Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 7: Onward Christian Solider

I want to talk about Matt Smith. No, not the eleventh actor to play the lead in Doctor Who. I mean the honkiest honky to have ever honkied on a BMP show. The dude was whiter than Jon, Judd, Justin, Mike-Mike, Chet and Andrew. The dude was so white, he didn't need a nightlight to read because he could see off the glow of his pale, pale body.

When I jumped back on The Real World in 2000, he was the most relatable guy on the cast. I mean, overall, it was Melissa, all day/every day. But between the guy dubbed "Hip Hop Albino," Generic Frat Brah #230 (Jamie), The Ego That Walked Like A Man (David), and The Cuddliest Gay Guy Ever (Danny), I tended to gravitate towards Matt. He was a dork. The only girl he could attract was Julie, and he was mostly oblivious to that. Of course, there were differences. Matt was very religious. I don't think he had as much to lose going into the Belfort (that season's "maaaaaaaaaan-shun") (thank you, Melissa) as the ingenue from BYU, but God was a big part of Matt's life. I figured he was a longshot to play on The Challenge . . . and then Danny & Kelley became part of the winning team in Battle Of The Seasons, and Melissa almost went the distance in Battle Of The Sexes, so I guess he felt that he could make it. And he did. For a while. But he didn't mesh well with his teammates. I mean, I get pissing off and getting pissed off by Trishelle. But he ran smack into Coral. And this episode would be the last we'd see of that Matt Smith.

Also, I really did not like the fat suits in the mission at all. I remember Kim Reed covering the RW/RR Casting Special for 2001, and she complained that men dressed as women wasn't automatically hilarious. I feel the same about fat suits. And I am a little obnoxious about it here.

 Airdate: November 3, 2003
Recap Published: November 10, 2003

If Matt is in Telluride to save his teammates, who would save him from the Gauntlet? Meanwhile, fat equals funny. Just ask the producers.
Last week, I saw that this episode would involve fat suits, and I wanted to use the opportunity to make as many jokes about Donell from Road Rules: South Pacific as I possibly could. Then it was made clear to me that maybe I’m a little too obsessed about hating him. Also, watching this episode was like having tiny needles jabbed into my skin. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciated the feedback, and it’s always good to know that I’m not the only hater out there. But this episode bothered me. Then again, every episode bothers me in some way.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Sarah defeated David in Dead Man’s Drop. The instant I see this mentioned, I know she will get boned. She hasn’t been integral to the stories after that, so why else would the editors bother with that clip? Road Rules increased their bank to $40,000 after winning Holey Canoe. “Fourth mission in a row feels great,” Rachel R. says. “We’re on a really big winning streak.”

Waterfall. Shots of the town. Such a lovely day. How do you think the guys will spend it? If you said, “play games that involve alcohol,” give yourself a pat on the back. Matt’s looking on, since he’s not really down with that. “Who wants good conversation,” Dave asks Matt, “when you have beer pong?” Matt shrugs with a smile on his face. He interviews that he doesn’t want to sacrifice who he is for money.

Matt walks outside. Okay, here’s what bugs me about him. On the one hand, he is one tough cookie. He can take shots from the opposing team. He can put votes for Coral or Elka in the open. On the other hand, I think that he lays the Christian stuff too thick. Example: he starts talking to God. Oh, I’m sure he would be doing that if there were no cameras. “Dear God,” he starts, “sometimes I don’t even know why I’m here. I don’t live lives like most of these people.” True, I can’t see Matt bellying up to the Belly bar. The editors start piping in religious-sounding music, because Matt loves God and stuff. He interviews that he has good intentions, and giving every dime he gets to Life Teen is his reason for hanging in there. He opens his arms. I know he asked the producers to give him some Creed for this scene. “Thank you for the gift of life,” Matt concludes, “and I give it all to you every day. Amen.”

Coral: “Matt thinks he’s above everybody else, and that eventually will get your ass to the Gauntlet.” Oh, look. The pot just called the kettle a cab. Coral and Elka are at the same bar from two weeks ago. Elka feels bad for Matt, since some people like him. Coral retorts that there’s no choice but to like him. In the background, “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne plays. What kind of bar is this? Seriously, did the CD from Julie’s lame band not come in yet? Coral and Elka cackle. “He’s out!” Coral laughs. “Get out of here!” Elka: “God won’t save you now! You gotta pray for the Gauntlet!”

Nighttime. Mansion. Sarah tells Cara that during her bout against David, she saw some kids behind a fence cheering for her. This disturbs me. What parent would let their child watch Campus Crawl? Sarah interviews that she wants to change people’s minds about. “She’s a wonderful person,” Cara says of Sarah. “She’s got a lot to offer to the team, and I think that everyone should give her a break already.”

Morning. Breakfast. Darrell is eating cereal with his shirt off when the sponsor phone goes off. The only detail he reads out loud is that they’ll be picked up at 9 a.m. He immediately starts trash-talking Norman, of all people, saying that he’s too slow. “I’ll beat you in any race,” Norman replies. Darrell keeps going, banging his hand on the table.

Mission site. Jonny welcomes the players to Heavyweight Hustle. The object: traverse an obstacle course. Shots of hurdles, tires, and inflated balls. Jonny announces that the winning team gets $10,000 from a sponsor, which is also throwing in portable MP3 players, in case the two commercials during the show weren’t enough. Jonny’s cap: “Famous People Suck.” Well, I guess Jonny will never suck, then. Dave expositions that it’s an uphill course, which is tough enough with the thin air. Jonny adds that there’s an incentive for players to finish first: namely, the water cannons that can be fired at the opposing team. He adds the catch: the players have to run in costumes. He pulls back a tarp to reveal... fat suits. Naturally, this gets a laugh from the group, as the editors slip in some fat music.

On the Road Rules side, Steve comes up with a plan: crawl on each other’s backs like ants. Adam is enthusiastic, since the team has won every time they had a strategy. Darrell and Steve will run out in front to possess the cannon. Adam interviews that Steve has been getting votes for wanting to be first rather than to help the team. “He really needs to step up in the next mission,” Adam continues, “or he’s going to the Gauntlet.”

Over on the Real World side, Mike tells Trishelle to crawl over him. Matt wants to take the cannon as quickly as possible. Elka interviews that she has a doctor’s note forbidding her to compete in missions involving crawling or kneeling. We get a flashback to Mudball, where Elka slammed her knee to the ground really hard. Trishelle gripes that Rachel B. is playing with the same injury. “People are using the injuries to their advantage,” she notes, “because they won’t get voted into the Gauntlet.” First of all, how do we know that Rachel’s knee is as hurt as Elka’s? Second, Trishelle sat out of Mudball and nobody voted for her, so she’s full of it.

Into the fat suits. I can’t blame them for having a good ol’ time about this, since few of them have ever been heavy. It just irks me that the producers automatically equate “fat” to “funny.” That would explain Donell, though. “Hey, here’s a fat guy who shimmies and starts trouble! And he has little problem showing off his ample frame! Let’s put him on our show!” That’s just my issue. I mean, I don’t look like a skinny guy in a fat suit. You can’t hear me coming from a mile away, but I’m still vaguely insulted.

Sarah jokes that she feels as fat as she did in her season. Jonny holds a pair of extra-large red undies, used to differentiate between teams. “This looks like my last girlfriend,” he quips. If you’re offended by that, know that he might host the reunion in New York. Make plans, that’s all I’m saying. Abram gyrates around and I guess that’s about as much of a Donell homage as we’ll get. It would’ve been funny if he grabbed a knife and carved three notches into his suit. Irulan: “I always wanted to know what it felt like to be fat, and here I am!” Somewhere, Arissa (pregnant) and Brynn (had a kid) throw stuff at the television. Rachel B. wiggles in her suit, saying how she’s never had big breasts. I remember the first episode, where Coral and Trishelle were comparing headlights, and Rachel was just standing there. Nathan and Mike dance around. Matt: “How does it feel to be a fat white woman?” Theo G.: “I’ve been waiting for this whole life!” Okay, I laughed. “I’m a skinny man,” Matt interviews, “and I have a new perspective of the wild world of big!” Shut up, Matt.

Jonny gets the players ready, then blows his horn. More fat music. The players waddle-run through tires, and over and under hurdles. Nathan interviews that they’re already out of breath. To review: they’re running uphill, in fat suits, about a mile above sea level. I’m convinced Bunim and Murray want somebody to die in one of these Challenges. Both teams go over walls, with RR in the lead. “My knee!” Coral squeaks out. Turns out she landed on it hard. She continues to wail in pain. “We can’t have anyone that we need to pull,” Mike interviews. “Everyone needs to pull their own weight.”

