The Watchman: ‘Survivor’ Takes It to the Edge, ‘Desus & Mero’ Want You to Hang

A new season of Survivor — No. 38, in fact — starts on CBS Feb. 20. Unlike its other 37 seasons, this one offers the Edge of Extinction. It’s an island. When someone is voted out — after “the tribe has spoken,” as host Jeff Probst would say — they can hop on a boat and head to the Edge.

“They’ll arrive in pitch black, to a deserted island, with no information,” said Probst, also an executive producer. “They will live on the island and have to work harder than ever before for a chance to get back in the game. This will definitely take the game to a new level.”

Probst said the Edge of Extinction will push players further, physically and emotionally, than the show has done. “We’re asking the question: how badly do you want this adventure and how far are you willing to push yourself for a chance to win the game?” Probst said.

The contestants include Rick Devens, morning TV anchor at WGXA in Macon, Ga.; Ron Clark, who was named Teacher of the Year by Oprah Winfrey; and Victoria Baamonde, a street-smart young woman from the Bronx. Her “approach to life is perfect for Survivor,” Probst said.

It’s been some time since Richard Hatch beat out Rudy Boesch, Sue Hawk and the rest of the season-one hopefuls in Borneo — 19 years, in fact. What keeps America tuning in?

Survivor is a pretty intoxicating scenario that simultaneously offers one of the greatest adventures any person will ever embark on while testing and pushing them to their absolute limits,” said Probst, “with the added obstacle of a complex game of social politics and a cash prize of $1 million.”

Sticking with that Bronx theme, late-night talker Desus & Mero starts on Showtime February 21. Desus Nice and The Kid Mero host. The pair does the podcast The Bodega Boys, and had a nightly show on Viceland.

Rookie Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is their first guest. All three are from the Bronx; the Boogie Down will most certainly be discussed.

Desus and Mero promise a different vibe than the rest of the late night coterie. Other shows, Desus said at the TCA Winter Press Tour, you turn on the TV and watch. Their show, you’re essentially hanging with the hosts. “You come sit on the couch with us,” he said. “We’re gonna discuss what happened today and we’re gonna discuss it like homies.”

“We’re buddies,” Mero added.

The vibe will be like a Bronx barber shop, said Desus, where people shout out random stuff and all are free to riff. “It should feel fun, it should feel light, it should never feel forced,” he said, “We bring the viewer in — you’re like the third Bodega Boy.”

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.