Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Battle of the Sexes - The Good, The Bad & The Notorious (MTV Preview)

Before Battle Of The Sexes kicked off, MTV ran a half-hour special on the upcoming season. I miss those. These days, there's way too much feuding and fornicating to keep track of. I'll cover that when I get to the "19 Degrees" special, which will seem so quaint when seen in 2016.

Air Date: December 30, 2002
Article Published: January 1, 2003

It's January, and reality television fans know what that means: time for Mary-Ellis Bunim and Jonathan Murray to pit former cast members of The Real World and Road Rules against each other for cold, hard, sponsor-labeled cash. This past Monday, MTV aired a teaser preview for Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes.

First comes a plethora of clips from the show. Syrus: "We're gonna go out and kick these girls' butts." More clips. Christina: "I think the girls are gonna outshine them." Even more shots. Laterrian shots "Hoo-hah!" as he leads the other guys. Melissa curses out Julie. David E. threatens to whoop Puck's ass. There's a game of Simon Says. Building of log cabins. Puck babbles on and Ellen tries to shut him up. Rachel says that the game is getting ugly. Emily says that this is going to be the "Jerry Springer of the [Challenges]." Seeing how this is her third appearance in a row, that's saying something.

Segue to the titles sequence, with all 36 competitors. Their names will be bold-faced here when introduced, to differentiate them from other people.

Cut to the hosts of the preview: Ruthie (Real World: Hawaii) and Jonny Moseley, who will be hosting the series. We get clips of Jonny skiing, though nothing of his performance in the Olympics in the moguls. When you have a video game with your name on it and don't medal, you get to host a BMP show. Consider it a warning. Jonny introduces Ruthie as a "reformed party girl." We get clips of Ruthie drinking and dancing it up in Hawaii. I feel bad for her; she was just the tip of the very dyslexic iceberg that was her season. Jonny and Ruthie are at the Tonga Room at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, and they're talking about the latest Challenge, which was filmed in Montego Bay, Jamaica. The set-up is explained: rather than Real World and Road Rules cast members facing off against each other, this will be the guys versus the girls. At stake is $150,000 in "Chili's Cash," which Ruthie clarifies that it's not that much in mozzarella sticks.

We get clips of the guys and girls. No competition here; just looking really good in swimsuits. Lucky for me I'm not that self-conscious. Really. I'm not. I choose not to go to the beach for my own reasons.

Introduction of Dan (RW: Miami). He's got long hair, like he could star in the direct-to-video sequel to George of the Jungle. There's the fight with fellow housemate Melissa after she opened his mail. He calls her a bitch, she calls him a "flamer" - it's a classic clip. Cut to the present day: Laterrian is giving a pep talk. Dan muses that his teammates dined on a "testosterone buffet." The team receives a phone message about a "brain game." "What if we have to eat brains?" Dan asks. This ain't Campus Crawl, so don't worry. Dan hangs from his legs on a trapeze, but he falls in the water.

Ayanna (Road Rules: Semester at Sea) talks about how she graduated from Howard University with a B.A. in Theater Arts and Administration. Cut to her and Pua getting into a screaming match. I honestly can't tell what they're going on about. Surprisingly, the editors don't show her beating up Christian during Extreme Challenge. Oh, right, the cameramen missed that. We see Ayanna in present-day action.

Mark (RR: Season One) is looking to get into hosting programming, mentioning that he was the "Gadget Guru" on Donny & Marie for two years. First of all, didn't he co-host Battle of the Seasons with Eric last year? Secondly, who would admit to working on Donny & Marie? Clips of him during his season, including skinny-dipping and taking a mud bath. In Jamaica, he dives off a balcony and into a pool, and he tears a log cabin up.

How about a blast from the recent past? We see Shane (RR: Campus Crawl) getting chewed out by the Citadel drill instructors. Man, I forgot all about that. He dances in a gay bar. He smacks Darrell in the face, ticking the aspiring Olympic boxer off. In Jamaica, he reads a clue off the phone. He finishes a cabin. Puck: "Who said gay guys can't build houses?" Shut up, Puck. I'll be saying that every other paragraph this season.

Next, there's Gladys (RR: Latin America). Naturally, we get the one clip of her beating the crap out of Abe. For those who never saw it, think of it as a less bogus version of the Steven/Brynn tiff. Seriously, Gandhi would've taken a poke at Abe. In Jamaica, Jonny takes Gladys aside and tell her she can't compete in an event, even though she got the OK from her doctor. I know what her "condition" is, and I can't blame Jonny.

