Monday, February 06, 2017

Battle of the Sexes Episode 16: Everybody Sucks

This season is drawing to a close. Or was back in 2003. I'm writing this on the night before Invasion of the Champions debuts, which will no doubt be another clusterfuck brought to you by Bunim-Murray Productions and MTV. Even if Johnny doesn't luck into yet another win, or if CT gets the title that Diem never could, it's going to be a painful ride. And I can't seem to shake it. If there are programs to kick that habit . . . twelve steps or not, I'm ready for it. Compared to 2017, Emily's actions in Battle Of The Sexes seem so quaint.

 Airdate: April 21, 2003
Recap Published: April 27, 2003

We find out Emily's decision - does she go home with James? Do the women win a mission? Does MTV manage to show the episode without royally screwing up? There is a "yes" and two "no"s in there, but you'll have to read on to find out which is which.
Quick heads-up for the readers: do you live in New York? Are you between the ages of 16 to 25, or can pass yourself off as such? MTV is looking for people to attend a reunion special for the show. Am I going? Well, the notice says that everybody is going to be there. On the one hand, I'd like to see some Challengers, such as Mark, Jamie, Veronica, Rachel, David B., and Blair, among others. And while I did meet Melissa once before, it would be nice to see her again. On the other hand, I still see red anytime I think about Emily and her actions. Ellen works my nerves frequently, and I can't stand to look at her or Ruthie, not after they both rolled over for Emily. And Puck is an automatic deal-breaker for me in any situation. He'll just make the reunion all about him. The last thing I want is get in trouble when I smack him with an Adventures of Barry Ween trade paperback, shouting, "The power of Judd repels you!" Nah, I'll stay home and recap the sucker when it airs.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: Everybody played Human Aquarium. The girls didn't fare well. Their Inner Circle booted Genesis, who raised a glass to her own dismissal. James and Shane were tied for last place, and Ion Lifesaver holder Antoine decided to save Shane. At this point, Emily decided it was time for her to go. Basically, it's the final minute from last week, with dramatic editing and music. Then the screen goes black. There's silence for a split-second. And then . . .

CREDITS! MIDTOWN! Damn, that's jarring. I see Emily elbowing James off the surfboard yet again. The guy is whipped. I used to think that Emily could do so much better. Now, I think James needs somebody new in his life. Or somebody who's familiar. Hey, James. What happened to Rebecca? Did her folk music drive you crazy? Go back to her, dude. Believe me… you'll be saving yourself a ton of grief if you dump Emily, and soon.

We go back to where we left off. Genesis yells, "What the [bleep] are you talking about?" Ruthie asks Emily why she didn't say anything until now. Emily responds, "Because I didn't know what their decision was going to be." Ruthie turns away in disbelief. Emily interviews that one of her sisters needs her badly back home. Cut to black and white shot of Emily on the phone. Great… first Amaya's crisis and now this. I hate withheld information. Emily continues, saying she has to be there for her sister. For a second, I lower my anger. Ruthie says she doesn't want anybody who doesn't want to stay to remain. Emily tells the other ladies that if their sisters needed help, they would go. Ruthie expresses her shock. Then Emily tells the others that if James had stayed, she would have stuck it out one more day. So the sister isn't that important? What a bitch. There's a dramatic pan to Lori. "Yeah, Emily has personal matters," she interviews, "but the fact that she admits she would be here if James was still here? Tell me one situation where it's cool where a girl bails out on the rest of the girls because of her boyfriend. It's a lame move." Word on that, Lori.

More dramatic editing. Ruthie interviews about some girls who have left like Veronica. The Ghost of Highlights Past shifts us back a few weeks, taking out the color, but giving us echoing voices. Ellen doesn't consider Veronica a friend, but does see her as a competitor. Cut to Emily, who really wants to send her home. "I know that Veronica really wanted to be here," Ruthie interviews in the present, "but Emily was very adamant getting Veronica out." And it helped that you and Ellen let her, Ruthie. Never forget that. Back in the past, Emily lays on a huge pile of crap about Veronica: "She doesn't care about teamwork." Back to Ruthie: "To watch Emily leave now… that's not a team player." You're damn right. Let's say that you and Ellen kicked out Anne that day. At this point Veronica might still be with you. But with Veronica gone and Emily departing, you and Ellen are stuck with Lori, Melissa, and Genesis, three ladies who don't strike fear in the hearts of men. And one of those three will be on the final team to go up against the men. Do you see that bag in the sky with the wings and the dollar sign? That's your $50,000 prize flying away. Wave bye-bye, Ruthie. Wave bye-bye.

