Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 12: True Colors

This is the infamous "bloody axe" episode. Between the state of reality television today (especially The Challenge) and reality itself (less than ten days to the end of days!), this seems so quaint to look back on. And once again: this was a time where I actually liked Veronica. That would not be true by the end of 2003.

Airdate: March 24, 2003
Recap Published: March 31, 2003 (I'm thinking either it took a lot of time for me to expel the rage, or my "boss" had issues with the negativity. Maybe both.)

We see Emily’s true colors shining through – but it’s definitely not making Jason love her! Nor Veronica for that matter. Will the Ion Lifesaver actually be used this week?
Warning: The following recap is full of bile and hatred. Seriously, the actions of a few participants have ticked off this recapper, and he is mighty pissed. He knows that there’s bigger stuff to get angry about in the world, but he feels that it’s easier to write about what he knows. Oh, and the recapper also knows how annoying it is to refer to oneself in the third person. He is so angry, he just doesn’t care.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Tense music played as Emily tried to convince Ruthie and Ellen that Veronica had to go. In a nice show of intelligence, Ellen tells Emily that she is adamantly opposed. Veronica: “I feel that Emily would jump at the chance to send me home. Cut to the next episode, where Veronica could have sent Emily home, but didn’t bring it up. Ladies meeting: according to Melissa, they’re losing every mission. Come on, you gals won four out of nine. Cut to Tonya’s final words, where she encourages the women to vote off the lowest scorer. “It’s the easiest way to go,” she reasons, “because people don’t feel very hurt.” Does anybody think the ladies will heed her plea? Let’s find out.

After the credits, there’s a shot of Veronica, followed by one of Emily and James together. Emily interviews that she’s with her boyfriend and there are a lot of “sexy girls” walking around, and she feels vulnerable. Melissa drops some exposition on us: a while back, James helped Veronica move into her apartment. Ayanna picks it up, telling us that they had fooled around. Finally, a reason for Emily’s hatred! But when was this? Before James went on Maximum Velocity Tour? Before he met Emily on Extreme Challenge? Before they started dating? Afterwards? A time frame would come in handy right now, given what’s about to unfold. Emily: “I don’t want to see myself get hurt.” Others might not share that sentiment, Emily.

The sponsor phone rings. Ayanna reads the instructions: wear boots, athletic clothing, and bug spray. We waste no time with contestant preparations, going directly to the mission, which involves two sets of impossibly tall ladders. Jonny welcomes everybody to Stairway to Heaven. A close-up shows that the ladders are made up of smaller ladders, some of which aren’t connected. Jonny says that the course is 80 feet high, which isn’t as high as some of these people have been while in Jamaica (rimshot). Hey, I hear things. Syrus voiceovers that everybody is getting goosebumps. Jonny explains that the object is to climb as high as possible in one minute. Ruthie interviews that it’s not just a matter of mental preparation, but physical ability. Emily expositions that the smaller ladders have different colors, with bigger point total the further they go. Jonny unveils the prize for the best contestant: $1,000 of sponsor money for each member of that person’s team. Finally, something that won’t go on eBay. Oh, and there’s the Ion Lifesaver, which hasn’t played a role on the show. Yet.

Tense music plays as the camera pans from Melissa to Veronica. Emily interviews that she wants to stake her claim in the Inner Circle. “I’m going to take out the one person that I really want to see go home,” she says in an interview, with James standing next to her. Dude, you gotta get away from her. Mark states the obvious, that both teams want the money.

Shane vs. Genesis. Shane takes the early lead as the others cheer them on. Shane reaches the top, getting 80 points in 55.53 seconds. Genesis only earns 60 points. “I am scared to death,” she says while still on the ladder. “I never knew I was afraid of heights until right this very second.” Bungee cords lower both players to the ground. Shane picks up some sod and kisses it in relief.

Eric vs. Lori. Eric: “I’m running right up this [Oedipus Rex].” Eric takes the lead, huffing and puffing. Lori voiceovers that there are sections where the ladders are not connected. Eric gets to the top first (80, 34.56). Lori hears the countdown, but can’t make it to the top (70). “It’s scarier than you think,” she says. “I’m shaky.”

Syrus vs. Ayanna. Syrus is nervous about the mission, and notes that he’s in eighth place, while Blair is ninth. Both players go up the ladder. “Keep going, Syrus!” Antoine shouts. “Up! Up! Up!” Ellen cheers in that voice where she’s annoying even from 80 feet below. Ayanna only gets 65 points. Syrus reaches the top (80, 55:86), but he’s pissed off about his performance.

Emily vs. Antoine. Shots of Emily and Veronica. Yes, the manufactured tension is that thick. Veronica interviews that Emily doesn’t like her for some reason. That’s a huge understatement. And now it’s time for Emily to get really vicious. “There’s a bloody axe waiting for me at the top of this ladder,” she says, “And I have to get it.” Wow, I’m surprised Veronica is still breathing at this point. Jonny asks “Frenchie” if he’s ready, Antoine responds, “I’m going to try and get my Frenchie ass up in the air, you know.” The slash fiction writes itself on this show. They start up the ladder. Cut to shots of Veronica and James. Antoine gets to the top first (80, 36.67). Emily peaks as well (80, 45:09), whooping it up. Antoine: “I’m very proud to have the highest hairy back at this time in Jamaica.” Um, what? Emily sees her performance as a window of opportunity to get back in the Inner Circle. The wind is very loud eighty feet in the air.

Veronica gets ready for her run, getting support from a shawled Melissa. Emily is still whooping as she’s lowered down. “I don’t trust her at all,” Veronica says of Emily. “Every time she’s in the Inner Circle, I get a little quest [2017: queasy?] because I feel I may be sent home.”

Veronica vs. James. James takes the lead right away, hitting the summit at 39.43 seconds, letting out a “HOO-RAH!” afterwards. Veronica beats the time limit, finishing at 59.99. “I didn’t fall and I got points today!” Veronica cheers.

Mark vs. Ellen. Mark goes up fast as happy rock music plays in the background. He finishes at 34.63, and he’s not even breathing hard. The airhorn sounds, leaving Ellen with 70 points, muttering a brief “dammit!”

Colin vs. Ruthie. She closes her eyes, going into her zone. She voiceovers that the height isn’t crossing her mind, and she just wants to beat the guys. Ruthie runs up the ladder. I’m serious; she’s practically sprinting. Colin: “Ruthie is metaphorically spanking my ass.” She hits the top at 33:31. Genesis voiceovers that Ruthie is good at everything she does. Melissa points out to the guys that Ruthie is on her team. The girls cheer Ruthie as she walks towards them, with Lori referring to her as “our little monkey.” The editors don’t care about Colin’s time.

More tense music as we get a close-up of Syrus, followed by Ellen hugging Blair and saying that he’ll never leave. “I got staying power, dude,” he says. “If I had the same thing in bed, I’d be the champion of ladies nationwide.” He tells us that he has to beat Syrus to stay in the game. Meanwhile, Anne reminds us that she’s the lowest scorer on the women’s side. Blair gets to the top at 47.23, dedicating his performance to the “Royal Family,” a shout-out to Theo. Anne can only get 60 points.

Melissa expresses concerns about her weight (lack thereof) to one of the supervisors. She and Jamie wish luck for each other. Aw, I’m a fan of intrahouse love, and these two were so tight on their season. Jamie runs up with a vengeance. Melissa has problems. “Oh my God,” she shouts. “It’s really not that easy!” Jamie continues to race up the ladder. Melissa complains that the ladder is wobbly and stops where she is. Jamie hits the summit at 28.77. “Sexual chocolate!” he shouts at the peak. “I’m Spider-Man without the mask!” Back at the ladder, Melissa clings on, fearing the wind will blow her off. Some think that Melissa was being too big of a damsel in distress for carrying on, but the woman weighs as much as Christina’s leg. And, unlike fellow New Orleans castmate Danny, at least she confronts a fear of heights. One of the safety guys climbs the ladder, telling her not to hold him since he’s not tethered. Melissa lets go, but swings around as the others try and catch her. All that’s missing is green tights and a jaunty hat. “She’s very strong in other things,” Lori says of Melissa. “This mission wasn’t her mission.” Melissa tells us that getting down was harder than getting up.

It’s award time. Jonny awards the money and the Ion Lifesaver to Jamie, who proceeds to strike another rock star pose. James points out that the guys have won six missions to the girls’ four.
Scoreboard. A close-up shows that Blair is above Syrus. Blair has officially broken the record for dodging bullets, set by Kristen Kirchner (Murder in Small Town X). Syrus: “Blair took me down by one, Bob!” Who’s Bob? If it’s any consolation, Blair is 20 points behind James, so it would take a miracle to save him next week. We see that Anne is in last place, 18 points behind Ayanna. Anne interviews that everybody expects her to go home, including herself. Jonny announces the Inner Circles. For the guys, it’s Mark, Colin, and Jamie. Yes, Colin is no longer at the top. Editing glosses over a lot of little things. For the women, it’s Ruthie, Ellen, and Emily. Veronica interviews that she thinks Anne will go home on points. Great, why doesn’t she mention that she’s two days from retirement?

