Saturday, September 17, 2005

For Your Consideration

What is Project Runway?

No, I'm being serious here. Apparently, it was this reality show on Bravo about fashion designers. Yesterday, it was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program. And the weird thing? Some fans of The Amazing Race are sweating.

In case you're not into the reality scene, that category is in its third year. In the two prior editions, The Amazing Race won the Emmy. For the fans, it's validation that the show kicks ass. I've seen the show go from cult status to a point where it could qualify as a religion and tax-exempt status. But the Emmy still means a lot. After the first Emmy, a thread was set up on Television Without Pity's forums to celebrate. It carried over into last year, where the show triumphed over the likes of Jeff Probst, Donald Trump and Simon Cowell. But now, the feeling in the air is different. I know not who this "Wendy Pepper" is, or why she's a horrible person. I wish I could watch the show now, but Bravo didn't reair. I saw her on Battle of the Network Reality Stars, but I got more of an impression from one of her castmates; the albino vampire known as Austin Scarlett, who did fashion reports and mangled Scott Baio's name ("Bay-you"? The hell?!?)

What do I know about TAR's chances? I figured it would be the favorite to win. The show has three seasons for voters to consider, but apparently the producers went with two TAR7 episodes back-to-back. This makes me queasy, since that season was a mixed bag. The episodes included Gretchen nearly getting killed in the cave, Uchenna & Joyce with the orphans, Brian & Greg flipping their car over, and their ensuing miracle finish in beating out Ray & Deana. All well and good...but what about Chip & Kim's miracle finish? Or Colin exploding in several legs ("Hakuna Matata!" "I'm packin' it!" "My ox is broken! This is BULLSHIT!"), yet dominating with his partner, Christie? My guess is that the producers needed something a little fresher in the minds of voters.

A quick look at The Apprentice and their submitted episodes, and you can see why Donald Trump will be whining like a baby again this year. The third season was ignored entirely, with Mark Burnett admitting the "Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts" format wasn't a good idea. Instead, two installments from the second season were offered for consideration. One of them was the finale, which dragged on and on, where Kelly dominated Jennifer, and everybody in the studio audience knew it. Once Omarosa offered her support towards Jennifer, the eventual runner-up should have packed it up and went home. The other episode made me furious at the time. In "Lights! Camera! Transaction!," Trump decided to fix the floundering all-female Apex corporation the only way he forcibly grabbing Pamela (who had defected to the all-male Mosaic in the first episode) and making her Project Manager of Apex. That team didn't appreciate her no-nonsense way of leadership, and they ended up losing to Mosaic in a battle to sell wares on QVC by a minisucle amount (around $10). In the Boardroom, Apex railroaded Pamela, and she got fired over Maria (who had screwed up the task) and Stacy (a tiny troll of a woman who needed to be smacked). And THAT'S the episode that got submitted. Shit, why not throw in Apex dogpiling on Stacie J? Or the one where Trump fires Kevin, then all but pulls his pants down in anticipation for another Jennifer/Sandy catfight? Then there was the crap I had to go through expressing my opinions to my "peers" at RNO...but I'll save that for another time.

Skipping past American Idol, we go to Survivor. Of course, we have to pretend Vanuatu never happened. Sure, we got a comeback victory for Chris, the Cyril-from-Oz-looking dope, who was looking to get Pagonged out of the game before getting a clue. We had Chad, a guy with an artifical lower leg, who didn't look like a huge ass. And there was Twila, the Sling Blade-sounding lady who hated the "bowheads" on her tribe, and ended up finishing runner-up to Chris. But aside from them and a few others (blonde Dolly, token black guy Rory, squareheaded Lea/Sarge, eldery lesbian Scout), could you pick the cast out of a lineup? Ami was supposed to be this evil, evil woman, but I can't remember what she did to deserve that. Most of the younger guys that went out early were pretty interchangable. And the only reason anybody remembers Julie is because she's currently dating Jeff Probst.

Now...the next season? That should scare the crap out of TAR fans. At first glance, one tribe beating the ever-loving crap out of the other doesn't look appealing. But there were people you can remember...James the insufferable redneck (first words out of his yap: "Jeff Probst is a sumbitch"), Janu the underfed showgirl, Caryn the annoying lawyer, Willard the stealth lawyer, Angie the Frankie-from-RW: San Diego lookalike with the hidden power. We had Bobby Jon, the built guy who vaguely looked like Jesus. There was Stephanie, perhaps the strongest female Survivor ever, who never got to relax during Tribal Council. We had Coby, the poor man's Richard Hatch, down to the scheming and gaiety (but not the nakedness, thank goodness). And looming large was Ian, a dolphin trainer and one-time Race applicant, who would come so close to the million bucks.

And...of course...there was Tom Westman. A firefighter from New York, Tom embodied the best qualities of guys like Rupert and Colby (strong provider, immunity winner), without the messy crap (fierce entitlement, attraction to his mother). Tom impressed fans and contestants with his ability to fish...including the time he bagged a shark. He won five individual immunities, tying Colby's record from The Australian Outback. In the two times he was vunerable, nobody casted a vote against him. And his friendship with Ian made for one of the best stories in reality TV...until they broke apart in the final episode. Tom endured a grueling eleven-hour ordeal clinging to a buoy before Ian broek down and took himself out. In the end, Tom defeated Katie (who? Exactly!) 6-1 to win $1,000,000. And if Survivor takes the Emmy, he will be the reason.

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