Back in San Francisco, Jonny wonders what a Challenge would be without missions. Um, wouldn't it be people yelling and fondling each other? In Jamaica, a military guy wakes the women up. There's intense exercising. The trapeze over water, with Jake's "equipment" poking from his trunks. The log cabins. "Simon Says patty-cake!" People staying underwater. Laterrian: "I refuse to lose this challenge!" Puck during the log cabin mission: "I know you little fillies are mad. Keep buildin'" Shut UP, Puck. Setting up for laser tag. Hey, something I know I'm good at! Guys celebrate a victory. Women win a mission. Guys chant: "RIDE OR F*****G DIE!" The girls psyche themselves up for an event. The guys kneel in front of a scoreboard.

Ruthie and Jonny do a little more pimping. They don't have chemistry, but they're not as bad as Cara and Theo in the Real World: Las Vegas preview special. Before the commercials, we get two more cast members. For Veronica (RR: Semester at Sea), this is her third Challenge. I don't count last year, since she was voted out in the first episode. She talks with Jisela about ups and downs. She tells the camera that she'd love to send Emily home. Then there's Laterrian (RR: Maximum Velocity Tour), who cusses out Emily to the camera. I don't remember him being this ticked. "My boys," he says in another interview, "We're all warriors." He shouts "HOO-RAH!" twice, getting backed up by the assembled guys. I don't know what's weirder: that he's become a field leader, or that he's using the same terms as Ian from The Amazing Race 3.

After the commercials, we meet Christina (RR: Australia), who's living in Los Angeles. She's hoping the women can outshine the guys. Next, there's Syrus (RW: Boston). Note it's spelled "Syrus," not "Sirus," as he was labeled in Eminem's video for "Without Me." He says that he's a fierce competitor, and he doesn't want to cheat, but he has before. Didn't he almost pummel James for cheating during Extreme Challenge?

Back to Jonny and Ruthie, who seem a little more relaxed. There are drinks on the table. I'll let you jump to conclusions. Jonny segues into the next profile, calling Puck the "reigning champion of trouble." Shut up, Jonny.

Profile of Puck (RW: San Francisco). He's got his face painted, saying that he comes from "[his] mother's womb." Plenty of Puck clips from his season. "I'm here to be me," he says in one clip. "I'm not gonna change me. I like me." Seriously, I hate him. Not in a "love to hate" way, but along the lines of "Dear God, why is he still here?" (Indeed, Puck was the second person inducted into the Reality TV Hall of Shame.) Next, there's David E. (RW: Los Angeles). Naturally, the editors show him pulling the sheets off Tami's bed, leading to his being booted from the show. He also throws a hissy fit about loose Styrofoam chips on the floor.

There's a cute clip of David talking into a seashell like a cell phone. He might have invented tribal council (a claim he made at the tenth anniversary reunion), but he owes Greg Buis royalties for his shtick. David talks about expecting to be a team player and enjoy himself. Cut to him yelling at Puck: "Go beat your wife some more, white boy!" Wow. Puck and David yell at each other, and then Puck spits water on him. David turns to somebody off-camera: "Excuse me? Puck just spit on my face. Disqualification!" He yells into an actual cell phone, saying that if he did that to Puck, he'd be out of there. Things get so out of hand, executive producer Jonathan Murray has to come down. Puck whines, "I gave you so much!" If Murray admits that casting Puck back in 1994 was the worst mistake he ever made, I will love him. Puck cries, shoving the camera away from him. David sits by himself, exhausted.

Speaking of people I can't stand, there's Ellen (RR: The Quest). No clips of her telling Coral to "kiss my baby ass" or her hook-ups with Adam. She calls Puck a jerk, and he responds by slipping a booger in her food. Okay, I really hate Puck. Bad enough his footage seeps into others, but he's making me side with Ellen, whom I hate. Puck says he's gunning for Ellen since she "opposed the Puck." God, shut up, Puck! She cries, telling people he threatened to kick her ass. Puck says that he's a good guy once you get to know him. Cut to Puck passing gas. Sigh.

Back to Jonny and Ruthie. Jonny admits that Puck can't be everywhere, but there are 35 others who can bring the heat, especially in sunny Jamaica.

Melissa (RW: New Orleans) is my favorite of this lot. Just thought you should know, since I'll be taking her side as long as she's there. Of course, the editors show the clip of her ready to strip. Then there's Julie (RW: New Orleans), the Mormon girl we knew before we even heard of Neleh Dennis. Happy days: Melissa hugging Julie after she bungeed in South Africa. Melissa, Julie, and Jamie on a hydrofoil. Melissa and Julie in the confessional during Mardi Gras. I got a lot of memories from that season. Think they're still friends? Melissa tells Julie that she doesn't like her, that she finds her to be dishonest. Julie asks, "Did I do anything yet to offend you?" Melissa is stunned. "Yet?" she answers. "The past two years of my life!" Melissa launches into a bleep-filled tirade. Ellen says that it's supposed to be girls against guys, not girls against girls. Melissa hangs with other girls, saying she wants Julie gone, and Aneesa says it shouldn't be personal. 

