Tuesday, November 29, 2005

What a Wicked Race We Weave

I was going to start this post on The Amazing Race and the crappy Weaver family by using a parallel between this season and a typical Mets game where the closer fucks things up really bad. Instead, I'll use a more recent example: the Giants/Seahawks game, as seen through the eyes of a fan of Big Blue.

The Giants are a half-game up on the Cowboys in the NFC East. A win gives them momentum for the rematch, and possibly a launch pad to get home-field advantage through the NFC playoffs. But the Seahawks aren't punks, as they seek to hold their own surpremacy. Anyway, the Giants find themselves down 21-13 in the fourth quarter. No sweat....time for Eli Manning to lead his troops towards another fantastic finish. Sure enough, he gets the touchdown pass AND the two-point conversion, tying the game at 21-21. The Seahawks get the ball back at their own 25-yard-line, but go three-and-out at the 15. They punt away, and the Giants get to the 22-yard-line with four seconds left. Time for Jay Feely to win the game and send the Seattle crowd home unhappy.

(Feely misses wide left)

Okay...so we're going into overtime. And the Giants botch the coin toss. Why both teams can't be guaranteed at least one possession is beyond me. But the Seahawks go three-and-out, and the Giants rumble to Seattle's 36, setting up a 54-yarder for Feely. It's a stretch, but he'll come through, right?

(Feely kicks it short)

Shit! Still, the Seahawks can't capitalize, and they punt it away. On the first play of the drive, Tiki Barber runs 49 yards. Soon, the Giants are at the Seattle 27. Third chance for Feely. He's gotta make it, right? He just has to!

(Feely kicks it short)

If you're a Giants fan, it's basically over. Each missed kick is a cut, and the hope just bleeds out. Naturally, the Seahawks manage to kick a field goal, winning the game 24-21. And the Giants now face a tougher battle against a Cowboy team that had their own field goal fiasco on Thanksgiving. The only solace for Giants fans is that they don't root for the Jets. Yeah, things could work out in the end...and maybe we'd get the Manning vs. Manning showdown in Super Bowl XL. But you think that this is something you'd look back on and see as a turning point.

And that brings me to The Amazing Race: Family Edition. After two weeks between episodes, we went back to rooting against the Weaver family. We endured their crappy attitudes and lame nicknames ("Desperate Housewives" for the Godlewski sisters? How original). And then, we heard the most beautiful words all season: "Caution: Yield Ahead."

Yeah, we went down that road before...teams lining up on the Yield mat, ready to knock Linda and her precious brood out of the Race. The only reason why it didn't work was because poor Tammy Gaghan couldn't find the one stupid coffee bean. Weavers lived, Gaghans died, and little Carissa learned a hard lesson about luck. But this time, it would be different. This time, the Linzes (the closest to a fan fave team we have this season) were in front, and they put the Yield down. And...ohmigawd!!!...the Weavers took an impromptu scenic route, allowing the Godlewskis and Bransens to get to the Roadblock before them. The other three teams finished their task before the Weavers got there. This was it....right???

When you want something to happen, you're willing to lie to yourself. I felt it in my bones. I didn't notice a lack of a commercial for The Early Show for the latest booted team, but I had a sinking feeling that this would be a non-elimination leg. And I lied to myself. I figured that maybe it would come down to two teams in the end, instead of the customary three. The Weavers get theirs this week, then there's a nonelim next week, then an elimination leg, and two more legs for the finale. It sounded so good in my head.

And here they came. The Weavers...broken, beaten, battered...tummies full of hatred for the Linzes and Godlewskis, as well as soft-serve ice cream from McDonald's. They amble to the mat, not even wearing all their clothes in an effort to circumvent Phil Keoghan mugging them. Phil did his spiel...and for a few seconds, I thought he'd drop the hammer. But he didn't. The Weavers were still in the Race.

The worst part? Well, I wasn't that scandalized by it, but my fellow forum dwellers were horrified that Phil tried to cheer them up, pointing out that teams have come from behind to win the Race. Maybe he was thinking of last season...but I'd never compare Uchenna & Joyce to this family. How bad does it suck that Joyce can't get pregnant, but Linda pumped out three ignorant spawn? And I read the unthinkable in those forums...they want to kill Phil. Before this episode, Phil was in the select pantheon of hosts that never got abused (along with Anderson Cooper and Ralph Garman, minimum). Now? "Shut UP, Phil!" The man's doing his job...if he had his way, he wouldn't choked the life out of Jonathan Baker two seasons ago. I don't see my friends as fickle. The overwhelming suck that is the Weavers has driven everybody insane.

So you're saying to yourself, "Hey, there's three more weeks left. Surely, after Linda berates the Linzes for the Yield, karma will come in and save us from the worst possible ending." First of all, karma has signed a deal with NBC. As long as My Name Is Earl plays opposite TAR, we can't expect justice to be done. Sure, we've seen the Rogers and Schoeders knocked out early...but I'm convinced karma didn't officially hitch itself to the NBC bandwagon until about a month ago. Secondly, I found this episode description on Yahoo:

A surprise ending catches the teams off guard when they arrive at the mat.

Translation: it's a double leg. We get to around 9:55 pm, and the first team arrives, and Phil's all, "You jokers think it's over? Think again. Here's your next clue. No twelve hours of rest, no elimination." And you just know the Weavers will be in the back of the pack when we find this out. So then we wait another week...and they survive. And the next team gone? The Linzes. Why? Because it's worked like that. Because the Paolos Yielded the Weavers, and they ended up getting outlasted. Because the D-listers over at Best Week Ever need more material for "God Loves The Weavers" segments, even as they ignore the utter lack of class displayed by that family. Oh, and all heterosexual male fans who stay with CBS won't be able to enjoy the Victoria's Secret special as much as they'd like. I'm just sayin'.

Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe I've been conditioned to see only the worst case scenario. I just have a sinking feeling that they will win the Race and the $1 million. And you can add the ugliness felt at TARCon 3 when Flo & Zach won (after Flo quit, like, a billion times in two hours) and TARCon 6 when Freddy & Kendra triumphed, and multiply it by ten. Not like we'd be throwing stuff at the Weavers should they come over. It's Highlander rules; no beheading on holy ground. But after suffering through a season of piss-poor planning, lack of enthusiasm from several Racers (Wally Bransen, I'm lookin' at you), and generally shitty behavior, we need a happy ending. If the Weavers make it to the finale, they would be only two acceptable endings for them:

1. The Guido Edit. So named after the infamous gay couple Bill & Joe (nicknamed "Team Guido" after their dog) were stranded in Alaska while TAR1 concluded in New York. It happened three seasons later, when good buddies David & Jeff found themselves going from first to done in Hawaii. The thought of the Weavers getting bum directions, then running to a route marker only to find a message saying that the Race is over? Priceless. Could you imagine the massive celebration for the finish...and the Weavers not being there? I think only two teams didn't have a problem with them: the Blacks and Gaghans. And I could be wrong about that.

2. Okay, so we cut to the teams gathered at the finish line. It's basically a repeat from last season, where Patrick is whispering for Uchenna & Joyce to beat Rob & Amber...only multiplied by 28. And over the horizon, the seven eliminated teams see...the Weavers. And as Phil throws his hands up in disgust, all 28 Racers rush to block the Weavers from reaching the finish line. DJ and Marion Paolo finally agree on something, as they team up to wrestle Linda to the ground. The teen boys and girls rush to tackle Rachel and Rebecca (except for Hunter Schroeder, since he was cool with Rolly). Carissa and Billy Gaghan cling for dear life to Rolly's ankles. The Blacks assume taekwondo positions ten yards in front of the mat; five yards behind them, Team Aiello readies themselves for their roles as the last line of defense. And all of the Racers whose hands aren't full rush to carry Wally Bransen to his reward, since his daughters are tired of lugging his ass around.

