Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Gauntlet Episode 7: Onward Christian Solider

I want to talk about Matt Smith. No, not the eleventh actor to play the lead in Doctor Who. I mean the honkiest honky to have ever honkied on a BMP show. The dude was whiter than Jon, Judd, Justin, Mike-Mike, Chet and Andrew. The dude was so white, he didn't need a nightlight to read because he could see off the glow of his pale, pale body.

When I jumped back on The Real World in 2000, he was the most relatable guy on the cast. I mean, overall, it was Melissa, all day/every day. But between the guy dubbed "Hip Hop Albino," Generic Frat Brah #230 (Jamie), The Ego That Walked Like A Man (David), and The Cuddliest Gay Guy Ever (Danny), I tended to gravitate towards Matt. He was a dork. The only girl he could attract was Julie, and he was mostly oblivious to that. Of course, there were differences. Matt was very religious. I don't think he had as much to lose going into the Belfort (that season's "maaaaaaaaaan-shun") (thank you, Melissa) as the ingenue from BYU, but God was a big part of Matt's life. I figured he was a longshot to play on The Challenge . . . and then Danny & Kelley became part of the winning team in Battle Of The Seasons, and Melissa almost went the distance in Battle Of The Sexes, so I guess he felt that he could make it. And he did. For a while. But he didn't mesh well with his teammates. I mean, I get pissing off and getting pissed off by Trishelle. But he ran smack into Coral. And this episode would be the last we'd see of that Matt Smith.

Also, I really did not like the fat suits in the mission at all. I remember Kim Reed covering the RW/RR Casting Special for 2001, and she complained that men dressed as women wasn't automatically hilarious. I feel the same about fat suits. And I am a little obnoxious about it here.

 Airdate: November 3, 2003
Recap Published: November 10, 2003

If Matt is in Telluride to save his teammates, who would save him from the Gauntlet? Meanwhile, fat equals funny. Just ask the producers.
Last week, I saw that this episode would involve fat suits, and I wanted to use the opportunity to make as many jokes about Donell from Road Rules: South Pacific as I possibly could. Then it was made clear to me that maybe I’m a little too obsessed about hating him. Also, watching this episode was like having tiny needles jabbed into my skin. Don’t get me wrong; I appreciated the feedback, and it’s always good to know that I’m not the only hater out there. But this episode bothered me. Then again, every episode bothers me in some way.

Previously on The Gauntlet: Sarah defeated David in Dead Man’s Drop. The instant I see this mentioned, I know she will get boned. She hasn’t been integral to the stories after that, so why else would the editors bother with that clip? Road Rules increased their bank to $40,000 after winning Holey Canoe. “Fourth mission in a row feels great,” Rachel R. says. “We’re on a really big winning streak.”

Waterfall. Shots of the town. Such a lovely day. How do you think the guys will spend it? If you said, “play games that involve alcohol,” give yourself a pat on the back. Matt’s looking on, since he’s not really down with that. “Who wants good conversation,” Dave asks Matt, “when you have beer pong?” Matt shrugs with a smile on his face. He interviews that he doesn’t want to sacrifice who he is for money.

Matt walks outside. Okay, here’s what bugs me about him. On the one hand, he is one tough cookie. He can take shots from the opposing team. He can put votes for Coral or Elka in the open. On the other hand, I think that he lays the Christian stuff too thick. Example: he starts talking to God. Oh, I’m sure he would be doing that if there were no cameras. “Dear God,” he starts, “sometimes I don’t even know why I’m here. I don’t live lives like most of these people.” True, I can’t see Matt bellying up to the Belly bar. The editors start piping in religious-sounding music, because Matt loves God and stuff. He interviews that he has good intentions, and giving every dime he gets to Life Teen is his reason for hanging in there. He opens his arms. I know he asked the producers to give him some Creed for this scene. “Thank you for the gift of life,” Matt concludes, “and I give it all to you every day. Amen.”

Coral: “Matt thinks he’s above everybody else, and that eventually will get your ass to the Gauntlet.” Oh, look. The pot just called the kettle a cab. Coral and Elka are at the same bar from two weeks ago. Elka feels bad for Matt, since some people like him. Coral retorts that there’s no choice but to like him. In the background, “Complicated” by Avril Lavigne plays. What kind of bar is this? Seriously, did the CD from Julie’s lame band not come in yet? Coral and Elka cackle. “He’s out!” Coral laughs. “Get out of here!” Elka: “God won’t save you now! You gotta pray for the Gauntlet!”

Nighttime. Mansion. Sarah tells Cara that during her bout against David, she saw some kids behind a fence cheering for her. This disturbs me. What parent would let their child watch Campus Crawl? Sarah interviews that she wants to change people’s minds about. “She’s a wonderful person,” Cara says of Sarah. “She’s got a lot to offer to the team, and I think that everyone should give her a break already.”

