I'm worried about Todd Herzog.

Not because the 22-year-old from Pleasant Grove has looked more and more sort of scarily skinny as the "Survivor: China" season goes along. He's home and he's fine — the show was taped months ago.

But after rooting for Herzog since the season began, I'm worried that he's going to be voted out tonight (7 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2) — an episode short of Sunday's season finale and three players short of winning the million dollars.

Yes, I've been rooting for Herzog. That's the advantage of being a critic — I get to root for and against people and shows.

And, no, I'm not just rooting for Herzog because he's a Utahn. There have been other Utahns on other reality shows that I've rooted against for one reason or another. (I won't name any names — none of them won anything, and I won't pile on now that they're losers.)

I'm rooting for him because he's smart and well spoken. He's thinking all the time. He's articulate. He's funny. And if nobody wants to give me a million dollars, I'd just as soon see it go to somebody who's so likable.

And Herzog is great at playing the game. That's not just my opinion. Host Jeff Probst called him "one of the best players we've had."

But ... I'm none too sure Herzog is going to avoid being voted off tonight. His main ally, Amanda, seems to be turning against him. And the other three remaining players seem to have realized how dangerous he is.

(I don't have any inside information about any of this. Anybody I know at CBS who might tell what's going to happen tonight would then have to kill me.)

Last week, when Herzog received the news that his sister had a miscarriage, several contestants thought he was crying crocodile tears — which he wasn't. No, they don't trust him.

But just when I was ready to despair about Herzog's chances of, um, surviving tonight's episode, I ran across the title of Sunday's finale. And "Survivor" episode titles are tied to something that's said by one of the contestants in the hour.

Sunday's title — "A Slippery Little Sucker."

Again, I don't have any inside information, but that could be a reference to Herzog. (And I mean that only in the nicest of ways.)

If he can make it to Sunday, he's no sure thing to win the million bucks. But at least he'll still have a chance. But maybe not much of a chance.

Remember, on the final episode other contestants aren't voting against you. They have to vote for you. And it looks very much like several members of the "Survivor" jury hold Herzog responsible for their ousters.

From the beginning, I've thought Herzog was the smartest player in the game. And Amanda has been by his side almost every step of the way, plotting and planning.

But she's managed to be in his shadow, allowing him to take the blame.

Whatever happens, I'm grateful to Herzog for making "Survivor" fun to watch because we've had somebody to root for this season. And, OK, yeah, it's at least partly because he's a Utahn.


E-mail: [email protected]