More running. The players slip on the slick surface. Alton and Steve are in the lead for their teams, but Steve slides back down the ramp and Darrell passes him. Alton goes into a pit of balls and starts tossing them out. In the back, the RR team implements Steve’s plan of walking over each other. Adam complains that some of them are taking the time to rest. Alton and Darrell reach the water cannons and start spraying the field. The RRs lie down on the ramp. Veronica interviews that it’s harder to run over bodies than on the ramp itself.

Meanwhile, the RW side is moving ahead. Nathan interviews that they’re not winging it this time. A graphic shows that RW has three people finishing the course while RR has just one. Coral is pulled up by two teammates. RW rushes over the finish line. Airhorn. Adam realizes that they blew it.

Denouement. Jonny awards the $10,000 sponsor check to RW, which Norman accepts. Sarah interviews that the team strategy made things more difficult. Nathan boasts he could do the mission two more times, then he comically collapses. Jonny gives both teams 30 minutes to figure out who will be sacrificed into the Gauntlet.

Mansion. RR meeting. Adam urges everybody not to collaborate, in order to ensure that the stronger people will make a great team in the final mission. The players vote. Theo V. interviews that he’s voting Steve for his bad decision. “There’s a couple of people I can always count on,” Sarah interviews, “but for the most part, it’s the ever-present struggle to keep my ass on the team.” Rachel adds up the votes and announces Sarah will be heading to the Gauntlet. See what I meant about the editing? No subtlety. Laterrian interviews that he’d be insulted if he was in her position. Steve repeats what he said in the first episode about Sarah not deserving this, adding that she had not be in the bottom half of any mission. Sarah admits that it’s a blow to her ego. “Let’s hope lightning strikes twice,” she adds, “and perhaps my team will catch the hint that I want to be here.” She gives a slight fake smile.

RW meeting. Coral wastes little time getting Matt’s name out. “It’s just his turn,” she interviews. “Jesus loves you, Matt.” She then gives a thumbs-up sign and flashes a big fake smile. She could teach courses on insincerity, it’s that good a fake smile. Matt asks what his departure would do for the team. “He doesn’t really have any business in the Gauntlet,” Alton interviews. “Matt’s been nothing but a shining star.” Coral thinks Matt has an attitude about being the best. The kettle asks the pot if the cab has arrived yet. Matt: “Coral is antagonistic, aggressive and forceful... but not in the field.” The only things missing are a giant hand giving a thumbs up from a cloud and a voice booming, “GOOD ONE, DUDE!” Mike: “I think Coral is a very intimidating person. When you vote for her, you better well believe she’s going to vote right back at you.” Elka votes for Matt, since there are few women left and she wants a guy in the Gauntlet. She interviews that she forgives, but she doesn’t forget Matt voting for her. Look, Coral asked for his opinion and he gave it. Grow up. Mike feels that Matt is a strong competitor and he should go into the Gauntlet to stop future votes. Mike asks for hands voting in Matt, and most of the team (Matt included) oblige. Theo G. has a hard time with Matt going in. Matt figures some people don’t want him on the team, and it’s his time.

Gauntlet. Jonny goes over the usual stuff before bringing Sarah and Matt up. Real World has their clappers out. Matt genuflects the die before rolling it. See what I mean about doing religious stuff for the cameras? Drives me nuts. And he’s wearing his “PornDestroysWomen.org” t-shirt. Apparently, God was busy at that moment, since the die comes up Dead Man’s Drop, an event where Sarah had already taken out one of Matt’s ex-housemates. Of course, Sarah is happy. “I’m starting to feel that the Gauntlet’s my second home,” she interviews. “I hang out and kick people from the other team off. This is just what I do.”

Preparation. Matt has scrawled “God Is Love” on his bare chest. Did you know he’s religious? Me neither. The funny thing is that he has to wear a lifejacket anyway. Theo G. whispers something in Matt’s ear. “Matt is all about giving praise on and glory to God,” Theo notes. “I can’t ever knock anybody for that.” Remember, Theo’s father is a preacher. The trapezes are lowered into the water. Jonny goes over the rules again. Theo is wearing a Life Teen t-shirt. Jonny blows his horn. Matt’s legs are not bent completely over the bar. Reminds me of Laterrian from last season. Matt voiceover: “It’s gonna be a battle I’ve got to win.” Sarah voiceover: “Today isn’t the day I’m going home. Just give up, Matt. It’s over.”

Back from commercials, Sarah and Matt are still hanging. Irulan also has a Life Teen tee on. She interviews that Sarah didn’t want encouragement from her team, so she went over to the RR side and started cheering for Matt. That’s bad sportsmanship right there. Sarah’s got enough on her mind – she doesn’t need Irulan making things worse. Veronica grabs Irulan and pulls her arm down. Veronica interviews that she did it lightly, which is a total crock. Irulan keeps using her clapper. Veronica grabs her arm again and gets pushed for that. Meanwhile, Matt slips, barely able to hang on before falling in. Game Over. Note to anybody from the Belfort: if you see Sarah walking down the street, you better run. Matt paddles over to Sarah and hugs her. Darrell babbles that his team still has the upper hand.

Sarah interviews that she got a few pats on the back from her teammates before they got into the other team’s face. Veronica wonders why she can’t say anything. Irulan: “I don’t have to do what you ask me to do, Veronica! You don’t put your [bleeping] hands on me, period! Because you will get dropped!” Sarah wonders why they’re not comforting Matt and Irulan puts a dismissive hand out. “This kind of crap makes me wish I had gone home,” Sarah says.

Jonny reviews the event, calling Sarah “Queen of the Gauntlet.” Yeah, you better recognize. Trishelle fights back the tears. She was impressed by Matt as a person. This is from Trishelle, who would probably be a poster girl on Matt’s sites. I love irony. He tells the RR team that they deserve to stay, since they’re fighters. Sarah wipes her eye. “If everybody on either team was like Matt, this would be a very, very different game,” she interviews. “Who else would lose in the Gauntlet and go to that person that beat them a hug and a kiss? My team didn’t do that for me and my opponent did that. It never feels good to send a good person home.” While she’s talking, Matt’s doing the thing where it looks like he detaches a finger from his hand. He thinks that weak players sacrificing the strong ones is a stupid strategy.

Departure. Matt hugs Coral. Apparently, the consequences of mixing matter and anti-matter are highly overrated. “Unless the Real World gets its act together,” he interviews, “Road Rules is gonna walk all over us.” He gets hugged by Irulan and Norman. Good news: he’s wearing a new t-shirt. Bad news: it says “Abortion is Murder.” I don’t want to be plunged into serious debates on this stupid show. “My time has come to pass,” Matt interviews. “God answers prayers, but sometimes, the answer is ‘no.’” Make your own snide comment. He hugs Trishelle. “I hate to leave, but it’s time to go back and keep saving the world!” He hugs Theo G. before getting into the departing van. I want to comment on Matt in general, but I can’t. He’s like myself in some ways; he’s not like me in others. He isn’t a full-time pain like Donell, Jon, and the recently departed Andrew (the latter two from the current Survivor). No, he’s somebody who makes you laugh one episode and yell obscenities in the next one. Never thought I’d lump Matt with Chris/CT from the current Real World, but that’s his deal and I’m not touching upon him. Whatever hatred and resentment I have towards him, I’ll probably take it out on somebody else. But I miss the breakdancing. And the Steve Irwin impressions.

Mountain shots. Sarah is on the phone with her boyfriend, James. Don’t hyperventilate; it’s not Maximum Velocity Tour superjock James. Sarah talks about him on her site all the time. [2017: Cannot be found with Archive] She feels that she can’t hack it. “I’m really trying not to think about it,” she says. “It hurts my feelings that people are constantly stooping to a really petty level.” She tells James about the fighting. “What the [bleep] am I fighting to be here for?” she asks. I’m guessing there are at least 150,000 reasons for her to stay in the game. It’s not like she ever has to see these people again.

Trishelle and Mike sit outside the mansion. He tells her that Matt shouldn’t have gone home, since he earned the $10,000. Mike is wearing Jonny’s logo cap. Suck-up. “I know who our weak links are,” he says out loud. Cut to inside, where Coral and Elka are both smiling. Mike interviews that those two scare everybody and that they didn’t like Matt. “I have no problem voting off weak links,” he continues, “and we need to start wedding them [sic] people out.” Whoa! The Miz is busting out the steel chairs! Damn, “Jonny Fairplay” is getting to me. Anybody else thinking we might see Julie and Melissa together before Coral and Mike when this is all over?

Next week: Trishelle and Mike are on the dance floor. Norman says it’s not even a rumor that those two are an item. That’s an easy 40 points if you got them in the Fantasy Challenge. The next mission is called Sink Your Ship and it involves players on mini-rafts ramming into each other. Coral yells from the sideline. RW meeting: Mike votes for Elka. “I don’t know what Mike’s thinking right now,” Elka says. “I don’t know if his sexual relations is [sic] affect his vote.” Shot of a lightning bolt. Make your own Matt joke.