Morning. Breakfast. Darrell is eating cereal with his shirt off when the sponsor phone goes off. The only detail he reads out loud is that they’ll be picked up at 9 a.m. He immediately starts trash-talking Norman, of all people, saying that he’s too slow. “I’ll beat you in any race,” Norman replies. Darrell keeps going, banging his hand on the table.

Mission site. Jonny welcomes the players to Heavyweight Hustle. The object: traverse an obstacle course. Shots of hurdles, tires, and inflated balls. Jonny announces that the winning team gets $10,000 from a sponsor, which is also throwing in portable MP3 players, in case the two commercials during the show weren’t enough. Jonny’s cap: “Famous People Suck.” Well, I guess Jonny will never suck, then. Dave expositions that it’s an uphill course, which is tough enough with the thin air. Jonny adds that there’s an incentive for players to finish first: namely, the water cannons that can be fired at the opposing team. He adds the catch: the players have to run in costumes. He pulls back a tarp to reveal... fat suits. Naturally, this gets a laugh from the group, as the editors slip in some fat music.

On the Road Rules side, Steve comes up with a plan: crawl on each other’s backs like ants. Adam is enthusiastic, since the team has won every time they had a strategy. Darrell and Steve will run out in front to possess the cannon. Adam interviews that Steve has been getting votes for wanting to be first rather than to help the team. “He really needs to step up in the next mission,” Adam continues, “or he’s going to the Gauntlet.”

Over on the Real World side, Mike tells Trishelle to crawl over him. Matt wants to take the cannon as quickly as possible. Elka interviews that she has a doctor’s note forbidding her to compete in missions involving crawling or kneeling. We get a flashback to Mudball, where Elka slammed her knee to the ground really hard. Trishelle gripes that Rachel B. is playing with the same injury. “People are using the injuries to their advantage,” she notes, “because they won’t get voted into the Gauntlet.” First of all, how do we know that Rachel’s knee is as hurt as Elka’s? Second, Trishelle sat out of Mudball and nobody voted for her, so she’s full of it.

Into the fat suits. I can’t blame them for having a good ol’ time about this, since few of them have ever been heavy. It just irks me that the producers automatically equate “fat” to “funny.” That would explain Donell, though. “Hey, here’s a fat guy who shimmies and starts trouble! And he has little problem showing off his ample frame! Let’s put him on our show!” That’s just my issue. I mean, I don’t look like a skinny guy in a fat suit. You can’t hear me coming from a mile away, but I’m still vaguely insulted.

Sarah jokes that she feels as fat as she did in her season. Jonny holds a pair of extra-large red undies, used to differentiate between teams. “This looks like my last girlfriend,” he quips. If you’re offended by that, know that he might host the reunion in New York. Make plans, that’s all I’m saying. Abram gyrates around and I guess that’s about as much of a Donell homage as we’ll get. It would’ve been funny if he grabbed a knife and carved three notches into his suit. Irulan: “I always wanted to know what it felt like to be fat, and here I am!” Somewhere, Arissa (pregnant) and Brynn (had a kid) throw stuff at the television. Rachel B. wiggles in her suit, saying how she’s never had big breasts. I remember the first episode, where Coral and Trishelle were comparing headlights, and Rachel was just standing there. Nathan and Mike dance around. Matt: “How does it feel to be a fat white woman?” Theo G.: “I’ve been waiting for this whole life!” Okay, I laughed. “I’m a skinny man,” Matt interviews, “and I have a new perspective of the wild world of big!” Shut up, Matt.

Jonny gets the players ready, then blows his horn. More fat music. The players waddle-run through tires, and over and under hurdles. Nathan interviews that they’re already out of breath. To review: they’re running uphill, in fat suits, about a mile above sea level. I’m convinced Bunim and Murray want somebody to die in one of these Challenges. Both teams go over walls, with RR in the lead. “My knee!” Coral squeaks out. Turns out she landed on it hard. She continues to wail in pain. “We can’t have anyone that we need to pull,” Mike interviews. “Everyone needs to pull their own weight.”

More running. The players slip on the slick surface. Alton and Steve are in the lead for their teams, but Steve slides back down the ramp and Darrell passes him. Alton goes into a pit of balls and starts tossing them out. In the back, the RR team implements Steve’s plan of walking over each other. Adam complains that some of them are taking the time to rest. Alton and Darrell reach the water cannons and start spraying the field. The RRs lie down on the ramp. Veronica interviews that it’s harder to run over bodies than on the ramp itself.

