Sunday, August 25, 2019

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 13: The Smack Heard 'Round Santa Fe

Blah, blah, blah, procrastination. Yadda, yadda, yadda, new season of The Challenge (Bloody Hell War of the Worlds 2) is nigh. Also, I still have to get around to blogging from my notes on the Challenge Mania event that I attended last Saturday). I didn't get to mingle, but I had fun . . . even with the prospect of Cara Maria and Paulie screwing on stage. Oh, and Ruthie was there. I didn't hit her up . . . and that's probably a good thing, given that my first and only question would be, "Do you have nightmares about Beth dragging you through the sand in Gauntlet 2?"

This episode? Right . . . Steven Hill. Stifler wannabe. He was an item with Trishelle in the original RW: Las Vegas, and they even had a pregnancy scare. Needless to say, I didn't think much of him. The good stuff is that I wouldn't have to deal with him for much longer. The bad news:his absence didn't improve this season as much as I would have wanted.

Oh, and I'm proud of the "Jingle Bells" riff I wrote below. Hey, I had keep myself amused this season, and these people weren't helping me at all.

Episode Aired: December 27, 2004
Recap Posted: December 31, 2004

Jingle bells, Steven smells from forty miles away. He's such a pain and he just whacked Shane, so he has to go away. Hey!

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: Tonya's off-the-field partying concerned her teammates. The guys won Shredder, running their record to 9-2. They proceeded to eliminate Randy, the last team member with a penalty. The women sent Ibis home, and she griped to Ruthie about Tonya coasting through the game. For some reason, the editors slip in footage of Tonya and Tina's fight from two weeks ago. Bottom line: Tonya is not popular.

It's nightclub time, as the kids get their respective grooves on. Tonya interviews that the other girls perceive her as a "ditzy blonde," but she's young and single. "I can be stupid and silly," she adds, "and still have my [bleep] together." She must be exaggerating, since she ends up kneeling down outside, eventually collapsing to the side and smacking her head against a car bumper. Theo comes out to check on his squeeze du jour, interviewing that Tonya is hard to figure out. Coral suggests that Tonya go home in a cab. She interviews that she has a problem with Tonya's drinking. "It's ultimately her decision," she adds, "whether or not wants to be here. If she [bleeps] it up, it's on her." Tonya gets loaded into the van.

It's daytime! The guys are chilling in the pool, as Dan reads off the sponsor phone clue, which includes the phrase "WORD UP." The players have to be ready at 9:30 a.m., and they must wear bathing suits. Brad: "What's Jonny's problem? He always wants to see us in out bathing suits!" Okay, that was funny. Theo: "At least say 'please.'" Over at the Girls' Lodge, Arissa reads the same clue. She and Coral pull off a double "Yeah, boooooooyyy!" that would make Flava Flav proud. Coral interviews that if the team can focus more on winning than their past losses, maybe they can win. Here's hoping.

The players arrive at the mission site. Jonny welcomes them to today's mission: Cast a Spell. This time, Jonny has to be mysterious about the mission, telling the kids that he cannot give them information until they pick leaders. He can tell them that they'll be using their brains. Tina interviews that Ibis was her team's "puzzle person," but she was voted out last week. Today's winners get spiffy laptops that can receive television broadcasts. I'd kill for that, since the TV in my room has a crappy antenna, and I can't see certain channels at night. It's the $2,000 dream: recap this show, and watch a far better reality show! Anyway, Jonny gives both sides the usual 30 minutes to pick their leaders.

The ladies try to figure out the mission. Sophia announces she would feel good with Coral and Ruthie leading, and Tina agrees with that. Ruthie interviews that people have faith in her, but she's made mistakes in past missions. Finally, Tonya steps up to lead. "I don't want to lose," Tina interviews, "but I don't want her here, either. If we happen to lose, that girl's gone." Nice to see Tina looking on the bright side. Over on the men's side, Shane and Brad volunteer to lead. Steven interviews that Shane is a better leader than follower, and that he's brighter than most people. Shane interviews that he has to win the mission to stay in the game.

Jonny announces that until he blows his whistle, the players cannot talk to each other or to him. Doing so results in a 20-point penalty. Next, Jonny shows the teams stencils of each letter of the alphabet. The leaders pick one letter to get spray-painted on each player's stomach. Jonny lifts his shirt to reveal a "J." Jonny has a bit of a gut; here's hoping other competitive moguls skiers don't meet the same fate. Anyway, the players will step onto a stage to form a word. Jonny's helpers will then take an instant picture and post it on a corkboard. The more letters that are used, the higher the points (in order: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, and 28 points for a seven-letter word). Both sides have 30 minutes. Shane informs us that if a team uses the same word twice, the point total would be deducted. Of course, the team with the most points wins the mission. After the leaders reveal themselves, Jonny reminds them to stay silent.

The boys go off to the side, trying to sign at each other. Steven sounds close to whispering. Theo interviews that Steven is flirting with disaster. "It's like I'm so angry at him," Theo adds, "but I can't say anything to him." Shane figures that if Steven gets a penalty and the team loses, he will go home.

