Twenty Americans are stranded in Palau, the South Pacific paradise some call the 8th natural wonder of the world, where colorful wildlife, dense jungles and an underwater world beyond belief are haunted by the wreckage and remnants of World War II. From the beginning, the game will be changed in a dramatic way: everything the Survivors have come to expect will be wiped out in the first 10 minutes. Who will outwit, outplay, and outlast all others in Palau?
Broadcast in early 2005, Survivor Palau was the tenth season of the kingpin reality show, and one of the best. The challenges were often brutal, and the cast was diverse and interesting: Tom, the NYC firefighter, one of the most dominating competitors in the history of the show; gangly dolphin trainer Ian; commanding Jolanda; tattooed fireball Angie; Southern gentleman Bobby Jon; towering Coby; redneck James; Vegas showgirl Janu; schoolteacher Wanda, who wrote her own lyrics for, and didn't stop singing, Survivor-themed songs; and arch-eyebrowed Stephenie. Before the season was over, there would be a setting of teams using a "schoolyard pick" system that eliminated two of the 20 contestants right off the bat, some romance, a shark kill, the first appearance of Exile Island (which would be a bigger factor in later seasons), a marathon final-three challenge with a surprising ending, and a contestant who some fans considered the best female competitor ever and others considered the most overrated.
Each season of Survivor has its signature moments, and in Palau two challenges stood out. One was the two tribes marching in a circle in the surf, each carrying weights while trying to catch up to the other tribe. The other was a slugfest in which contestants from the two tribes stood on a small platform and tried to knock each other into the water. Two of the contestants turned out to be popular enough to make a return appearance in a later season. On the DVDs are 45 minutes of featurettes with new interviews of Tom, Ian, Stephenie, Bobby Jon, Katie, Jen, Gregg, and Caryn remembering highlights of the season. The eight then broke into two groups of four to record spirited and nostalgic commentary tracks on a total of five episodes. In a well-meaning statement of the obvious, the menu warns against listening to the commentaries if you don't already know who won. --David Horiuchi