Damn, I forgot about James. I mean, I knew Sarah had a boyfriend at the time The Gauntlet was being filmed, but that would come up for different reasons. Reasons I will get into at the proper time. Also, I forgot I was watching Survivor: Pearl Islands when this season was airing. Cut to 2017, where Sandra getting voted off Game Changers is the second-worst thing that has happened in that season, and a few years after Rupert got a small chunk of votes in Indiana's gubernatorial race. As much as I feel he's an overrated blowhard who is also a Section 8, I'd take him over Mike Pence. And I brought up CT again. Did not think I'd become a full-on fan. I'm okay with Darrell on Invasion Of The Champions, but I have to root for CT to get a shot at winning his second Challenge next week.

PS: I have to include this poster I made in January 2009. What can I say? I'm a geek.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 6: Great Coral Grief

People who know me would not be surprised that I do not care for bullies. Grade school was tough. Junior high was a three-year nightmare. This extends to today, where a brainless blowhard is running the country, and numerous assholes and bitches throw their weight around on reality television. With that said . . . why the hell did I like Coral Jeanne Smith so much?

That was not the case from the start. In the big audition for The Real World and Road Rules (ripped off another BMP show, Making The Band), she got into lots of drama, including making out with a guy in the pool, and getting into bad words with Ellen. Remember that? Ellen shouted, "Kiss! My! Ass! Kiss my ass! Kiss my baby ass! Kiss my motherfucking baby ass!" Coral wound up getting to stay in New York for the season, and she was hard on a lot of people . . .especially Mike, when he told her about his racist uncle in the first episode. It looked like she'd be another in a long, long line of RW bitches.

But something funny happened. She lightened up. She indulged Mike's (then-farfetched) wrestling fantasies, playing "Coco Loco" to his "Miz." When Nicole tried to hook up with her boyfriend, Coral was in her corner, helping her out even after Nicole got drunk and vomited a few times. And when Lori couldn't do Battle Of The Seasons, Coral took her place as Mike's partner. They were never in danger of getting voted out, getting into the Inner Circle every time. Remember, Coral balked at helping her roommates out in their clash against Road Rules: The Quest, denying us the clash with Ellen that everybody wanted. And when Mike celebrated his 21th birthday by getting drunk and throwing a fit following losing out on winning a car, Coral picked up the pieces. Coral being on the winning team wasn't as unexpected as Danny Roberts and Kelley Limp making the final, but it was a pleasant surprise.

I get the Coral hate. There were times where she was out of line in ripping others . . . like with Ace (The Inferno) and Robin (Battle Of The Sexes 2). I've had at least one friend tell me that Coral is all bark and no bite. Her appeal for me isn't about her looks, the 32DD bra, or the fact that most of her "victims" had it coming (see: Stoffer, Julie). She had heart. When Sarah was at the lowest point in The Gauntlet, Coral comforted her. When Leah had her breakdown during The Inferno, Coral rode with her to the hospital. To me, Coral had more dimensions than a lot of her fellow competitors. And that's why it was tough to see the Veterans team gang up on her in Gauntlet III during their "Trim The Fat" kick. I know Coral is out there, and I hope she's doing well for herself. And if she's cracking vicious jokes at other people's expense, I won't hate her for it.

Thank you for sticking with this long prelude. I don't hate you if you skipped it entirely. And now, the recap.

 Airate: October 27, 2003
Recap Published: November 2, 2003
 
 
After a lopsided mission, Mike goes and breaks Coral’s heart. If you get off on the suffering of others, read on.
Previously on The Gauntlet: In Mudbath, Coral got eliminated early. Theo G.: “Three loses in a row. Something’s got to change.” In the Gauntlet, Rachel B. outlasted Katie in Hangman and sent her packing. Mike stated that the morale on the RW side was high. Sadly, no shots of Matt doing his happy dance. Shot of Coral and Mike hugging. Coral reminds us that she’s friends with Mike, and they won Battle of the Seasons together.

Outdoors shots. The players fast-motion walk to the mission site. Mission site? Already? No drama leading up to this? Wow, I am stunned. Jonny is wearing a red shirt with a white collar and a hat with his cute moguls skier logo on it. He’s Gilligan 2K3. He welcomes everybody to Holey Canoe. Feel free to roll your eyes. The objective: paddle a sinking canoe while bailing out water leaking through the hull. “I know the water’s coming,” Coral interviews, “and I know I’m going to be getting out of it. Water is just not my thing.” Jonny reminds them that the winning team gets to bank $10,0000. Veronica expositions that there are holes in the canoes and they’re half-filled with water to start.

Adam takes charge of Road Rules, showing them how to row. He admits that he never paddled a sinking canoe. On the Real World side, Matt’s giving instructions, since he’s an Eagle Scout with a canoeing merit badge. Coral starts in about not sinking the boat, cursing up a storm. The giggling you hear is everybody who has her in the MTV.com Fantasy Challenge, where individual bleeps net three points. “I understand the fact that Coral can’t swim,” Trishelle interviews, “but I don’t think that she should make people in the boat panic.” The bruises on her face give her the Racoon Girl look Arissa patented on the Las Vegas season. Coral feels the need to ask for somebody to look out for her. Yeah, this is going to end well. Mike interviews that he told Coral he would never vote for her. “She’s going to be scared, and we’re going to have to pull her,” he adds. “When we have this team, we can’t have anyone that we need to pull. Everyone needs to pull their own weight.”

Everybody gets loaded into the canoes. Jonny has found his beloved airhorn he lost last week and he sets it off. Both teams row and bail water. Trishelle interviews that Matt is yelling commands, but he’s in the front, and nobody in the back can hear him. The RW canoe careens into the RR lane, but the RR canoe is far enough ahead. “They’re running against themselves!” Adam yells to his crew. He interviews that the team is in unison. Meanwhile, the RW canoe hits the bank and they row backwards.

RR canoe: still running. Adam: “Paddle your asses off!” They reach the halfway point. Adam interviews that “Real World is so far behind, it’s awesome.” The RW canoe is still slogging, tilting towards one side. By the time RW hits the halfway point, RR finishes up, as several of the guys jump in the water.

RW canoe? Chaos. Everybody yells at each other. Norman interviews that half of the team wanted to quit. Trishelle tells us that Matt still yells instructions, which Irulan tries to relay them to the others, Elka is pissed, and Coral is freaking out. Norman concurs, saying that Coral was in front of him and she couldn’t keep focused. I guess it would be informative to mention that Coral once drowned and actually died in an inner tube mishap. True story... it was covered in the 2001 Casting Special and Seasons. I’m guessing not even the lifejacket could keep her calm. By the time RW gets to the finish line, everybody from RR is sitting, two minutes away from starting a picnic. “We were just zigzagging,” Nathan interviews, “we can’t get from Point A to Point B to save our life. It was really an embarrassing time to be a part of the Real World team.”

Denouement. Jonny: “I really thought it was a great effort from both teams.” I admire how he can say this with a straight face. He awards the $10,000 check to RR, upping their total to $40,000. The team’s ladies run up and embrace him, since he’s so darn huggable. Jonny gives the usual spiel: thirty minutes to send somebody into the Gauntlet.

Still at the mission site. Coral insists the team lost because they can’t talk to each other. Matt figures it’s a lack of communication. Of course, Coral cuts him off, cursing up a storm to the others. Nathan is wearing Jonny’s brand of hat. Suck-up. He tells Coral that yelling and cussing aggravates everybody, which Coral denies. “She’s gotta know that about herself,” Nathan interviews, “that she can attack a little too hard sometimes.” I think she knows, Nathan. Coral is still raging about what happened. “She intimidates everyone,” Mike interviews. “She hasn’t been that strong these missions. She hasn’t been pulling her weight. How many times do you let a person off until you put them in the Gauntlet?” Tense music plays as the camera switches between Mike and Coral.

Mansion. Road Rules meeting. Everybody writes their votes. “This is the most dramatic part because there’s no safety,” Adam interviews. “You win and then you lose.” Steve reads off the votes: Tina with 21, Roni and Veronica with 18 apiece, and Sarah with 19. To her credit, Tina takes it better than Katie did, as she pumps herself up. She interviews that she doesn’t know how her name came up, but admits feeling that it was her time. Veronica interviews that if Tina loses, it would hit the team hard. Rachel R.: “Tina hasn’t got last place, Veronica hasn’t, and they had the most votes today. It’s ridiculous.” Roni who? Sarah what? Exactly.

Outside. Veronica and Rachel R. go for a walk. Rachel wears a black shirt that says “Cocky.” She tells Veronica that she doesn’t want to take out the “heart and soul” of the girls. Veronica admits to being biased. Rachel goes on about Tina being a team player, and that the secret ballot gives the team a chance to vote on somebody who doesn’t deserve to go. You know, you’d think I’d feel for those two, since they were victims of Emily last season. But now there’s something a little off about them.

Mansion. Matt has a talk with Mike, calling him the team’s leader who has to be confident. Matt says that everybody on the team are friends, adding, “If a friendship cannot outlast something as petty as a Real World/Road Rules Challenge, then you really gotta wonder what the friendship is based on.” Wow. That was good. “Everyone feels this way about Coral,” Matt interviews, “that she’s not positive for the team. But everyone is afraid of Coral.” Preach on, Brother Matt. Mike nods at Matt. “I’m in a mix right now,” Mike tells us. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t whether to sit there and vote off my friends, or should I just keep on sitting back and watch this team fall apart.”

RW Meeting. Mike gets on the case of those who wanted to quit Holey Canoe, saying he finishes everything he starts. Theo G. decides to vote for Coral, since she hasn’t impressed him. Norman votes for Matt. Irulan thinks that Matt would have the best chance in the Gauntlet. Elka goes with Matt, as does Nathan. Matt votes for Coral, saying that it’s nothing personal. Trishelle doesn’t want to lose Matt as a teammate, so she votes for Coral. “We need people on our team who want to be there,” Trishelle interviews. Rachel B. says it’s bull to send Matt in, so she votes for Coral. A graphic shows that Matt and Coral have four votes apiece.

Mike covers his eyes. Coral voiceovers that Mike said he’d never vote for her. Mike looks like he’s going to die. If you have tissues, break them out now. He wonders whether it’s better to put a strong or weak player into the Gauntlet. “Coral,” Mike says, “I love you to death, but in the past three missions, you have been our weak link. I think Coral should go.” Some say she’s not ready. Coral looks like a deer caught in headlights. Mike looks ready to cry, like he just shot Old Yeller. Everybody talks at once. Coral decides to go out. Mike’s voice is quavering. He sobs about him and Coral on Battle of the Seasons, and it’s so hard for him to vote on her. Basically, you’re either crying with him, or shouting, “Dude! It’s a game show! Get a grip!”

Outside, Coral sits down while Norman wipes a tear from his eye. She gets approached by Irulan and Alton. When I’m down in the dumps, I want to be cheered up by those from the worst season ever. “I gotta go home!” Coral gripes. “This is my friend. My friend. My friend. Friendship!” If she’s forcing out a cry for the cameras, then she’s doing a damn good job. Mike looks on from the balcony. Good going, you jerk... you broke Coral! Alton tries to explain that Mike had “ten pairs of eyes” on him. Coral, sobbing: “He’s my boy. That’s my homie. That’s my homie.” She breaks out, Irulan hugs her and Alton has to light up a cigarette. Hell, I don’t smoke and I need a cigarette. That was exhausting.

After commercials, Coral and Mike have a talk. Coral figured they were better friends than this; she understood the vote, but he didn’t tell her ahead of time and she would never do that to him. I can see her doing that to others, but Mike is special to her. Or he was. And her voice hits the equivalent of Ellen’s squeaky high notes. It’s almost painful to watch. Mike says it was hard for him as well. “That’s your responsibility to take care of that,” Coral replies. “I’m your friend. You’re supposed to take care of me.” Mike makes a face. Coral mutters, “Something’s off.” Mike can’t figure out what that means.

Outside. Group meeting. Coral tells the team she has no problem going into the Gauntlet and she was just caught off guard because Mike is her friend. “It’s definitely a right decision for the game,” Mike interviews. “But when we get back to L.A., I don’t know if it’s the right decision for life.”

Gauntlet site. Jonny does the usual spiel: Coral vs. Tina (a.k.a. Discount Coral); winner stays, loser leaves. RR cheers on Tina, while Coral is more subdued. Tina rolls the die and it comes up Deadman’s Drop. Tina interviews that she’s ready to kick butt, while Coral says she doesn’t want to go home.

Game time. Jonny lays out the exposition: both players are raised on trapezes ten feet over the water. RW breaks out the noisemakers as they cheer for Coral. Jonny sounds the airhorn, reminding Coral not to grab her legs while hanging upside down.

Heavy techno music plays as we get shots of Coral and Tina, water dripping down their bodies. “I got strong legs,” Tina interviews. “I know I have this. All is good.” The RW side cheers for Coral, but she puts a finger on her lips and the editors turn down the volume. She turns her head, looking at Tina. Voiceover: “I want to see her shake.” Cue creepy music and cheesy scary effects. “I want to see her struggle.” The camera pans up to Tina’s legs as they wobble. Oh, no. This isn’t editing! Coral’s unleashing her Carrie-like powers! We’re doomed! Tina starts to shake while Coral calmly hangs upside-down. Mike roots for Coral, eager to get off the hook. Tina struggles, then drops into the water. Game over, another sub bites the dust. Back home, Jeremy, Chris, and Raquel squeamishly gulp. Mike is beside himself as Coral plays on the trapeze. “The Coral I saw in the Gauntlet,” Mike voiceovers, “was the Coral I used to have in Battle of the Seasons.” The RW team hugs Coral.

On the RR side, Tina cries. You know something? I’m not getting any joy from this. Seriously, after Tina worked my last nerve on South Pacific, I was all but planning a party for when this happened. But she hasn’t gotten me that worked up here. Of course, if you quote me saying that, I will deny it. “Losing Tina was a really hard hit for the team,” Roni interviews. “She did so well in all the missions, and now she’s leaving. It doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t feel just.”

Mansion. Tina packs her stuff. Veronica tells a few of her teammates that Tina wasn’t sent into the Gauntlet to win. Rachel R. sees a few people getting targeted by others. Veronica corners Abram, asking him who would get voted on based on performance. Abram says he votes on who can perform. Veronica: “The guys are scared to sacrifice another guy into the Gauntlet.”

Meeting of the guys. Adam’s t-shirt: “I didn’t come to L.A. to take your order!” Remember when I said I didn’t hate Adam? Yeah, I take that back. Theo V. thinks the team needs five guys. Dave adds that a lot of people aren’t going to be happy. “The girls are probably all going to be off before the guys go,” he interviews, “which sucks, but it’s just good for the team, you know?” Three things. One: Like Irulan said, the teams are co-ed for a reason and an imbalance could potentially sink a team. Two: Dave just made me agree with somebody from Las Vegas. Three: Five-to-one says Dave had to ask Cara if he could say that on camera. Man, the RR side is just full of themselves this week.

Soft guitar music. Tina says goodbye to the team. She interviews that she made a lot of friends and that it hurts to go. “Positive energy,” she adds. “Positive karma. For the people who play this dirty? What goes around comes around.” Not on this show, but maybe she’ll be right.

Coral sits in the kitchen as she tells Elka she expected a vote from her before Mike. “He should’ve given me a heads-up,” she continues. “He knew he was gonna vote like that.” The soft guitar continues as we go back to Battle of the Seasons. Coral does the victory shimmy after winning $50,000 and not being obliged to share it with Holly. Coral smacks Mike with a cue card during Sidekick Showdown. They play with the oversized ticket to the Blockbuster Awards for winning. Coral comforts Mike after one of his Miz rampages. That was tough for me to take; BOTS was the first time I found myself liking those two. Hopefully, these two are still friends as I write this. Then again, I never imagined good friends Julie and Melissa would be at odds two years after their season, so who knows which way the wind will blow. I need some cheering up.

Next week: I’m going to cheer up. Fat suits! And since Donell made The Smoking Gun again, I feel the need to make jokes at his expense. Yay! Anyway, Rachel B. wiggles sweetly in her suit. “My boobs are sticking out to there,” she interviews. “How am I supposed to climb over a wall like that?” The players go through tires and over walls. In the Gauntlet, Irulan uses her noisemaker, which Veronica tries to grab. Adam: “You can’t cheer for your own team and you need to go out and buy some mechanical noisemaker? More power to you. I know you’re weak.” Shut up. Irulan: “I don’t have to do what you ask me to do, Veronica! You don’t put your [bleeping] hands on me, period!”

I know you readers are out there. Should I succumb to the urge to make Donell jokes in my next recap, kicking the man when he’s down because he was the worst part of the worst Road Rules season ever? Or should I play it classy, even if BMP indulges my fantasy of a two-minute sequence of Abram looking at a fat suit, flashing back to the Rumble Down Under? E-mail me at [REDACTED]. All opinions will be considered.

This is the start of the postscript. Donell? Hated him. The other recappers frowned at my looking for "he-so-fat" jokes. In retrospect, I can't say that I blame them for that. It's just . . . how many heavy people have been on a BMP show and not been a tool? The only one is Sharon from RW: London, and she & Race Car Mike lasted two missions on Battle Of The Seasons because nobody liked Beth. Jon was collateral damage. It's funny that Abram would get kicked off two editions of Road Rules, and yet I had no problems with the people he beat up. As you'll see throughout this season, Adam needed a beating so, so bad. Seriously, how many large people are on reality TV that did not come off as pantloads? And I'm not talking about TLC shows.

