Funny 115 - The Third One
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.
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.
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
Sheppard seasons (Redemption Island and Caramoan) are the
two worst seasons of Survivor, and that it is 99% all because of
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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. :(
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.
"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
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.
not forget this early Redemption Island scene, where Phillip hunts in
his undies while the editors play heroic patriotic music over it
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 **