor installment, here are my impressions. Some of the players haven't come to the fore just yet, but here's what I see:

First, there's the hunky auto-designer/custom-builder, Colby Donaldson, whose name was likely conceived while his pregnant mother remained transfixed on episodes of Dynasty.

Another standout, Kimmi Kapenberg, a bartender from Ronkonkoma, N.Y., has already regaled audiences with her frank discussions of sexual pleasure, including performing the "solo act."

Then there's Jeff Varner, a handsome Internet project manager who spent his first episode vomiting on camera after eating a bug-laced fig.

Let's not forget Maralyn "Mad Dog" Hershey (no relation to the sweet), who is single (for very apparent reasons), a retired police inspector and who has (for other very obvious reasons), been deemed the female Rudy (the less-than-friendly curmudgeon from the first Survivor).

Of course there is a slew of others, but none worth mentioning in great detail at this point, except maybe for Elisabeth Filarski, a footwear designer who makes Chrissy from Three's Company sound like an intellectual.

I heard Filarski speak for 10 seconds and wished she'd take one of her designer shoes and shove it, heel first, down her gullet.

Let the Humiliation Begin

So, does the new locale match the old one?

We are taken to the Australian Outback, a lush, hot, beautiful place with lots of things that are crawling, creeping, slithering, sliming, squirming, biting, pinching, intoxicating, killing and living among the new cast members.

Once again, 16 castaways are there to be tortured, humiliated, physically tested, and did I say humiliated? Let me point out, though, there are now only 15 left already, since the group booted Debb Eaton, a 45-year-old single corrections officer from Maine. In a 7-1 decision, fellow members of her Kucha Tribe gave her the ax, the proverbial "See ya later, too bad you weren't eaten by a gator."

She was, by all accounts, obnoxious, pushy, overly tough and, in less harsh words than used by others, unattractively unattractive. Just sending Debb on her way brought up the looks quotient, and this includes the entire kangaroo population.

And so the 15 will be forced to withstand the challenges set forth by host-with-the-most Jeff Probst, who, regardless of the conditions, still looks flawless. I think his makeup staff actually paint in the facial growth with an eyebrow pencil to make him look macho, but that's just cynical me.

Paper vs. Animal Rights?

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