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''Survivor'' (With Spoilers From Tonight)/''Amazing Race''

By RD Heldenfels Published: October 6, 2005

Well, they did switch tribe members tonight, and Brooke was voted off by her reconfigured group, and Stephenie really is beginning to look cursed -- as she admits -- since even a change of tribe couldn't keep her out of tribal council.

To which I say, enh.

Compared to ''Survivor: Palau,'' ''Survivor: Guatemala'' just isn't doing it. I've already complained about it some, but I've kept watching and still am not feeling the magic. This one feels flat. The personalities don't compel, for good or bad -- no Tom, no Rupert, no Boston Rob. And as much as I liked Stephenie last time around, she seems like just another player now. The biggest continuing drama on the show is how long Gary will keep denying his NFL past. And that's not all that exciting, either.

I'm reminded of the way the ''Amazing Race'' fans at my office have been talking about the current ''family edition.'' They're watching -- and so I am -- but they feel disappointed -- and so do I. Here, the personalities are all right, some likable, some not. I can muster at least a mild rooting interest in some. But seeing people getting lost near Washington, D.C., doesn't feel the same as people getting lost on a dirt road in a foreign land. I mean, they're building suspense around whether people should stop for gas!

I suppose the whole ''discover America'' bit is good for kids in the audience (and with this installment featuring families, more families with children may be watching). Some may even be turning to parents and saying, ''Gee, can we go see that battlefield?''

To which the wise parent will reply, ''Yes, as long as we don't have to carry someone on a stretcher.''

Digression: Given how easily the family with young children handled the stretcher, why would the all-grown-up families have trouble?

Digression the second: I see that praying will be an issue on next week's ''Survivor.'' And have made note of some heavy praying on this ''Amazing Race.'' I've no problem with prayer. But I often find it interesting what people pray for. Praying for strength and wisdom is fine. Praying to find the next marker on ''Amazing Race'' strikes me as too, uh, specific.

Resumption: I will still be watching ''Survivor'' and ''Amazing Race'' again next week. I'll also be hoping they get better.

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