Speaking of the future coming from 2003 . . . this would be a tough season for Coral and Mike, between this round, Mike's romance with Trishelle (can I call it a "showmance" if the term hadn't been coined at that time?), and the last few episodes. They make for a good pair, though. I have an issue of GQ where a writer followed those two and Melissa around. I'm convinced that if an organization had raised money for charity by auctioning off a dinner with those three, they would've made four figures, easy. I hope Coral and Mike are still friends. In the end, I think The Miz will always need Coco Loco.

Speaking of Mike . . . today, I found out from Facebook that he will be hosting the post-season episode for The Challenge: Invasion Of The Champions. Better him than some nobody from an MTV show barely anybody watches. And he's competed alongside and against CT, Darrell and Shane, so it'll be a reunion for him as well.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 5: Rocky Roads

How do I remember this episode? Back then, I had kept in touch with Sarah. Back during her brief time on Road Rules: Campus Crawl in 2002, she posted semi-regularly on the Mighty Big TV forums (I forget when they switched names to Television Without Pity). Since I was neurotic and not liking any of the cast members (except maybe for Kendall's coat, which was rad), we shared occasional  correspondence. Before this episode, Sarah told me that several BMP personalities were going to tend bar at Calico Jack's on 42nd St. and Second Avenue in Manhattan. Funny enough, I had been in that area before, back when I was visiting talk shows to write about, and I sat on a taping of Judge Mills Lane. That's the guy who decided the contested mission in Extreme Challenge. I don't remember if Sarah would be who was coming. If she did, I was good with it, because there wasn't an overt bitch or asshole in the bunch.

The big problem? I was sick. Very sick. Not hallucinating Emily Bailey coming at me with a bloody axe sick, but I wasn't at my peak. I went anyway, on the day after this episode aired, and I had fun. Since I was (and still am) awkward, I didn't chat up people too much. At that often, I had gone to three TARCons (the post-season finale party celebrating The Amazing Race) and had met "celebrities," but it still felt like walking through a wall. I can remember Roni (perhaps the most underexposed two-time Challenge winner ever) dancing on the bar. And the Antoine tried it, but he was pulled down because only women were allowed to do that. I met Sarah in-person, chatted up Elka, and got to talk with Steve, whom I had also kept in contact with, along with his girlfriend. I had my picture taken with him, but I lost it. Oh, and I saw Rachel Braband up-close. The girl was tall. At least 5'10" in sneakers. I liked her on Real World: Back to New York. She couldn't compare as an ingenue to Julie, but I felt she was cool.

Enough reminiscing. Onto the recap . . . 

Airdate: October 20, 2003
Recap Published: October 27, 2003

Do you scream for ice cream? Or one cast member’s return to the Gauntlet? How about Matt busting a move? Read on, and stay away from dairy products.
Well, this past week has been eventful. I’ve been sick. Really sick. Road Rules: South Pacific sick. Also, this past Wednesday, I went to a bar in Manhattan, where several cast members were taking turns bartending. This is all that I can say for now: you have not lived until you’ve seen Antoine dance on a bar alongside some hot women, Coyote Ugly-style. Seriously, the guy is as much fun in person as he was on Battle of the Sexes.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Road Rules won Mudbath, increasing their bank to $20,000. Tonya hobbled with her bulky leg brace. Rachel B. interviews that the Real World team is bruised and broken. In footage we didn’t see last time, Nathan gets pissy, and Coral yells for somebody to shut up. BMP skips past Steve’s win in Perfect Fit, showing Tonya going home. Trishelle reminds us that she is Katie’s roommate, and they’re best friends. Katie doesn’t think too highly of her team.

Mountain shots. The Road Rules women are sunbathing. Rachel R. has a problem with Katie telling Real World about voting strategy. Basically, the secret of the “three two one” must be as closely guarded as nuclear reactor plans or the mystery of the seven herbs and spices at KFC. “Some of the people have a problem with me hanging out with Real Worlders,” Katie interviews. “I’m not stupid. I don’t want them to win. I like them better, but I don’t want them to win.” Tina tells Katie that the mistrust separates her from the others. Cara chimes in about how she was lying on the floor with “my boyfriend” when she heard Katie talking to Alton and Irulan about the voting. Scandalous! Rachel interviews that she’s trying to sabotage the team. “If Katie does not stop running her mouth,” she adds, “she will go to The Gauntlet.” Once again: has Rachel forgotten her experiences with Emily? And to think I felt bad for her back then. Katie insists she wasn’t trying to screw anybody over.

Night. Elka reads the clues off the mission phone: 7:30 a.m., wear team colors, bathing suits, sweaters, sweatpants, and sneakers. Norman wonders if they can bring their wheelchairs, canes and walkers. He interviews, “I have never had this many bruises, scrapes, scabs, and stitches since seventh grade.” Trishelle holds some ice over her eye. Elka interviews that the team is completely depressed, but they have to put on a good face for the missions.

Daytime in Telluride, outside a place called The Sweet Life. Jonny welcomes everybody to I Scream, which is “just a good ol’-fashioned ice cream eating contest.” Everybody cheers, which means that their local leaks were dead-on, if Sarah’s recaps are to be believed. “I’m excited, because it’s better then eating something nasty,” Roni interviews. “I’d rather eat ice cream any day.” They leave out the part where she remembers the days when the RV had no engine and five people had to push it cross-country.

Jonny spells out the objective: first team to finish their ice cream sundae wins. The catch? No utensils; they have to eat with their hands tied because their backs. Nathan is still wearing his dot-com shirt, and Steve still has his “Rozelle” headband on. Jonny adds that only four players can eat at one time, and throwing up results in disqualification. Throw in some nasty cow parts, and this is a Campus Crawl mission. Oh, and the winning team gets $10,000 to bank.

The players walk into the ice cream shop. Matt interviews that RW has three less people, adding, “We have got to set some momentum, or otherwise this is going to be a blowout.” Cut to a shot of one of the massive ice cream sundaes. I miss ice cream. It sucks to be sick. The players come in with their swimsuits and wool hats. They look like dorks, to be honest. “I’m not really sure how much ice cream I’m gonna be able to store,” Theo V. interviews. “My head’s already filled with two scoops of snot.” I think I got three right now. More players enter. Tina interviews about thinking she’s in heaven when she saw the ice cream. Did any of these people watch Campus Crawl? Food in a mission is never a good thing.

Jonny sounds the airhorn and everybody starts to dig in. Roni interviews that the strategy for Road Rules is to rotate with two men and two women. Cara adds that the idea is to take a big bite, then step back. Norman’s face is covered in whipped cream. He interviews about the three-person disadvantage, adding “once again, we have to man up and do it.” Elapsed time: six minutes. Norman looks like he’s smoothing the ice cream with his chin. “I don’t know what happened to me,” he interviews. “I just turned into a raging eating psycho machine.” Jonny yells that RW is barely ahead. Theo V. interviews that the current strategy might be losing the RR time some time.

Elapsed time: 9:00. Some crap comes out of Adam’s nose. Theo V. has a vanilla beard to go with the Santa hat. Cara interviews that some people are becoming ill. Laterrian has a streamer of caramel coming out of his nose. That’ll make you lactose intolerant. “I’m a complete germophobe,” Rachel B. interviews. “The thought of ingesting ice cream that’s been sucked in the nose and blown out the mouth makes me want to throw up.” Alton pukes up some chocolate. Tina thought it was going to be fun, but now, “this is the grossest thing I’ve ever partaken in.” Adam looks ready to throw up.

More eating. Nathan uses his forehead to smooth things out. He has Rocky Road up his nose, chocolate chip cookie dough in his ear, and fudge down his throat. Elasped time: 13:00. I feel bad for Trishelle. A concussion and an ice cream headache can’t be a good combination. Both plates are almost clean. “We have three less bellies in there,” Irulan interviews, “and we’re still holding our own.” The screen splits in two as we go into commercial.

Coming back, Jonny blows his airhorn, signaling a win for Road Rules. “That’s the sickest thing I’ve ever done,” Theo V. says. “It was like disappearing from this world that I know, into this dark, cold mint chocolate world.” Does anything this boy says get cut? Theo G. grouses that RW has lost three missions in a row and something has to change. Just like in Campus Crawl, the puke bucket gets passed around. These people won’t be eating at Baskin-Robbins anytime soon.

Jonny congratulates RW for their performance, then he awards the $10,000 check to RR. Steve accepts it, wearing a Santa hat. A few people rush off to purge themselves. “I can’t stress enough how much I don’t like sharing germs,” Rachel B. interviews, “but to share germs and not get $10,000? Give me a break.” Jonny gives both teams 30 minutes to figure out who’s going to The Gauntlet.

