Though Survivor has been on the air with host Jeff Probst since 2001, the format has continued to evolve over the years — and Season 41 is far different from all of the rest. During the first episode of the season, which aired on Sept. 22 after a long COVID-related hiatus, Jeff officially retired his longtime catchphrase, "Come on in, guys," viewers learned about the "game within a game" concept, and the players found out that the compressed 26-day schedule meant that things would get intense mentally and physically rather quickly.
As Jeff himself said, the contestants and the viewers should "drop the 4, keep the 1" when thinking about how the newest season should be played.
The 59-year-old has gotten so involved in the game that viewers noticed his voice sounded particularly raspy and hoarse on the Sept. 29 episode. Is the host sick, or did he lose his voice from yelling during the challenges? Here's what we know.
Is Jeff Probst sick? What happened to his voice in 'Survivor' Season 41?
In the decades since the CBS reality series first premiered, Jeff has become synonymous with the Survivor franchise because he is so passionately involved in offering commentary during the challenges.
During the second episode of Season 41, "Juggling Chainsaws," Jeff appeared to lose his voice after narrating the events in the double-immunity challenge. While Jeff's voice sounded normal leading up to the challenge and while he was commentating, he began to sound raspy almost immediately after it concluded.
Later on in the episode, when the CBS personality announced that the players in the losing tribe were headed to Tribal Council, his volume was much more subdued in comparison to his normally-energetic manner of speaking.
Though some viewers did wonder if Jeff was sick, others thought that he lost his voice because he returned to shouting during the challenges after a full year off from the show.
The host himself has not publicly commented on why exactly his voice sounded different in the second episode. Based on previews for the rest of the season, it does appear that the raspiness subsided.
Outside of the show, Jeff has been posting videos on both Instagram and Twitter to discuss Survivor strategy. Since filming, his voice has seemingly returned to normal.
Why is 'Survivor' Season 41 only 26 days?
Since the inception of Survivor, most seasons have operated off of a 39-day schedule. With a 26-day shooting schedule, Season 41 marks the shortest season in the show's history. Though the competitors have less time to "Outwit," "Outplay," and "Outlast," the faster pace of the game will add new challenges.
The shortened length of the game is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Season 41 was the first to shoot during the pandemic, and all of the cast and the crew members had to quarantine.
Jeff and the others behind the scenes ended up shooting two seasons back-to-back.
"The decision to change the game to 26 days came from the fact that we couldn't leave our bubble," Jeff shared in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "So if we wanted to shoot two seasons, we had to do it back to back. For us to shoot two seasons of 39 days, back to back, along with our 14-day quarantine, would have meant nearly 100 days, and that was simply too long."
The players felt the effects of the shortened timetable immediately. They did not receive a rice ration, and the tribes that lost the challenges would also forfeit their flint.
"The conditions were very tough because they started with no food, very limited camp supplies, and very few rewards. So their cognitive abilities are diminished much faster than in the past. After only a handful of days with no food, they started to struggle to form clear thoughts. You'll see it. They struggle in all areas of the game," Jeff added to Entertainment Weekly. "Nobody was complaining that 26 days was not enough!"
Survivor airs on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS. Users can also catch up on the show with a Paramount Plus subscription.