Tense piano music plays over rushing clouds. Seriously, it’s like the editors fed David B. some uppers and told him to go psycho on the keyboard. Then the sky turns red. Given what’s about to happen, I’m not sure if it’s a BMP trick. It is now time for the Women’s Inner Circle. Ellen voiceovers that she and Ruthie have their own idea on who should go, but Emily brings up Veronica. Emily goes into the usual rant, saying that Veronica isn’t mean to Melissa or Lori, but she is mean to everybody else. “And I mean MEAN!” she adds emphatically. Cut to Veronica on a lounge chair and James in a pool. Emily in interview: “I know this is my last chance to convince Ruthie and Ellen that this girl needs to go home.” I’m surprised the other girls didn’t bring out some cheddar for Emily. After all, cheese goes great with whine.

Ruthie asks what Veronica has done to deserve elimination. Does Emily bring up Veronica and James’ brief fling? “She doesn’t care about teamwork or people’s feelings,” Emily snarls. “She just likes to walk around and make people feel inferior.” Wait… isn’t Emily the one that helped fracture the team by boycotting “Battle of the Opposite Sexes”? And didn’t she get into a riff with James when he wouldn’t join her? Emily needs a mirror, especially since the flower she wears in her hair does her no favors. Ellen interviews that Veronica threatens Emily, and she doesn’t know where that comes from.

Emily continues: “I’m saying let Anne stay in this game, because Anne deserves to be here. She’s played nice and she gets along with everyone.” Yeah, Anne’s a go-getter. She’s only in last place by 18 points, and she has a history of getting hurt on missions. I sneeze in her direction, and she’d bust a few bones. But she does get along with everyone… except Veronica. Emily needs to shut up. Ruthie tries to reason with Emily, saying it’s more practical to eliminate from the bottom up. Emily thinks it’s a good idea, and that they should start tomorrow. If Emily isn’t voted out of reality television in Peggy Keller’s column, I’m going to be very disappointed in all you readers who can participate. At their worst, Heidi and Jenna were never as petty as this flaming hypocrite. Ruthie in interview: “I’m really doing the best of my ability to make sure that everything’s fair.” Ellen tells Emily that she doesn’t consider Veronica a friend, but she does see a competitor in her. Emily snipes that she can’t stand the other WIC members straddling the line anymore. She continues, “I’m ready to send her home and stop all this bull[bleep].” I don’t see any bulls in Jamaica, Emily, but I know where that stuff’s coming from.

Back from commercials, Emily is still on her vendetta. “I want her gone,” she says. “She’s not making the game fun for a lot of people.” Ruthie asks for specifics, and Emily offers Ayanna and Genesis. There could have been more, but the editing cuts her off. Ellen interviews that Emily is trying to convince her and Ruthie to feel the same way. “As far as speaking for the team,” Ruthie tells Emily, “I think you spoke for the team.” Ruthie interviews that her heart isn’t in voting out Veronica, but it’s the right decision for the team. Say what? Are you telling me Ruthie is falling for Emily’s mind control voodoo again? Ellen thought that the vote was obvious before, adding, “If that many people are being affected negatively by Veronica, even if it’s not me included, then that makes sense to me.” Ellen? Are you stupid? Veronica’s only ticked off two people, maybe four if you take Emily seriously about Ayanna and Genesis. Did you have a problem with her? It’s like Emily feeds on the brains of the Inner Circle. Emily thinks it will take guts to reveal the decision, but she can go to sleep at night. Good for you, girl. Nice to see backstabbing doesn’t give you insomnia. The terrible trio walks down the stairs. Ruthie has an unsettling feeling, and Ellen agrees with her.

Announcement time. Because the guys are never dramatic, they go first. “This person wears more jewelry than I’ve seen in my life,” Colin quips before dropping the hammer on Syrus. The big guy celebrates his dismissal by hopping on Antoine’s back for a ride, smacking his butt. Damn, Antoine’s a strong guy. He’ll feel the pain tomorrow morning. Lori interviews that the guys have the right idea in voting off the lowest scorer. “It involves no blame and no subjectivity,” she observes.

Women’s Inner Council decision. After badmouthing Melissa in the past for not personally announcing Julie’s dismissal, Emily backs it up by taking the floor. She tells the guys not to judge the women for not voting in the same way, “Because we’re women. We’re not men.” I want Deena from Survivor to kick her ass for using gender differences as an excuse. Emily cuts to the chase, booting Veronica. “It’s sort of a team morale thing,” she lies. “I think most of us feel that way.” She then offers Veronica a chance to speak. To her credit, Veronica takes this better than Rachel did. “I can’t believe you guys,” she tells the Inner Circle. Ellen has her head down in obvious shame. Good. Veronica continues: “I’m disappointed. I’m not going to say anything because I don’t want to regret these words. I think if I speak with my heart, it won’t be pretty.” Veronica, if you want to e-mail me what you would have told her, I’ll be game. Emily in interview: “We’re not sending these people home to their death. We’re just sending them home. I’m definitely not going to stand up there and cry. It’s just not my style.” Once again: Shut up, Emily.

Now Shane has something to say. He tells the girls that they’ve been losing missions, and it’s because they’ve voted out their best competitors. Go, Shane! “It’s not fair to the girls you send home,” he says, bringing up Julie, Rachel, and Veronica. I’m so happy that Shane’s chewing out the Inner Circle, I’ll give him a pass on Julie going, even though she was a boil that needed to be lanced. Ellen interviews that they took Emily’s word, but nobody is saying anything good about the decision. Paranoia will do that to a group.

Jonny brings up Jamie to award the Ion Lifesaver. Jamie says he was going to give it to Blair, but he hands it to Veronica. Ha! Melissa cheers her ex-housemate and hugs him. The other girls aren’t really celebrating. Eric’s jumping up and down while laughing. Ellen cracks a smile. Emily looks ticked and tries to hide it. Me? I’m shouting “JAMIE! JAMIE! JAMIE!” as loudly as I can. He interviews that it felt awesome to give Veronica the IL.

Uh oh. Jonny wants a word with Jamie, and I’m guessing it’s not to ask for tips for bridge bungee. Veronica doesn’t know what’s going on until Melissa clues her in: Jamie was supposed to tell Jonny who gets the IL before the announcements. Jonny goes into Jeff Probst’s level of pissiness, telling Jamie that the procedure had always been that way. Eric interviews that Jonny didn’t get that information. Jonny announces that the original choice stands, and Blair gets the IL. I have a fantasy where the guys start chanting, “Let her stay! Let her stay!” Then the girls start in, “Let her stay! Let her stay!” Then passing locals pick up the pace with “Let her stay! Let her stay!” The scoreboard from the Astrodome magically materializes, lighting up “Let her stay! Let her stay!” Finally, Jonny gets the call from Jonathan Murray: “Jonny? Let her stay, dog.” Look, this has been the worst episode for me to recap. I’m entitled to dream.

The Inner Circle meets again at the Women’s Villa. Ruthie expresses that she had the same feeling when she helped to vote out Rachel. I hate to think what Rachel did to her television once she saw this episode. “I just wanted to make sure the decision is fair,” Ruthie states. “In a way, I kind of feel like a pawn.” In a way? Kind of like a pawn? Wake up and smell the manipulation, Ruthie! If Emily asked you to jump off a bridge, I know you’d do it. Ellen points out that some of the other teammates are upset. “I’m not worried about making everyone happy,” Emily replies. Yes, I get that from you. Ellen notes that the vote was to make people happy and now she’s conflicted. Ruthie says that Melissa had come up to her fearing for her future. Taking Melissa out would probably be the worst thing Emily could do to me at this time. Ellen interviews that she listened to Emily because she had so much passion.

In the bedroom, Veronica asks Ellen to explain herself, adding, “Maybe it’s another way of being told that you really can’t trust anyone.” Oh, Veronica. Just because the Inner Circle screwed you over due to one member’s rampaging insecurity doesn’t mean you have to lose faith in humanity. Ellen, who still looks ashamed, says that she can’t think like that. Veronica responds, “I don’t feel the same from the two of you, especially.” That hurt. She leaves, but not before asking Ellen for a hug.

Outside, a bikini-clad Emily walks with James. “Everything worked out the way I wanted it to,” she says. “That takes balls to pick off people in the middle, to look that person in the eye and say, ‘Look, you’re not pulling your weight. Time for you to go.’” Wow. First of all, I got a message for James: check your drawers every morning. Secondly, when didn’t Veronica pull her weight? She got a zero for falling in the river last week. Anne got her zero for backing out of “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.” I can’t believe I got to go another week watching Emily’s henchwench not impress me. Ayanna hugs Syrus goodbye. “I’m going out like a man,” he interviews. “I’m juts riding on it, into the sunset, Bob.” Who is this Bob? So long, Syrus. I’ll never hold appearing in an Eminem video with Julie and Puck against you.

Veronica makes her own departure as Melissa helps her carry the bags. Some wonder if Veronica had indeed ticked off the other ladies, since they’re not seeing her off. I prefer to think that the others are in fear of getting in Emily’s crosshairs. Melissa goes on about how Veronica has $9,000 worth of makeup in her bag. She continues, “This is the first time, including all of the missions, that I actually used my muscles.” The pair shoves Veronica’s bags in the van. “I kinda feel like we were the girls that smoked in the bathroom in high school,” Melissa interviews. “It was just wrong on so many different levels.” They hug. Veronica waves as the van goes off in the night. Having Melissa for a friend is a nice consolation prize.

So what did we learn today? Antoine has the lower back of a god. Melissa is not going to star in a revival of Peter Pan. Ellen and Ruthie roll over as good as Cherry [2017: Dog Days reference], and they’ve learned to play dead. And we learned that Emily is the biggest bitch on this show, and possibly on reality television today. That’s not a word I use lightly, but it fits her. With no Julie or Holly to make her look like a heroine, Emily flat out sucks. I hate her. I hate her hypocritical attitude about not wanting to be dramatic. I hate how she took out two players who gave their all for the team. I hate the stupid flower in her hair; Kaia worked her bindhi better in Hawaii. I hate how anybody looking at James in the wrong way is subject to her wrath. Ellen and Ruthie suck for letting history repeat itself, but Emily reaches a stratosphere of suckiness that Puck and Julie inhabit. After this show, I don’t ever want to see her on the screen again. And if she does do another Challenge, may her teammates boot her out as quickly as possible. If anybody deserves to be voted out of reality television permanently, it’s her.

Next week: Lori voiceovers that the women have lost many missions. Eric: “They can call it quits.” Melissa: “Possibility of me quitting? None!” The mission is laser tag, which really excites Ayanna. The guys catcall Ellen. “Come out and plllaaaaayyyy!” Jamie taunts Ellen. Nice use of a Seventies movie reference, Jamie. Now do us all a favor and pop an electric cap in Emily’s ass.

Man, I was MAD. Not a fun week . . . Veronica went out, likable Syrus bottomed out, and my main girl had to be helped off the ladders. I'm not taking back any of what I said, even though I would more or less forgive Emily at the end of the threesome episode on The Gauntlet, but I don't regret calling her "bitch." I will admit that I used that word in the Television Without Pity forums more than I should have, and that's still the case on But within a professional setting, I didn't want to use it like punctuation. And as much as I grew to like Ruthie, I wonder if she ever second-guessed herself afterward, especially how things shook out. I could ask the same about Ellen, but she was one-and-done. Battle Of The Sexes was the first Challenge for Ruthie, and it would wind up being the closest she'd get to the "handsome reward." I wonder if it keeps her up a few nights a year. Probably not the biggest monkey on her back, but my mind still goes there.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 11: The Ancient Jungle Monkey (And Other Jamaican Folk Tales)

I haven't posted a "new" episode recap in almost a month. Let's remedy that, shall we?

Airdate: March 17, 2003
Recap Published: March 21, 2003

Battle of the Sexes is back and it’s time for another challenge. The players have to make it across a river using stirrups. Some will fall in and fall down in the standings, but will the women finally agree on a person to vote out for a good reason?

Welcome back. It’s been two weeks, but I’m not feeling well-rested. I just want to get this out of the way: I could go through several pages with my opinions on current events, but this gig is about the tempest in a teacup that I watch over, as opposed to the tempest outside our window. I hope that all of you reading this will remain safe in the rough times ahead.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Jamaica was a friendly place, where nobody had a care in the world. But then, a great evil descended upon the land, a malevolence that was never dreamt of. This evil took on a form of its own, and set out to hurt all whom it came across, all in the name of its own goals. This epicenter of wickedness goes by one name: Veronica. Do not gaze upon her, for she will make your life-… wait a second. I got Emily’s copy in front of me. My mistake. Let’s start over.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Jonny laid out the rules for “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” emphasizing that a wrong answer meant removal of an item of clothing. Anne interviews that Tonya, Emily, Christina, Ayanna, and herself boycotted the game, because they “find it morally wrong.” She left out the part where stripping wasn’t a given in the game. Ruthie and Veronica state the obvious: the women’s team is fractured.

Credits! Midtown! In the wake of the Challenge marathons that aired this past weekend, I need to make two corrections. First, it was Antoine who was soaking in Puck’s speech looking scary, and not James. Also, after completing Seven Rings of Saturn, Jake hugged and tackled Jonny, not Blair.

Night at the Men’s Villa. Eric is on the cell phone, sounding concerned. He interviews that there’s distress back home, and he’s upset that he can’t be there. Mark fills us it: Eric’s sister has been in the hospital for a week with a high fever, and that’s riding on Eric.

Morning at the Women’s Villa. Everybody is asleep as the corporate sponsor phone rings. Ayanna reads the clue, which involves swimsuits and bug spray. She interviews that it’s important for her and the rest of the boycotters to step up.

And now it’s time to listen to Jamaica’s most judgmental radio station, VSUX. Anne, Christina, and Genesis sit on a bench, talking smack about Veronica, while Emily sits elsewhere. Actually, you don’t hear a name in the smack talking, but the interviews are spliced to make it seem like a Veronica bitch session. So I’m on the fence between thinking the worst of the characters and thinking the worst of the editors. Christina thinks that Veronica(?) is a bad person. “The one huge festering pool of negativity is Veronica,” Anne spews in an interview. “She makes all the other girls feel like crap.” All girls? I haven’t heard squat from Melissa and Lori about that. Somebody jokes that Veronica(?) kicks dogs. The others laugh, because nothing is funnier than animal abuse. I’d pay to see these girls work as dog walkers at Osbourne Manor. I’d feed Lola burritos for a week for maximum effect. Emily shares an opinion we didn’t ask for: “Veronica is just that girl that walks around like it’s her job to make you feel bad about yourself.” I thought that was Emily’s job. Anne thinks that Disney should base a villain on Veronica(?). I’d do the same for Anne, but villains aren’t supposed to be so bony.

Segue to the Women’s Villa. Genesis, who I’m trying not to judge, notes that the group is fractured, and there’s a lot of animosity and insecurity. Veronica notes that the current plan is to vote out the lowest scorer, but she doesn’t see that lasting. She adds, “I can tell that there are some people that are joining together, and the energy and the positivity is just getting wiped away.”

Establishing shot of moving bus. Cut to everybody walking to the mission site. Yes, Colin is still on crutches. Mark is wearing his “Hustle” t-shirt, which doesn’t bug people like Eric’s “Got Soul?” tee. Jonny welcomes everybody to Phase 2 of the game, saying that it’s everybody for themselves. Ruthie expositions that the game is half-completed, and it’s up to the individuals to determine whom the final teams will be.

Jonny goes over the mission, which doesn’t have a clever name. The challengers will hang on ropes, traversing a river by walking in stirrups. Then the Ghost of Highlights Future comes, showing clips of what’s to come. Melissa looks very reluctant. “You’re telling me I need to traverse across the dirty water for fun,” she says in an interview. “I was promised there were no leeches and no alligators. I know that’s not true.” Jonny keeps going, telling the assembled that both teams will walk from different sides. Colin expositions that time stops when the final stirrup is reached. Jonny tells everybody there’s only one shot, and those who don’t make it will receive no points. Blair tells us something I already knew: he’s starting in last place, and he’s competing against Syrus, who is a few points ahead of him. Jonny finishes up, saying that the winner gets Apple IBooks for the entire team, and the sadly misused Ion Lifesaver.

Ellen is nervous, since she’s the first woman to walk, making her the guinea pig. Colin points out his sprained ankle, saying that he’ll rely on his upper-body strength to go across. Jonny blows the air horn, starting the game. Both Ellen and Colin have little problem. Colin smarts off, telling Ellen, “I will crush you!” in a cheesy Austrian accent. Colin, you can grab her, but you can’t crush her. Colin steps into the last stirrup, finishing with a time of 3 minutes, 35 seconds. Ellen makes it at 4:08.

Ayanna is dedicating her performance to “everybody that stood by their morals yesterday.” For the last time: you did NOT have to take your clothes off! You could have stood there, not answered a question, and gotten points. Or you could have gotten a few questions right, then sacrificed tokens for wrong answers. Did everybody get the same instructions? Anyway, Ayanna goes up against James. She talks herself through it, muttering, “Stay focused. Keep it moving, girl.” She finishes at 2:42. James pulls the stirrup to his foot, ending it at 3:20. Emily cheers loudly, lest we forget she’s his girlfriend.

Ruthie vs. Mark. Mark voiceovers that it’s physically demanding, and the pain he’s getting is worse. Ruthie clocks in at 2:30, while Mark finishes at 2:56.

Melissa tells Veronica to take her time and not to fall in. Veronica interviews that she’s been in and out of the Inner Circle, and she hopes to keep doing well. Veronica faces off against Jamie, who struggles a little with the ropes. But he hangs on to finish at 1:58. Veronica keeps going. Cut to Ruthie looking concerned. Cut to Veronica dropping three times from three different angles, hanging on to a stirrup by her ankle. The last time BMP pulled that was when James crotched himself on the tightrope in Extreme Challenge. This isn’t as funny, though. She starts spinning around, trying to hang on. “I’m even reaching into my toes for strength,” she voiceovers as we go into commercials.

