Saturday, September 19, 2009

Battle of the Sexes (2003)

Once upon a time, I considered Rachel, Veronica and Eric Nies to be human beings, I thought Emily was the biggest bitch out there, and that Puck was the biggest douche alive. Guess which two I've reconsidered since my time recapping Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle Of The Sexes?

After my stint on Dog Days, I picked up where Television Without Pity left off, recapping Bunim-Murray Production's band of money-hungry misfits and their monkeyshines. In retrospect, I think I did a good job, even if I was easily irritated and in the proverbial bag for Melissa. You'll see lots of quotes, requests to shut up, and the feeling that I could be doing something else. And that's what I called "fun."

Prelude: Once Upon A Time In Jamaica A brief history of the franchise prior to Battle Of The Sexes. (posted on Augst 29, 2016) 

The Good, the Bad & the Notorious Host Jonny "Big Air" Moseley and contestant Ruthie preview the newest season of the Challenge.

Guide to the Fantasy Game Remember the fantasy game on, where you picked players and got points for all the stuff they did? I give advise here. Oh, and I didn't pick Puck during the whole season, because I would have felt dirty.

Episodes 1 & 2: Jamaica Me Crazy The season starts strong, with a fierce battle between David from Los Angeles and Puck, Melissa ranking on her roommate-turned-enemy Julie, and one of the biggest upsets in Challenge history.

Episode 3: Riding (and Dying) in Cars with Boys Laterrian's gung ho attitude gets him nowhere with a pitiful score, while Beth gets booted over a pregnant Gladys. Also: Ruthie reveals herself as Superwoman for the first time.

Episode 4: Log Cabin Fever Puck celebrates his birthday by picking on Ellen. Meanwhile, the teams try their hand at log cabin building, and Jisela contemplates killing Jonny.

Episode 5: Will You Be My Baby Tonight? The sweet romance between one of the most egocentric characters in BMP history and crazy Ayanna fizzles as David is voted out of the game. Also: Puck's relatively sane fiance and baby son come to Jamaica, and he apparently threatens to kick Ellen's ass.

Episode 6: My Big Fat Puck Wedding If you ever hated Puck as much as I do, this is not the episode for you. I suffer through it so you don't have to. Also: Aneesa walks around topless.

Episode 7: Everybody Loathes Ellen Ellen works everybody's nerves, including mine. Puck wins a mission with Theo. Bonus: my somewhat flawed Survivor: The Amazon predictions.

Episode 8: Cold-Butted Snakes The drama peaks as Emily convinces Ellen and Ruthie to screw team protocol and vote off Rachel. Also: an ice-cold mission turns Melissa into a Melissicle.

Episode 9: Life Goes On, Puck makes a dramatic exit from the game. Dan's welcomed back with open arms, only to depart yet again.

Sharing the Blame: An Analysis of Puck’s Departure from ‘Battle of the Sexes’ I put a little too much thought into Puck leaving and BMP's less-than-stellar efforts.

Episode 10: Shirks and Skins A mission involving trivia and stripping splinters the girls' team, even though THE STRIPPING IS STRICTLY OPTIONAL. In other news, Veronica fails to get Emily booted, and Jake leaves on his own. Jake who? Exactly.

A Midseason Review With an off-week, I take a look at the season thus far. Also: my conspiracy theory centering on the David/Puck fight.

Men’s Midterm Review A look at the men's highlights so far.

Women’s Midterm Review A look at the women's highlights so far.

Episode 11: The Ancient Jungle Monkey (And Other Jamaican Folk Tales) While Emily's clique bashes Veronica, Eric climbs like the eldery simian that he is.

Episode 12: True Colors Emily (and her bloody axe) strikes again, convincing Ellen and Ruthie to dump Veronica and her ton of makeup. Also: Jamie is sexual chocolate, while Melissa makes like a poor man's Peter Pan.

Episode 13: Ayanna Get Your Gun It's Ayanna vs. the underfed Anne, as the girls are overmatched by the guys (with a Warriors-invoking Jamie) and their laser guns.

Episode 14: Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Shane contemplates leaving the game, stays on, wins the mission, and finally puts the Ion Lifesaver to good use.

Episode 15: Passing the Franc At long last, the men are forced to make a decision as to who should get sent packing, and their choice has a major effect for the women.

Episode 16: Everybody Sucks Don't mind me . . . I'm just mad at everybody and everything, including MTV for a technical glitch.

Episode 17: Penultimate Plunge, A harrowing mission gives Ruthie the best stage to show off her superhuman skills. In other news, two of the most entertaining players are eliminated, and Lori finally gets some camera time.

Episode 18: Finale The guys and girls fight it out for the $150,000 grand prize, and the boys kind of cheat to win it all.

Hot & Bothered: The RW/RR Challenge Battle of the Sexes Reunion Cast members reunite to look back at BOTS.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Gauntlet 2 (2005-2006)

Gauntlet 2: An Overview: A preview of the horror that is to come.

Rookie Guys Preview: A quick look at Adam K., Alton, Danny, Jamie, Jeremy, Landon, MJ and Randy.

Rookie Girls Preview: A brief insight into Cameran, Cara, Ibis, Jillian, Jo, Jodie, Kina and Susie.

Veteran Guys Preview: A peek into Ace, Adam L., Brad, David, Derrick, Mark, Syrus and Timmy.

Veteran Girls Preview: Analysis of Aneesa, Jisela, Julie, Katie, Montana, Robin and Ruthie. And Beth. Boo, hiss.

Rough Seas Ahead: The Gauntlet 2 Preview Special: Host TJ Lavin takes a look at the upcoming season.