Mansion. Real World Meeting. Nathan doesn’t want to send another male, pointing out every guy he saw had ice cream coming out of the nose. He leaves out Matt for some reason. Irulan interviews that the vote is based on performance and team dynamics. Alton agrees with Nathan, but Coral thinks the girls are getting picked on. “These teams are co-ed for a reason,” Irulan offers. “If we keep sacrificing the girls, at some point that’s gonna pull the team down.” Coral swears that there’s a check on the wall and that Elka got it. “I think it should be even,” Coral interviews. “I don’t necessarily think that automatically because I have two nipples, that I should be going to the Gauntlet.” I’m sure men have two nipples as well, Coral. Let’s go to the medical place to check.

Now Coral asks Matt what he thinks. Soundtrack: “Careful what you choose.” A better option would’ve been Admiral Ackbar from Return of the Jedi shouting, “It’s a trap! Call back the fleet!” Matt suggests Elka for her injured knee. Wrong answer, blondie. Elka interviews that she’s very offended that he put her name out there. “If things continue on the way that they’re going with Matt,” she adds, “I think he might be the next one on the chopping block.”

Rachel understands where Coral is coming from, saying that RR still has seven guys. Theo adds that out of those voted off, David’s departure hurt the worst, and it might be the same if another guy loses. Coral suggests sending a girl. Nathan asks Rachel what she thinks, adding that she is the strongest and most limber girl that RW has. Honestly, I can’t see her as the strongest. Tallest? For sure. She’s a blonde beanstalk. Rachel says she’ll go to the Gauntlet if they want her. Mike lifts his head dramatically. Nathan keeps buttering her up, saying that she would win. Rachel thinks she has a chance, and just like that, another of my favorite people gets put into jeopardy. It was so much easier last season, when I only worried about Melissa and she was never put into peril. “Nobody wants to feel like they’re being sacrificed,” Rachel interviews, “but my team needs somebody to step up, and that person’s going to be me.”

Road Rules meeting. Dave interviews that nobody wants to have their feeling hurt. Cara starts reading off votes. Darrell goes over the “three two one” procedure for those of us just tuning in. Tina has 14 points, Abram has 16, and Katie has 23. Okay, so I won’t have a Sarah/David “lose/lose” Gauntlet this week. “Being sacrificed to the Gauntlet is a scary thought to me,” Tina interviews. “I know I can handle it, but I don’t like the intensity of proving myself to my team members.” Poor girl. It’s not as easy as last time, where she tried to shred Mary-Beth’s self-esteem and was immune from the vote. Darrell reads off the votes. He reveals that he gave Abram a three for his two disqualifications, trying to give him a wake-up call. “When it comes down to the end,” Darrell adds, “we can’t be having those foul-up mistakes over no $150,000, because I’m gonna be hot.” Rachel R. interviews that Katie isn’t helping the team. “At this point, she really doesn’t care anymore,” she adds. Katie thinks that those who have already been to the Gauntlet shouldn’t immediately go back, and maybe the team wants her gone. Cut to a shot of Veronica and Rachel. Back home, Emily absently polishes her bloody axe.

Adam adds up the votes and announces that Katie is going into the Gauntlet. Katie is blasé this time, interviewing that she dealt with the dramatics last time. She asks the team to keep their distance from her should she win. “If they keep voting me,” she interviews, “I don’t wanna be a part of this team anyways.”

Gauntlet Site. Jonny welcomes everybody and goes over the obvious: winner stays, loser goes back home, doomed to work for The Man. Mike has his arms around Rachel’s shoulders. Once again, I dig the intra-season love. Jonny calls up “Rachel B.,” which makes me feel vindicated. It would be too easy to just say “Skinny Hetero Rachel” and “Muscular Lesbian Rachel.” The RW side breaks out the noisemakers as Rachel walks up with a smile. Katie gets cheers from her side as she’s called up. Since RR won I Scream, Katie rolls the die, which comes up Hangman. Jonny expositions for those of us who didn’t watch Battle of the Seasons: both players hang on to a trapeze over the water. The person who holds on the longest wins.

Katie interviews that Rachel is competitive but not physically strong, and she feels confident even though she’s half Rachel’s size. It also doesn’t hurt that Katie beat Rachel in oil wrestling during “Duel In The Desert” two years ago. Yes, I remember that. Yes, I’m sad. Meanwhile, Nathan, who looks a little like Puck, offers encouragement to Rachel. “She’s not gonna hang on long,” he tells her. “She’s an Oompa-Loompa.” Next to Rachel, isn’t every girl an Oompa-Loompa? Melissa and Ruthie would be Oompa-Loompa children by comparison. Rachel thinks she can beat Katie, adding “Her little ass is going home!” Wow. You go, aggressive Rachel.

Jonny yells for both players to go. I guess he lost his airhorn. Katie and Rachel dive into the pool, grabbing the trapezes, which slowly rise. The camera zooms on Rachel, as she drops a little, her face frozen in a stunned way, as we go into commercial.

We get a replay of Rachel’s look, which translates to, “What the hell did I get myself into?” Nathan yells nonstop encouragement as Rachel relaxes, as does Katie. Rachel interviews about going into the zone. Katie closes her eyes, struggling with her trapeze. She interviews that her bar is already wet and her hands are slippery. She starts kicking, really struggling, before dropping into the pool. Game over. RW celebrates not losing somebody. Rachel drops into the water, getting pulled out by her teammates. “We need a turnaround,” she interviews, “and I’m really excited that I can be the person who gave the team that.” On the other side, the RR team looks glum, particularly Tina.

Jonny announces that Rachel won and Katie is going home. “It’s better off that she goes than she stays and gives away our strategies,” Rachel R. interviews. “We need people that need to be part of the team.” Yeah, heaven forbid Katie should stay. She’d give away the recipe for Coke if she worked there. Katie is embarrassed, saying she never experienced this in her life. Jonny reviews that RR still has 13 people left, while RW has 11. “Rachel gave The Real World hope,” Matt interviews. “We needed hope. No one else is going home. That’s how it’s gonna work.”

Mansion. Katie packs up as Trishelle watches. Katie figures that Abram should have been in there instead of her. “This game is not fair,” Trishelle tells her. “It’s not designed to be, and it’s never going to be.” She interviews that she wants her team to win, but wants her best friend to stay. Hey, maybe Trishelle could invite Katie to The Surreal Life house. Double date with Vanilla Ice and Ron Jeremy!

Departure. Katie wishes her team luck. “Play a little bit more fair,” she interviews. “Stop sending the same people into the Gauntlet. Hopefully, I’ll hang out with some of you again. Hopefully, some of you I’ll never see again.” Cut to black and white shot of Veronica and Rachel R. I’m starting to wish for a steel cage death match with Veronica and Rachel versus Katie and Emily.

Restaurant. RR table. Theo V. feels the momentum is going their way. Adam admits the team is more streamlined without Katie. “The best thing we can do for our team is keep each other around,” he interviews. “If you don’t win, it sucks. If you lose a teammate, it’s the worst.” Rachel R. chimes in that without Katie, the team is more united. She adds, “Now, I don’t really think there’s anybody we’re worried about.”

Nighttime. Bar. Lots of dancing cast members. No Antoine though, so I think I got them beat. Mike interviews that winning the Gauntlet improved morale. Matt... oh, sweet mercy. Matt is dancing. If you’ve ever watched his season, you know Matt dancing is an event, with all of his spastic movements. And he’s having so much fun with it. “Finally, the Real World doesn’t suck!” he interviews with gusto. “We’re not just a bunch of spoiled brats picked to live in a mansion! But gosh darn it, we won something!” He’s such a goober, but he’s a cute goober. At the bar, Coral and Elka apparently look at Matt busting a move. Elka interviews that she’s upset about Matt putting her name out. He was asked for his opinion, he gave it, so what’s the problem? “I think that she has a bad taste in her mouth,” Coral interviews, “and he is going down!” The ladies clink their glasses.

Next time: Rowing! There are holes in the canoes. I start looking for Osten to stand in front, weighing his team down. At the RW meeting, Mike calls Coral a weak link, and thinks she should go into the Gauntlet. She stalks off... and cries. Coral cries. Sobs about Mike being her homie to Alton, who needs to light up a cigarette while she bawls. Should be a fun episode.

 First of all, Katie made Challenge history by being the first person to engage in two endgames. Like I said last time, we would be seeing more of her in the future. Secondly, if you had to dive for old footage, you HAVE to see Matt dancing, either on this season or RW: New Orleans. Truth be told, none of those cast members could pull it off, but Matt and Julie were especially tragic. One sad thing is that I can't get Sarah's recaps via Archive.org. The mission was more gross than we can imagine. If I recall correctly, there was a point that didn't make the cut where Roni was screaming at a teammate to spit ice cream in her mouth. She had game. There would be moments where she shined, but this was one we should have seen on television.

You know something sad? I saw Sarah again last summer, and I was still squirrely around her. I don't think it's a "celebrity" thing, even though it's been a while since I've gone to TARCon, and I can't remember interacting with anybody from BMP after that night in 2003. She was acting in the Fringe Festival, and there was an afterparty. And it took me forever to get to her, because I was nervous. I don't identify that greatly with BMP folks aside from Sarah and Melissa, and I acted like a dope meeting them. She probably remembered me and was cool. I am happy that she found a path after her two stints on BMP (three if you count the intraseason clash in RR: South Pacific). After the grief Sarah endured, I'd say she earned some happiness.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 4: Mud & Guts


Not much to say about this episode, to be honest. A funny thing is that when I copy my recaps from Archive.org, the pictures don't usually come up. In this case, we have Trishelle with her busted face. I swear, I don't have it out for her today, even though I really wasn't a fan of hers. This season, The Inferno, Battle Of The Seasons, and Rivals II, where she bailed on Sarah Rice. And around the time this episode aired, it was announced that she had been cast for the second season of The Surreal Life. Did not like her there, either, though nobody deserves to be savaged by friggin' Sally Jesse Raphael. My dislike for her is a story in of itself, and I don't feel like talking about it now. Oh, and Trishelle was in William Hung's video for "She Bangs." So sad. So sad.

Also, the World Series was happening around this time. That was the one where the Yankees, exhausted by their epic seven-game series against the Red Sox, got trampled by the Florida Marlins. That wouldn't play out yet. As a Mets fan, I wasn't that happy. Then again, Mets fans are seldom happy.

Airdate: October 13, 2003
Recap Published: October 21, 2003

The players get dirty in the mud, Trishelle gets banged up before the mission, and an injured player faces elimination in the Gauntlet.
By the time you read this, the World Series is now under way. It promises to be a wonderful World Series this year... unless you’re a Mets fan like me, then you can only hope for the ticker-tape parade gets delayed by a week’s worth of rain. Yes, being a Mets fan in October is much like being the Grinch, frowning down upon all the happy residents of Whoville. And the only way my heart will grow two sizes too big is if Mets management makes some good moves. Or if I eat myself into a mild coma.

Previously on The Gauntlet: each team won a challenge and $10,000 for their banks. Katie was inexplicably voted into the Gauntlet and she did not take it well. She managed to stay on, defeating Montana in Ride ‘Em Cowboy, living to invoke her Tragic White Girl Head Bob in Veronica’s direction. “She thinks that she’s not going to get sent to the Gauntlet,” Veronica interviews, “she’s got another thing coming to her.” Don’t you have roommates to rip off, Veronica?

Credits. It’s worse than last week, since Montana and David share the same space. I try to put some positive voiceovers in there. Montana: “Hey! Don’t worry about us! Me and David, we’re having a party in here!” David: “Yeah, please don’t tell Matt. If he finds out we’re drinking virgin margaritas, he’ll never leave!”

Awesome shot of Telluride, in the valley of the mountains. Katie is hanging with Trishelle and Nathan. He’s still wearing the same dot-com shirt from previous episodes. Very sad. He wonders what the next challenge will be. Katie figures that it’ll be something extreme, and she’ll end up in the Gauntlet again, since she hates her team as much as they hate her. She interviews that she doesn’t think the voting is fair. “I try to remember it’s a game,” she says, “instead of taking everything so personally.” Yeah, good luck with that. She tells Nathan that she’s not used to people not liking her, but she’ll remain fierce in competition. Trishelle interviews that Road Rules is sabotaging themselves with their dishonesty. Katie rants some more. Then Nathan plans on going mountain biking.

Country shots. Trishelle interviews this is her first time on a mountain bike. Cue the tense music, and a really, really lame black-and-white shot of a bike rolling by itself. Norman is on the cell, with Matt nearby. The news? Trishelle fell from her bike, going over the handlebars. Norman on the phone: “Then she needs to go to a medical place.” I don’t know what’s funnier: Norman using that term or Matt nodding as if to say, “Yeah, I’ve heard of those.”

Emergency sign. Some of the players enter the room. Trishelle’s face is banged up. She says that she went too fast, pressed the forward brake, and went over the bike, rolling down the hill in the process. Katie takes a picture. Trishelle says she’ll be back tonight and the others leave. Mike stays behind, hugging her. “I definitely saw a side that I never seen of Trishelle,” he interviews. “I believe that she has the biggest heart I’ve ever seen out of a girl.” Mike, did Tara mean nothing to you? Trishelle interviews that she’s thankful to be on a team with Mike. He asks if she has scratches on her chest. Such a smooth operator, isn’t he? She laughs, “I do, and you’re not touching them!” [Editor’s Note: FYI, it was just announced that Trishelle will be on the second edition of The Surreal Life.]

Sunset. Nighttime at the mansion. Veronica and Matt read off the clues on the sponsor phone: challenge tomorrow at 9 a.m., wear bathing suits and sandals with team colors. Adam: “I have a feeling we’re either going to get messy or wet.” Trishelle interviews that she feels fine, but she admits to others that she has a concussion. She adds, “I’m not gonna let something like this affect my ability to compete at missions.”

New day. New site. Jonny welcomes everybody to Mudbath, a last-man-standing challenge. The objective: secure giant balls from the mud pit to the safety zone. The catch: there will always be three less balls than players, and the three players who don’t have balls at the end of the round are eliminated. Like in basketball, the ball can be stolen, without intentional physical contact. Theo V. drawls what Jonny just said in his interview, but he adds “save your soul.” Hey, that’s Matt’s department. Last person standing gets $10,000 for the team bank. Tina expositions that her team has a two-person advantage.

Both teams talk strategy. Alton interviews that RW has to win for the sake of morale. Trishelle meets with Emil, the on-site EMT. He tells her that she could exasperate the concussion, even though she’s not worried about it. Norman expositions that RW is now down by three players, since Trishelle is sidelined, and they have to go in twice as hard. Theo V. urges his team to “go nuts,” thinking that speed and strength will win it. Adam figures that RR has momentum since winning a challenge and two Gauntlets. Jonny gets everybody ready on his megaphone. Matt: “Any time you put mud and balls together, it’s gonna get dirty!”

After the commercials, Jonny blows his airhorn. There’s running, grabbing, and rolling. As the mud clears, Katie looks around as teammate Rachel R. rolls her ball back to the safety zone. Airhorn. Eliminated: Katie, Cara, Coral. “I am very nervous at this point,” Katie voiceovers. “I’m assuming right now that I am at risk for getting voted into the Gauntlet again.”

Round Two. A graphic shows that Road Rules is up 12-10, player-wise. Nathan: “We are looking to knock teeth out.” Theo V.: “It’s all about putting the pain on somebody else.” Airhorn. Scramble. Abram knocks Mike down. Elka staggers to her feet. Norman tackles Abram from behind, and Mike gets control of his ball. Airhorn. Eliminated: Abram, Elka, Norman. Jonny tells Abram he was out for tackling. Abram interviews that he didn’t mean to wrestle Mike. Darrell expositions that Norman was disqualified for his tackle.

Round Three. Road Rules leads, 11-8. Airhorn. Scramble. Sarah and Tonya wrestle for a ball. Tonya elbows Sarah, knocking her down. But Dave comes in, controlling his own ball, and stops Tonya’s ball, making her fall in the process. Like he’s been doing this for years. As Tonya chases after Dave, Sarah rolls on to safety. Irulan makes a run at Dave, but fails. Cut to another battle: Veronica vs. Rachel B. Soon, Tonya and Irulan join the scrum, as Rachel sits down, obviously overmatched. Alton jumps up and down, cheering Irulan on as she manages to pull the ball away, staying in the game. Irulan: “I don’t think that anybody has any clue about how much we will go balls-out to win this money. We are animals!” Eliminated: Tonya, Rachel B., Veronica.

Tonya interviews that after she was called out, she noticed her knee was swollen. As Rachel B. gets her knee examined, Alton expositions that Elka got her knees scraped, and Matt got cut above his eye. The others tell Matt his wound makes him look tough, and he smiles.

The players get ready. “When there’s money at stake,” Adam interviews, “you don’t want to play musical chairs. You don’t want to play Parcheesi. There are gnarly challenges.” Airhorn. Road Rules leads, 10-6. Scramble. Eliminated: Steve, Theo G., Tina.

Round Five. Road Rules up, 8-5. Airhorn. Scramble. Three RR girls are left running in the middle, which pumps RW up. Eliminated: Rachel R., Roni, Sarah. I’ve never seen Matt this excited before. “ Real World’s gonna take this all the way!” he interviews. “We’re tough, we got blood, we got mud, we got guts, and we’ll take this all the way to ten G’s!” Looks like somebody got an adrenaline rush. On the other side, Theo V. tells the team to go man-to-man, adding, “we got the numbers, let’s put this away.”