Admit it; you were surprised that Emily and her Emiliettes weren’t whacking Veronica with sticks. Anyway, she’s still spinning. Emily interviews that everybody is yelling encouragement, telling her not to give up. Veronica lets go, getting disqualified in the process. Worse, she hops along as the medical staff attends to her. Eric tries to get her to push against his hand, but she can’t do it. She dips her foot in a cooler filled with ice, but she can’t take the cold. “I think that brought a lot of us together,” Genesis interviews. “The fact that everybody can put their feelings aside showed a lot.” Cut to Emily looking concerned.

Melissa is still not looking forward to playing. “There are animals in those waters,” she interviews. “You think it’s fun and games until someone falls in there and dies. And I feel that I might be that someone.” Where’s Jamie as Nature Sensei when you need him? Theo interviews that he’s planning to do well, since he has “long monkey arms.” His words, not mine. Melissa grimaces as she navigates, trying to figure out which stirrups are hers. Theo gets tangled up before falling into the river. He curses, knowing he’s been disqualified. Melissa is still struggling. Theo is back on land, complaining that his arms got tired. “Hopefully,” he adds, “I got enough points where I ain’t goin’ nowhere.” Famous last words, man. Meanwhile, Melissa finishes at 9:45.

Lori vs. Antoine. Syrus yells, “Go ahead, Frenchie!” Frenchie Davis? Here? Oh, that’s Antoine’s official nickname. Oh, those wacky boys. Antoine finishes at 2:12, Lori at 3:42.

Eric has no strategy, as his mind is still on his sister and family. He competes opposite Genesis. Eric is going at a decent rate. Mark: “Watching Eric go across the wires is such a thrill because he’s maneuvering like he’s an ancient jungle monkey.” That’s the most unlikely assessment of Eric I’ve ever heard. Anyway, Eric falls over reaching for the final stirrup, but he picks himself up, finishing at 1:41. Genesis clocks out at 4:36.

Emily vs. Shane. Cut to prerequisite close-up of James. Emily grits her teeth, finishing at 2:32, as her boyfriend cheers her on. Shane completes the mission at 3:02. Emily shakes hands with Ellen and Veronica. Yes, that Veronica.

Syrus: “I’m rocking my Speedo in good faith right now.” He adds that he doesn’t want to get a zero. He faces off against Anne, whose arms look like sticks. Come on… lift a weight or something. “C’mon, Sy!” Antoine yells from the sidelines. “Give me some ghetto, man!” I’m guessing that they got a relationship where Antoine says something stupid, and Syrus gives him noogies. James interviews that Syrus is a big guy and he’s having problems, but he’s not giving up. While Syrus is tangled up, Anne finishes at 5:06. Syrus is in bad shape, with one thigh in a stirrup. He is maneuvering like he’s an ancient mountain goat following an ancient jungle monkey through the trees. This goes on for so long, the others start cheering him on. He grabs four cords as he finishes at 9:10, getting a loud ovation afterwards.

Blair interviews the obvious: he’s in last place and he has to do well. He faces Christina. It’s smooth for her at first, but cut to her foot feeling for a stirrup. Cut to Christina falling into the water. Meanwhile, Blair finishes at 3:49.

The mission done, Jonny gets to announce the winner. Melissa is in a position where she’s about to jump ten feet in the air if she gets an IBook. But the winner is Eric, who’s mobbed by the other guys. He’s still thinking of sister, and he adds that he’s having a good time.

Scoreboard. I notice that Ruthie is back in the lead on the women’s side. Who’s taking whom down now, Ellen? With Veronica’s DQ, Melissa finishes in third, which makes me a happy camper. Theo is laughing since he’s “Audi 5 G’s.” The camera shows that Theo falls from fourth to last place. Now that’s a freefall. Once again, Blair is still in the game. “I’m like herpes, dude,” he interviews. “You might lose track of me, but I’m always there.” I was going to say that Blair has dodged more bullets than Keanu Reeves in The Matrix, but the herpes analogy works.

Jonny announces the Inner Circles. For the women, it’s Ruthie, Ellen, and Melissa. For the men, it’s Colin, Mark, and Jamie. Jamie strikes a rock star pose. The guy is wearing a shower cap. I have no idea. Seriously, I’m still trying to figure out what was up with the afro he wore in Extreme Challenge. Jonny gives both ICs one hour to make their decisions. Christina notes that she has the lowest score, and if she stays in the game, it will be based on whoever likes her in the IC. She’s 59 points behind Anne, so yeah, somebody would have to love her a lot. Anne tries to build the suspense, pointing out that Veronica took a zero and she’s vulnerable. Whatever you say, Anne.

Women’s Inner Circle. Ruthie asks Melissa to start the proceedings. But whatever she has to say isn’t important, since we go to the Women’s Villa. Lori asks Veronica if she could get voted off. Veronica interviews that she expects to go home anytime she’s not in the IC. Back to the WIC, Ellen thinks that the decision they’ve made is the smartest option. Lori and Veronica joke around. Lori in interview: “I think this girl team has perpetuated the stereotype that women are catty and not team players, because sending home someone who shouldn’t go home is pretty much going to hurt team morale and make you not trust the Inner Circle once again.” Once again, Lori is the voice of reason.

Jonny starts the elimination proceedings. He’s wearing a wool hat. In Jamaica. Yeah, whatever. He calls up the Women’s Inner Circle. Ever the goodwill ambassador, Ruthie starts with, “My speech couldn’t do her justice.” Eventually, she drops the hammer on Christina. Anne laments the move. “Who am I gonna play with now?” she asks. May I suggest Veronica? Just a thought. Christina thanks her “homegirls”: Ruthie, Genesis, Anne, Ayanna, and Emily. “I feel like our darkest days are behind us,” Ellen interviews. “The Inner Circle has made a peaceful decision. Hopefully, it’ll be a turning point for the girls’ team.” Once again: famous last words.

Men’s Inner Circle. Mark offers nothing but love for Theo, saying he was impressed with him on RW: Chicago and in Jamaica. Theo’s got his “Royal Family” t-shirt on, so I guessing he’s in a pimping mood for his web site. He tells the guys to be reminded about how far they can fall. Blair interviews that Theo is one of his best friends, and it sucks that he has to go home.

Jonny brings up Eric to award the Ion Lifesaver. He talks about how his sister is his best friend, and he gives her the Ion. Oy. As much as I’d like to bust his chops for not using the corporate sponsor device to his fullest, I can’t. Besides, I don’t want Christina saved anyway, so it works out.

Speaking of Christina, she’s spending her last day in the Villa, saying that it’s like summer camp, and she doesn’t want to go home. Genesis interviews that she doesn’t feel that voting off the lowest scorer is the best policy, but it makes the women come together. Oh, and I suppose she wants to wait until somebody gets sick of her for no good reason. “It’s never as easy as people might see it to be,” Ruthie interviews. “It just feels like another part of the spirit is going.” Man, she’d get eaten alive on Survivor, superior athletic skills or not.

Sunset. Theo and Christina walk to the van. There’s lots of hugging. Any last words, Christina? “To the girls I left behind, I hope that you can transcend all of the bickering, all the talking about alliances, and whup the guys’ asses because I think you can do it.” Oh sure, now she’s above alliances. She and Theo board the van. Ruthie, Ayanna, and Genesis briefly cling onto the back of the van, saying farewell to Christina. The van drives off into the night.

Next time: Jonny welcomes everybody to Stairway to Heaven. It involves two impossibly tall ladders. Mark: “The guys want the cash, the girls want the cash. It’s gonna be a battle.” There’s an old clip of Emily making a face (I can see the back of Jisela’s head), followed by the clip of Veronica wanting to send Emily home. Inner Circle with Emily in it. Great, not only am I spoiled, but I also wanted Melissa to stay in there. “Veronica is not mean to Melissa,” Emily hisses. “She’s mean to a lot of the rest of us. And I mean MEAN.” Emily in interview: “This girl needs to go home.” Emily in IC: “I’m ready to send her home and stop all this bull [bleep].” So much for team unity.

Yes, this is the calm before the storm. I don't know what was more surprising: Melissa in the Inner Circle for a second time, or that she got to toss the player who accused her of being in "an evil cheerleading cult." Also, this was the start of a BOTS-centered trope: Melissa complaining about the mission. She did that a lot. I still rooted for her. Sadly, Theo would wind up getting boned a little harder in the penultimate mission of The Gauntlet, then never come back to BMP again. Hey, I'd take him over that fiveheaded asshole  Kyle Brandt. Oh, and according to Wikipedia, the mission was called "Leaky River." In case you were dying to know.

PS: I don't know what the lead paragraph was about. I'm guessing it was war-related. That's the messed-up part about the Bush Administration: as bad as it was, it might be preferable to what we'll be getting soon. I mean, I have an unlimited mad-on for "Johnny Bananas" and those that would enable his antics, yet I didn't really fathom how garbage most people could be until November.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Battle of the Sexes – Women’s Midterm Review

Happy 2017! Here's a post from March 17, 2003. That's a full teenager between then and now. I find this a little depressing.

We’ve covered the men, now it’s time to take a look at what the women have done in the first half (or so) of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes.

