The third time might be the charm for “Survivor: Philippines’ castaway Jonathan Penner.
Penner, whose voice and witty wisecracking are a dead ringer for Alan Alda‘s Hawkeye on M*A*S*H, joins Michael Skupin and Russell Swan as medically evacuated former players getting another chance at winning a million bucks.
After injuring his knee during a challenge in “Survivor: Micronesia – Fans vs. Favorites,” Penner developed a severe infection that forced him to leave the game. “After several surgeries — reconstructive surgery on my knee — watching it on TV was very, very sad,” Penner told us in the Philippines.
“But thank you, CBS — they edited it like I was going home to the angels. I’m standing out on the boat bawling my eyes out. I’m crying and the birds are flying and the angels are singing.
“There wasn’t a dry eye in my house, especially since we saw a million dollars fly away with those birds,” he cracked.
“I was on the track to doing very well in that game,” Penner, who was the sixth jury member in “Cook Islands,” told us about “Micronesia.” “I don’t know whether I could’ve beaten Parvati and her voodoo witchy alliance, but I certainly wouldn’t have fallen for the insane idiocy those two young boys fell for,” he says, referring to Ozzy Lusth and Erik Reichenbach.
“One advantage of being old, or older, is you know a stick is not an idol, and you don’t give somebody like Amanda [Kimmel] your immunity just because you want to be a nice guy. I wouldn’t have made those mistakes.”
Penner correctly guessed this season’s medical evacuee twist before the game started — “or else Gimpy Old Men,” he joked.
He also predicted — and welcomed — the contestants’ division into more than two tribes. “It’s harder if you lose the challenge because there are fewer people to pick from, but it’s easier because all you have to do is not lose,” he pointed out. “You don’t have to win, but you don’t have to lose.”
Otherwise, he said, “I think ‘Guarantee Penner a Million Bucks’ would be a super twist. ‘Survivor: Penner Wins’ [would be] a great season.”
Despite his confidence, Penner said he is apprehensive about having target on his back as a returning player — in fact, a two-time returning player — but thinks he can count on the fact that “people are stupid”:
“If people are smart they will vote me out, because I have every intention of winning this thing, and every skill set to do it. I gotta hope they’re stupid, because that would be fantastic for me in every sense of the world.”
“I have a big target on my back and a big mouth. If I can watch those two things I’ll go far. If I can’t, then I’m fatally flawed.”
Penner has trouble with deceit, one of the key ingredients in “outwitting” other players. “I’m a pretty straightforward, honest person. Lying is a lot of work. You’ve gotta remember what lie you told; it’s much easier just to tell the truth. But I’m prepared — my job is to win a million bucks and be prepared to lie.
I want to bring it home for my family and I want to kick a little ass for the all 50-year-old guys out there that are dreaming that they can come out here. I really want to represent those guys.”
Check out Penner’s theatrical “Micronesia” exit below. Are you rooting for him to make it to the end this time?