The show that started the reality craze that still has television in its grip returns next week for its 27th season in 13 years.
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It might surprise you to know that "Survivor," CBS' island castaway competition for $1 million, still brings in enough viewers to finish in the Top 20 of the Nielsen ratings every week. (Heck, you might even be surprised that it's still on the air.)
Though it is not the inescapable, water-cooler hit it once was, "Survivor" is still the most consistently entertaining show of its kind. Credit the casting department, the inherent intrigue of its premise, and unflappable host Jeff Probst for its endurance.
"Survivor: Blood vs. Water," which begins at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18, with a 90-minute episode, brings back 10 former contestants and pairs them with a relative or loved one. The returning contestants include Gervase Peterson, who played the very first season; Tina Wesson, who triumphed in Season 2; fan-favorite Rupert Boneham, back for his fourth game; and recent participant Monica Culpepper, whose husband (and fellow player) is Brad Culpepper, who finished his NFL career as a Bears backup quarterback.
Meet the entire cast and check out preview videos at cbs.com/survivor. Here's hoping CBS found a new player as entertaining and likable as last season's winner, bespectacled schemer John Cochran.
Heads will roll
One of network TV's riskier new shows premieres at 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16, on Fox: "Sleepy Hollow" is, indeed, a show about Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, but this time the decapitated demon is killing people in modern-day New York, and Crane is a resurrected relic of the 1770s who teams up with a young cop to hunt the horseman.
Um, say what?
Silly premises can make for hit shows -- An entire town enclosed in a giant dome? A magical, tropical island with polar bears and smoke monsters? -- and two of the names behind "Sleepy Hollow" have delivered in the past. Executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci previously worked with J.J. Abrams on "Alias" and "Fringe," and helped bring the reboot of "Hawaii Five-O" to CBS.
Kurtzman and Orci also cowrote "Star Trek Into Darkness," whose Mr. Sulu, John Cho, joins a "Sleepy Hollow" cast that also includes British actor Tom Mison as Ichabod, Nicole Beharie as his modern-day partner, and funnyman Orlando Jones as a police captain with a familiar last name.
Fox's funny roster
Fox also debuts its new Tuesday night lineup next week, beginning at 7 p.m. with "Dads," a new live-action sitcom from "Family Guy" writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild. Giovanni Ribisi, Seth Green, Martin Mull and Peter Riegert star.
That's followed at 7:30 by "Brooklyn Nine-Nine," a cop comedy full of funny faces: Andy Samberg ("SNL"), Terry Crews ("Idiocracy"), Chelsea Peretti ("Parks and Recreation") and Joe Lo Truglio ("The State"). Andre Braugher ("Homicide") will lend some gravitas.
The two new shows are followed by fresh seasons of "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project," giving Fox a solid two-hour block of comedy.
• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor, a tireless consumer of pop culture and a hopeless nerd. Follow him on Twitter @SeanStanglandDH.