If you turn on Battle of the Sexes, odds are you’re a huge fan of drama. While the men have been sorely lacking for the most part, the women have been delivered. Fans of Survivor: The Amazon can compare Jaburu with the Women’s Villa. Who’s a bigger spoilsport: JoAnna or Ellen? Which troika is more toxic: Heidi, Jenna, and Shawna or Emily, Christina, and Anne? 

Just as we took a look at the men yesterday, let’s take a look at the women now, beginning with those who are no longer competing.

Julie Stoffer (RW: New Orleans)

When did I start to hate her? Back in her season, she played the token ingĂ©nue, the Mormon girl who was looking to expand her horizons. Then came Extreme Challenge. I think once she knew there was no going back to Brigham Young since she (gasp!) lived with boys, she started to exist for the cameras. When Ayanna got kicked off for beating Christian up, Julie took it the hardest, making a big stink about bringing her back. She cheated in a rappel race against Emily, which led to animosity between the two women. I think the breaking point for me came during the tightrope mission. Christian was hundreds of feet in the air, walking on a rope attached to a bungee and no net below him. He’s trying to get across and win the mission for his team, and there’s Julie on the ground, screaming “BUNGEE, CHRISTIAN!” She wasn’t the best sport, but she got a share of the $110,000 pot that the RW team won.

She became a lot more self-absorbed. Former cast members have told stories on how she slighted them. The worse came when she wrote something online that pissed Melissa off, something that smart people just don’t do. Julie’s various acts of shadiness were covered on Melissa’s web site.
After Melissa’s tirade, Julie tried to convince several ladies that Melissa was wrong in bad-mouthing her. Please notice that these women were from RR, and might not have been in the loop. Her chumminess with Ellen just validated her as a world-class drama queen. On the up side, Ellen’s inability to pick her legs during Sergeant Says got her and Julie eliminated. I’m convinced the only way Julie would have stayed is if the Inner Circle was made up of RR women. Instead, the first IC had two recent RW alumni (Amaya and Aneesa), one from Boston who pled ignorance (Genesis), and Melissa herself. Julie was toast.

I’ll say it again: if Julie had stayed, the show would have been a lot more painful to watch. Now, we don’t have to see her try and be genuine while pimping her White Stripes wannabe band. Sadly, Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray probably still have her phone number, and she’ll be ready to go at a moment’s notice for any occasion.

Memorable Moment: The look of confusion on her face as Melissa gave her the business. Priceless.

Beth Stolarczyk (RW: Los Angeles)

From current phonies to old school, we have Beth. Last year, Beth brought her feud with Norman over to Cancun, along with her utter lack of self-awareness. Seriously, you look into her eyes, and there’s nothing there. Worse, when she was eliminated, so was poor Jon Brennan, whose only crime was being her partner.

The good news for Beth? She wasn’t the first person voted out, and David E. made her look sane. The bad news? She got voted out before a pregnant woman. Aside from a gripe towards Ruthie about not getting the Ion Lifesaver, I thought Beth had improved. Then I read Colin’s recap. It turns out that Ruthie had been suffering from numerous maladies and was dying in the bathroom. At that moment, Beth poked her head in and asked if she could have the IL. Worse, Beth had treated Ruthie like garbage in the past. So once again, what went around came around.

Memorable Moment: Griping about not getting the IL. I can imagine Norman and Becky watching at home, high-fiving each other.

Gladys Sanabria (RR: Latin America)

Why was she here? It was one thing when Belou brought her baby daughter to Battle of the Seasons last year. The little tyke wasn’t clinging to her mommy’s tummy the way Gladys carried her unborn child. Sure, the appearance money was good, but was it worth it to jeopardize the kid’s health? After getting a sympathy Ion Lifesaver for not being allowed to play Dead Man’s Drop, Gladys finished in last after three events, and was mercifully booted.

Last September, Gladys was part of a cadre of former reality show contestants who appeared on Extra regarding their negative experiences. While I appreciate Gladys coming out into the open about her miscarriage and smacking of Abe, I wish she didn’t do it alongside the likes of Cara Nussbaum (RW: Chicago), Sean Rector (Survivor: Marquesas), and Mike “Boogie” Malin (Big Brother 2). The same goes for Eric Nies; as much as I respect his right to get some syndication money, he shouldn’t be in the same crowd as those losers.

Oh, and I regret never calling Gladys “Happy Butt” once in my recaps. I just never found the time.

Memorable Moment: Revealing her pregnancy to the other women. Suddenly, Christy’s deafness isn’t such a big deal.

Jisela Delgado (RR: The Quest)

Why was she back? She didn’t carry her weight on The Quest. She underachieved in Battle of the Seasons. Now she came back, did four missions, and got voted off. In summary, it was a typical Jisela performance.

Once again, ropes and cords were her Kryptonite. She didn’t last long in Dead Man’s Drop and Breath Hold Bungee. She probably wouldn’t have lasted ten seconds on the stirrups course in the next episode. The only positive for her was that she only blew up the one time, during Tree House. While I like her a lot better than Ellen (her teammate on The Quest), I hope I don’t see Jisela on another BMP show again.

Memorable Moment: Cursing out Jonny Moseley during Tree House.

Amaya Brecher (RW: Hawaii)

The die-hard fans will never forget all the dumb things Amaya did during Hawaii and Challenge 2000. I was surprised that she came to Battle of the Sexes, given that the haters would have to reload. I’m guessing that she went with Melissa, who had become buddies with her.

After triumphing in Sergeant Says, Amaya fell to the back of the pack. Because she had a cousin dying in a hospital back home, that was enough to convince the Inner Circle to send her home. My only beef was that she should have opted out early; her dropping of a ring during Seven Rings of Saturn earned her and Tonya zero points, sending Tonya to the bottom for the rest of her stay. Still, Amaya carried herself with more grace and dignity than in her two prior BMP stints.

Memorable Moment: Winning Sergeant Says, even as it took all of her energy to do it.

Rachel Robinson (RR: Campus Crawl)

Poor Rachel. She has the determination and the will, not to mention a strong body. But she revealed herself as an underachiever, starting with the time she got outwrestled by Irulan during the RW/RR dustup in Las Vegas. Then she screwed up Sergeant Says, getting two points to start. Slowly, she began to claw her way upwards, earning 101 points after six missions.

During Tree House, she and Ayanna completed the mission. While Ayanna ran to help the others, Rachel had walked off, because one of the rules was that touching any other house would result in an automatic disqualifcation and zero points. Ellen didn’t get that memo, and pushed for Rachel’s expulsion in the Inner Circle.

Rachel’s farewell was a sad one. The Inner Circle had passed on Aneesa, Tonya and Christina to vote out. Then Emily brings Rachel up and proceeds to bad-mouth her. Suddenly, Rachel was the Great Satan. Emily hated her since she reminds her of girls who mistreated her in high school. Ellen was probably still sore over Tree House. Ruthie figured that Rachel was the only person they had to question. Custer faced better odds at Little Big Horn.

Memorable Moment: Her pep talk in the first episode, about how the most bad-ass girls were picked to compete.

Aneesa Ferreira (RW: Chicago)

Aneesa was easier to digest than on Chicago. Sadly, after her third place finish in Sergeant Says, she slowly slid to the bottom. Around the time of Rachel’s ouster, Aneesa approached Ruthie in regards to sabotaging Emily. This was a questionable move, given Ruthie’s nobility. For her scheming, she was kicked off.

The only reason I could think of that Aneesa would confide her plan in Ruthie. I have heard that Aneesa had gotten close with Rachel. Either Aneesa wanted to avenge Rachel, or maybe she wanted to get kicked off so she could go home and reunite with her.

Memorable Moment: Ellen is crying about how Puck mistreated her, and there’s Aneesa, covering her bare breasts. Out of all the drama being whipped up, Aneesa just wanted to be comfortable.

Tonya Cooley (RW: Chicago)

Tonya had nowhere to go but up. She had been one of the most isolated cast members in RW history. For goodness sakes, the other cast members made up a song about her in the car! Behind her back! I didn’t think she’d be healthy enough to compete, given her kidney problems, but she gave it her best, even after injuring herself in Seven Rings of Saturn.

The big news was that Tonya had become popular. Lori pointed out that Tonya nursed several of the women while they were sick. I noticed she was wearing the same shell necklace Theo had worn, and they hugged a few times, despite their conflicted history. And I can forgive her friendship with Ellen. Recently, somebody pointed out one reason Tonya was so nice, something I don’t feel right in divulging here. I hope that it’s because of what Lori said, that Tonya knew that her negative portrayal on Chicago was all her, and she sought to right that.

Memorable Moment: Playing People Mover with Aneesa, she was supportive of her, despite their prior differences.

And now, let’s look at those still in the game:

Christina Pazsitzky (RR: Australia)

I’m still a little upset that she bought Julie’s anti-Melissa spiel. She hasn’t gotten much camera time, but it’s clear that she’s tight with Anne and Emily. Her objection to “Battle of the Opposite Sexes” was ill timed, given that she already had one event where she scored no points. Now she’s in last place, 37 points behind Anne. Even if she wins the next event and Anne gets zero points, she would still remain at the bottom.

Memorable Moment: Calling Melissa and her friends in the Inner Circle an “evil cheerleader cult.”