Jonny gives both sides 20 minutes that make their letter choices, and then blows his whistle. Theo gives Steven crap about almost talking. Steven replies that nobody talked. Shane grabs Steven's wrist. And how does Steven react? By smacking Shane upside the head! Wow. Has it really been 546 days since the last act of violence on a Bunim-Murray show? Steven argues with the guys some more, and we go to commercials.

We get a slow-motion replay of Steven's smack. He interviews that it was a reflex action, and he knew he did something wrong. "This angers me to see this go on," Brad interviews. "If you had a problem with somebody, that definitely should have been worked out after the mission." Brad is the voice of reason? Are pigs flying right now?

Now it's time for Jonny to make an announcement. Mark thinks something is up, since Jonny never calls the players twice. Jonny declares that there is a no-hitting policy, and that Steven violated said policy. Bottom line? Steven Hill, you have been eliminated from the Challenge. Somewhere, Brynn stops stabbing her Steven voodoo doll with a fork. Shane pleads for Steven to stay, interviewing that it was his fault for grabbing the wrist. I don't think Shane is playing the victim card. Part of it might be a fear that his would get voted out in the future due to Steven's departure. Or perhaps he remembers the time he drunkenly slapped Darrell in RR: Campus Crawl and didn't get ejected. Steven hugs Shane, interviewing that his departure was all his fault.

Jonny gives the guys a chance to replace their letters. Robin interviews that recent events are an advantage for her side, since the guys can't form a seven-letter word. Mark holds onto Shane, telling him not to take responsibility for Steven's departure. Theo tries to snap Shane out of it, telling him that he has to lead the team. Mark: "What if he punched Eric?" Mmmmm... Eric getting punched. That is such a happy thought. Tonya is happy, and why not? With the girls getting a break, they can win the mission, and she wouldn't have to get voted off.

The ladies gather to strategize. Ruthie picks out a word: "candles." The girls get the letters spray-painted on their tummies. Ruthie interviews that nobody came up with a better word. For the guys, Dan suggests "Master," which the guys like. Mark interviews that he's going into this thinking they have no shot at winning. To be honest, I don't smell the ironic foreshadowing. I'm losing my skills.

Jonny gives both sides 30 minutes to form their letters. There's really not much to write about. Both sides get coordinated (Theo calling the shots for the men, Coral for the women), go up on the stage, raise their arms, get their pictures taken, then step down. Coral interviews that her team has lots of five- and six-point words, as well as a few sevens. Honestly, I don't think you can use all seven letters from "candles." Mark sees that most of the girls' corkboard is filled with pictures. The guys discover that a few words has been repeated, resulting in a 28-point deduction.

Over at the Men's Lounge, Steven packs up. He holds up a fake grave marker (probably plucked from High Noon) with his death date being 2004. Ha ha, very funny. He stops to write a letter and interviews that he understands why he got kicked off. He leaves the note behind, carrying his bag and cardboard twin (from Bombs Away). He apologizes for hurting the team before he gets into the Van of Shame.

Jonny gives everybody one minute to finish up. The guys get one last word in, while the girls stand by. Jonny blows his air horn to end the mission. The girls try and psyche themselves up for the win. Ruthie feels that they got it in the bag. Brad tells his group that they did the best that they could. Mark: "I'm just gonna bury my head in the sand."

Jonny goes over today's events: Guys shorthanded, women had full roster, blah blah blah. Tonya and Tina are unable to stand still. Jonny announces that the guys got 735 points, then proceeds to drag out the women's score, making both sides sore. After commercials, Jonny reveals the ladies' score: 624. Damn. I mean, daaaaaaaaayymn. If you look up "tough loss" in the dictionary, you'd find a picture of Sophia's face deflating after hearing the news.

The guys celebrate like they just won the World Series. Fellas, you just kicked your underachieving opponents for the tenth time in twelve missions. I don't care if you were shorthanded. Simmer down. Sophia actually slams a chair down on the ground. I really hate seeing her that ticked off. Tina interviews that this was the biggest disappointment since coming to Santa Fe. "I honestly can't believe," she continues, "that they have outwitted us." The guys celebrate some more, as Brad hands out cardboard certificates for the laptops. Mark interviews that this will go down as "the biggest upset in reality television." Shut up, Dodgeball Boy.

Jonny reminds the boys that since Steven is gone, they won't have to send anybody home today. As for the women? They get to choose between Coral, Ruthie, and Tonya. Ruthie interviews that she didn't want to lose, but that guys had more five- and six-letter words, which she gives props for.

The guys arrive at their lounge, basking in the afterglow of their "upset." They find Steven's letter. Mark reads that Steven is sorry for hurting the team. "Shane," he adds, "I only pushed you because I love you the most." Wow, that is very creepy. Shane interviews that he appreciates Steven taking the time to write before departing. Brad thinks Steven did a "very negative thing," but the team won anyway. He brags about winning the laptop and wanting to show it off to the girls. Brad is still a meathead, but he's my second-favorite guy still in this Challenge. Sad, isn't it?