Meanwhile, the RW side is moving ahead. Nathan interviews that they’re not winging it this time. A graphic shows that RW has three people finishing the course while RR has just one. Coral is pulled up by two teammates. RW rushes over the finish line. Airhorn. Adam realizes that they blew it.

Denouement. Jonny awards the $10,000 sponsor check to RW, which Norman accepts. Sarah interviews that the team strategy made things more difficult. Nathan boasts he could do the mission two more times, then he comically collapses. Jonny gives both teams 30 minutes to figure out who will be sacrificed into the Gauntlet.

Mansion. RR meeting. Adam urges everybody not to collaborate, in order to ensure that the stronger people will make a great team in the final mission. The players vote. Theo V. interviews that he’s voting Steve for his bad decision. “There’s a couple of people I can always count on,” Sarah interviews, “but for the most part, it’s the ever-present struggle to keep my ass on the team.” Rachel adds up the votes and announces Sarah will be heading to the Gauntlet. See what I meant about the editing? No subtlety. Laterrian interviews that he’d be insulted if he was in her position. Steve repeats what he said in the first episode about Sarah not deserving this, adding that she had not be in the bottom half of any mission. Sarah admits that it’s a blow to her ego. “Let’s hope lightning strikes twice,” she adds, “and perhaps my team will catch the hint that I want to be here.” She gives a slight fake smile.

RW meeting. Coral wastes little time getting Matt’s name out. “It’s just his turn,” she interviews. “Jesus loves you, Matt.” She then gives a thumbs-up sign and flashes a big fake smile. She could teach courses on insincerity, it’s that good a fake smile. Matt asks what his departure would do for the team. “He doesn’t really have any business in the Gauntlet,” Alton interviews. “Matt’s been nothing but a shining star.” Coral thinks Matt has an attitude about being the best. The kettle asks the pot if the cab has arrived yet. Matt: “Coral is antagonistic, aggressive and forceful... but not in the field.” The only things missing are a giant hand giving a thumbs up from a cloud and a voice booming, “GOOD ONE, DUDE!” Mike: “I think Coral is a very intimidating person. When you vote for her, you better well believe she’s going to vote right back at you.” Elka votes for Matt, since there are few women left and she wants a guy in the Gauntlet. She interviews that she forgives, but she doesn’t forget Matt voting for her. Look, Coral asked for his opinion and he gave it. Grow up. Mike feels that Matt is a strong competitor and he should go into the Gauntlet to stop future votes. Mike asks for hands voting in Matt, and most of the team (Matt included) oblige. Theo G. has a hard time with Matt going in. Matt figures some people don’t want him on the team, and it’s his time.

Gauntlet. Jonny goes over the usual stuff before bringing Sarah and Matt up. Real World has their clappers out. Matt genuflects the die before rolling it. See what I mean about doing religious stuff for the cameras? Drives me nuts. And he’s wearing his “” t-shirt. Apparently, God was busy at that moment, since the die comes up Dead Man’s Drop, an event where Sarah had already taken out one of Matt’s ex-housemates. Of course, Sarah is happy. “I’m starting to feel that the Gauntlet’s my second home,” she interviews. “I hang out and kick people from the other team off. This is just what I do.”

Preparation. Matt has scrawled “God Is Love” on his bare chest. Did you know he’s religious? Me neither. The funny thing is that he has to wear a lifejacket anyway. Theo G. whispers something in Matt’s ear. “Matt is all about giving praise on and glory to God,” Theo notes. “I can’t ever knock anybody for that.” Remember, Theo’s father is a preacher. The trapezes are lowered into the water. Jonny goes over the rules again. Theo is wearing a Life Teen t-shirt. Jonny blows his horn. Matt’s legs are not bent completely over the bar. Reminds me of Laterrian from last season. Matt voiceover: “It’s gonna be a battle I’ve got to win.” Sarah voiceover: “Today isn’t the day I’m going home. Just give up, Matt. It’s over.”

Back from commercials, Sarah and Matt are still hanging. Irulan also has a Life Teen tee on. She interviews that Sarah didn’t want encouragement from her team, so she went over to the RR side and started cheering for Matt. That’s bad sportsmanship right there. Sarah’s got enough on her mind – she doesn’t need Irulan making things worse. Veronica grabs Irulan and pulls her arm down. Veronica interviews that she did it lightly, which is a total crock. Irulan keeps using her clapper. Veronica grabs her arm again and gets pushed for that. Meanwhile, Matt slips, barely able to hang on before falling in. Game Over. Note to anybody from the Belfort: if you see Sarah walking down the street, you better run. Matt paddles over to Sarah and hugs her. Darrell babbles that his team still has the upper hand.