Anne Wharton (RR: Northern Trail)

Anne made an impact early in the game, making the Inner Circle twice. She had been in the middle before objecting to “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” dropping to ninth overall. Given her tendency of getting hurt, I’m surprised she’s been unscathed.

One thing that bugs is her hatred of Veronica. In one Inner Circle, she tried to sell Ruthie and Ellen on getting rid of her over Beth. Why? Doesn’t “Stolarczyk” mean “dead weight” in English? Anne comes off as one of Emily’s cronies who follow her mistresses’ orders without question. She actually calls Veronica a “huge pool of negativity” in the next episode. It just doesn’t make sense.

Memorable Moment: Going into a “What has Veronica done for me?” rant at the Inner Circle. Penny Ramsey would be proud.

Ayanna Mackins (RR: Semester at Sea)

We haven’t gotten the full Ayanna experience yet. What is it? Let me put it this way: when I saw Ghandia scream and throw wood into the water, I thought she was Ayanna’s aunt.

Two fits have been edited out: her fight with Aneesa after Rachel was voted out (as chronicled by Lori), and the time she almost punched David E. for spitting on her, but she backed off, not wanting to get kicked off again. Her unwillingness to potentially get naked pushed her to pass on “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” dropping from fifth to eighth, this after winning 71 out of a possible 72 points in the prior two missions.

We did see a tender side in Ayanna, as she and David B. got cuddly. I have to admit, they do make for a nice couple. As insane as she may appear, Ayanna does have a very soft side to her.

Memorable Moment: Singing after she completed Seven Rings of Saturn. “WE ROCK! WE ROCK! WE REALLY REALLY ROCK!!”

Emily Bailey (RR: USA)

Emily is supposed to be the hard-luck heroine, the Susan Lucci of the Challenge. She competed in Extreme Challenge, but the RR team wasn’t as good as its predecessors, and she got a share of $40,000. The next year, she teamed with Timmy on Battle of the Seasons, staying in the Inner Circle in the preliminary rounds. Luck wasn’t with the team in the winner-take-all final mission, and she lost out on a $50,000 share. So she came back for a third year, resembling a boxer looking for the big break.

Something is different this year. While Emily had taken questionable stances in past Challenges, she was a rival to some hated cast members, such as Julie and Holly. Remember when Chadwick was bitter about getting voted out of Cancun, and he e-mailed Emily, saying she was the devil? I should have known something was up when she questioned Melissa’s guts in not announcing Julie’s ouster. The normal reaction would have been, “You mean I don’t have to share a villa with the girl who irritated me so much?”

After starting off with two points, Emily jumped to fourth place after three missions, making the Inner Circle after Seven Rings of Saturn. She had said she didn’t want to gossip, but she talked smack about Amaya and Veronica. Her hatred of Veronica is a mystery. Everybody knows that Veronica holds Emily responsible for getting booted in Seasons, but Emily’s attitude is unknown even to Lori and Melissa (the chroniclers of the show). In the next Inner Circle, Emily brought up Rachel, and proceeded to slam her verbally, going so far as to call her a “toxic teammate.” Lori and Melissa had few complaints about Rachel, making Emily more of a villain. And when Rachel was giving Ruthie and Ellen a piece of her mind, Emily was elsewhere, trying to avoid the drama.

In the boycott of “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” Emily had the most to lose. If anybody really needed to know that stripping was not mandatory, it was her. But she didn’t play, and Veronica took her place in the IC. Worse, her boyfriend didn’t join her, leading to a temporary rift between them. Given their competitive natures, I know what James and Emily see in each other. But Emily was dreaming that James would face elimination by not playing. She is 28 points behind Veronica for the final IC spot, and Veronica is itching to pull the trigger. Don’t count out Emily prevailing in the end.

Memorable Moment: Holding court at the Inner Circle from hell, where she wasn’t going to be happy unless Rachel was gone.

Genesis Moss (RW: Boston)

If you’re wondering who Genesis is, you’re not alone. After making the Inner Circle with Aneesa, she dropped to the bottom. Since there were five girls boycotting “Battle of the Opposite Sexes,” that pushed Genesis from ninth to sixth, and in a position to get some camera time. I hope that happens, since I got a few puns with Genesis the band that I’m dying to use.

Memorable Moment: Saying that she didn’t know Melissa wanted Julie gone for personal reasons, even though Melissa was practically carrying a sign saying that.

Lori Trespicio (RW: Back to New York)

Here’s another lady with little camera time. You can’t get worked up for Lori. Last year, she was supposed to be teamed with Mike for Battle of the Seasons, but she didn’t make it after the September 11 attacks. Lori and Mike? Not exciting. Coral and Mike? Very exciting.

Lori’s main contribution has been recapping the episodes on her web site, dishing a lot of dirt in the process. The key is to just read her recaps, as opposed to the rest of her site. Some of the posters found her eulogy of Mr. Rogers to be in bad taste, and she posted a fairy tale about the love of koalas that was inspired by the love of her boyfriend. Some would think it cheesy, except the boyfriend is Kyle Brandt, the uber-tool from RW: Chicago, so the story makes people nauseous. She also strikes me as something with skin as thick as paper, yet she feels the need to fire back at her detractors. Lori, calm down. You don’t have to bare your soul all the time.

Memorable Moment: I can’t think of one on camera, so I’ll go with something from her recap. During the protest by the other contestants that wanted Puck to stay, Lori remained on the bus, since she didn’t care either way.

Melissa Howard (RW: New Orleans)

Remember when I said that I’d be taking her side all of the time? I’m sticking with that. For instance: how come the editors pin the process of the Inner Circle voting being a popularity contest on Melissa? All she did was to get rid of one of the most obnoxious people in Jamaica, and she gets hammered for that. A few of the contestants smacked her around in interviews, and the word “MElissa” started to pop up on TWoP. News flash: Julie was going to leave anyway. Having Melissa in the Inner Circle was a bonus.

Since then, we’ve seen little of Melissa, even as she remained in the front of the pack. I guess the editors need her in confrontation mode, as opposed to the super-funny Melissa I knew and loved during her season. You get glimpses of that: bouncing up and down with Ellen after Seven Rings of Saturn, making some weird arm movements after completing People Mover, and screaming in joy after getting a question right during “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.” Even when she skipped Puck’s wedding, we got more of Ellen and Tonya boycotting the ceremony than her.

I’m surprised she’s still in the game. Winning Sergeant Says with Amaya was improbable in itself; even she admitted on her site that she had no business coming in first. She hung tough during Freeze Your Butt Off, even as she suffered greatly for her 33-point effort. Happily, her recaps have been informative and funny, especially the one where she was joined by Coral. Perhaps when the field things out a little, she’ll get some exposure.

Memorable Moment: Winning Sergeant Says. Watching the episode, I was floored by her and Amaya’s outstanding effort.

Veronica Portillo (RR: Semester at Sea)

Veronica is tainted by the past, having plagiarized a paper from Ayanna and “borrowed” a shirt from Pua during her season. I can’t explain why else Emily and Anne have it out for her. According to Lori and Melissa, Veronica had been nothing but friendly to the others. It’s logical that Veronica would hold Emily responsible for voting her out last year, and it makes for a good story. You can imagine Veronica taking a cue from The Princess Bride, chasing Emily with a sword, shouting, “My name is Veronica Portillo. You forced me out of Cancun after two days. Prepare to die.”

Veronica has been in the Inner Circle twice; both times, she wanted to put the hammer to Emily, but Jisela and Tonya’s departures took precedent. She did express regret at voting Jisela off, whom she befriended last year. Either there’s a part of the story that Lori and Melissa aren’t telling us, or Veronica has made a huge turnaround in her attitudes.

Memorable Moment: In the last Inner Circle, where she gleefully brought up how James didn’t join Emily in boycotting “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.”

Ruthie Alcaide (RW: Hawaii)

Who would have guessed that the one-time problem child would blossom into a fiery competitor? After her performance in Dead Man’s Drop, she held on to the top spot for seven missions, locking her position in the Inner Circle. She has served as the conscience of the women’s team. When Rachel was voted off, you could see the look on Ruthie’s face in her interview, a look that screamed, “Maybe I didn’t do the right thing.” While Ellen blathers on about how she tries to be a savior, Ruthie does it without words.

The only chink in Ruthie’s armor is her inability to be deceptive. On more than one occasion, she expected the people around her to be truthful. So when Aneesa talked to her about sabotaging Emily, Ruthie reacted badly. I’m guessing that as good as she is athletically, she wouldn’t last a week on Survivor.

Memorable Moment: What else? Dead Man’s Drop, checking her watch while hanging upside-down.

Ellen Cho (RR: The Quest)

Let’s get this out of the way. Ellen is one of the best athletes on the show. Her determination makes her tough to beat, and the perfect teammate. In the past three missions, she got 107 out of a possible 108 points, putting her in the lead on the women’s side.

What is the down side? It’s her personality. Ask anybody who watched The Quest and they’ll tell you that Ellen bugs them. She got into a huge fight with Coral during the Casting Special. She showed off in an endurance course, endangering herself in the process. She got into a bizarre relationship with Adam, even though he gave her so much grief. In a blind date, she got so drunk she almost got run over. She felt the need to play “Who’s Got It Worse?” with Sophia, who had not come out to her parents. The whole time, she was annoying and condescending. When I heard that she wasn’t allowed to join the Back to New York cast in MTV Studios during New Year’s Eve 2001, I laughed. Hard.