Outside of the Main Lounge, Tonya sits and waits. She interviews that the team wouldn't send Coral home, and that it would come down to herself and Ruthie. Inside, Ruthie and Coral wait it out. Ruthie concurs with Tonya's view, interviewing that the team was counting on her.

Women's Lounge, Girls' Inner Circle. Tina bases her vote on performance, and she's not ready to let Ruthie go, so Tonya gets the vote. "Tonya, it's nothing I'm doing," Tina snipes in an interview. "You just don't know how to perform. You're just not strong as me." I think Tonya could outperform Tina in anything athletic, but Tina is more fun to keep around at this point. Robin figures that out of the three leaders, she would rather do the final mission with Ruthie and Coral. Sophia dubs Coral "phenomenal," and calls Ruthie "strong," and see a lot of intensity in Tonya. Arissa doesn't feel like voting for Tonya.

Welcome to Elimination Hill, now with fifty percent fewer eliminations! Jonny reminds anybody who fell asleep that Steven already went home, so the guys didn't have to vote anybody out. Arissa comes up to drop the axe on behalf of the Inner Circle. She thinks that all of the players left deserve to be here, and she doesn't want to send anybody home. But she does, and Tonya is leaving today. Tonya laughs a little, then hugs Arissa. She doesn't have much to say, save for wishing her team luck. Jonny goes into his farewell spiel, interrupted by Tonya shouting, "I'll be back!" The sad thing is that she's right. I feel that she might be better off going into nursing, or wherever her skills may lead her. I've had one friend suggest that her antics in Santa Fe are a result of a delayed adolescence, due to her being in foster care when she was younger. I don't have a problem with her getting wild and kissing strange boys. I just have a problem with her doing that on camera, with those boys. Aim higher, Tonya!

Tonya walks with Coral and Shane, blurting out, "Walla Walla goes back home!" I cannot believe I forgot she's from Walla Walla. She interviews about being bummed over losing, and she figured to be on the final team. She adds that some girls are looking out for themselves. When it comes to a $60,000 check, who wouldn't?

Cut to the Men's Lounge, where Theo and Tonya get in one last snuggle. Theo figures he'll be friends with Tonya. "I'm not carrying anything out of this desert," he interviews. "I'll probably just leave here and let the little summer love fizzle and die out."

Tonya packs up and says her goodbyes. "I'm a strong competitor and a strong woman," she interviews. "I put myself in a position to be judged and to be questioned, and that's fine. I'd rather do that than back down because I'm too scared of being voted off." She gets a few hugs, orders her team to win, then gets in the van. And now, let us remember Tonya fondly. Will you do the honors, Tina? "Ding dong, the witch is dead! Good riddance!" I predict that Tina's compassion for people will be her downfall.

Next time: Mark and Robin snuggle. The mission has the kids walking on balance beams on top of speeding semis. And guess what? It's Eric versus Coral in a war of words. Robin's crying for some reason, but who cares? Here's hoping Coral ties up Eric with his own jump rope.

Depressing as fuck, huh?

The girls wound up with an advantage, and they still blew it. They did lose Tonya, but it didn't end up a case of "addition" by "subtraction." I wasn't kidding about wanting Tonya to have a normal life. After her turbulant time on RW: Chicago, it was nice to see her look sane in BOTS1 and The Gauntlet. But she would wind up in more four seasons: Inferno II (where the "Mean Girls" troika overlooked their own flaws to rank on her for most of the season), Fresh Meat (she and one-shot player Johnnie McBride were the fourth team eliminated, done in by a rookie Wes and his plus-one, Casey), Inferno 3 (where she won her first Challenge after six tries, winning $40,000 along with the remaining players of the Bad Ass team), The Island (first player voted off) and The Ruins, where this allegedly happened to her. I have to say "allegedly" because the case was settled out of court, and there are times I pretend to be a practicing journalist . . . but I'm thinking it happened.

Battle of the Sexes 2 turned out to be Steven's only Challenge, which was a pleasant surprise for me. Sadly, he would take part in the unnecessary Reunited: The Real World Las Vegas season in 2007. By the way, how weird was it that I felt bad for Shane back then, but I'd wind up rooting for someone -- ANYONE -- to slug him over a decade later? I'm sure he's probably a nice guy in "real life," but "Shady Shane" wore on my nerves. It tickles me that out of the six members of RR: Campus Crawl to compete in Challenges, he's the only one to have not won in multiple tries (alpha guy Eric Jones only did three missions in BOTS1). Basically, he's Homer Simpson, and Challenge titles are the Employee of the Month award at Springfield Nuclear. And Sarah Grayson would be the inanimate rod. That has to keep Shane up during some nights.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Underdogs: Another Essay On The Amazing Race

Last Wednesday, I was posting on the (formerly forum for The Amazing Race. With only two more episodes left for the thirty-first season, four teams were left going into this coming Wednesday's two-hour finale. One of the duos was Nicole Franzel and Victor Arroyo. They had met on Big Brother 18, a season where Nicole (in her second season) won and Victor finished in fifth place.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a profound disdain for Big Brother, which I will be explaining shortly. Here's what I wrote on the episode thread:

"Nicole & Victor are probably nice and decent people . . . but they're still Big Brother. Big Brother is the antithesis of The Amazing Race . . . very little substance, crap host, but CBS treats it and the fanbase so much better. Nic & Vic winning wouldn't be as hard to stomach as Cody & Jessica last year . . . .but they would still be Big Brother. Fuck, CBS would probably end up with 4-5 people from the next BB to "suggest" to [series creators] Elise [Doganieri] & Bertram [van Munster] when another TAR gets cast. And that's even if Nic & Vic go out in the penultimate leg."

Soon, someone else posted, and this person took great exception to my opinion. Here were the points made:

  • Big Brother lasts three times longer
  • More strategy is involved
  • There isn't "tourism porn" to "spackle over the cracks"
  • Julie Chen-Moonves hosts episodes on live television
  • The time TAR host Phil Keoghan visited Big Brother 17, showing embarassing clips of past champions Rachel Reilly and Brendon Villegas, who had run TAR and finished third both times. The poster added: "Pissing on 'our' contestants on our show.  I'm still not over that"
The poster ended the rant on my rant with this:

I'll take being the unappreciated underdog.  (And the show that gets nothing but "wacky" promos from CBS, instead of the drama generated for the other two shows.  Eh, who needs respect, right?)

Oddly enough, priority to that Wednesday night, I was thinking of writing about TAR being the underdog  of CBS' reality programs. My opponent taking that angle for Big Brother was unexpected. If you think about it, who doesn't want to be an underdog in any area? "Underdog" means that the odds are against you, that your opponents are the insidious empire, and you're a plucky band of rebels looking for freedom. Right now, both major sides of the American political spectrum claim underdog status: one holds more power, but claims that the other side's media dogs them at every turn. Their opponents decry the dwindling rights of their base enforced by men in power who couldn't care less about them. But that's a story for another post. Or you can visit my Facebook. I'm very easy tor rile up about national politics.

For me, The Amazing Race has been the least-favored child of CBS. Survivor coasts on its past successes from long ago, as host Jeff Probst wields more power, drowning the show with his abiding love of alpha males, dismissing of female players, and an abundance of hidden immunity idols that adds unneeded chaos to the game; the worst case happen in Game Changers, when fan favorite Cirie Fields was eliminated because all the other players were protected.

Meanwhile, Big Brother chugs along with its drama and controversy. I confess that I don't watch the series, but anything I hear isn't usually good. Recently, some past "housemates" (including Victor) have popped up on The Challenge. This is akin to throwing a ton of trash into an already-raging dumpster fire. Sure, Victor was inoffensive in his one stint (Vendettas) and Da'Vonne Rogers has established a sold base for future appearances, but then you have the more toxic element making bad things so much worse. This is personified in Paulie Calafiore; after Big Brother, he went to the American edition of Ex on the Beach before getting picked up for The Challenge, where his ambition to take over the series and his nauseating relationship with veteran Cara Maria Sorbello are hard to watch unironically. Also on Big Brother: something called a "Zingbot." I think that's supposed to be a selling point.

The Amazing Race doesn't see a natural underdog for some people. The main argument would be that it won seven straight Emmy Awards for Reality-Competition Program and ten total in that category. Some dismiss those, bringing up the valid point that the voters deciding that Emmy could care less about the category. My argument for that comes with Jeff Probst winning four straight Emmys for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program. Once again, I don't think highly of his work. I'd expand on that, but then I'd get more off-topic than usual.

In recent years, CBS has removed TAR from the regular schedule rotation, while Survivor gets two edition per traditional season (September-May) and Big Brother is guaranteed to air in the summer months. When TAR fans aren't sweating their show's future, they have to wait for it to be scheduled. And while TAR's returns are diminished from seasons past, it isn't as bad as the other two series. Survivor had an unusually good season with David vs. Goliath  in Fall 2018, but then came Edge of Extinction. The gimmick for that was players that got voted out got the option to go to Edge of Extinction; a barren area away from the "normal" game. With every Tribal Council, EoE filled with players looking to get back to the main action. Once the carnage settled, the person on top of the heap was Chris Underwood. He was voted out of his tribe on Day 8, and he elected to go to EoE. He would fail to win his way back on Day 16, but he was allowed to stay on with the other losers. Not only that, anybody that did not wish to leave the game would wind up on the jury. The end result: Chris was able to re-enter the game by winning a challenge on Day 35, managed to stay in contention, pulled off a ball-busting move by challenging Rick Devens (the other player to win their way back into the game) to a firemaking challenge, won that, and wound up with nine out of the thirteen votes cast to win $1 million . . . all thanks to a format that favored anyone who had spent almost four weeks with other cast-off castaways.

That night, as Jeff Probst grabbed the lipstick and worked to make the turkey of a season look good, I saw zero commercials from CBS for The Amazing Race. At the time, TAR had been following Survivor on Wednesday nights, and it would take over the 8 p.m. slot the following week, starting with a two-hour episode. But CBS didn't seem interested in promoting the show. Granted, the series finale of The Big Bang Theory was airing the following night, so those commercials had to be plentiful (and understandably so). Also promoted was the upcoming season of Big Brother, which would not air for another month. And there was something called Love Island, a dating show that is set to air in early July. The impression that I got was that CBS was looking into very attractive people exchanging social diseases . . . a market currently cornered by ABC (The Bachelor franchise), Fox (Paradise Hotel), and MTV (any reality show that doesn't involve women giving birth at a young age. Also, anything related to Rob Dyrdek, whom I find so much less annoying than the average Challenger). Oh, and in one of the commercials about Love Island that aired on that night, they was a shot of a woman's swimsuit area as she exited a pool. Draw your own conclusions.

As a fan of TAR, I've gotten used to being unhappy. Sure, we're going into the final legs with only one team away from the norm (Nicole & Victor), but the road to get here was rough. First came the end of TAR30, airing on February 21, 2018. In a tense final leg, it came down to a three-way Roadblock. In the end, Cody Nickson and Jessica Graf -- who had met on Big Brother 19 -- walked away with the $1 million. To add insult to injury, Henry Zhang had unknowing completed the Roadblock, and he would have won alongside fellow Yale debater Evan Lynyak, but he continued the task. Given how competitive she looked on the show, I'd say that Evan probably still has Henry locked up in a basement somewhere.

The worst part was that a Big Brother-born team had finally won. To use a well-worn phrase: "fetch" had happened at long last. This was great news for some fans; after all, a good chunk of the crowd at the starting line in Washington Square Park (which I had gone to see for myself and subsequently wrote about) were pulling for those two. CBS celebrated their win harder than most of the recent winners of TAR. I had figured the worst was over, and that the odds of CBS cancelling the series because a Big  Brother team won were pretty slim.

But then came rumors centered on casting for TAR31, and things felt even more dire, especially for a worrywart like myself. The speculation was that the cast would be all or mostly filled with Big Brother contestants. Names were thrown out, and the dread increased. Haven't not followed the series, I wasn't familiar with how bad the worst case scenario could be, but those that did brave that show filled in the blanks. The best analogy I could think of came from the movie Slap Shot, at the point where the Charlestown Chiefs had decided to play "clean" hockey (i.e., not beating the snot out of everyone on the rink) for the championship game . . . over to see their opponents stack their roster with the dirtiest players they could find at the last minute. Names from Survivor were also volleyed about, but they weren't much better. In my mind (which I will admit -- once again -- isn't the most stable of places) was the worst possible choice a fan could make. Would viewers stay with a dumbed-down version of their beloved show, leading CBS to continue stuntcasting people that would never have made the cut under normal circumstances? Or would they abandon the ship and possibly contribute to cancellation?

The end result has worked out well: TAR31 wound up bringing in teams from Big Brother, Survivor and The Amazing Race (including Rachel Reilly, who had done two seasons each on BB and TAR). While the TAR teams were outnumbered 6-5, they have managed to dominate throughout this edition.After border patrol agents Art Velez & JJ  Carrell fell in the first leg, no other TAR-based teams were sent off for another nine episodes, where Becca Droz & Floyd Pierce (the self-proclaimed "Team Fun") were eliminatied. In that span, all three Survivor-based teams were eliminated, including Rupert Boneham (who peaked as a "character" in 2004) and his wife Laura, as well as friends Corrine Kaplan and Eliza Orlins (two two-time Survivor contestants who went out ugly in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam). Nicole & Victor have made it farther than their fellow Big Brother alumni; including Rachel, who had finished in third place twice on TAR with her husband, Brendon Villegas. Running with sister Elissa in this edition, Rachel proved to be one of the more annoying Racers, and the team was eliminated after eight legs.

If you think I've been rambling and/or been fanatical about The Amazing Race, I wouldn't blame you. But in my mind, TAR is the best reality show CBS has, and probably one of the best competitive reality shows, period. Meanwhile, Survivor and Big Brother have been mired in allegations of racism and sexism. The former is set to redo their format from Ghost Island, drowning players in hidden immunity idols. Even the name of the season -- Island of the Idols -- suggests Jeff Probst spinning the series as still being relevant, all the while setting up altars for alpha dudes. Oh, and Rob Mariano will be returning to offer "guidance" to contestants. If you never watched Survivor, all you need to know is that he is the most overrated player in the history of the series. It took him four tries to finally win Survivor, and that only happened after he was fed a cast of dummies and given a safety net (Redemption Island) which he didn't need. While two-time champion Sandra Diaz-Twine (the only player to lay claim to that title) will be in a similar position, I expect the editing will wind up favoring "Boston Rob."

