Beverly Hills, Calif. - As “Survivor: Philippines” — the competition show’s 25th edition — begins, Jeff Probst is envisioning a time when the franchise will have its own torch snuffed out.
“I don’t know how much longer we have,” says the Emmy-winning host. “I have to say: If you stick around for the 25th (edition) and the 26th, then you’ll be hooked.”
“Survivor: Philippines” premieres 8 p.m. EDT Wednesday on CBS.
Budget cuts already have “Survivor” basically staying in the same neck of the world, whereas earlier editions had the game hopping from the South Pacific region to Africa and beyond.
“Survivor” faces strong challenges. Fox’s “The X-Factor,” which boasts Britney Spears as a judge this season, could siphon some of “Survivor’s” audience. During the second half of the season, Fox’s “American Idol” always wins the time period against “Survivor.”
Probst says “Survivor” needs to get its audience back. The 24th edition, dubbed “One World,” was “a letdown.”
“We have to see if our fans are still loyal enough to stick around,” he says. “I don’t know (if they are). We’ll see.”
Executive producer Mark Burnett and Probst recognize the value of having former players come back to the show each season. This is in contrast to the early days of “Survivor,” when producers didn’t want references made to previous seasons in order to keep things feeling current.
Now, every season contains at least one past favorite.
“Our fans like their stars, especially for a show that’s long in the tooth,” Probst says. “It’s a little bit of a hook. It’s like (having) a guest star.”
“Facts of Life” star Lisa Whelchel and former National League Most Valuable Player Jeff Kent are among the contestants this time around. And past favorites Michael Skupin, Jonathan Penner and Russell Swan are on board again. For Skupin, it’s a chance for redemption after he fell into a fire during his first time on the show and had to quit the game.
Other highlights for the week of Sept. 16-22 (listings subject to change; check local listings):
“Boardwalk Empire” (9 p.m., HBO). The third season opens. On New Year’s Eve, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) makes a resolution that makes an easily angered gangster very unhappy. At home, Nucky’s wife ruffles feathers more with her deal to turn over property to a church, against her husband’s wishes.
“The Great Food Truck Race” (9 p.m., Food Network). The final four trucks pull into Nashville, where the challenge requires finding new help and training them on the fly.
“Weeds” (10 p.m., Showtime). Nancy (Mary-Louise Parker) and her crew have one last puff as the series comes to a close.
“The Mob Doctor” (9 p.m., Fox). In this new drama, a physician (Jordana Spiro) compromises herself for the sake of her brother, who is in debt to organized crime.
“Revolution” (10 p.m., NBC). After technology stops working, survivalists venture out to solve a global conspiracy in this new sci-fi drama.
“So You Think You Can Dance” (8 p.m., Fox). Apparently, someone can dance: A winner is named in the season finale.
“American Experience: Death and the Civil War” (8 p.m., PBS). An estimated 750,000 men died in the Civil War, according to the PBS website, and this documentary examines how that impacted the country.
“Best in TV: The Greatest TV Shows of Our Time” (9 p.m., ABC). An ABC-People magazine poll reveals which series we love the most. Among those in the special: Betty White, Carol Burnett and Tina Fey.
“Big Brother” (9:30 p.m., CBS). Oh, brother, where art thou? We’ll see in the season finale when the winner is named.
“SNL Prime-Time Election Special” (8 p.m., NBC). The “Saturday Night Live” players send up current politics in this half-hour show.
“Parks and Recreation” (8:30 p.m., NBC). Leslie (Amy Poehler) navigates a new course for her life, post-election.
“The Office” (9 p.m., NBC). The workplace comedy launches its final season (but with the promise of a spin-off hovering).
“Haven” (10 p.m., Syfy). A third season brings along Dorian Missick (“Southland”) and Kate Kelton (“Harold and Kumar”) aboard in recurring roles.
“Camel Spiders” (9 p.m., Syfy). Killer spiders from the Middle East find their way to America — and new human prey.
“Saturday Night Live” (11:30 p.m., NBC). Joseph Gordon-Levitt is host, with music guests Mumford and Sons.