Round Six. Tied 5-5. Adam takes a headstart before the horn, and Coral calls him on it. Jonny orders him to the penalty box after the scramble. Eliminated: Adam, Nathan (making a severe Popeye face), and Irulan.

Round Seven. Road Rules up, 4-3. Airhorn. Scramble. One guy falls right away. Alton takes Darrell out from behind, grabbing and bouncing off the ball. Meanwhile, Mike almost takes Laterrian out. Darrell confirms that Alton was cheating. “They can cheat all they want,” he adds. “They’re still not gonna keep my hands off that ball.” Alton gets ordered into the penalty box. Eliminated: Alton, Mike, Theo V.

Jonny announces the remaining people: Matt from RW; Laterrian, Darrell, and Dave from RR. Matt voiceovers that it’s do-or-die time, as he genuflects. I normally frown on that, but given the odds, I don’t blame him.

Airhorn. The RRs get the balls first and Matt has no chance. He comes close to pulling Laterrian’s shorts down. Game over. Road Rules wins Mudbath. I keep hearing a chorus of “Hoo-Rah!” off-camera. The RWs praise for his performance. Heck, even Coral looks happy for him.

Jonny awards the $10,000 check to Road Rules. Alton has a perfect handprint on his face. Darrell, Dave and Laterrian accept the check, boosting their bank to $20,000. Jonny instructs both sides to figure out who will go to the Gauntlet.

Mansion. Turns out Elka has an infection. Whether it’s from Mudbath or Snake Soup is not revealed. Tonya hobbles in on crutches, wearing a knee brace. She tells the others she tore her meniscus and she starts rehab tomorrow. Elka interviews that the team is demoralized enough after the loss and they’re feeling low.

RW Meeting. Coral holds the floor, since she has what appears to be Mike’s wrestling belt. She asks who can go to the Gauntlet at this point, then volunteers herself. Irulan wields the belt, saying she and Alton are ready if they’re needed. Matt interviews about how it’s easy to volunteer when you know you’re not going anywhere. He tells the team he wants to stay.

Tonya speaks up that injured people shouldn’t be sent to the Gauntlet, citing herself and Norman. Yeah, BMP figured that Norman nearly freezing to death two episodes ago wasn’t important enough to show. Thank goodness for cast recaps. Nathan feels that Tonya is a top player, but she might hurt the team as the challenges become physically demanding. Remember, Nathan was on the first Challenge, where teammate Beth hurt her ankle and she became a liability throughout the season. He adds that they need healthy players, and she has the worst injury. Tonya says the team knows what she’s capable of doing. Theo G. comes out of exile, interviewing that everybody started to look at her differently. Irulan asks why Tonya would compete with a torn meniscus. Nathan interviews about how she told the others it was torn, but decided it wasn’t at the meeting. “I have not performed poorly!” Tonya tells the others. “And who’s to say I will later?” Matt: “It’s a battle of politics, personality and ego in that voting room. We’re going to have a crap team when this is over.” He’s learned so much from David, hasn’t he? Coral shouts that the strategy isn’t working, and they’ve been there for an hour.

After commercials, each Real World player tells us their vote in a confession.

Nathan: Tonya
Norman: himself, “Big Norm.”
Trishelle: Tonya
Mike: Tonya
Alton: Coral
Matt: Coral. “She’s not done well on two missions.” I count three myself.
Rachel B.: Tonya, adding that it’ll be hard for her to sleep tonight.
Irulan: Herself. What kills me is that her head is low in the frame, and it doesn’t occur to anybody to adjust it right away.
Coral: Herself
Elka: Irulan
Alton: Tonya
Tonya: She doesn’t feel the competition has been fair, so she picks a strong player in Alton.

While you armchair ballot counters figure out who’s going, we’ll move to the RR meeting. Katie interviews that she doesn’t want to go back into the Gauntlet. She apologizes to her team for being “overly rude” and she wants to stay in the game. “They need to back off for a while,” she interviews, “stop putting my name on the damn vote.” Rachel R. interviews that it was necessary for Katie to apologize, but she doubts the sincerity. On the other hand, Tina believes Katie was sincere, but she’s not sure if the others buy it.

Abram reveals the finalists: himself, Steve, and Katie. She rolls her eyes. Adam decides to give Katie a bye, adding, “I think out of all the guys, that Steve’s the weakest.” I do believe Adam makes him back on my list with that comment. Adam reads off the votes. Veronica interviews that the group shouldn’t believe that the strongest team members are male. Adam reads some more votes. The results: Abram with 23 votes, Katie with 27... and Steve with 32. Damn. See, this is why you can’t get emotionally attached to these people. When you get to like one of them, and that person comes into the line of fire, you start to feel it. Steve takes the news way better than me, even as he thinks Katie should go before him. You and me both.

Gauntlet. Jonny welcomes everybody, then introduces Tonya. Her teammates break out green noisemakers. Steve is introduced, to his team’s cheers. He’s wearing a headband with “Rozelle” scrawled on it. That’s like when I went to Comic Con International this year and I saw people dressed as Ghostbusters. I kept wondering if it was the mid-‘80s and nobody had told me. Since his team won Mudbath, Steve gets to roll the die. It comes up Perfect Fit. Jonny: “You may be asking yourselves right now, what is the Perfect Fit?” My foot and Katie’s butt? No, Jonny says it’s a puzzle. Cue Steve’s enthusiasm: “If it’s a puzzle thing, I’m the man to do it. I know I’m better at it than virtually anyone here.” Jonny explains that the puzzle pieces are floating in the pool, and the players have to retrieve them, then arrange them correctly on a board. Tonya interviews that her team let her down, but she’s physically capable.

Airhorn. Both players get into the pool. Steve throws his pieces out of the pool. Tonya has a slightly less bulky knee brace. Steve gets out of the water, assembling his puzzle, followed by Tonya. It looks like there are more pieces than needed, in order to throw off the competitors. More assembling. Coral yells that Steve has pieces still on the ground. Tonya smiles, saying she’s so close. But Steve slams the final piece in, keeping himself in the game.

Happy ska music plays as the RR team mobs Steve (including Santa Theo). “I think the bitterness from me is less than everyone else,” he interviews. “ I’m happy to go back and prove every single person wrong that voted me off. I’m happy that I’m part of a group.” To review: Sarah? Will laugh at herself for being an underachiever. Steve? Will be happy to prove people wrong. Katie? Will throw a massive fit if anybody so much as looks at her in a bad way. Guess which two of those three I like?

Meanwhile, Tonya’s standing over her puzzle, ready to cry. Dang, another good person bites the dust. I can barely remember her being the whipping girl on RW: Chicago. Her teammates console her. Coral interviews that RW has lost three people. One more, and BMP will send Rupert in to fix things. “We need to band,” Coral adds. “We need to buck up there.”

Jonny announces that Steve won the Gauntlet. Theo V. comments that the win was necessary to keep up the momentum. Cara figures that Steve’s victory keeps him off the hook. Jonny verifies that Tonya is going home. Mike interviews, “I just keep on feeling every time one of our teammates loses, we’re doing something wrong. I don’t know what it is, but we need to find the right path.”

Jonny asks Tonya if she has anything to say before departing. She wishes RW luck and hopes they pick the right people for the Gauntlet. Not likely. Remember her “vote off the lowest score” speech last season? “I felt really betrayed,” she interviews, “because physically, I had done so well, and the last thing I thought was that I was going home.” She gets hugged by Mike and Rachel B. “I really wanted to be here. I wanted this. I wanted to win.” Why can’t somebody I hate leave? Last season, I laughed as Julie, David E., and Beth were voted off in the first two weeks.

Next week – Jonny: “This challenge is just a good ol’-fashioned ice cream eating contest.” How ol’-fashioned? Try having players eat the stuff with hands behind their backs, occasionally puking it back up. RW meeting: Matt thinks that if a girl should be sent to the Gauntlet, it should be Elka, on account of her injured knee. Cut to Coral: “I know we have a $10,000 check on the wall. I could’ve sworn it was Elka that got it for us.” Looks like Matt’s back on her list.

 This was the last we would see of Tonya. Well, the sane Tonya from this season and Battle Of The Sexes. When she returned in Battle Of The Sexes 2, she was as unhinged like in Real World: Chicago. Once again, I hope her life is good right now. She deserved better than the treatment from the "mean girls" in Inferno II. Or being allegedly violated in her sleep during The Ruins. I have to say "allegedly," but I can totally see those scumbags Evan and Kenny doing that. And if she pointed a finger at Johnny, I would not have been surprised.

I think if you see the celebration of Steve's win, you can see vultures in the background, rubbing their wings together in anticipation.

Heh . . . "medical place." I know Norman wasn't trying to be funny, but that was a great moment.