Sarah interviews that she got a few pats on the back from her teammates before they got into the other team’s face. Veronica wonders why she can’t say anything. Irulan: “I don’t have to do what you ask me to do, Veronica! You don’t put your [bleeping] hands on me, period! Because you will get dropped!” Sarah wonders why they’re not comforting Matt and Irulan puts a dismissive hand out. “This kind of crap makes me wish I had gone home,” Sarah says.

Jonny reviews the event, calling Sarah “Queen of the Gauntlet.” Yeah, you better recognize. Trishelle fights back the tears. She was impressed by Matt as a person. This is from Trishelle, who would probably be a poster girl on Matt’s sites. I love irony. He tells the RR team that they deserve to stay, since they’re fighters. Sarah wipes her eye. “If everybody on either team was like Matt, this would be a very, very different game,” she interviews. “Who else would lose in the Gauntlet and go to that person that beat them a hug and a kiss? My team didn’t do that for me and my opponent did that. It never feels good to send a good person home.” While she’s talking, Matt’s doing the thing where it looks like he detaches a finger from his hand. He thinks that weak players sacrificing the strong ones is a stupid strategy.

Departure. Matt hugs Coral. Apparently, the consequences of mixing matter and anti-matter are highly overrated. “Unless the Real World gets its act together,” he interviews, “Road Rules is gonna walk all over us.” He gets hugged by Irulan and Norman. Good news: he’s wearing a new t-shirt. Bad news: it says “Abortion is Murder.” I don’t want to be plunged into serious debates on this stupid show. “My time has come to pass,” Matt interviews. “God answers prayers, but sometimes, the answer is ‘no.’” Make your own snide comment. He hugs Trishelle. “I hate to leave, but it’s time to go back and keep saving the world!” He hugs Theo G. before getting into the departing van. I want to comment on Matt in general, but I can’t. He’s like myself in some ways; he’s not like me in others. He isn’t a full-time pain like Donell, Jon, and the recently departed Andrew (the latter two from the current Survivor). No, he’s somebody who makes you laugh one episode and yell obscenities in the next one. Never thought I’d lump Matt with Chris/CT from the current Real World, but that’s his deal and I’m not touching upon him. Whatever hatred and resentment I have towards him, I’ll probably take it out on somebody else. But I miss the breakdancing. And the Steve Irwin impressions.

Mountain shots. Sarah is on the phone with her boyfriend, James. Don’t hyperventilate; it’s not Maximum Velocity Tour superjock James. Sarah talks about him on her site all the time. [2017: Cannot be found with Archive] She feels that she can’t hack it. “I’m really trying not to think about it,” she says. “It hurts my feelings that people are constantly stooping to a really petty level.” She tells James about the fighting. “What the [bleep] am I fighting to be here for?” she asks. I’m guessing there are at least 150,000 reasons for her to stay in the game. It’s not like she ever has to see these people again.

Trishelle and Mike sit outside the mansion. He tells her that Matt shouldn’t have gone home, since he earned the $10,000. Mike is wearing Jonny’s logo cap. Suck-up. “I know who our weak links are,” he says out loud. Cut to inside, where Coral and Elka are both smiling. Mike interviews that those two scare everybody and that they didn’t like Matt. “I have no problem voting off weak links,” he continues, “and we need to start wedding them [sic] people out.” Whoa! The Miz is busting out the steel chairs! Damn, “Jonny Fairplay” is getting to me. Anybody else thinking we might see Julie and Melissa together before Coral and Mike when this is all over?

Next week: Trishelle and Mike are on the dance floor. Norman says it’s not even a rumor that those two are an item. That’s an easy 40 points if you got them in the Fantasy Challenge. The next mission is called Sink Your Ship and it involves players on mini-rafts ramming into each other. Coral yells from the sideline. RW meeting: Mike votes for Elka. “I don’t know what Mike’s thinking right now,” Elka says. “I don’t know if his sexual relations is [sic] affect his vote.” Shot of a lightning bolt. Make your own Matt joke.

Damn, I forgot about James. I mean, I knew Sarah had a boyfriend at the time The Gauntlet was being filmed, but that would come up for different reasons. Reasons I will get into at the proper time. Also, I forgot I was watching Survivor: Pearl Islands when this season was airing. Cut to 2017, where Sandra getting voted off Game Changers is the second-worst thing that has happened in that season, and a few years after Rupert got a small chunk of votes in Indiana's gubernatorial race. As much as I feel he's an overrated blowhard who is also a Section 8, I'd take him over Mike Pence. And I brought up CT again. Did not think I'd become a full-on fan. I'm okay with Darrell on Invasion Of The Champions, but I have to root for CT to get a shot at winning his second Challenge next week.

PS: I have to include this poster I made in January 2009. What can I say? I'm a geek.

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