The finale for The Amazing Race airs this Wednesday night. Also, not only has a thirty-second season been filmed, none of the teams running appear to be stuntcast (here's the article, with location and casting spoilers only). While it might be a while before CBS decides to air it, I'm certain it will be a fun season. And if you've never watched TAR . . . .give it a shot. There are 31 seasons to root through, albeit with some less-than-pleasurable editions (the sixth season basically kicked fans in the privates week after week). In the end, not only do I believe that The Amazing Race should be considered an underdog even with its length and awards, I believe it is an underdog worth watching when it airs.

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Battle of the Sexes 2 Episode 12: Parannoyed

Once again, I'm procrastinating in regard to posting old recaps. This time, I can't bitch about how much I missed the "old days" because War Of The Worlds provided a decent ending, with Turkish demigod Turbo beating Theo and Wes for the $750,000 grand prize. Natalie Duran finished fourth, unable to collect any of the $1 million purse . . . but she did outlast Cara Maria. Seriously, Cara's descent from being the woman you wanted to root for (at least compared to the others) has been a sad storyline in recent seasons. She's just unbearable to watch these days, and that's not taking into account her relationship with the toxic Paulie. I feel bad for Theo and Natalie, who started off WotW partnered with Cara Maria and Paulie, respectively. They probably had to hear all of their gross hook-up stories. "So there we were at Wendy's. It's two in the morning, and we saw the 'Out Of Order' sign on the door of the men's restroom. We looked at each other, and we knew what had to be done. Namely, each other."

The bad news is that Bunim-Murray Productions has elected not to end the franchise on a high note, as the 34th season is currently filming. Even more sadly, most of the "usual suspects" are playing, including headaches familiar (Johnny) and new (Stephen Bear). There are a few new names thrown in, and we might be getting the return of Jordan and Tori, who have become a tight couple away from the cameras. Also: Turbo would be back. As much as I fear that he'd get sucked into the drama, I'd say he's the brightest spot this series has right now.

This episode? Meh. More of the guys stomping on the women, the women involved in intrateam drama, and another ridiculous mission. Also, the real "fun" would take place in the following episode.

Episode Aired: December 20, 2004
Recap Posted: December 25, 2004 [my 29th birthday!]

Tonya decides to play it safe and not lead, which ticks off her teammates. Meanwhile, the players catch shredded food.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes 2: The women’s team won Pop Culture Bike Jump, improving their record to 2-8. Hey, it’s not how a team does in the first 15 missions, but how well they do in the finale. Coral interviewed that the win gave the team hope. The men ejected Frank, while the Women’s Inner Circle made a list, checked it twice, and kicked Veronica out over Tonya. Later on, Tonya challenged the team over voting methods, only to get stalemated.  “They better just wait,” she interviewed, “because this gives me more drive to cream them tomorrow and not give a flying [bleep] if they go home.” Way to show team spirit.

It’s daytime in the Women’s Lounge. Tonya talks to Ibis about how her opinion was attacked. Tonya interviews that four girls didn’t back her up (Sophia, Ruthie, Ibis, Tina), and they made her livid. Ibis tells her the people were pissed off at her. Tonya feels nobody would let her complete her sentences. Ibis interviews that Tonya is flipping out. She tells Tonya she’s being paranoid. “The moment there’s a weakness in you,” she adds, “they will [bleeping] drill that [bleep].” Tonya interviews that she is worried about her position. “Bring on the next mission,” she continues, “so I can vote off one of these [a-holes.].”

Any drama going down at the Men’s Lounge? Nope, unless you count Theo taking a nap on a couch, and the guys covering him with whatever they can find. “We’re just having fun,” Randy interviews. “Our strategy is just to have a good time with this.” Theo wakes up, a little cranky about the stuff he’s buried under.

It’s clue time! Steven announces that they got a message from Jonny. Shane: “What does that [bleeper] say?” The message: get ready to get dirty. Flip to Tina as she reads: “What goes up must come down.” Also, wearing team colors and tennis shoes. Ruthie figures they’ll be bungee-jumping into a “big bucket of dirt.” Given the previous missions, that’s not quite farfetched.

Today’s mission site has what appears to be two large wood chippers. In other news, Eric has his jump rope around his neck, and Theo and Tonya hold hands as they walk. Randy interviews that he has no clue what they’ll be doing. Jonny welcomes the kids to the next mission: The Shredder. The objective: catch food coming out of the shredders. By the way, the shredders are capable of ripping up small trees, and that’s why drinking the night before a mission is a bad idea. Okay, I made up that last bit. Mark interviews that they have to launch 6,000 lbs. of material through the shredder, which the teams must catch with buckets mounted on helmets. Jonny adds that two people per team are responsible for loading the food into the shredder. Once all the food is gone, the mission is over. The team with the most amount of food caught wins. Today’s prize is a twofer: a trip for two to the Bahamas, and shoes with computer chips embedded in them. This is supposed to help with support, but I think it has more to do with the producers wanting to track the players down. Jonny gives both sides the usual thirty minutes to pick leaders.

Immediately, Mark volunteers himself and Shane, since neither player has stepped up in a while. Eric goes forward to complete the list. Mark interviews that if the team wins, the leaders are safe. Brad figures if they put twice as much food into the shredder as the women, they will win.

Speaking of the women, Robin steps up to lead, but nobody else seems to be as eager. Coral interviews about the difficulty to be enthusiastic over the possibility of going home. She tells the team she’s led three times. Ibis finally steps up. She interviews about Tonya following her, since Tonya has not led three times. But Tonya just sits there like a lump. “It sucks that people are that paranoid,” Ibis interviews. “If you’re that insecure, there’s something wrong.”

After commercials, Tonya explains to us that she’s not stepping up because she doesn’t trust her teammates, and she’s looking out for herself. I can understand the rationale, but that philosophy is going to get her whacked soon. Finally, Ruthie offers herself to lead. Coral asks if she and Tina can load the shredder.

After Jonny calls the leaders to reveal themselves, he orders them to get the meat from the truck. If you’re thinking this is edible stuff, think again. Remember, this is reality television. The players get a big whiff of the spoiled meat and assorted vegetable, and they recoil from the stench. Tina interviews about the blocks, and I’m certain the world “block” should never be associated with meat. The food is gather in a square. Ibis: “There’s no words to describe anything or compare anything to it. It’s just gross.”

Steven interviews that the guys always practice before a mission. We see Eric lob a water bottle into Randy’s helmet bucket. Mark goes over the team strategy: he’ll grab the meat and pass it to Eric, who will feed it to the shredder. In the field, co-leader Shane will negotiate the other players to catch the food. What is Coral’s strategy? “Do exactly what the boys are doing,” she tells Tina. “They always win, so copy them.” Coral interviews that she’ll give the material to Tina, who will put it in the shredder.

Jonny blows his air horn to kick things off. Both teams waste little time launching and catching the food products, then dumping it into their respective containers. Coral interviews that it is difficult to get a big stream on her teammates. One of the girls gets hit with a huge chunk of something. In fast-motion, we see the difference in loading; Tina shoves the food in one chunk at a time, while Eric lines up several blocks and shoves it all in. Dan compares the mission to being in a war and moving soldiers. Cut to one of the guys (Randy or Theo) getting tagged in the nuts by a chunk. To emphasize the hilarity, the editors show it three times, punctuated with a doorbell. There’s more talk over the consistency of vegetables through the shredder, but it’s mostly boring. Both sides are covered in debris, while the background music wails, “Bored in America! Bored in America!” Seriously, what?

Finally, Jonny blows his horn to end the mission. Theo: “That’s exactly what a garbage disposal feels like!” Shane thinks that they would have caught more stuff. Robin decides to jump on Mark, since he went through the mission without getting dirty. Mark calls the experience “kind of erotic, in a weird way.”

Jonny asks the women to bring up their container. It weighs in at 25.75 lbs. “I just want to win,” Steven interviews. “We all want to win, period.” The guys’ total weight comes in at 30.25 lbs. To give some perspective: out of the 6,000 lbs. of food brought less than one percent got caught. Anyway, the guys win yet again, getting the trips to the Bahamas and the fancy shoes. Jonny goes over the Inner Circle spiel: male leaders pick out team member, ladies’ team leaders are up for elimination. “I really don’t even want to think about who’s going home,” Ruthie interviews, “because anybody going home today is a big asset to the team.”

Men’s Lounge, Boys’ Inner Circle Meeting. Mark goes over penalties and disqualifications. Brad is clean. Steven? Clean. Randy? Well, he was a penalty and a disqualification. Cut to a scene from Fill 'Er Up, where Randy grabs the container as he spits into it. “You know when it’s your turn to go home,” Shane interviews. “You know where your standing is. Nobody’s confused, nobody’s surprised.” Mark notes that Randy should be happy to have gotten this far.

Women’s Lounge, Girls’ Inner Circle Meeting. Tonya wants to figure out who the two best players are, so she may team up with them at the end. Coral brings up a legitimate concern: the final mission always comes down to a puzzle. She adds that it might not be a good idea to ditch a “puzzle person.” Sad to say, that didn’t keep the Road Rules team from dumping Steve into the Gauntlet twice.

Over at the Main Lodge, Ibis and Robin have a chat. Ibis thinks two people are not stepping up. Robin interviews that it isn’t fair that the weaker players are voting.

Back at the Women’s Lounge, Tonya discounts Robin from elimination, and mentions that Ruthie has been stepping it up. Tina would also want Robin and Ruthie at the end, so she votes for Ibis. Coral: “Here’s what I’m thinking in my head: who’s gonna go over there and get my money for me?” You guys make your own jokes, because I still like her. She brings up Ibis’s alleged skills in puzzles. Sophia backs Coral up, interviewing about how Ibis is an essential part of the team. Coral asks the group if there’s another “puzzle person” within the ranks.

Cut to Elimination Hill. We get close-ups of Ibis, Robin and Randy. Robin is fooling around with a jump rope. I am honestly scared that Eric is starting a cult at this point. Randy is wearing a t-shirt with a boy’s picture on it. I’m guessing it’s a shout-out, but it looks unflattering. Jonny goes through the motions before throwing it to the boys. The Inner Circle walks up, and Eric and Mark have jump ropes. The camera pans to the rest of the boys looking stern, then to Randy with a goofy grin on his face. Mark reminds everybody about how penalties and disqualifications are important to determine who goes home, then drops the axe on Randy. Of course, Randy has no hard feelings about the decision, saying that he’s happy and that the team did good.

Guess who’s going to announce the ladies’ decision? Come on, guess for me. None other than Sophia “Weepy Reaper” Pasquis. I like her, but the best reason to dump her at this point is so she wouldn’t have to do this anymore. She doesn’t want any of the three leaders to go home. For a second, I think Ruthie’s a goner, since Sophia has precided over the bootings of two lesbians already. But our unlucky loser is Ibis, who sadly nods her head. Poor girl... between this and her voluntarily taking a fall in RR: X-Treme, I feel bad for her. She hugs Sophia and manages to whimper that the game has been fun. She is then hugged by Robin and Ruthie, then tells her team that she wants them to win. Tonya smiles a little, and I think we’ve found our late-season villain. Jonny declares that Ibis and Randy were great competitors, but they know the deal: get off the property by 10 p.m., or Old Man Moseley comes after them with a shotgun.

Back at the Women’s Lounge, Robin comforts Ibis, saying that there are people on the team that do not need to be here. Ibis seconds that emotion, and we cut to a shot of Arissa, Tina and Tonya. “They’re playing this game,” Ibis interviews as we see her pack up, “acting like likes and hiding behind other people. Their time will come, and they’ll look like idiots. You can’t delay the inevitable.” Poor Ibis. She doesn’t know that when it comes to BMP shows, karma just lets things slip. She repeats her line to Ruthie, ordering her to “get them the [bleep] out of here, because they’ve been riding this thing for free long enough.”

Over at the Men’s Lounge, the mood is happy. Theo: “I feel like this is an orphanage, and Randy just got adopted.” The guys laugh, as does Randy. He isn’t bitter, and he is happy to know that their system works. Theo interviews that the decisions are based on performance, but it keeps getting harder. “There’s so few of us left,” he adds. “You make a wrong decision, and you can go home.” He tells Randy that Steve got to pet him while he slept. I won’t ask.

Outside, Ruthie schemes. You heard me. The same woman who got steamrolled in BOTS1 by Emily is making plans. She tells Sophia that Tonya needs to go for not leading three times. She adds that if Sophia is in the Inner Circle, then Arissa or Tonya would have to go. Ruthie interviews that some players are flying under the radar. “If other people are strategizing in this game and playing it,” she adds, “then I have to play it too.” She tells Sophia that “she’s been the worst player out of all of us.” We cut to a shot of Tonya, so I guess that’s who Ruthie is talking about. Sophia figures that the game will be more strategic.

Time to say goodbye. Ibis heads for the van, getting hugged by Tonya. I’m guessing that either Tonya hates what she did, or she had to pull the salad fork sticking from Ibis’s back. “I’m willing to do this,” Tonya interviews, “and do whatever it takes and sacrifice a great friendship, because I want to win at the end. I’m going out for blood.” Shut up, you Emily wannabe.

Next time: Tonya takes center stage again. She seems to be getting loaded at a club, smacking her head on a couch arm. The mission? I have no clue what it’s about. But guess what? Steven hits Shane, and Jonny brings up the no violence rule. Could the biggest punk of RW: Las Vegas be going home? We can only hope. In the meantime, have a safe and festive holiday season!

"Weepy Reaper." Damn, I didn't mean to insult Sophia. Sadly, her worst moment was a few episodes into the future.

Eliminated player recaps? Oh, right.Randy would return one last time, winning alongside the Rookies in Gauntlet 2. I did not remember that until I looked it up on Wikipedia . . . and I recapped that season. I guess Randy was forgettable due to a lack of screentime with his "bromance" buddy Brad. They were cute together on the original RW: San Diego, especially when they did Halloween dressed as Mario & Luigi.

Ibis also returned in Gauntlet 2, and also was on the winning Rookies team. Once again, I did not remember this. Unlike Randy, she would return for one last season . . . the utter hateable clusterfuck that was The Ruins. She was on the Champions team, but would lose in the Ruins (the elimination game) to Kimberly. Kimberly was on RW: Hollywood, another season that needed to be buried fifty feet deep, with the hole filled with fresh concrete. In the prior season (Duel II, which probably peaked at the beginning, where CT beat the snot out of Adam), Kimberly took out Robin and Ruthie (in her final Challenge) before getting defeated in a Duel with Jenn from RW: Denver. Isn't Wikipedia wonderful? I'll stop the online dive here, lest I so so deep as to never surface