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`SURVIVOR 2' IS REAL STUPOR BOWL.

Byline: DAVID KRONKE TV critic

CBS missed perhaps only one bit of cross-promotion with Snoozer Bowl XXXV and the debut of ``Survivor: The Australian Outback'': Placing the Baltimore Ravens' fearsome trio of Lewises - Ray, Jamal and Jermaine - on the Kucha and Ogakor tribes.

After the football game's lack of suspense, however, a ``Big Brother'' repeat might've looked good.

``Survivor'' version 2.0 began much the same way the original did. There were the same contrived efforts at generating friction (aspiring L.A. actress Jerri Manthey and Michigan chef Keith Famie don't get along, and software publisher Mike Skupin was hacking off everyone with his bossiness!).

There were the same fumbled efforts at starting a fire and the same obstacle course leading up to a Burning Man spectacle. And, similar to the first time around, no one really made much of an impression, except as an irritant.

Debb Eaton of the Kucha tribe, the first oustee from the show, showed promise as a world-class nag and kvetcher, but she's already gone. Of the other Kuchas, Skupin seems arrogant, as does Internet maven Jeff Varner, who had a couple of nice scenes of vomiting - guess he'll land the Pepto Bismol endorsement.

Showbiz wannabe Kimmi Kappenberg's flagrantly attention-grabbing remark about autoeroticism and her frequent explications of the camp's morale suggests we may weary of her soon, although the cameramen clearly didn't.

With her squeaky voice, shoe designer Elisabeth Filarski's future in show-biz seems limited to giving voice to animated mice in children's cartoons. Only gentleman farmer Rodger Bingham seemed a palatable companion among the Kuchas, though law student Nick Brown and personal trainer Alicia Calaway weren't given much screen time.

By contrast, the folks at Ogakor weren't allowed much of a chance to win over the folks who cast commercials, low-budget movies and UPN sitcoms. Manthey may regret bringing that bongo along as a luxury item, though, and Famie seemed as condescending as Manthey described him.

The only new development seems to be the annoying use of pixilated camera movements, similar to the cheesy ``EyeVision'' used during the Super Bowl, itself an unsatisfying ripoff of technology used in ``The Matrix'' and TV commercials. Only future episodes will tell whether this group, which is much heavier on the eye candy than the first cast, is as delightfully dysfunctional.

Certainly, the scenic elements are eye-grabbing, though executive producer Mark Burnett's staff didn't improve upon the cheesy set used for the tribal council meetings.

Speaking of which, the tribal council is depicted as taking place next to a massive waterfall, yet there's absolutely no background noise when host Jeff Probst makes his goofy observations on fire and life and lessons learned and characters built. So much for ``reality'' TV.

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Photo:

Kucha Tribe member Kimmi Kappenberg votes off teammate Debb Eaton during the first tribal council.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Television Program Review
Date:Jan 29, 2001
Words:472
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