Montage of people fighting. David E. is yelling. Aneesa has a stressed look on her face. Ellen tries to shut Puck up, punctuating that with "blong blong!" Seriously, what is that? I've been trying to wrap my mind around "woo woo" (David B.) and "tanky" (Lori), and now Ellen starts babbling?

Jonny and Ruthie pop up long enough to introduce new players. For the third straight year, the Challenge is getting some international flavor. Antoine (RR: Europe) hails from Brussels, Belgium. There's an extended clip of him and Belou fighting. Yes, Belou was as nuts then as she was last year. Chris has to hold Antoine while Patrice separates the two as they yell at each other. "You're going in the water!" shouts Antoine. If you live in the New York area, you can watch that episode on WCBS at 1:05 a.m., Saturday night. Back to the present-day, he asks Syrus where in Africa he comes from. Are you kidding me? Syrus tells him that he's not from Africa. Antoine busts up a cabin, and Dan smacks him with a rubber log.

Trifecta: Tonya, Theo and Aneesa (RW: Chicago). Clips of Theo lecturing Tonya in the van. Aneesa walking around bottomless, much to Tonya's chagrin. Tonya cries and cries. Nothing about her kidney stones, though. In Jamaica, Theo dances. Aneesa dances, rubbing her butt with another girl. Tonya tries to build a cabin. Theo talks about shutting up and putting on a "mean face." Tonya confesses to doing damaging things to Aneesa. Nice to see some things haven't changed. Aneesa thinks it's nice to be surrounded by women from different backgrounds with a common interest.

More people from the Belfort Mansion. Jamie (RW: New Orleans) now has a beard. Maybe he's trying to carry the lumberjack legacy Sean started last year. Also there's David B. (RW: New Orleans), who talks about life as a competition. Back in New Orleans, Jamie calls a house meeting to talk about David being a butthole. Melissa rubs herself on Jamie (she had it bad for him, back in the day). Jamie: "David is extremely moody." Another classic clip: David and Melissa arguing at the community television station, culminating with her slamming a chair on the ground. Of course, the editors couldn't possibly not show David singing a few bars of "Come On Be My Baby Tonight." It's the official in-joke for RW fans. A plastered Melissa suggests that David and Jamie join her in a "menagerie." Melissa says that she would be okay not seeing David again because he's a jackass. In Jamaica, David chants something funny. He yells something I can't understand. Jamie calls himself an outlaw. Guys who start dot-com companies aren't outlaws, Jamie. He hangs from the trapeze and falls in the water. David's underwater. He never learned how to swim, and he thinks that could be the end for him.

More Jonny/Ruthie banter. Profile of Yes (RR: Semester at Sea), who was booted along with Veronica last year. He considers the guys a big funky frat. I used to think Eric J. (RR: Campus Crawl) was a massive tool. But he tells the camera that he's the youngest male there, and he considers himself more of a man than some of the thirty-somethings. The camera cuts to Puck and David E. Nice.

Back from commercials, Anne (RR: Northern Trail) cries about possibly not being able to do an event. She wants to do that, even if it means throwing up while she does it. During her season, she was dating the hunky Dr. Tim from Detroit. Where is he now? Jake (RR: Islands) says he's the type who will run a race assuming he'll lose, but that doesn't stress him out. "I've been losing things for so long," he says, "I have it down to a science and an art." Boy, he's a barrel of fun. Shot of him on the trapeze, his thong offering little support.

Ruthie and Jonny keep going. Eric N. (RW: New York) was on the show in 1992. Seriously, shouldn't he have moved on by now? There's a painful clip of him rapping with Heather. In Jamaica, he dives into a pool, hugs Laterrian, and has a lot of naked upper-body shots, since that's still his best feature.

Onto more recent BMP alumni, Rachel (RR: Campus Crawl) is still with her girlfriend Amy and living in New York. Alternating shots of her kissing Amy and Darrell. In Jamaica, she tells the girls that the show wouldn't be happening if they didn't have a prayer against the guys, and that the producers picked the most "bad-ass" girls. I'm not sure about that, but Rachel is still She-Hulk to me, so I'll keep my mouth shut. She says something about how she or Emily will be picked, and Ruthie is about to make a decision.

