Thursday, December 29, 2016

Battle of the Sexes - Men's Midterm Review

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

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

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

David Edwards (RW: Los Angeles)

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

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

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

Laterrian Wallace (RR: Maximum Velocity Tour)

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

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

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

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

Eric Jones (RR: Campus Crawl)

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

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

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

David Broom (RW: New Orleans)

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

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

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

Yes Duffy (RR: Semester at Sea)

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

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

Puck Rainey (RW: San Francisco)

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

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

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

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

Dan Renzi (RW: Miami)

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

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

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

Jake Bronstein (RR: Islands)

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

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

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

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

Blair Herter (RR: The Quest)

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

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

Syrus Yarbrough (RW: Boston)

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

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

James Orlando (RR: Maximum Velocity Tour)

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

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

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

Eric Nies (RW: New York)

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

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

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

Theo Gantt (RW: Chicago)

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

Memorable Moment: Winning Seven Rings of Saturn with Puck.

Antoine de Bouverie (RR: Europe)

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

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

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

Shane Landrum (RR: Campus Crawl)

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

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

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

Jamie Murray (RW: New Orleans)

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

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

Mark Long (RR: Season One)

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

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

Colin Mortensen (RW: Hawaii)

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

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

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

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

No comments: