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An action game show?

By , agencyfaqs! | In | December 09, 2000
With its action adventure show "Survivor" to be aired from mid-December, AXN hopes to repeat its worldwide success

Sabil Francis
agencyfaqs!
NEW DELHI, December 8

Outside India, 28 million watch the show. A story of how a group of strangers spending 39 days in a remote island in South China Sea, compete for a prize of $1 million. No creature comforts, no food - nothing, except the bare skills needed to survive.

The 13-episode serial "Survivor" goes like this. Sixteen people, cutting across the entire spectrum in age and gender - from a basketball coach in Wyoming to an Ivy league graduate, from a single mother of two to a 60-plus ex-US Navy commando - are marooned on an island in the South China Sea as castaways. They band together as a tribe and have to use their collective wits to survive. They have to battle the elements, build their own homes, gather or catch and cook their own food. Every three days, the tribes gather together in a "council" and vote off one of their number. Everyone has to vote.

And so, week by week, the tribe shrinks until the end of the final episode only two survivors remain. And then, the seven most recently eliminated castaways decide on the final winner - the person who gets one million dollars. "This show is part game show, part expedition, part drama. It deals with the most basic instinct of all - the need to survive," says an enthusiastic Todd Miller, managing director, AXN.

But will Indians be interested in how a group survives without creature comforts? After all, that is a living reality for many Indians. Shivering street kids who beg at the traffic lights in big cities. Dispossessed tribals who eke out a living in slums nestling in the shadows of India's tallest skyscrapers.

Says a senior media analyst, "The show is too Western. For an American, being without a car or a fridge, is like living in the Stone Age. Indians would not be able to identify with the show."

The 16 marooned people on the show are all Americans, drawn "on the basis of their physical and mental toughness", says Miller. He adds the show is aimed at the "attitudinally 20-somethings." All said, the fact remains they are Americans, and there is not even a European on the show.

Miller is quick to brush aside such criticism. "After all, what is fascinating is how humans band together to survive against odds," he says. And that AXN wants viewers to enjoy the "interpersonal bonding, in which language is key." So the show, which debuts on Indian screens on December 19, will be dubbed in Hindi. However, until now, most of the Hindi-dubbed English films that have made a profit are the ones that have been heavy on special effects rather than dialogue.
AXN is hoping to repeat the success "Survivor" has had in the United States - where a recent Nielsen survey showed that 63 per cent of prime-time viewers preferred the "Survivor" to the popular "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" - in India as well.

Sony, via its subsidiary Columbia TriStar International Television (CTIT), which is the company behind AXN, bid successfully for the show even as Discovery Channel lost out in the bid. The original idea for Survivor came from Charlie Parsons, a prolific British producer. The producer of the show, the UK-born 40-year-old Mark Burnett, joined the British Army Parachute Regiment after High School and distinguished himself with service medals in both Northern Ireland and Argentina. Burnett is also a certified open water scuba diver, level-A certified skydiver and a white water guide.

The idea of the show is similar to KBC's, but AXN may just find out that Indians prefer to see people win money in more civilised surroundings - like the Star TV studios.

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