The Funny 115 - The Third One

#86.  Former Federal Agent?
Redemption Island - all season long

Okay, we need to talk about Phillip.


Now, for the most part, there are two schools of thought when it comes to Phillip Sheppard as a Survivor character.  

There are some who think he is one of the greatest things since sliced bread.  And that the show needs more players like Phillip because he is wacky and because he is hilarious and because he makes good TV.  In fact, there are some people out there who are absolutely astounded that the Funny 115 isn't just crawling with entries about Phillip Sheppard and his wacky "Stealth R' Us Alliance."  There are some who think this is what we need more of on Survivor, and that we should be celebrating things like nicknaming Brenda "Serenity" and calling John Cochran "The Intelligentsia Attaché."

For some, this is the greatest thing ever

Then, on the flip side, there is the other view of Phillip.

You see, contrary to the opinions of the pro-Phillip folk, there are some who think he is the absolute worst thing ever.  And that every god damn scene he was in was that much worse because all it did was focus on his contrived-for-the-cameras bullshit and it didn't actually focus on the game of Survivor.  There are those who believe that the two Phillip Sheppard seasons (Redemption Island and Caramoan) are the two worst seasons of Survivor, and that it is 99% all because of him.  And that if Phillip were ever allowed back on the show, the producers should be immediately committed to a mental asylum because they don't know what the hell they are doing.

For others, this makes them angry and it makes them want to puke bile

So those are the two viewpoints on Phillip.  Either he is the best thing ever, or he is the worst thing ever.  Or, alternately, he is that thing you do to your gas tank, according to Kat.

Touché, Funny 115.  Touché.

Now, with a player who is this polarizing, it is awfully difficult to write an entry about him without pissing off a good chunk of your readership.  I mean, if I were to sit here and say that I love Phillip, and that I thought he was actually a pretty good player in Caramoan, and that I didn't find him all that horrible in Redemption Island, I would have thousands of my readers immediately calling for my head, and they would refuse to read anything I had to say about Survivor ever again.  Meanwhile, if I were to sit here and say that I hate Phillip, and that I think his whole shtick was just a tired retread of Coach, and that in no way was I ever going to glorify his bullshit on the Funny 115, I would piss off my other five readers.  

So as you can see, with Phillip entries I find myself in a bit of a pickle.

What it's like to write about Phillip

However, that being said, there is ONE thing about Phillip that I think that EVERYONE should appreciate.  In fact, this is one of those Survivor arguments that I think is non-negotiable.

There is one thing about Phillip that was so amazing, and was so awesome, and was so hilarious at the time, that it is one of those things that when I first saw it on the show I immediately knew, "Okay that's going to be on the Funny 115 one day."

Any guesses what it might be?

No Grant, it isn't the race card

Here is that one thing that was so awesome about Phillip Sheppard, the Survivor character.

Yes, if you aren't aware of this, Phillip Sheppard marked the THE FIRST TIME IN SURVIVOR HISTORY that the editors used his chyron description to visually make fun of him.  Right there in the open.  Right down to the fact that they put a question mark after his job title, as if the people who were making the episodes didn't even know what the fuck to make out of this guy.  

One of the all time greatest Survivor editor jokes, in all of its glory

Now, I don't know how much this will impress you now, as I write this at the beginning of the 34th season.  I mean, the editors have already topped it with the way they handled Debbie's profession on the screen in Survivor: Kaoh Rong.  Which, by the way, I have a LOT to say about, but that will sadly have to wait until later when we get to version four and I start including Kaoh Rong.  As you can imagine, it is KILLING me that I don't get to write about Debbie (aka the female Coach) yet.  She was one of my favorites, and her season just missed the cutoff.  :(



Yes, what the editors did with Debbie was amazing.  Yes, it might be the single greatest thing the editors have ever done in the history of Survivor.  But again, we can't gloss over the fact that Phillip was the FIRST time they did it.  And as a Survivor historian, I think that is a really big deal.

That "Former Federal Agent?" chyron was on the screen every single time Phillip gave a confessional in Redemption Island.   It made people laugh the first time they saw it.  It made people laugh the last time they saw it.  It was the single best running joke the editors had between seasons 21-30.  Although I will say that "The Legend of Purple Kelly" actually comes pretty close.  But again, we'll get to that one later.  Purple Kelly's whole storyline is a fun little editor's joke too.

Purple Kelly (elbow, far right) is given some rare screen time

So this of course leads to the question, if the editors making fun of Phillip with "Former Federal Agent?" was such an amazingly huge historical moment for Survivor, why do I have it ranked down here in the mid 80's?  I mean, if it was such an important piece of the evolution of my heroes, the Survivor editors, wouldn't you think I would have it ranked up in the top ten or something?  I mean, NOBODY loves Survivor editor jokes more than I do.  Wouldn't I, as much as anyone else, appreciate its significance?

Well, to answer that question, I do.  I absolutely LOVE "Former Federal Agent?"  That joke, and that joke alone, makes me like Redemption Island a hell of a lot more than I like a boring season where nothing happens like One World.  Again, you can't overstate how funny that was the first time it showed up on the screen and how much people loved talking about it on the internet.  You have to remember, Redemption Island was received very very well for the first couple of episodes.  And what the editors were doing with Phillip was one of the main reasons for that.  The editors and producers were just flat out making fun of the guy.  

And they had NEVER done something like that that blatantly on Survivor before.

Let's not forget this early Redemption Island scene, where Phillip hunts in his undies while the editors play heroic patriotic music over it

So yes, I love what the editors did with Phillip, and I absolutely loved the first time they made fun of one of the players using their chyron description.  If that isn't outside-the-box editor thinking, I don't know what is.  There is no equivalent to that showing up anywhere in the history of Survivor prior to season 22.

Except for maybe in Pearl Islands when they did this

Or in Cagayan when they should have done this

So why is this moment only ranked down here at #86?

Easy.  It's because I don't know what else to say about it.

Just like Phillip's storyline in Redemption Island, this entry was bound to start out strong and then fizzle out because it had no real ending.  Sorry about that.  No, wait, I mean to hell with you.  Because that's what Phillip would say.

Maybe the single most unsatisfying storyline ever.  I swear, I thought he was going to be revealed as some sort of a mad genius at the end.  Even today I still think that when I rewatch the season.  What an absolute waste of a Survivor character arc.

P.S.  This entry felt like it should have more in it, but I couldn't think of what else to write aside from "Wow, the editors are amazing, can you believe they actually did that on the show?"  So as a bonus, let's look back through Survivor history, and let's look at what some earlier seasons would have looked like if the editors had decided to make fun of the contestants like they did with Phillip.  What if they hadn't started doing that in Redemption Island?  I'll do one for every season so you get your money's worth.

Season 1: Borneo

Season 2: Australia

Season 3: Africa

Season 4: The Marquesa

Season 5: Thailand

Season 6: Amazon

Season 7: Pearl Islands

Season 8: All Stars

Season 9: Vanuatu

Season 10: Palau

Season 11: Guatemala

Season 12: Exile Island

Season 13: Cook Islands

Season 14: Fiji

Season 15: China

Season 16: Micronesia

Season 17: Gabon

Season 18: Tocantins

Season 19:  Samoa

Season 20: Heroes vs Villains

Season 21: Nicaragua

Season 22: Redemption Island

Season 23: South Pacific

Season 24: One World

Season 25: Philippines

Season 26: Caramoan

Season 27: Blood vs. Water

Season 28: Cagayan

Season 29: San Juan Del Sur

Season 30: Worlds Apart

** Thanks to Will Holston for the Brad Culpepper/Connect Four pic **

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