While we're on the Sapphic thread, we meet Genesis (RW: Boston), who's living with her wife Paige in Orlando. Flashbacks of her dancing with girls and a drag queen, and getting on Sean's lap. In the present day, she offers this nugget: "Any guy wants to know what hell is like, be around a bunch of women who are on their period and PMSing. Because that's hell." Yikes. She says that money can turn good people ugly.

Beth (RW: Los Angeles) is back. Two dozen stake wounds to her heart, and she still keeps coming. Old-school flashback of her bringing a cat into the house, which ticks off Dominic. She suggests he hang out on a different floor. Yeesh. In Jamaica, she gripes about how she was booted first last year, "for no reason at all." Luckily, Norman reminds us that she's a manipulator, a liar and a cheat. She hopes that people can look past her reputation. Good luck, but don't unpack.

Lori (RW: Back to New York) notes that since her season, she's been working on caring less about what people think about her. She might not want to know what I think of her dating uber-tool Kyle from Chicago. We get clips of her snuggling with Kevin, a love that wasn't meant to be. In the present, she builds a log cabin and engages in military exercises.

Jonny wonders how past and future lovers would get along. To start, there's Amaya (RW: Hawaii). We get the clips with her and Colin, including his kissing her stuffed bunny. Colin offers some post-show advice: "Don't ever date a roommate!" I'll drive him to Las Vegas so he can tell that to Steven and Trishelle. Cut to Colin telling Amaya that he can't be friends with her, and she can't believe that. Very dyslexic iceberg, people. Turns out that Colin (RW: Hawaii) is also on this show. He remarks that everybody who has been on the show is a freak. Amaya scopes a bedroom, noting there's so much she can steal. A doctor tells Colin that he sprained his ankle.

Jisela (RR: The Quest) talks about her Playboy pictorial. Actually, it was her, Flora, Veronica, and (for some strange reason) Beth. Clips of her dancing, which she does best. That, and going lip-happy in New York and the Hamptons, breaking Malik's heart in the process. But I still like her more than Ellen. There's also the confessional scene where she goes topless, making out with Blair. And guess what? Blair (RR: The Quest) is here as well. There are clips of him in the streets of Fez and skinny-dipping in Morocco. He notes that some people have "big bags of chips" on their shoulders. Jisela feels the bed sheet, labeling it "Jisela material." Jisela didn't build her cabin right, and she yells at Jonny, who has a bemused smile.

James (RR: Maximum Velocity Tour) is back for his second Challenge. Why? "Because the stock market really sucks some serious [bleep], and I need to make some money to pay some student loans." I guess being the pledge master at the Road Rules Fraternity doesn't pay much. Old clip of him arguing with Holly in the van, telling her that she treats people like dog poop. Why couldn't they show stuff with him and Theo engaged in eyebrow-raising antics? In Jamaica, he notes that the guys are "insanely competitive" and will do anything to win. Pot, meet kettle. Then there's Emily (RR: Season Two), who has been going out with James for one year and 15 days. She's been keeping count. I need to throw up. There's plenty of snuggling and kissing footage. Emily tells James that people lied to her. James tears down a clothesline as dramatically as he can.

One more love connection: Ayanna… and David B.? Really? Are they both insane? Ayanna talks about how they've been learning about each other and that he's "flipped [her] switch." There's footage of David on the piano. Run, Ayanna! He's gonna start scatting! David says that he wants to invest time to understand her. Not like anybody from her season could figure her out. Ayanna sees David as someone who could be a friend for life. They hug. I'm not completely heartless, but if they act like responsible adults, I'll have nothing to work with.

Jonny and Ruthie are almost done, but they have one more clip, this time of a wedding. The identities of the bride and groom are not revealed. I know who they are, but I won't spoil it. Eric N. says that this is "the most incredible moment in reality television." Great, now we'll have to do an RNO Roundtable to debate that. Thanks, Eric.

Jonny and Ruthie sign off, reminding viewers to play MTV.com's Fantasy Challenge, something I'll cover in another article. Remember, the season kicks off with a one-hour premiere this Monday, January 6, at 10 pm (Eastern).
One of my first impressions? "Ruthie got no highlights. Shes not going to last long." There were some spoilers I wasn't privy to, and her rewriting of the narrative was one of those things. Also . . . why did I keep referring to Eric Nies as "Eric N"? Yeah, I wouldn't be calling him that for long, but it must seem weird. Who wouldn't know "Eric Nies"? And this was back when I liked him, as opposed to the jumprope-hawking asshole who'd luck into $60,000 on Battle Of The Sexes 2.

Next: My Fantasy Challenge preview article.

No comments: