Tune in Tonight: ‘Survivor’ by the numbers

Does the prospect of a new season of “Survivor” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-14), the 46th in the last 25 years, fill one with excitement, or ennui? The very familiarity and banal predictability of the series is at once its weakness and its strength. The same could be said of a soap opera in its 50th season or the 100th baseball game in a team’s 162-game season.

To belabor the sports analogy, baseball was once described as “an island of activity in a sea of statistics.” “Survivor,” which this season takes place on the island of Fiji, can also be judged by the numbers.

As stated, this is the 46th iteration, featuring 18 photogenic participants. Tonight’s opener will last two hours, as will next Wednesday’s episode. All subsequent episodes will unfold over an extended 90 minutes.

Good movies have had shorter running times. But even with the Hollywood strikes in the rearview mirror, CBS clearly has (viewers’) time to kill and a schedule to fill, so if “Survivor” gets the Silly Putty treatment, it’s not like other networks aren’t doing the same, with shows like “The Floor” and “Deal or No Deal Island.” While that latter NBC series has promised a “life-changing” prize and more than $200 million in play, the “Survivor” winner will walk away with $1 million.

For those keeping score, that’s the same amount that Richard Hatch took home all the way back in the year 2000. And he got a Pontiac Aztek as well!

Musing on the passage of time and the sum of “one million dollars!” brings to mind a scene in “Austin Powers” when Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) holds the world hostage. Having been frozen for a generation and still thinking in 1960s money, Dr. Evil confronts authorities, circa 1997, with a million-dollar ransom, a paltry demand that elicits laughter. I’m not saying that “Survivor” has been cryogenically or creatively frozen all these years, but it may have the same math problem as the just-thawed Dr. Evil. It just might be time to pony up more dough!


— A nervous mother won’t permit her son’s risky procedure on “Chicago Med” (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

— “Nature” (8 p.m., PBS, r, TV-PG, check local listings) take a look at the hidden intricacies of ocean life.

— A widower retreats to his late wife’s beachside community in the 2021 romance “One Summer” (8 p.m., Hallmark, TV-G).

— An expectant couple rents a rustic cabin only to encounter local hostility in the 2023 shocker “You’re Not Supposed to Be Here” (8 p.m., LMN, TV-PG).

— A choir practice grows less harmonious by the moment on “Abbott Elementary” (9 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).

— A spate of deaths in a veterans’ facility seems suspicious on “FBI True” (10 p.m., CBS, TV-14).

— A case of a missing teen may be linked to Voight on “Chicago P.D.” (10 p.m., NBC, TV-14).

— Socially isolated in New York, Truman retreats to California and strikes up a surprising new friendship on “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans” (10 p.m., FX, TV-MA).


Best known for serious topical dramas, director Stanley Kramer cast a who’s-who of comedy to make the 1963 slapstick treasure-hunt road movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” (5 p.m., TCM, TV-G). While Edie Adams, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, Buddy Hackett, Ethel Merman, Dorothy Provine, Mickey Rooney, Dick Shawn, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas and Jonathan Winters got their names in the opening credits, the film featured dozens of walk-ons and cameos from Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton, Zasu Pitts, Leo Gorcey and the Three Stooges. If you blink, you might miss a pre-“Columbo” Peter Falk as a cab driver. Any contemporary film attempting the destruction, mayhem and sheer payroll of “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” would probably cost a billion dollars. Easily worth watching for the animated title credits by graphic artist Saul Bass.


Anthony Anderson hosts the season finale of “We Are Family” (8 p.m., Fox, TV-PG) … Mark commutes to college on “The Conners” (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) … Seating arrangements leave some feeling left out on “Not Dead Yet” (8:30 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) … New faces and fond farewells on “Chicago Fire” (9 p.m., NBC, TV-14) … “Judge Steve Harvey” (10 p.m., ABC, TV-PG).


Jimmy Fallon welcomes Kate Winslet, Robin Wright and Maya Hawke on “The Tonight Show” (11:35 p.m., NBC) … Austin Butler, Jenny Slate and Two Door Cinema Club visit “Late Night With Seth Meyers” (12:35 a.m., NBC) … Taylor Tomlinson hosts Fortune Feimster, Mae Martin and Tig Notaro on “After Midnight” (12:35 a.m., CBS).