She hasn’t changed much. Her inability to pick her legs up during Sergeant Says got her and Julie booted, and was enough to send her new best friend home. Ellen felt slighted that Rachel wouldn’t help her in Tree House, and she pushed to vote out Rachel over Gladys. But she got selective amnesia later on, allowing Emily to make her case to send Rachel home. Ellen would later cry about that, saying that Emily had played her. As Emily moved herself to be the main villain, some of the heat has been taken off Ellen. Remember the looks she exchanged with Ruthie as Emily talked smack about Veronica?

Ellen’s main mistake was trying to fight Puck. After David E. left, Puck needed somebody to torture. They argued about his wedding getting moved to Jamaica. She cried about how he threatened her with violence, yet those who witnessed the exchange said that Ellen was exaggerating. After announcing Rachel’s elimination, Puck threw up in front of her, on purpose. Ellen got the last laugh, as Puck left to be with his family.

The bottom line for Ellen: she has to be a good teammate. If she takes the attitude down several notches, we would have a halfway decent person.

As for the ladies, they must take advice from the departed Tonya: vote off the last place scorer, no matter what. While one or two women might be forced to depart after a sub-par mission, it would be for the good of team harmony. And right now, they’re playing all the wrong tunes.

 Once again . . . notice I'm being nice to Rachel and Veronica. That doesn't become an issue for me in future editions. Meanwhile, I gave Christina grief, including botching her last name (which I corrected). Funny enough, she wound up moving into comedy, appearing twice of Last Comic Standing. While she didn't last past the primary stages like Theo Von (or "Vonkurnatowski," if you want to be anal), at least she tried her best. I don't know if I've heard her act on XM. I did catch her on Not Safe with Nikki Glaser in a segment about "pegging." To say that it's not work-safe is an understatement.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Battle of the Sexes - Men's Midterm Review

This is my take on the male competitors on Battle Of The Sexes. This was posted on March 16, 2003, when the show was on break. I probably figured the website would be around forever, so I wanted to make it look official. Hence the use of last names. Back then, it was a little tougher to find those. After I got ousted, my replacement made fun of me for the first two paragraphs of his first recap, which I talked about here. That included my use of full names. "Garbage person" probably still fits him to a tee. Enough bitching from me . . . here's the review.

At about midway through the Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes, let's look back at the guys who have already been voted off and those who are still around. What have we learned about them, and what were their memorable moments?
Now that we've done a mid-season review of the show, it's time for a midterm review of the guys (one of the women will be coming shortly).

What have we learned from the men on Battle of the Sexes so far? For one, most of them have a high tolerance for Puck. For another, they've been willing to sacrifice themselves in order to put the best team forward, voting off the lowest overall scorer. After Battle of the Seasons, where cast members agreed to split the winnings based on performance, collusion has been outlawed. The biggest positive has been the lack of drama in their Villa, in stark contrast to the soap opera going on with the women.
Let's take a look at those who are no longer competing.

David Edwards (RW: Los Angeles)

You hate Puck. You can't stand the sight or sound of him. You want somebody to step up and knock him down a peg. David was not that man. His fight with Puck left him with spit on his face and nobody watching his back.

When I saw the preview, I thought I'd be siding with him. Yeah, he was a headcase during his season, but that was way back in '93. So what if he bragged about inventing "tribal council"? Who cares if he humped a stuffed beaver in the Lost Season movie? Well, his ravings were a thinly veiled attempt to oust Puck early in the game. He wouldn't shut him about how Puck disrespected him, going so far as to call producer Jon Murray to bitch. After getting eliminated early in Sergeant Says with Eric N., he saw the writing on the wall, muttered the dumbest quote ever, and left with his tail between his legs. Goodbye and good riddance.

Memorable Moment: What else? "No one… not even Jesus Christ… would spit in my face and get away with it." Does anybody have JoAnna Ward's phone number?

Laterrian Wallace (RR: Maximum Velocity Tour)

Poor Laterrian. All he wanted to do was to win. The bitter taste of defeat in Extreme Challenge was probably still on his lips. Finding out he was going to be opposing Emily, who had cost the RR team some money, might have been more incentive. And maybe he would step outside the shadow of James, whom he had shared time with on two other shows.

So what happened? For starters, he missed a flight to Jamaica and almost missed the show. By Colin's reckoning, he was awake for 72 hours. He rallied the guys before Sergeant Says with the famous war cry, "RIDE OR [OEDIPUS REXING] DIE!" Sadly, he blew it and got only two points. When Jake suggested he should be voted off, Laterrian threw a huge fit. Going into Dead Man's Drop, he knew he needed a huge performance. In the end, he had the fewest points of anybody in the game. Fewer than David E. and Julie, who competed in only one event. Fewer than Gladys, who was unable to compete. That's a whole new level of sad.

In the end, Laterrian left behind an infectious spirit for his team. Also, according to Melissa, he stayed in Jamaica when he was supposed to be going home, becoming the show's version of Bigfoot. Once again: Laterrian, you're a nice guy, but please don't do this again.

Memorable Moment: His farewell speech, complete with "HOO-RAH!" He's lucky Ian hasn't sued him yet.

Eric Jones (RR: Campus Crawl)

I thought of this guy as his season's token uber-tool. On his show, he kept mostly to the background. Good move: let the maniacs and shrews get the camera time. It took his appearance on 19 Degrees of Reality Hook-Ups to awaken the hatred of him. But it was momentary.

Eric didn't do well, turning in low scores in Sergeant Says and Dead Man's Drop. He got 30 points teaming with Syrus in Tree House, but it wasn't enough to elevate him out of last place. It also wasn't enough to increase his visibility, as Colin and Melissa had forgotten that he existed. According to Melissa, members from Campus Crawl actually watched their episodes along with the crew who filmed it. On the plus side, nobody saw Eric scarf down all that crap in TCU.

Memorable Moment: Dissing David E. and Puck in an interview, saying that he was the youngest person there and he was more of a man than those two.

David Broom (RW: New Orleans)

For those not in the RW loop, you have to understand: David is a popular guy. On the Television Without Pity forums, we either love him or love to hate him. He has a nickname: "Bishop Woo Woo." When he came to New York to appear on Chappelle's Show, the guy who checked him in (a TWoP regular) almost had a heart attack, since he dug David's season that much. So when we found out that he was on the show, it was cause for celebration. I would be in a position to take potshots at the Ego That Walked Like a Man, the dude who scored with various women in New Orleans, the guy who wouldn't listen to his roommates nine times out of ten.

Sadly, we got a mere four weeks of the Bishop. The big twist was that he made a connection with Ayanna. That's a good couple: he scats nonsense and she babbles a lot. Before he was voted off, he was figured into the plans for Puck's wedding. He even went as far as to ask Lori if she'd like to collaborate. Unfortunately, she was still getting ridiculed for the "tanky" song and refused. Shoot, who needs Kelly and Justin? Hopefully, David can get his career on track and be known for something other than "Come On Be My Baby Tonight."

Memorable Moment: David trying to negotiate a truce between David E. and Puck. Yeah, since this was the same guy who gave his roommates grief back in New Orleans, I was taken aback. Kelley and Danny were probably wondering if that was some other guy wearing a David costume.

Yes Duffy (RR: Semester at Sea)

I don't have much to say about Yes. He's just the nicest guy, even though he did come off as a high priest in the Cult of Puck. He had the redemption angle, since he was voted out of Battle of the Seasons in the first round. He was in the middle of the pack before Seven Rings Of Saturn. But after Eric N. dropped a ring, Yes got no points, and he plummeted to the bottom of the standings.

Memorable Moment: I'm stumped. I'll go with wrestling with Laterrian in the first episode.

Puck Rainey (RW: San Francisco)

What can I say about Puck that dozens of armchair analysts haven't said already? Well, he was an integral part of the men's team; whether it was because the guys loved him or feared retribution is unknown. He did have skills, making the Inner Circle once and winning first place with Theo in Seven Rings of Saturn. And he loves his wife and baby.

Now the bad stuff: he goaded David E. into fighting him after spitting on him. Got kicked off the show, but was saved by protesting contestants and David B.'s negotiating skills. He got Ellen to fight him, and she hated him during his stay. He interrupted Veronica's Inner Circle announcement. He threw up in front of Ellen after Rachel was voted out. And, of course, he had a conniption when he couldn't see his detained family and left the show.

I covered him in a prior article, so I'll stop. I was aware that the more I wrote about him, the more he'd win. But when the opportunity to bash him came up, I couldn't resist. Sue me. May he never darken our doorsteps again. With that said, we'll probably never be rid of him.

Memorable Moment: I'm in a good mood, so I'll say the wedding and move on.

Dan Renzi (RW: Miami)

Is it possible to have too much Dan? I don't think so. Okay, so he's not suited for strenuous activities. Remember the Tough Guy course in Extreme Challenge, where he nearly died on the final obstacle? But the guy knows how to snark. It was like having an on-site recapper while he was on the show.

After a good start, he fell through a moon roof during Seven Rings, dropping him in the standings. Unable to outlast Blair and Eric in Freeze Your Butt Out, he was voted out. With Puck's departure, Dan was summoned back to take his place, but he only lasted for one more mission before getting voted off again. He left Jamaica with one first-place performance and cake in the Women's Villa, where he hung out most of the time.

Memorable Moment: Do I have to pick just one? I'll go with coming out behind the curtain before People Mover. After Puck left, both sides needed a pick-me-up.

Jake Bronstein (RR: Islands)

Jake comes from an early RR season, back when there were five people traveling and the show meant something. Even as I watch Islands in repeats, I can understand how he could get lost in the shuffle. Don't mind me; I'm rationalizing why he'd wear that thong. Twice. That's an image that will take forever to dissipate.

Jake left on a high note, winning Battle of the Opposite Sexes as the rest of the guys allowed him to answer most of the questions. He had decided to leave that day, so we'll never know how far he could have gone. Oh, and if Jake is reading this, I got one question: Is FHM hiring? I'm not getting paid anything for this!

Memorable Moment: Dropping a ring during Rings of Saturn, and then retrieving it off the windshield, saving himself and Blair from disqualification.

Now, let's cover those still in the game.

Blair Herter (RR: The Quest)

There's been a lot of Blair hatred on the forums, which I don't get. Okay, maybe he's wacky for the sake of being wacky. And yeah, he isn't as funny as Steve, his partner-in-fun during The Quest. But he hasn't bugged me once. His performance has suffered; after finishing in the Inner Circle in the first episode, he dropped to the back of the pack. He's been in jeopardy of going back to the Saddle Ranch in the last four missions, but he hangs in there. With a few lucky breaks, he could contend for the top three spots.

Memorable Moment: Calming Puck and Ellen down after ScissorGate. I mentioned that Sarah from Campus Crawl referred to Blair as a "Puck Whisperer," but who else could also understand Ellen? I guess that makes him an "Ellen Whisperer" as well. As opposed to me, the "Ellen Screamer."

Syrus Yarbrough (RW: Boston)

What can I say about Syrus? No, seriously, what can I say? The guy is a barrel of laughs, but he hasn't gotten enough camera time. He doesn't take things too seriously, his interviews are okay, and he's been in the middle of the standings. I fear he might have to dress up as a tiger to get some attention, like he did during Extreme Challenge.

Memorable Moment: Getting teased by Theo before wrestling the younger buck to the ground.

James Orlando (RR: Maximum Velocity Tour)

He hasn't said "dude" once. I've recapped ten episodes, and he's barely acted like the win-at-all-costs jerk we know from his season and Extreme Challenge. You can't really blame him; as a member of the Berkley rugby team, he rarely had the chance to lose. We've seen a few glimpses of that temper, like the time he gave the stink-eye after getting eliminated from Sergeant Says, and when he ripped the clothesline down.

Most of his camera time has been with his girlfriend, Emily. At the rate her stock has been plummeting, people might start wondering "Why, James?" and not vice versa. But his need to win is all consuming, as he played "Battle of the Opposite Sexes" rather than boycott with Emily and her friends. The next few missions might put his relationship to the test.

Memorable Moment: Winning Breath-Hold Bungee, puking water afterwards. The will to risk his safety for a mission…that's the James we know!

Eric Nies (RW: New York)

Isn't his 15 minutes of fame over? During the Tenth Anniversary Reunion, Matt Smith (RW: New Orleans) told Eric that he worked out after seeing him on The Grind as a kid. Was that not a big enough clue to have Eric Nies on down, Nies on down the road to a rest home?

Apparently not. After co-hosting Battle of the Seasons with Mark, he returned to the Challenge as a player, putting up middle-of-the-road numbers. And if Puck was telling the truth, Eric wants to "have" Veronica, which is a very disturbing hook-up to imagine. Also, he cannonballs into the pool a lot. I don't know what will happen first: he'll bust his head open or he'll break a hip.

Memorable Moment: Trying to faith-heal Colin's ankle, and explaining the process with a straight face.

Theo Gantt (RW: Chicago)

Here's another guy with minimal screen time. Maybe it's because he respects everybody on both teams. If the ladies pull off a win, he gives them props. Naturally, the editors slant things towards the troublemakers, and this newcomer gets slighted. But if he keeps up his performance, the spotlight will shine brighter on him.

Memorable Moment: Winning Seven Rings of Saturn with Puck.

Antoine de Bouverie (RR: Europe)

If there's one absolute in all Challenges, it's this: foreigners rock. Whether it's snarky Brits such as Neil and Piggy, Norwegian nudniks like Christian, or psychotic mothers like Belou, those from abroad get a huge response. When I saw Europe in repeats, I figured that Antoine would be the uptight alpha male, the same guy who almost got stabbed by Belou.

Instead, we got the goofy Belgian, who makes his American counterparts laugh. He's got a cult following on TWoP, people who love his nakedness and his dancing. I was so turned on to him, I put him on my Fantasy Challenge team to replace David B. On his first day on my roster, he racked up 45 nudity points, and he's gone on to be a mainstay. Climbing from last place to fifth, the others shouldn't take him lightly.

Memorable Moment: His interview during Freeze Your Butt Off: "The girls have won that mission. They have the mountain bike. But two hours down the road, arms up, ass on the ice, fighting for one little point." The accent makes him sound very evil, but in a good way.

Shane Landrum (RR: Campus Crawl)

I'm going to get heat from TWoP on this, but here goes: I don't see how Shane resembles an Oompa-Loompa. I'm sorry, but I'm not feeling it at all.

Shane isn't irritating me like he did on Campus Crawl. He's had a few nice moments. I heard that he cursed out the Women's Inner Circle after Rachel got voted out. I'd like to think it was to support his ex-teammate, as opposed to following up Puck's puking. His performance has been okay thus far, but it might prove disadvantageous to be the newest kid in the neighborhood.

Memorable Moment: I'm strapped, so I'll go with getting kissed by Antoine before and after Seven Rings of Saturn.

Jamie Murray (RW: New Orleans)

Why is he here? It's not that I don't mind him; his past tool behavior pales in comparison to the likes of Kyle, Steven, and Alton. The guy excels in competition, but viewers barely notice him. The only negative thing I have to say about him is that the beard has got to go. It doesn't look flattering for him, and it makes my face itch thinking about it. Having made the Inner Circle seven out of eight times, he seems destined to repeat his performance in Extreme Challenge, and walk away with a nice chunk of change.

Memorable Moment: I can't believe I missed this: he attached a microphone to his beard. You can see the wire coming off the tip.

Mark Long (RR: Season One)

He's been around for a long time, starting back in 1994 when he "auditioned" to replace Puck in San Francisco. Mark makes for a better elder statesman than Eric N. at the ripe old age of 30. I get the feeling that he's the guy who gets the most respect. He's been in the Inner Circle for the past four missions, and he shows no signs of letting up.

Memorable Moment: Serving as Best Man at Puck's wedding, wearing a huge headdress and carrying Bogart.

Colin Mortensen (RW: Hawaii)

He's the prodigal son, the guy who left all things BMP only to come back. While his web site provides loads of behind-the-scenes dirt, he writes as if he's contracted a strain of trytooharditus, which has infected me from time to time. He's also been hawking a book he authored, The New Ladies Man, about sexual attitudes. The problem is in the title; every time I hear it, I see him dress as Leon Phelps, a.k.a. "The Ladies Man," as played by Tim Meadows. Colin in a mini-afro is the last thing I need to picture. The worst sin he committed was when he recapped the eleventh episode without finding out that MTV wasn't airing that episode.

Even though Colin-bashing is in vogue on TWoP, there are two things in his favor:
  1. He's not Matt Simon. The last thing that the viewers need is the guy in the green sweater lusting after Ruthie again.
  1. Out of the 36 people who have competed, Colin is the only one to finish in the Inner Circle every time. Not Ruthie, not Ellen, not Jamie or Mark. Factor in the twisted ankle he suffered during Tree House, and it's a small wonder he hasn't gone home. Oh, and if Colin is reading this? Jonny Moseley does not resemble the robot girl from Small Wonder, so quit cramming that down our throats, okay?
Memorable Moment: Getting 34 points running on top of cars with the twisted ankle with Mark.
While the guys might not be as dramatic as the ladies, their disciplined voting makes them the odds-on favorite to win the $150,000 grand prize.

This article is dedicated to the men's basketball team at Wagner College, my alma mater ('97). This past Wednesday, with a crowd of over 2,000 watching (myself included) they defeated St. Francis (NY) to win the Northeast Conference title and earn their first bid into the NCAA Tournament. Good luck and go Seahawks!

 Damn, I forgot about Wagner. They wound up getting pasted by Pittsburgh in the first round. Like I said in 2013, Northeast Conference teams usually peak in their tournament, before "March Madness" officially begins.  Looking back . . . how could anybody hate Blair? And why would I emphasize with Laterrian? Then again, he wasn't throwing any of my favorite people under a bus on a regular basis.  One funny bit about the next season of The Challenge in 2017 is seeing if the returning Shane is as orange as he was back then. From what I've seen, that's not really in vogue these days.