Jonny calls up the Women's Inner Circle to explain what's going on. Emily repeats her deal while laughing, as if shooting her team in the foot for the third time is so funny. She says that James has been her moral support in Jamaica, and now she needs to go home. She cries a little. I'm not caring, at all. Genesis and Lori look on. Cut to Shane, who's probably wondering how to break the news to Rachel. Can you imagine that? I keep picturing Rachel and Veronica at the Los Angeles airport, lying in wait for Emily. The fact that she quit would push them over the edge. Emily repeats that she's going home, and Genesis is staying. Great… another call to the wife to hold off the welcome home party. Genesis bursts out laughing, as the background music drones on with "totally insane" over and over. Genesis and Emily hug. Ruthie looks on. Jonny bids farewell to Emily and James, telling them, "It wouldn't have been the same without you." He welcomes back Genesis, and she laughs some more.

Melissa comes in for an interview: she figures that Emily's departure is beneficial for Lori and Genesis. What about you, Melissa? You go from next on the chopping block to getting a brief reprieve. She continues: "I'm happy that Lori's finally in the Inner Circle." Yeah, Lori is King Ralph. She's been below the radar for so long, and now an improbable series of events has thrust her forward. Clearly she knows this, as she laughs about being so far behind Ellen.

Packing. James packs his bag. Hey, there's a rugby ball! I forgot that James played for Berkley. Genesis and Emily hug. James packs. Emily and Ellen hug. More packing. Emily leaves. "See you guys," she tells Ruthie. "Good luck." Yeah, you too. Try not to bite James' head off when you mate. They get into the van and ride into the night. My verdict? She' going into the Reality TV Hall of Shame. What she's done in the past few months is reprehensible, and she deserves her induction.

Sunrise. Awesome aerial shot of Jamaica. Men's Villa. Everybody's still sleeping. The camera focuses on the Sponsor Phone, as it lights up and rings. Shane reads the instructions: wear sneakers, boots, and sunscreen. Lori repeats that at the Women's Villa. Melissa: "Okay, so I'm going to wear just my birthday suit and some boots. Cool." Here's my Melissa Conspiracy Theory on why we haven't seen her dole out the one-liners. In case you didn't know, Melissa is in the cast of Girls Behaving Badly, a practical joke show that airs on Oxygen, a cable network is owned by Oprah Winfrey. I'm guessing that Oprah called up Bunim and Murray, telling them that she owns Melissa's funny, and if they show her like that, she would kill them. Seriously, there should be balance for all the "I'm not cut out for this crap" segments. Back to the show: Shane sees that he's behind Antoine by six points. He figures that he has to have seven people between him and Antoine in order to stay in the game, but he concedes that the odds are against him. Genesis explains her only chance to stay on: win the competition, get the Ion, and keep it for herself. She thinks she's about 40 points from Melissa. Actually, it's just 30. If she scores 31 points and Melissa gets disqualified, then Genesis would advance. Ruthie interviews that all she's thinking about is how well the team can do.

Jonny welcomes everybody to Razor's Edge. He tries to make it sound suspenseful, but falls flat. Quick shots: scooter, platform, scooter, scooter, platform lifted higher. The objective: cross one of three beams while riding a scooter, without falling off. Shortest time wins. Colin expositions that the metal frame is lifted 100 feet in the air by two cranes. Antoine drops exposition with graphics backup: there are three paths to the finish line. The right-hand path is longer, but is twelve inches wide. The left-hand path is shorter and eight inches wide. The straight path is the shortest route, but it's only four inches wide. There are safety nets that catch anybody who falls in between the beams. Genesis explains that the players have to get to the end without falling off or taking a foot off the scooter. Jonny announces what the winner gets for the team: a vacation to Cancun, with airfare. Melissa cheers, so I'm guessing hope does indeed spring eternal. Oh, and the winner gets the suddenly popular Ion Lifesaver. Genesis interviews that the girls are hellbent on ending their losing streak.

Hey, we got popular music! Missy Elliot's "Work It" plays as the ladies practice riding the scooters. Sadly, they don't get to the part where Missy sings backwards. Ellen tells Ruthie that they have to go "balls to the wall." She also figures that if Genesis gets through it, then more than half of the team has a chance to win. Not much faith for Lori and Melissa, I take it. Those two ride the scooter on a simulated beam. Missy sings, "Girls, girls, get that cash." We get it, Missy, but thanks.

The platform is raised. Jonny asks Mark if he's ready. Mark is strapped to a bungee cord, in case he falls off. He tells Jonny he's picturing the platform being two feet above the ground. Jonny counts down from five and blows an airhorn. Jonny loves his airhorns. Mark slowly pushes the scooter down the path. He veers right, towards the long and safe route. Jonny yells at Mark, telling him to keep one wheel on the board. Mark takes the front wheel off the path, still taking his time. A helmet-cam gives us Mark going slow. He finally pushes off towards the finish line, clocking out at 47 seconds. He tells Jonny the trip was nerve-wracking.

Ruthie's turn. In the Fantasy Challenge, I finally got her, trading Emily in the process. Ruthie interviews that the rest of the women go after her, and she wants to set an example to inspire them. She starts off slow, going left. And then she takes her foot off the scooter. Jonny blows his horn twice. He tells her that's against the rules, and disqualifies her. Perfect. I wait so long for Melissa to leave, so I could get Ruthie. When I finally get her, she gets no points. Jonny instructs the platform lowered, as Ruthie covers her face.

Back from commercials, Ruthie hops off the lowered platform. Genesis walks with her, and Shane hands her a cigarette. This show is one huge tobacco ad at times. Genesis voiceovers that the girls depend on Ruthie to win. She tries to reassure Ruthie about the DQ, since she got two during Collision Course and Spidermon, adding that she stepped off to regain balance on the beam. Melissa adds that Ruthie has more than enough points. Obviously, Ruthie is disappointed in herself.

Platform. Ellen tells us that she has to perform well to "hold it down" for the team. She starts off, going left. The front wheel goes off the path, over the edge. She tries to adjust herself, but she takes a foot off the scooter. Double airhorn blare from Jonny. Did I mention Ellen is on my fantasy team as a starter? She mutters, "Oh, dammit!" Ruthie is on the ground, shaking her head. Jonny tells Ellen her foot came off, and the replay backs him off. Ellen states the obvious: "This mission is teaching us we have to rely and trust the rest of the girls." Cut to Ellen on the ground, supervising Lori on a practice beam, telling her not to take her foot off.

Colin on the platform: "No, I'm not scared of heights. But I'm scared of Jonny Moseley." Judging from his recaps, I think Colin's got an obsession. He starts off, the background music going on about "amazing trails." I get depressed, still CBS is airing a half-assed response to American Idol where The Amazing Race should be. Colin takes the long route, finishing at one minute, ten seconds.

Lori goes off, cheered on by Ellen and Ruthie. She goes left, finishing at 0:54. Ruthie interviews that she's glad Lori made it across.

Jamie on the platform: "Relax, get across the finish line, score some points." He looks down while scooting, taking the safe route, finishing at 0:25.

Antoine pushes off, picking up speed before the path separates, slamming on the brakes at the right time. Colin and Mark smile on terra firma, in awe of Antoine's skills. He goes right, not being overly cautious, finishing at 0:23. Over a replay of Antoine's performance, Colin labels him "The Mad Frenchman." He adds that it's either Antoine or Jamie winning.

Melissa on the platform: "It looks like it's all fun and games until you fall off and [bleeping] die." Look, if any of you have a problem with her doom-and-gloom attitude, take it up with Emily. If the stronger players had remained, Melissa wouldn't be here. Ruthie yells at Melissa to take a deep breath. Melissa in interview: "Again, I know I have to do it, so it's not like I can quit." She starts to lose it as Jonny counts down. "See, there he goes," she continues. "Jonny blowing that horn again. What's that?" I think it's a fetish with him, Melissa. He blows, and she starts scooting slowly. Very slowly. A glacier going uphill could go faster. Ruthie looks at her watch, as if Melissa is going to beat 23 seconds. Being the nice guy that he is, Antoine starts yelling for Melissa to look at him. Pan from him to her, and she's barely out of the starting line. She gets scared as she goes towards the split paths, shushing Antoine. She asks him if the wheels are still on the track. She finally gets a little speed, finishing at 2:40. Say what you will, but Melissa is not a quitter, unlike certain harpies we know and loathe. "It's fun for everyone," she tells the camera. "Okay, can we bring it down, now?"

Shane tells us his chances: since Antoine wasn't disqualified, he has decided to go down the middle on the narrowest path, since he has nothing to lose. He slowly goes down, trying to keep his balance. Antoine is on the ground, smiling. "Look in front of you," he encourages Shane quietly, "look ahead." Hey, it beats Julie's "BUNGEE, CHRISTIAN!" from Extreme Challenge. But Shane can't keep his balance, falling into the net for a disqualification.

Genesis is on the platform, and she has decided not to duplicate Shane's path. Melissa feels bad that all the pressure is on Genesis to win the vacation for the team. Genesis reviews what went down: Ellen and Ruthie got disqualified, and Melissa moved at a snail's pace. She adds, "I feel like it's really solely up to me if we're going to win this or not." Ellen tells the others to focus positive energy on Genesis. That's easier to do since Emilizzy Borden took a hike. Lori wants to close her eyes. Genesis gets ready as we go into commercial.

Coming back, Emily is telling the others she's leaving. Normally, when there's a screw-up, I blame it on BMP. This time, somebody fell asleep at MTV, and the first act got run again. So what does MTV do? Right… go to credits and start up Aston Kutcher's opus, Punk'd. People from the Eastern and Central time zones got screwed for the night. Yes, I realize the episodes are often rerun, but some of us have an interest in the damn show. Some people might not want to wait until the next day. So shame on MTV for dropping the ball.

17 ½ Hours Later…

Lots of editing. Genesis starts on the path. Lori interviews that if Genesis flies across the course, they could win. More editing. Genesis is struggling, shaking juts a little. She takes her foot off, getting the double blare. She didn't even choose a path. In her interview, Genesis silently rolls her eyes. The ladies look dejected. Lori states the obvious: once again, they have lost.

Jonny takes his time in award the prize package and the Ion Lifesaver to Antoine, whose time of 23.1 seconds beat out Jamie's 25.58. Antoine accepts everything with a big smile.

A production assistant puts Mark on top of the scoreboard with 410 points. On the other side, Ruthie is leading with 365. The others look at the boards. Mark flexes his muscle, pointing at his score. Given that Mark hasn't been a total tool, he's entitled to brag. Genesis notes that neither Inner Circle is going to deliberate.

Men: Mark (410), Jamie (407), Colin (404), Antoine (391), Shane (349)

Women: Ruthie (365), Ellen (347), Lori (342), Melissa (309), Genesis (245)

In a sad attempt at humor, Jonny walks up with something under his shirt. I don't know what it is, but it squeaks. Genesis compliments him on his "rack." Whatever. Jonny calls up the Women's Inner Circle, and Lori is really excited to be up on the other side. She even handles the announcement: "I would like to ask Genesis to leave now!" Everybody laughs. It would've been better if Genesis had worn an Emily mask. Catharsis can be good. Lori and Genesis hug.

Men's Inner Circle. For the first time, Jamie handles the announcement. He says that he has nothing but love for Shane, but it's time for him to go. More hugging.

Now Antoine gets to award the Ion Lifesaver. "I was intending on trading this item of power for some intercourse with Genesis," he begins, as Genesis smiles. "But since we couldn't agree on a rendezvous time, all I have left is Shane." He explains his choice: Shane was the only person who attempted scooting down the middle. He continues: "He really rocked it. He's been rocking it for a couple of days really well." He tosses the Ion to Shane. Antoine interviews that Shane is one of the youngest people on the show, adding, "You've shown so much maturity and courage, that I really think it must be awarded." Shane interviews that Antoine knows he wouldn't accept the gift, so he gives it back and they hug. Genesis pipes up: "I'm finally going home!"

Night. Shane hugs Ellen, thanking her for a good time. Genesis didn't think she'd get attached. She laughs, "Why do I care about you losers so much?" More laughter. Ellen replies, "Before you're a loser, too!" Genesis asks the ladies to beat the guys, and Lori responds, "Well, we're kind of trying!" The van goes off into the night.

Women's Villa. Ruthie and Ellen are sharing quality time. Beats the old days, where Ellen would fiddle with her nails while Ruthie looked seriously contemplative. "It's not about winning prizes at this point," Ellen interviews. "It's about pride." No offense, but pride is all you have left. They laugh some more. Ellen: "There's a lot of pressure, but I think we can do it." Not according to the oddsmakers, Ellen.

Well, there's no more Inner Circles. Next week, the top three on each side advance to the final round. Antoine has a good chance on making it. If one of the other men should receive a zero, all Antoine has to go is complete the mission. He would get a minimum of 29 points, vaulting him into the top three for the first time. As for Melissa, things are a little dicey. First, Lori would have to get a zero. Second, she would need to score a minimum of 33 points, placing fourth place or better.

Next time: Oh, look. It's another elevated platform. A figure slides down a bungee rope. Jonny tells everybody that the winner gets a Saturn Ion for each member of the team. For some reason, Antoine is wearing a tie. Mark: "The women are going to need some sort of a miracle to win the Saturn." Naturally, Melissa is panicking. Ellen's hair gets caught in the rope. Close-up of Ruthie, her eyes going all "Eye of the Tiger." Ellen: "It's all up to Ruthie now. She's our last hope."

Postscript: Number of combined Fantasy Points from Ellen and Ruthie: 20. Number of Fantasy Points from Emily: 28. Number of Fantasy Points from Melissa, who I had on the bench: 39. Thank goodness Jamie (40) and Antoine (41) stepped up; otherwise, the week would have been a total waste.

Yes, children . . . once upon a time, MTV constantly ran this show on the schedule. Nowadays, if you miss it the only time it airs, you have to watch it online or "On Demand." And I don't take back my tone with Ruthie, even though I grew fond of her. She made mistakes, and she and Ellen wrecked their best shots at winning on that show.

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