I'm sorry for the excessive flight of fancy. It's just that I've never seen a foursome so gruesome, to align themselves with a higher power, and spit on anything and anyone deemed beneath them. Chip & Kim showed up that you can believe in God and not act like a jackass in the process. I don't want these people to suffer more than losing their father. I just want them to get knocked off their high horse. But right now, I'm dreading them winning the grand prize. If that happens, it'll be a cold winter until the start of TAR9.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gearing Up

I'm still working on the Gauntlet II preview special. I've been busy working on an article, and my recorder broke today. So I gotta get a new one tomorrow so I can make next week's deadline. Luckily for me, MTV isn't airing the first episode until next week, probably so the stink of The Real World: Austin dissipates. And I'll have to deal with four of those headcases next season: Danny, Johanna, Melinda and Wes. So I gotta cherish Gauntlet II extra-hard.

I'm almost two-thirds done with the preview special. Once I'm finished taking notes, writing the recap should be a snap. And you can have some fun. Gather your friends and bet on how many times I'll say "Shut up, Beth." How is it that she can go through life without getting her ass kicked? I'm not advocating it, but she talks so much shit.

Also, I've had some posts in me that I haven't gotten around to writing. One is about my trip to the National last week. Right now, it's the closest thing New York has to a comic convention. Actually, I got lucky in the back issues department, getting some great deals on recent back issues. Also, I finally had my sketch book filled out. There are a few blank pages, and a few more stained with the ink of sketches...but I'm okay with it. I had the book since 2000...took me over five years to fill it, and the cover fell off. First rule of sketchbooks: don't get a large spiral book. Anyway, I've scanned the sketches and put it on my Yahoo space. Check 'em out here. That's another post in the making.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Gauntlet 2: Veteran Girls Preview

A redheaded acupuncturist. A lesbian with weird hair. A Mormon with psychological probems. A one-time jailbird. A tiny terror who dated “Jonny Fairplay.” A Hawaiian who can hold her liquor. The first person voted off a BMP show. A total phony. With the women of the Veteran’s team, who needs Tina, Tonya, Rachel or Veronica?

Aneesa Ferreria (The Real World: Chicago)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 16

Notes: With all the snake-bit players entering the latest Challenge, Aneesa might get lost in the shuffle. At least she’s gotten away from the Battle of the Sexes format. Now if she goes home, it’ll happen because she lost in the Gauntlet ... One major advantage: no Ayanna. Both times she’s done the Challenge, Aneesa had run-ins with Ayanna. While their altercation in BOTS1 wasn’t shown, the dust-up in BOTS2 avoided the cutting room floor. Remember this? “My ass is getting stronger! Would you like to kick it some more? Here it is!” Not good times for Aneesa ... Speaking of things sucking for Aneesa, her birthday is September 11. Thanks to MTV, she probably gets a lot of cards. Other people in her boat: Moby, Brian DePalma, Tom Landry and Leopold “Butters” Stotch of South Park, CO ... After peeking through cast photos, I was taken aback with her hair. Last time, she had a weave, probably given up her scraggly afro after losing a coin toss to Sophia. But now, she has this wide Mohawk going on. It’s not that attractive.

Beth Stolarczyk (RW: Los Angeles)

Challenges: 3
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 0
Missions: 12

Notes: Who likes her? The only people I can think of are the Hollywood phonies she pals around with, and the recapper who supported her after Tonya dunked her luggage into the pool. Not the best fans one can have ... I saw a commercial where she droned on and on about a teammate not bringing anything to the table. I can imagine her going to a friend’s birthday party with no card or present, saying that her presence is more than enough of a gift ... She did have that one moment of niceness after former housemate Jon got sent packing in Inferno II. But after stirring up trouble and getting her bags soaked, she turned tail and ran. If it were anybody else, BMP wouldn’t have invited that person back. But since Beth is that detestable, and Rachel and Veronica are doing their own show, we’re stuck with her.

Jisela Delgado (Road Rules: The Quest)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 8

Notes: Finally! I heard her name come up in the last few seasons, but she never showed up. I have this mental image of her working out in a basement, grunting, “Not! Strong! Enough!” as he does her thousandth pull-up ... Does time heal all wounds? Jisela was a scrub on The Quest, becoming the first person ever voted off the show. Her lack of skills took herself and Adam out of Battle of the Seasons, and she sank to the bottom of the leaderboard in Battle of the Sexes. Interesting note: she only did four missions in each season ... I don’t think she will have calmed down that much. I think she’s the only player in Challenge history to contemplate killing the host on camera. But I think that we’re officially past the time she became Malik’s girlfriend, then proceeded to make out with lots of other people, prompting Coral to camera-bitch, “Get off the ho train, cuz you’re the only one on it!” If you factor in Trishelle, Mark, and the threesome in Telluride, Jisela’s antics are rated PG at worst ... This time, she’ll have a shot to redeem herself. The record for RR castoffs in endgames is 8-1.

Julie Stoffer (RW: New Orleans)

Challenges: 4
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 1
Missions: 40

Notes: It never gets old. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and Julie tries to convince people she’s not a horrible person ... Honestly, I can’t think of a bigger headcase than Julie. Even if the stuff about her sabotaging Melissa’s lecturing aren’t true, you still got her brattiness, her going to God in hysterical moments (see also: Weaver, Linda), and the fact that she urinated on Coral’s bed on purpose ... I will give her this: both of her endgame loses were lame. The first time, she had to walk on a treadmill for three hours, and then she messed up jumping rope against Katie. The second time, she tore off one fewer patch than Tonya ... I hope she goes out like a punk. With somebody like Beth, it’s not as much fun, since Beth doesn’t do much except take away oxygen others might need. But Julie is the Terrell Owens of the Challenge; fierce, competitive, yet selfish and temperamental.

Katie Doyle (RR: The Quest)

Challenges: 3
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 1
Missions: 28

Notes: I’ve gone up and down with Katie. First, I was bored by her during The Quest. Then I rolled my eyes as she fought Veronica in The Gauntlet and fumed when I read that she berated Steve for several hours for no apparent reason. Then after she got abused by her teammates in Inferno and stayed on to piss them off, I cheered her. Now she’s back, slated to do the next Challenge, and she came on Kill Reality to mess with Tonya’s head. That’s like walking up to a ten car pileup and setting it on fire. Right now, I’m hoping she goes out early ... Interesting note: all three of her endgame victims are not only on this Challenge, they’re on the same team ... Speaking of the endgames, Katie’s main talent is outlast the opposition. She grabbed onto a mechanical bull and let Montana get disqualified, jumped rope better than Julie, and held her breathe in foul stuff longer than David. She did lose a Gauntlet to Rachel, but that was Hangman, and Rachel has long arms.

Montant McGlynn (RW: Boston)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 0
Missions: 7

Notes: Has it been seven years since the incident with the wine and “WHOOOOOOOORE!”? Lucky for her that only the most hardcore viewers remember her worst days ... I don’t know why she’s back. I’m thinking they needed a “normal” girl to go along with Jo ... Her MTV.com bio reveals that she not only has a master’s degree in acupuncture, but also volunteers with the terminally ill. How can I root against her now?

Robin Hibbard (RW: San Diego)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 17

Notes: Not much to say about Robin. She has the potential, but she’s yet to fulfil most of it. She did get thrown under the bus by Coral in BOTS2, but she earned her boot in losing an Inferno to Tina ... I don’t know if she and Mark are still a couple. I would hope not, for her sake.

Ruthie Alcaide (RW: Hawaii)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 0
Missions: 30

Notes: Ruthie manages to keep things interesting, from her drunken antics in Hawaii to her mission domiance in BOTS. Sadly, she was a shade of her old self in BOTS2 and got voted off the women’s team ... I don’t know how sober she is. Colin posted a rambling narrative about “Magic Brownies,” which mentioned a “Brown Girl.” It would also explain the BOTS2 bio, where she was connected with Las Vegas slimebag Steven Hill, even though she doesn’t swing that way ... I predict she’ll win any Gauntlet. She’s tough, focused, and I can’t imagine any of her female teammates getting the better of her. Heck, she could take out Ace and David without breaking a sweat.

Gauntlet 2: Veteran Guys Preview

From nice guys to ugly pieces of work, the men of the Veterans team will try and continue their success in Trindad. Will they work well as a unit, or will friendships go out the window in the face of the Gauntlet?

Clyde “Ace” Amerson (The Real World: Paris)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 4

Notes: I’m stumped on why Ace is on the Veterans team. It would’ve been easier to swap him to the Rookies for Jamie (31 missions) ... My opinion of Ace hasn’t changed much; he’s handsome, but also a big dope. Of course, after a season of CT, I’m ready to embrace Ace ... No clue on his athletic prowess, save that he screws up in missions. Also, he hates sticking his head in a box full of bugs ... I also think he’s a bit of a phony, that he only stayed on his season for opportunities like the Challenge. I also wished he would’ve raised more of a ruckus after losing Bug Helmet to Jeremy in Inferno. I like Coral, but if he played the “Why don’t YOU try it?!?” card, I wouldn’t have blamed him.

Adam Larsen (Road Rules: The Quest)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 1
Missions: 19

Notes: Before I rip into him, I do give him props for his athleticism. A few years ago, he went on the Eco-Challenge, put on a team that included Timmy, as well as Ethan Zohn and Jenna Lewis from Survivor. Anybody that can trek through the wilderness for that long and not think of dumping Jenna’s carcass is more patient than me ... Okay, now I can say it. I hate Adam. He has bugged me from the season week of his season, through Battle of the Seasons and The Gauntlet. That last season was a nightmare, as he was at the forefront to rid his Road Rules team of Sarah. I understand the rationale, but he was a dick. And with no sign of Veronica, Rachel, Abram or Laterrian, I plan to get extra tough on this guy ... I don’t know if the Gauntlet will rotate between guys and girls. If anybody can go in, Adam might push for the women, just like before. The only girl that would be safe is Katie, because she, Adam and Trishelle are fairly tight ... At least Adam ditched the beard. It just looked like he was copying off Jamie’s beard from Battle of the Sexes ... Seriously, if Adam gets his butt kicked in the Gauntlet, I will laugh my butt off. And if It comes from somebody with no endgame luck (Ace, Brad), or an old-timer with diminished skills (David, Syrus, Timmy), it’ll be even sweeter.

Brad Fiorenza (RW: San Diego)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 24

Notes: He’s still a meathead, but he’s our meathead. After getting jobbed by his teammates in BOTS2 and losing in the Inferno to Abram, I think there’s more sympathy for Brad. And it’s been seeping retroactively into RW history. Were the temporary incarcerations of Johanna and Nehemiah as fun as Brad’s? ... Once again, he is his own worst enemy. Well, that and alcohol. In his last episode, we saw him get drunk, fight Derrick, and go ballistic after receiving a wedgie. Yet I still want to give him a pass on all that ... I can’t see Brad not lasting the entire season. He’s two seasons wiser, and he doesn’t have to worry about fighting Randy, his best bud from San Diego. Also, there’s a great potential Gauntlet brewing with Mark, who had helped grease the skids for Brad’s departure from BOTS2. If anybody has a reason to personally kick off the team’s golden boy, it’s Brad.

David Burns (RW: Seattle)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 0
Missions: 26

Notes: A quote from David in his last Challenge episode: “I can just feel the glumps of rotten dairy products going over my cheeks, and I’m like, ‘Is this really my life?’” And yet, he’s back for a third helping. Better him than Nathan or Stephen, I supposed ... For a guy named “Burns,” David barely simmered in Inferno. He was the biggest underachieving male on the Real World team. He was sent to the Inferno twice, and was saved both times (CT took his place to beat Shane, team conspired to screw Leah and put her in his place). However, after Coral saved herself with the Aztec Lifeshield, she dumped David in the final mission, and he ended up losing to Katie in the Inferno ... According to MTV.com, he’s been fooling around with Cara and Katie. I can understand Cara, even if Dave (her ex) is a better catch. But Katie? A girl who’s fooled around with Jon Dalton? Doesn’t he worry about Fairplay cooties? ... Prediction: David will be the most quotable guy on the team after Timmy and Brad, but he’ll be gone within the first six weeks.

Derrick Kosinski (RR: X-Treme)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 0
Missions: 21

Notes: Derrick needs an intervention. He’s done the first two Challenges he has been eligible for, and he’s slated to compete in the upcoming Fresh Meat Challenge ... I shouldn’t care about this guy, but he’s proven himself to be rather nice. He was the only Bad Ass to not need a beating last season, and he didn’t join in on the dogpiles formed by his teammates upon Tonya and Jodi ... Booze will be his greatest enemy. Already, I’ve seen a commercial where he’s a little blitzed, as he tried to put on boxing gloves to fight Brad. And don’t forget his frog whispering stint on BOTS2 ... Since Derrick’s doing the next Challenge, I’m guessing he blows it early here. We’ll roll my eyes, yet feel a little sympathy as he walks into the sunset yet again.

Mark Long (RR: Season One)

Challenges: 3
Challenges Completed: 2
Challenges Won: 2
Missions: 36

Notes: Why do I hate Mark? Because he used to be a good guy. He might have been bland in comparsion to his teammates, but he pulled down the best performances (including the top score of any competitor in BOTS). Then we find out that he got divorced. Suddenly, the gates flung open, and we started hearing about all the BMP girls he was screwing around with. Was this the end result of the divorce, or the reason? ... Naturally, I will never forgive Mark for volunteering to take the hit in the penultimate mission in BOTS2. The plan was to stick the girls’ team with the underachieving Arissa, but it kept Eric Nies (and his stupid jumprope) in contention to win $60,000 ... Mark is also doing corespondent work for Reality Remix on Fox Reality. Every week, he gives “juicy” rumors to host Kennedy, as well as occasionally visit reality folks. Seeing him roll around in a limousine with Marguerite from Trading Spouses (aka “Insane God Warrior Lady”) is even more pathetic to watch than his stint on Extreme Dodgeball ... I’ve lost track of how many women he’s been connected with lately. It’s like I need a chart. When will the women wise up about this guy?

Syrus Yarbrough (RW: Boston)

Challenges: 3
Challenges Completed: 2
Challenges Won: 1
Missions: 41

Notes: Syrus is another guy I don’t want back, but for different reasons. In the end of Inferno, the was complaining about his knees. I feel that he’d make a far better host than Challenger nowadays ... In this field, Syrus leads all competitors with 41 missions, one better than Julie. So how come he doesn’t get that much respect? If you look up his bio on MTV.com, you get Ace’s profile. Two other signs of Dangerfieldism: getting his name spelled as “Sirus” in Eminem’s video for “Without Me,” and Jeremy questioning his testicles when he wouldn’t go diving ... Syrus does have one major skill: the ability to be friends with others. In Inferno, he listened to Julie’s rants, and he avoided getting picked by Coral to go into the Inferno. Being pals with two people that dissimilar is quite a skill.

Timmy Beggy (Road Rules: Season Two)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 2
Challenges Won: 1
Missions: 27

Notes: Where do you go when your History Channel show goes under? Back to the Challenge, of course! Okay, I’m being mean. I did watch Guts & Bolts, and Timmy did a good job. But why would be go wading back into a pool where the kiddies have taken over? ... Timmy does have skills as a competitor, but his personality can grate for folks who don’t share his sense of humor ... He’s also a bit of a waffler, as seen on Battle of the Seasons, where he hemmed and hawed over voting off Chadwick and Piggy ... He’ll be entertaining, but I’m thinking he gets shocked in the Gauntlet. On the bright side, I don’t think anybody else would lose with as much humor as Timmy.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Gauntlet 2: Rookie Girls Preview

Unlike their male teammates, the women of the Rookie squad are rather short on Challenge experience. But if the teasers for the upcoming season are any indication, at least two of them will be the drama as much as the Veterans.

Cameran Eubanks (The Real World: San Diego)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 2

Notes: She’s the least mature of the San Diego girls, and that includes Frankie and Robin. Neither of them hit guys in the nuts like Cameran did. Fellas coming to Trinidad have a reason to wear protective cups 24/7 ... From her brief stint on Battle of the Sexes 2, I see she’s not a team player. In the final round of Dangle Drop, a struggling Rachel saw Cameran and Angela frolicking in the water. Those two made me agree with Butterface, and that alone makes me hope for her ouster ... Don’t expect any romance from her. In a recent issue of Sports Illustrated, it was revealed that she was the girlfriend of Jeremy Bloom, a moguls skier/would-be NFL player. I just want to know if she was crushing on Jonny Moseley (another moguls skier), and if she’s projecting that on Jeremy.

Cara Zavaleta (Road Rules: South Pacific)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 1
Missions: 14

Notes: If Sarah was the Queen of the Gauntlet, Cara was the Princess. She was the only other person in Telluride to win two Gauntlets. Unlike Sarah’s five triumphs, Cara’s victories are a bit suspect. She beat Elka on Knock Your Block Off when Elka swung, missed, and fell into the water. In the final Gauntlet, her mechanical bull was adjusted not to go as fast as Theo’s bull ... Bad news and worst news. Bad news is that she’s spilt from her boyfriend Dave, who was with her during South Pacific and Gauntlet. Worst news? She’s been reported to have been with Mark Long and David Burns. Not exactly trading up ... Last time we saw her was during the face-off between X-Treme and South Pacific. She had trouble breaking boards with her hands, and the other team managed to speed past her while she struggled. Foreshadowing, or just rotten luck and inadequate force?

Ibis Nieves (RR: X-Treme)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 11

Notes: While her season has had crap luck in Challenges, Ibis might have it the worst. She was doing okay in BOTS2 until she stepped up to lead in a mission while Tonya declined. The team lost, Ibis got the boot and Sophia crying about it ... Ibis doesn’t offend me that much. All I remember is that she volunteered out of her season after screwing up a mission. Also: the time the kids were evading leashed dogs, and the one German Shepherd snuck up and tackled her. Good times.

Jillian Zoboroski (RR: X-Treme)

Challenges: 0
Missions: 0

Notes: Ibis leaves X-Treme, and Jillian replaces her. She ends up becoming Patrick’s snugglebuddy, and ends up fighting with the girls who vied for his attention (Angela and Mary Beth). So right away, you know she likes tools ... I don’t remember her being a total scrub. She abused Mary Beth in the boxing portion of the face off. She has more ability than Angela, but that isn’t saying much.

Joanna “Jo” Rhodes (RW: San Francisco)

Challenges: 0
Missions: 0

Notes: Who? ... No, seriously, who? ... Okay, okay, I know that she was Puck’s replacement on San Francisco, edging out two potential roommates, one of them being Mark. She would be the last RW sub before Charlie filled in for Frankie one decade later .. Fun fact: Jo didn’t show up in Pedro & Me, Judd Winick’s graphic novel about AIDS activist/roommate Pedro Zamora. However, Jo did get into the acknowledgments section. You can probably guess the only roommate Judd didn’t thank ... That’s all I can remem- hold on, I’ve been handed a tape of a Gauntlet 2 commercial ... Holy crap, she’s pissed. What could possibly set her off on the first day? I’m going to give her the benefit of the doubt at the moment, rather than label her as a loon from the start.

Jodi Weatherton (RR: X-Treme)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 8

Notes: Out of the entire cast from last season, Jodi needed a hug the most. First, she blows Juice It Up for the Good Guys. Then she gets caught up in Julie’s scheme to swap the Inferno choice. Once the Bad Asses find out, the bulk of the team rips into her and makes her cry. Then she blows the Inferno, allowing Veronica to win. That was the lowest point of the season, between Veronica getting lucky, her teammates jeering Jodi (especially Rachel and Dan), and Jodi crying ... So how has Jodi recovered? According to MTV.com, she had a “short-lived relationship” with Mark. Suddenly, I wouldn’t mind her losing a Gauntlet. Was her self-esteem that shredded? Ugh ... One possible advantage: she was on every incarnation of X-Treme, and she might know how to handle teammates Danny, Ibis, Jillian and Kina, as well as Derrick.

Kina Dean (RR: X-Treme)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 3

Notes: Not much to say, save that the way she went out of X-Treme was crappy. The kids picked names out of a hat, and her name came up twice. Not the way for anybody to go out ... Her BOTS2 legacy was revealed at the reunion. Turns out she stole Eric Nies’ jumprope, and she contemplated sending it back to him in pieces. That alone makes me like her. Now if I can only tell her apart from Jodi, I’ll be a happy recapper.

Susie Meister (RR: Australia)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 0
Missions: 10

Notes: After seeing Susie sob in a commercial, I gotta ask: what the heck has she been doing for the last five years? I’d think she’d toughen up between Extreme Challenge and today ... Susie made history back then when she became the first (and only) Challenge substitute, filling in after Ayanna got kicked out. She only won two missions on a struggling Road Rules team. The most memorable moments were of her faltering on the Tough Guy course, getting helped out by hotheads Laterrian and James ... Not much on the romance front for Susie. She had gone out with Timmy for a while after being his biggest fan (remember “Timmy’s in my Winnie!” from her season?) ... She’s the first Australia cast member on the Challenge since Christina in BOTS1. Actually, Piggy was supposed to be in Inferno, but some stuff went down, Christena was brought in to replace her, and I’ll always hate Piggy for that.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Reality Remix...Reviewed

Today, I will be going over Reality Remix, the televised recap show that airs daily on Fox Reality. But I feel that I need a running start.

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart

Actually, I’m skipping this. I had several paragraphs done, then I found that NBC cancelled the series, and they renewed Donald Trump’s show for two more seasons. Needless to say, I have an opinion. Just not right now.

The Amazing Race: Family Edition

Remember what I said about wanting the Weavers to win? Yeah, I take it back. Two hours of bitching, crying and littering, and I want somebody to just smack their in their faces. Two weeks ago, I was mad at the other teams for Yielding them, since it seemed a bit mean, and they survived as the Gaghans gagged for the last time. It was like watching Tonya and the “Mean Girls” on Inferno II all over again. But I’ve seen the light...they are awful, awful people. When I read a poster speculate that the late Papa Weaver was not dead, but rather in hiding. I didn’t laugh, but I wasn’t morally outraged. Just like with the Schroeders and their Katrina ordeal, the pool of sympathy has run dry.

I’m still saying that the Linz siblings will win it all. I just wish I could tell any of these people apart. Godlewskis? I’m stumped. Bransens? There’s terminally slow Wally, but the daughters blend together. Weavers? There’s Linda, there’s Rolly (who has little hope for redemption), and the two daughters (who have zero hope). And I think the Linz girl is Megan, but don’t ask me about the brothers. That’s another reason why I miss the Gaghans. We got papa Bill, momma Tammy, son Billy, and the unbelievably cute Carissa, who is more mature at nine years than any of the Weavers.

I just want the season to end. We’re getting a rare off week, as CBS airs the Country Music Awards. And as much as I hate to say it, I’m going to miss the Paolos. Do they stink? On TV, yes; in real life, not so much. Are they the worst representation of Italian-Americans? I had to put up with Chris “C.T.” Tamburello for two seasons of the Challenge. DJ might have some lip on him, but he doesn’t want to be a Gotti. Also, I’m waiting to see if the producers add yet another racing event, just to remind the Weavers about how their father got killed on the track. I don’t like them, but the only parallel I could come up with is if Jill Aquilino (who lost a brother on 9/11) had to get a clue by guiding a radio-controlled airplane into a replica of the World Trade Center. Even those the Weavers are hypersensitive and in dire need of getting run over by a garbage truck (especially if Tony Paolo is at the wheel), I wouldn’t try and break them like that.

At least I won’t be alone for the season finale. The usual suspects at the TWoP forums have set up TARCon 8, which will be held at Planet Hollywood. I made my reservation already. If the Weavers do win, I guess that misery enjoys company. If we could get through Freddy & Kendra lucking into winning TAR6, we can get through anything.

Survivor: Guatemala

Consider me to be emotionally detached to the impending finale. Last season, I was rooting for Tom Westman and waiting for the inevitable episode where everybody ganged up to vote him out...except that never happened, he never got a vote against him, and he ended up winning the $1 million. This season is not as boring as Thailand or Vanuatu, but I’m not really loving or hating anybody.

Cindy: Who? Right...the zookeeper. She was my pick to win because she’s just there, and I’m sticking to that.

Danni: She’s in the minority alliance, so she should be gone by next week. She’s also in dire need of food, she’s that thin. Aside from giving Gary a hard time about being an ex-NFL quarterback (he called signals for the Cowboys and Colts, her father was a huge fan of his), she hasn’t made that big of impression.

Gary: Biggest topic at the reunion: “Guess what, Gary? We knew you played football. And guess what? We didn’t care!” I do give him props for finding the hidden immunity idol to save his butt. Judd gives other people bogus information on where to find the idol, but Gary has the presence of mind to follow the big lummox and observe him looks up in the trees. The result: one of the most awesome moments in the show’s history, as Gary presented Jeff Probst the idol to buy himself another three days.

Jamie: The only reason why I wanted him to go the distance was to face Bobby Jon on Day 39. You wouldn’t have needed a jury. You’d need a steel cage, grits poured on the floor, and “Sweet Home Alabama” playing on the speakers. And there was the possibility that they’d scream at each other yet again, then make out. But with Bobby Jon gone? It’s not as much fun.

Judd: Once again...he’s a dope, not a villain. Clean him up, put him in his doorman uniform and take away the booze, he cleans up nice. I don’t want to hear any screams of anguish if he wins, because it’ll happen due to the idiocy of the other tribe members. He’s the big guy. What do you do to the big guy? You throw him over the top rope. The gang in Pearl Islands did that with Rupert, but Tom eluded the cut in Palau. Anybody who suffered through Jenna Morasca’s fluke win in Amazon shouldn’t be complaining.

Lydia: I still have her in the final four, and she’ll probably do the pancake dance at the reunion. Critics get chapped that she sat out several challenges (including the first individual immunity, choosing food over safety), but I think she’s studying from Sandra Diaz-Twine’s playbook; hit the deck, let everybody else kill each other, and claim the prize.

Rafe: I rolled my eyes when he wondered if he was in “the axis of evil.” First of all, that’s so 2002. Secondly, if you’re playing Survivor and you don’t slit some throats, you’re not playing the game. He is a nice guy, even when he’s eating termites and running from hornets. I gotta savor this Mormon while I can; come December 5, I’ll have to deal with Julie all over again.

Stephenie: She’s entitled, she uses the word “retarded” liberally, and she’s a bit of a pain. My big fear is that Jamie, Judd and the others are carrying her due to her past experience. If she goes on an immunity run, she’ll get the grand prize.

Poor Bobby Jon. It’s bad enough that he’s now 0-for-2 on this show, but he picks the weirdest ways to lose. Last time, he was forced into a fire-building contest against Stephenie and lost. This season, his head wasn’t on the chopping block, but Gary found the hidden immunity idol. Who else could’ve gotten voted off? Gary had immunity, Jamie had immunity, and the others are holding out for Danni to crumble into dust within the next week. While Bobby Jon might have been a handful, I’ll miss the yelling, the beard, and his tendency to punch himself in the head.

So...what next? I’m trying to think of a way where Danni and Gary don’t get Pangonged/Ulonged out of existence. Here’s my theory: the majority alliance is made of six members. Jamie, Judd and Stephenie are the strong ones, as well as major pains in the butt. The others – Cindy, Lydia and Rafe – are a little weaker. What if the weaker players cut a deal with Danni and Gary to flip on the stronger players? In my head, it’s perfect: the weaklings guarantee themselves a bye through Day 37 (barring an immunity run), and Danni and Gary get some wiggle room. I’m not really rooting for anybody, but I’m a huge fan of shocking twists that Mark Burnett doesn’t think up on his own. We’ll see what happens tonight.

And now, the main event...such as it is...

Reality Remix

Where can you get reality shows recapped? If you want it done snarky, there’s Television Without Pity. If you want it fast, there’s the site where I used to recap. But some people might want capsulated stories televised. And that’s where Remix comes in. Every weeknight at 7:30 p.m., Fox Reality airs a show which covers a wide array of the genre’s shows, as well as interviews, sneak previews and other stuff. Sounds great, right? Well...there are two major problems:

1. The Host

Do you remember Kennedy? Four-eyed chick, used to be a VJ on MTV? Well, she’s landed on her feet here. If you were annoyed by her on Alternative Nation over a decade ago, odds are she’ll still grate on you. It’s just that she tries too hard to be funny and witty, and she comes off as neither. Granted, she’s not the worst in this field; I still have nightmares about a no-talent loser named David Hussey on VH1's Reality Wrap-Up. But she’s just so annoying, whether she’s reading off summaries, interviewing reality stars, or dealing with corespondents. Oh, and for Halloween, she dressed up as Martha Stewart...and Rupert. Not good. Makes you want a Kennedy assassination in this lifetime. Shut up, you were thinking it too.

2. The Correspondants

So far, we’ve had ex-stars pop in to give us news. I’d go off on Jenna Lewis, but she might have been there for one time only, so I’ll hold off on my verbal barrage and just wish that Shii Ann Huang would hit her with something blunt. I saw Nick Warnock from The Apprentice...snarky guy from what I’ve heard, but he looked stiff reading the news. My beef is with three guys:

Mark Long. Yes, that Mark Long. There’s Mark giving gossip. There’s Mark at the show’s launch party. There’s Mark riding in a limo with that insane “God Warrior” lady from Trading Spouses. You know, the one that makes Linda Weaver look like an atheist? Here’s what I want to know: how can he continue this gig when he’s seeking as much post-divorce lovin as he can. Also, what will happen when the show covers Gauntlet 2?

Lynn Warren & Alex Ali. Or as I like to call them, “Poor Man’s Team Guido.” They come to give commentary on The Amazing Race, but they still manage to make me roll my eyes. Example: Kennedy was about to interview Rob & Amber. Before we saw that, she shown a clip of Lynn & Alex. Apparently, they had baked cookies just for Amber, and Alex held up a plate with “Eat Me” scrawled on it. When you remember that they’ve labelled Amber as anorexic...ugh. I’m not a Ramber fan, but it makes me want Rob to punch these two bozos in the holy cannolis.

If you have satellite television and you want to kill time before your shows come on, you can give it a try. I even recorded interviews with Chip & Kim and Uchenna & Joyce. My favorite part was Chip saying there was “no way on Earth” he’d race with his children. Also, in one of the Ramber interviews, Rob said that Rupert had already gotten enough handouts. I shouted “OHMIGOD!!” so loud, I missed Kennedy saying that the “America’s Choice” phone poll was set up just so the tie-dyed pantload could get his million bucks. Watch at your own risk...with a crappy host, phonies for corespondents and the backing of a network that would flog their shows first (Trading Spouses recaps led off the Thursday episodes, but that might have been due to the aforementioned “God Warrior” lady), Reality Remix doesn’t do the genre it covers many favors.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Gauntlet 2: Rookie Guys Preview

Despite a lack of experience and four members with zero Challenge experience, the Rookies look to kick some Veteran butt. With two past winners and the best player for the Real World team during the original Gauntlet the males of the Rookies team will try and hold things down.

Adam King (The Real World: Paris)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 3

Notes: I never truly hated this guy. I mean, yeah, he did come off as a socially inept putz in his stint in Paris. He dropped some painful raps, which sucks harder when you realize his daddy (William King of the Commodores) wrote “Brick House.” But honestly, if I had to spend time with a guy from that house, it would be Adam (Simon doesn’t count, since he was a hallucination conjured by viewers) ... Remember when CT went nuts on the streets and started that “ONE! ON! ONE! ONEONONE!” crap on Adam? Notice how Adam didn’t run like most of us would have? I’m just sayin’ the guy has potential ... Still feel bad that he got run out of Battle of the Sexes 2 so soon. He ended up talking to fellow newbie Brad about watching out for the veterans. And what happened? Brad got railroaded near the end ... With Ace here, we can continue the “Adam lurves Ace” digs that we started back in 2003. “Baba Booey” quips are no more, since he shaved his head. I think it’s a good look ... Don’t be surprised if he wins a Gauntlet or two.

Alton Williams (RW: Las Vegas)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 0
Missions: 15

Notes: This guy was the rock of the Real World team during The Gauntlet. He excelled in most missions, and his humiliation of Laterrian was awesome to watch ... One weak point? Gotta be the temper. After Sarah took out Irulan in the Gauntlet, Theo (and his flopping man-package) yelled for Alton to “help her pack,” which set Alton off. On the other hand, he wasn’t whining after the final mission about how Coral screwed the team over. Of course, that’s because 1. It was his choice to send Theo G. to face Cara in the final Gauntlet, and 2. He knew he’d be coming back to the show, one day, as opposed to Nathan, whom nobody cares about ... I was a bit saddened hearing about the Alton/Irulan breakup. But judging from the trailer, he’s getting hooked up with a new girl. You can take the boy out of Vegas, but you can’t take Vegas out of the boy. At least he’d wear protection, unlike a certain slap-happy ex-cast member.

Danny Dias (Road Rules: X-Treme)

Challenges: 0
Missions: 0

Notes: I know, it’s hard to feel sorry for anybody who was scene in the twilight of Road Rules, but Danny was victimized by Bunim-Murray’s need for eliminating people on reality shows. I mean, isn’t that what the Challenges are for? ... In case you missed it: the X-Treme kids had to eat parts of a cow that aren’t supposed to be consumed, and Danny was gagging on his share. They failed the mission, and when they screwed another one up two weeks later, the others voted him off because he was the only one to have blown a mission ... I vaguely remember being annoyed with Danny back in 2004. But really, what other gay cast member from Road Rules would you want in here? Nick (Danny’s replacement) is too bland and Sophia’s still recovering from BOTS2. As for Rachel and Shane? Do I really need to explain?

Jamie Murray (RW: New Orleans)

Challenges: 2
Challenges Completed: 2
Challenges Won: 2
Missions: 32

Notes: The big question: how the hell is he a “rookie” when he’s won two Challenges? Best guess is that there was a last-minute cancellation, and Jamie got squeezed into the slot ... This guy is a strange cat. First, he was all right-win when he came to New Orleans, referring to interviewer Kameelah as “Shaka Zula” during the casting special. He and Kelley were the least exciting cast members, and Melissa was hanging onto him, which we couldn’t figure out. He did well in Extreme Challenge, but he was overshadowed by Syrus and Dan. Two seasons later, he shows up in Jamaica with a beard, a laid-back personality, and the desire to chill with the Rastafarians. According to his MTV.com bio, he’s living in a monastery. On some levels, I think he’s full of crap. So why can’t I hate him? ... Jamie was the only member of the final men’s team on Battle of the Sexes to win a mission on his own , winning Treehouse with Dan and Stairway To Heaven on his own. However, he almost didn’t make the final team; he got a disqualification on Maximum Velocity, but so did Antoine ... As long as he’s on screen (along with his magnificent mane), this show should be bearable to watch.

Jeremy Blossom (RR: South Pacific)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 6

Notes: Presenting the least relevant Roadie ever! ... He got his shot after Donell bounced his fat ass off the show. He competed in two team missions, as well as the “Face Off” against the Campus Crawl kids. He did more missions on Inferno than on his season ... He got picked twice by the Real World team to go into the Inferno. The first time, we saw him stick his head in a box full of bugs. Of course, Ace bailed after ten seconds, so maybe Jeremy isn’t all that great.

Landon Lueck (RW: Philadelphia)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 1
Challenges Won: 1
Missions: 16

Notes: On the one hand, the guy still reeks of being an ass. He isolated himself from ex-squeeze Shavonda during Inferno II, he got into a fight with Derrick, and he blew the What a Drag mission. On the other hand, he should get the most credit for the Good Guys’ victory in the final mission ... His two Inferno wins seem impressive on the surface. The first win came off Karamo in Knock Your Block Off, who had to leave the show anyway to fulfil a prior obligation. The second time, he barely beat Dan in Pegged. Even though Landon was more muscular, the lanky Dan kept up with him until the end. If Landon loses in the Gauntlet, we’ll know his wins were flukes ... He’s probably a halfway decent guy, until you give him alcohol. Remember when he contemplated stabbing Melanie’s friends, and Karamo had to intercept him? ... On the plus side, Darrell isn’t here. I don’t want anybody to refer to Landon as “Lando Commando.”

MJ Garrett (RW: Philadelphia)

Challenges: 0
Missions: 0

Notes: I’m going to need help from my audience this season. I can never tell when he’s chewing tobacco. Seriously, what twentysomething does that? I want to make jokes about that ... MJ has college football experience, playing as a wide reciever for Vanderbilt University. I found his bio on the web site. He was “known for blonde curls and alternative clothing” and he “[enjoyed] movies, photography, softball, horseshoes, water sports and playing on-line Pictionary.” His gridiron experience could help him out. Then again, Mallory was a soccer player, and she couldn’t standing on a small block longer than Christena in The Inferno. Do you miss “The Miz”? First of all, shame on you. Secondly, MJ’s got this alter ego called “Muja Star.” Apparently, Muja comes out whenever MJ taps the ugly star tattoo on his shoulder. I’m also guessing alcohol brings it out ... He’s on the same team as Landon, which does bring us back to a time when we didn’t know who the real gay guys on the show were.

Randy Barry (RW: San Diego)

Challenges: 1
Challenges Completed: 0
Missions: 11

Notes: Another guy who looks like he’s high. How strict are the drug laws in Trinidad and Tobago? ... Randy does strike me as a cool guy. Not as cool as Jacquese, but more rational than Brad, and more fun to hang with than Charlie. He even took his dismissal from BOTS2 is stride ... According to MTV.com, Randy is dating Kina. I don’t know much about her, but I think she’s the most sane of the X-Treme ladies, so good for him ... It’ll be weird seeing Randy and Brad on opposite teams. On a happy note, they wouldn’t have to face each other in the Gauntlet. It would be as painful as the Rachel/Sarah showdown in Telluride.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Gauntlet 2: An Overview

After what has felt like an eternity of waiting, The Real World/Road Rules Challenge comes back to MTV on December 5 with its eleventh season: Gauntlet 2: Rookies vs. Veterans.

The Deal

Thirty-two former cast members from The Real World and Road Rules fly out to Trinidad & Tobago. They have been spilt into two teams: those who have competed in two or more Challenges (“Veterans”), and those who have done none or one Challenge (“Rookies”). While MTV.com is vague with details, we can assume that the same format will be running, as the teams compete in missions worth $10,000 apiece, with the final mission paying out $150,000. However, only those remaining in the game stand to get the money.

The Gauntlet

Introduced in 2003, the Gauntlet offered one last chance for doomed players to stay in the game. After each mission, the teams would vote one of their own to compete in a one-on-one event. A die roll determined which of the six events the plays would compete in. The winner of the Gauntlet stayed on, while the loser packed bags and went home.

This time, things are a little different. The new Gauntlet is a surreally-constructed edifice that gives off a Stonehenge vibe. Judging from the preview trailer, the die roll may have been scrapped in favor of a predetermined event similar to the Inferno. The biggest twist is that team members will have to fight each other in the Gauntlet to stay on. This will build tension and resentment amongst teammates...if the booze and sex didn’t do that already.

The Rookies

On the surface, the Rookies look woefully overmatched...until you see three certain guys on the roster. Alton (RW: Las Vegas) was the rock of the Real World team during Gauntlet, as he stood out in missions and handed Laterrian a humiliating defeat in the Gauntlet. However, his decision to sent Theo into the Gauntlet over Coral was a double whammy; Theo lost to Cara, and a spider-bit Coral held the team back in the final mission. Landon (RW: Philadelphia) is the only returning player from the victorious Good Guy team from last season. He won two Infernos, but he was pitted against Karamo (who already had a foot out of the door) and Dan (the gangly doof who was barely edged out). Then there’s the inclusion of Jamie (RW: New Orleans), who has not only competed in two Challenges, but has won both. While there’s no real explanation why he’s on this team, his strength and easy-going ways should be a boon to the Rookies.

In addition to Landon, the Rookies have an experienced endgame competitor in Cara (RR: South Pacific), who has won two Gauntlets. Of course, one had Elka swinging at Cara, missing, and falling into the water, and the other had Theo getting a more ornery mechanical bull to handle. The Rookies also have a five-person contingent from RR: X-Treme, and three of them are ladies looking for some payback. Ibis looks to rebound from getting outplayed and betrayed by Tonya in Battle of the Sexes 2. Jodi is still reeling from her Inferno loss to Veronica, a wound made deeper by the jeers of losers Rachel and Dan. How bad is she staggering? She’s reported to have dated Mark. Kina only competed in three missions in BOTS2, but she’s famous for stealing Eric’s jump rope and contemplating sending it back to him piece by piece. Who else is returning from BOTS2? Cameran (RW: San Diego) seeks fame, fortune, and guys to punch in the nuts. Adam (RW: Paris) brings his freshly-shaven head and bad raps to the game (as opposed to a shaved head, gaudy necklace, and mobster wannabe flavor). Randy (RW: San Diego) will be separated from his good buddy Brad, but will be in close contact with Kina (who he’s dating) and Jamie (who acts as stoned as he does). The most unexpected return to the Challenge has to be Susie (RR: Australia), who replaced the ejected Ayanna way back in Extreme Challenge.

Finally, there will be four relatively fresh faces in the mix. Danny (RR: X-Treme) was the first person voted off his season, because he couldn’t eat parts of a cow that people had no reason to eat. His presence could also be a baromater of how much Derrick has grown up (for instance, would Derrick still shout “Earmuffs!” anytime Danny talks about his gay lovelife). Also hailing from the last Road Rules season is Jillian, who made a beeline towards Patrick, and who has been linked romantically to Mark. Obviously, this youngster isn’t about making good life choices. While Mike “The Miz” Mizanin has abandoned the Challenges for the lucrative wrestling racket, his legacy lives on with MJ (RW: Philadelphia). This former football player sports an alter ego of his own in the superheroic “Muja Star.” Finally, there’s Jo (RW: San Francisco), the most unexpected player in the field. Jo does have connections to the show’s history; she replaced the guy who would become the first “Mr. Big” in Challenge history (Puck), and she was selected by the housemates over Mark back in 1994.

The Veterans

These people do not answer to “Hey, get a friggin’ life!” The most famous face of this group is Mark (Road Rules: Season One), who can be seen on Fox Reality’s Reality Remix, as well as on any BMP girl too young for him. Also, he gift-wrapped a $60,000 check to the undeserving Eric Nies during BOTS2. Never forget that. Another guy on the downward spiral is David (The Real World: Seattle), who has been in a relationship with Katie (RR: The Quest). Remember, Katie is best friends with Trishelle, and has also dated (if that is the correct word) Jon Dalton. Timmy (RR: Season Two) and Adam (RR: The Quest) come back after having won a past Challenge. Timmy looks to dope it up and not look as big a tool as Mark, while Adam pops his ADD medication and looks for girls to throw into the fire.

There are also a few hard-luck stories in this group. Brad (RW: San Diego) couldn’t stay on long in his first two Challenges, including a heartbreaking Inferno defeat at the hands of Abram. Derrick (RR: X-Treme) got bounced early from BOTS2, and he was on the less-than-successful Bad Asses team in Inferno 2, but he proved to be the nicest guy on his squad (as least when sober). Syrus (RW: Boston) is one of the nicest Challengers you’ll meet, but he continues to get no respect, as his MTV.com biography has Ace’s history instead. Speaking of Ace (RW: Paris), he comes back after competing in a paltry four missions (five if you count his humiliating defeat in the Inferno).

Katie comes into this season as the most experienced endgame player, having defeated David and Julie (RW: New Orleans) in the Inferno, and Montana (RW: Boston) in the Gauntlet. Ironically, all four are on the same team. Julie still seeks her first win since Extreme Challenge, even as she continues to humiliate herself and shame Mormon people worldwide. Montana seeks to avenge her quick exit from Gauntlet, but she has steady work as an acupuncturist. Ruthie (RW: Hawaii) was a monster in BOTS1, but came up short in BOTS2. She won’t be the only lesbian to break out of the BOTS format, as Aneesa (RW: Chicago) and her bizarre Mohawkish hair seeks her first Challenge win. Also making a long-awaiting return is perineal scrub/drama mama Jisela (RR: The Quest), whose “ho train” antics in the Hamptons are a distant memory after we’ve seen the likes of Trishelle. Robin (RW: San Diego) is another tough luck case who is competing in her third straight Challenge. Last and certainly least is Beth (RW: Los Angeles), who got her stuff thrown into the pool by Tonya in Inferno II and ended up running away from the Challenge, a big streak of yellow running down her back. Why anybody would ever think of saying “Go, Beth!” without adding “And take David Edwards with you!” is beyond me.

The Host

Once again, Bunim-Murray Productions shows the love for alternative athletes. First, we had Jonny Moseley, an Olympic gold medalist in moguls skiing and a guy who looked like he was high at any given time. Then we had Dave Mirra, a biking god with no discernable personality (I still get chills thinking about “Yo, where’s Karamo at?”). Today, we have TJ Lavin. He’s a big-time BMX biker. Honestly, couldn’t they bring in an ex-BMP star? I mean, it was a mistake to partner Mark and Eric for Battle of the Seasons, but there are some folks out there who could pull it off (my short list: Syrus, Blair, Coral, Teck and Frankie. Oh, and Melissa, but I think she might be too short for the job).

The After Show

For the second straight season, MTV.com will host a post-show wrap-up, host by Blair Herter (RR: The Quest, Battle of the Sexes). Last time, Blair managed to mix it up with the players and not look like a tool himself...a rare feat in reality television. He will be interviewing some of the most memorable personalities from this season...most of whom hang out in the Los Angeles area. Already, I’m anticipating reunions with Adam and Katie, as well as a re-enactment of Jisela’s topless makeout session from four years ago. I’m also hoping for a pre-season interview with Sarah Greyson. After all, if it wasn’t for her winning five times in the Gauntlet, Gauntlet 2 wouldn’t never have happened.

Why Should You Watch?

1. Because Survivor: Guatemala isn’t as fun as Palau, The Amazing Race: Family Edition has been a huge trainwreck, and both versions of The Apprentice have been sinking in the ratings. We need a taste of the familiar right now.

2. Like I’ve said in past entries, the original Gauntlet made for outstanding television. In fact, I was midly outraged it wasn’t nominated for an Emmy in 2004. Think of it as a sympathy nod to the late Mary-Ellis Bunim. That, and no way Last Comic Standing should have been lumped with proven successes like Survivor, The Amazing Race and American Idol. Each endgame brought emotion, while you could cheer the winner, jeer at the loser, or had a good cry either way (especially the Rachel/Sarah battle, which was freakin’ brutal to watch). Even if the matches end up alternating between boy/boy and girl/girl, fans would have two weeks to hope for justice, as opposed to four with the Inferno seasons.

3. No Veronica Portillo. We haven’t not seen her since Extreme Challenge in 2001. I mean, you could love the exclusion of veterans like Mike, Coral, Rachel/Butterface, Tina and Tonya. But Veronica has been the most familiar, breeding the ultimate contempt. Yeah, she’s doing a new reality show with Butterface...but I’m not watching that when it comes out, so I don’t have to care.

4. Like I’ve stated before, BMP has gotten better. After watching crappy mission after crappy mission in Inferno and BOTS2, I was pleased by the production values that went into Inferno II. It was as if the producers actually gave a damn, and it showed. If nothing else, the new Gauntlet looks fantastic. Of course, I expect things to dip with the follow installment, dubbed Fresh Meat Challenge. If Mark and Eric sign on, it becomes Expired Meat Challenge.

The preview special airs on November 21 on MTV, with the season premiere airing two weeks later. I will be offering my scouting reports in the days to come. And if you think I take this too far, I offer you this: I obssess, so you won’t have to.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Everybody Wants To Be A Rock Star...

I have a confession to make: for the past month, I have been going to MTV.com's site for Inferno II. And everytime I went, I deleted "inferno" from the URL and put in "gauntlet." I just wanted to see a sign that Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Gauntlet 2 (or whatever the offical title is) would be going on the air. First, I heard it would be October 31. Then it got shoved back to November 14, so MTV could air more episodes of Laguna Beach. Then I heard it would be shoved into December. I mean...I've recapped the last five seasons. I just wanted to get off the bench and start making cracks at fools.

This past Tuesday, MTV.com finally launched the site. (YAAAAAAAAAAYYY!)

There's a biography on the new host, BMX biker TJ Lavin (YAAAAAAAAAAYYY!)

There's the promise of post-show interviews conducted by Blair Herter (YAAAAAAAAAAYYY!)

There's links to pictures that aren't on the site (YAAAAAA-what?!?)

Yes...apparently, the pics were up for a few hours, then they went white. And since the show isn't a big deal anymore, MTV.com isn't rushing to put them back up. Which means that I have to schlep over to a forums site, while the denizens make the pics into signatures.

On the bright side, the trailer for the new season is up, and BMP hasn't skimped on the production values. The locale is exotic Trindad & Tobago. As for the Gauntlet itself? Wow. Remember the old Gauntlet in Telluride? Looks like BMP decided to give it to Sarah for her five wins, just like Theo wanted. The new Gauntlet has a unique structre which I can't put into words. If the trailer is any indication, the pre-Gauntlet die roll is gone, as are the set events (Deadman's Drop, Knock Your Block Off, Perfect Fit, etc.) The endgames look more like Infernos now, held within the funky edifice.

And there's the drama. I have a dial-up connection, so I haven't tried to watch it from home. I can pick out some of the guys, though I get confused telling some of the women apart. Yes, I can pick out perrienal scrubs Katie and Beth, both of whom need to go home as soon as possible. The big deal this time centers on a change in format; instead of the teams sending one person into the Gauntlet, teammates can be forced to face each other. Betrayal will be common this season. Oh, and the end brought about the weirdest sight of all: Mark Long, raging at the camera. While I now consider Mark to be a major asshole (getting divorced and going for younger BMP girls, handing Eric Nies a check for $60,000 in Battle of the Sexes 2) and a sellout (becoming a correspondant for Reality Remix on Fox Reality), I don't think I've seen him ticked off. I'm placing 5-1 odds that a chick spurned him.

When I get the offical roster, I'll start previewing the season, which will start on December 5. After Inferno II, I'm convinced Bunim-Murray Productions has finally gotten its groove back. Of course, it'll lose it for the upcoming Fresh Meat Challenge, so we should savor the lack of suck while we still can.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

A Letter To The TAR Families

To: Bransens, Godlewskis, Linzes, Paolos
From: Jason Borelli, alleged "Closet Optimist"/fan of The Amazing Race
Subject: The Yield

After watching last night's episode, I felt the need to write to you in regards to your group decision to Yield the Weaver family. Yes, I know that one of the Paolo kids ended up doing the deed, but all of you seemed hellbent on forcing Linda and her brood to stand on the mat. I have a question for all sixteen of you:

What the hell were you thinking?

First of all, I know that from whatever edited footage I saw, the Weavers don't seem to be a fun family. Linda looks and acts like Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien during Survivor: All-Stars; namely, a very ugly human being, inside and out. The daughters seem to be sterotypical snotty teen girls. I'm guessing Rolly might need lots of therapy in his future. And yes, I do sympathize with the fact that Roy Weaver got killed on the race track. But it's like seeing footage of the Schroeders' house damaged after Hurricane Katrina...I may feel bad, but my pity pool can be drained. By the time Mark Schroeder was quipping about Roy's death in the fourth episode, and Stassi was bawling in the car, that pool was empty.

So I can emphasize about the five-team pile-up at the Yield mat, as all of you seemed eager to be the ones to put the Weavers out of their misery, as well as the audience's misery (I haven't seen any popularity polls, but the forums at Television Without Pity have gone anti-Weaver, big time). Yet, none of you seemed to think long-term. All of you wanted the instant gratification. And you guys screwed up in two ways.

1. The Weavers Are Not a Strong Team

I sense that they're holding on by a thread, and that thread has been fraying since their detour at the Waffle House. Why take the air out of their tires? This is not about sympathy, but strategy. A team like theirs can and will self-destruct on their own. So why put them over the edge? Use the power of the Yield on somebody worth stopping. Did you see the penulitmate episode of TAR5? Three teams ended up running to the mat to put the Yield on Colin & Christie, not just because they were rude and boorish, but because they were great Racers. They won six out of thirteen legs, including an unprecented three in a row. Who could blame Chip & Kim for dropping the hammer?

Let's say that I got to the Yield five seconds before any of you. I would want to race against a weaker family should we go into the final leg. I'd think the Weavers would implode at any given time...so I wouldn't Yield them. I'd take their annoyance in the near future for the chance to kill a stronger team now. Paolos? Same thing...they got their act together in the previous leg, but one cross word from one member might lead to an all-out fiasco. Bransens? I'm sure that I could beat Wally in a footrace, so he and his daughters are spared. In the end, I would've Yielded the Linzes. Sorry, guys, but I think you're the strongest team, and a major obstacle between my team and a million dollars. If you survived the leg and accosted me about that, I would tell you that it's nothing personal, but it's a Race. I'd offer a peace offering...if they end up beating my team, I'd wear a Reds jersey and a "WHO DEY?" cap at TARCon. And if you weren't pacified? The heck with you, then.

2. What If They Came Back?

Look at the history of the Yield. Prior to last night's episode, the Yield has been used four times. Only one has a Yielded team come in last place. None of those teams ended up eliminated. You forced a team to wait, a team that you hated, and I'm sure the feeling was mutual. They bagged on the Paolos posing in front of a garbage truck, and muttered "retards" at the thought of some of you. But none of you wondered what would have happened if they were still in the Race. None of you seem to think about how Linda would have stepped up the drama at the Pit Stop during the mandatory eat/sleep/mingle phase.

Well...they made it to at least two more legs. And who got the shaft? Thanks to the screwy karma that has visited this season, none of you got eliminated. No, that went to the Gaghans. Tammy couldn't find that one red coffee bean right away, and they couldn't overtake the Weavers. I'm fairly certain that the Gaghans might have been part of the hate jamboree, and that the editors took out that footage to make them more lovable. Honestly, I don't care. They were the last truly lovable team left in the Race, and I had to watch little Carissa try and fight back the tears. Gut-wrenching stuff. It's amazing that Billy and Carissa proved to be more mature than most of the adult Racers.

My point? You guys pissed off the Weavers. They will give you grief at the Pit Stop. They will give you even more of the evil eye. They will step up their rantings, everybody will suffer for it, and you guys made it even more possible. And a word to the Paolos: not only will you bear the full brunt of their storm, they will hit you with the second Yield if they can. The only bright side to your decision is that you are no longer the most hated team this season. As long as DJ keeps his trapped mostly shut and Marion tries to hustle, the fans will like you. But this whole season is playing out like Kill Bill. The Weavers are The Bride, you guys are the ones who tried to kill them, and the Gaghans were Buck (note: nobody tell Billy and Carissa what Buck did to deserve to die). And with an already flaky season falling apart, there's a tiny bit of my heart that hopes the Weavers win...because if that pisses all of you off, that might not be such a bad thing. This season already stinks...so why not skip to the worst possible ending? But don't worry...once TAR9 starts up, the family format will be forgotten, as well as most of you and your lack of strategic thinking at the Yield mat.

Jason Borelli