Episode 1: Debacle Of Madness: The gang gets adjusted to their new digs and Jo freaks the hell out.

Episode 2: Delayed Karma: Jo quits, Derrick starts kicking ass, and Adam Larson gets kicked in the teeth four seasons too late.

Episode 3: Succumb All Ye Faithful: A boring episode is saved with Cameran quitting and Aneesa trying to cut Cara with words.

Episode 4: Earmuffed: The kids take part in pyramid scheming, Danny gets pissy, and Alton humilates him in the Gauntlet.

Episode 5: Mark Smash! Nice guy Mark finally explodes like the douche that he is. In other news, the season's token erotic mission is unveiled, and Jisela takes her usual departure.

Episode 6: Brokeback Meatheads: Brad and Derrick get into it, overshadowing a Speedo mission and Adam King going home.

Episode 7: Horror & Disbelief: The season takes a turn for the worse when Beth beats Ruthie in the Gauntlet. Plus: Alton is Superman, and Montana gets in some choice shots at Beth.

Episode 8: Clutch Performance: Cara and Susie come under suspicion, both teams struggle with a truck-pushing mission, and Ace's screw-up costs him a shot at the finish.

Episode 9: The Eighth Sign: Beth runs her mouth, underachieves in the mission . . . then chucks rival Montana out of the game. Clearly, karma has given this show a pass.

Episode 10: Broken Bull: Jodi and Alton get closer to each other. Syrus picks a bad time to fail, and an overmatched Derrick chucks him out of the game, causing Beth to cry.

Episode 11: Resistance Is Futile: The teams engage in rope-holding. Beth somehow doesn't go to the Gauntlet, but Cara does.

Episode 12: Tired And Sick: Beth underachieves yet again, but Ibis and simple mathematics defeat the Rookies, who wind up sacrificing Jeremy to Mt. Alton.

Episode 13: Beth Ruins Everything: Good news: Beth is finally gone. Bad news: she does it in the most self-pleasing way possible, avoiding a predestined and deserved beating from Aneesa.

Episode 14: Television With Pit:
The teams improvise to climb out of a hole. Derrick and Brad finally have it out in the Gauntlet. Plus: more Alton/Jodi canoodling.

Episode 15: Blind Faith: After a mission of blind trust, Kina goes mental before taking out Jillian in the Gauntlet.

Episode 16: Penulitmate Pitfall: Derrick rips his indecisive team, and a poor table pays the price for his anger.

Episode 17: Whimper: After a dramatic Gauntlet, the Veterans let themselves and everybody else down, bringing a crappy season to a crappier end.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Who Wants To Be A Superhero? (2006)

Back when I was recapping for a reality site, there was one show that I wanted to recap. Who Wants To Be A Superhero? was in developmental limbo for years; I wound up picking up an application back at Comic Con International in 2003. I was told that I'd get to recap the show once it came out, but then it got promised to another. By the time the show came out on Sci Fi (now SyFy) in 2006, I was independent and a few months removed from quitting recapping The Real World/Road Rules Challenge.

You'll notice that I only recapped the first half of the season. What happened? I got the first three episodes covered, but then I dawdled on the fourth. In the mess in my room, I still have the notes from that episode. I just fell behind, and I decided to pull the plug without any fanfare. Aside from the elimination of fan favorite Major Victory, there weren't any real surprises, as superfan Feedback triumphed over Fat Momma to win a mediocre one-shot comic from Dark Horse.

It's not that I stopped caring about the show. Not only did I watch the second (and final) season, I wound up getting -- to date -- ten sketches based on the contestants from both editions. Really, how many other reality shows can you do that with and not feel weird about it afterward? And I hope for a revival down the line. Even with the misfits (Ms. Limelight and Mr. Mitzvah from the second season), plants (Rotiart and Iron Enforcer) and questionable decisions made by sole judge Stan Lee (the eliminations of Tyveculus and Major Victory), it was a great show. While other summer reality shows featured backstabbers, media whores and all-around losers, WWTBAS? had people trying to reach a higher standard, attempting to be better people in the process. Looking back, it's a miracle the show got two seasons.

So, for your reading pleasure . . .

Issue #1: Heroism 101: Stan Lee deals out harsh lessons for the assembled heroes. Levity learns that he can sell himself too much, Nitro G comes up a little short (in more ways than one), and Major Victory commences to chew scenery.

Issue #2: Mad Dogs & Makeovers: The heroes endure a test of bravery, then get costume makeovers. Cell Phone Girl gets disconnected, Stan makes Iron Enforcer an offer he can't refuse, and Monkey Woman becomes doggy chow.

Issue #3: Stan Never Promised A Rose Garden: After botching a hidden mission, Monkey Woman gets destroyed by Snarlin' Stan. In other news: Dark Enforcer is unleashed on the heroes, and Tyveculus fails to take himself down a peg, winding up running out on pegs in the process.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

To Recap Or Not To Recap

I got the news a few days ago: Television Without Pity was no longer going to recap The Real World/Road Rules Challenge, and the forums were going to be eliminated. Some would view this as a good thing, since the recapping of the show had been mediocre over the past few years and the less TWoP has to do with MTV the better. But now there's this voice in my head, whispering, "It's time to step up again."

This isn't the first time this happened. Back in 2001, TWoP had stopped recapping the Challenge after Extreme Challenge aired. The move made sense, since the show only aired once a year at the time. I think it was that event which inspired me to contact another recapping site whose name I'm not going to say for reasons I'll get into later. They already had somebody recapping the show, but I carved out a niche as I wrote articles and opinion pieces, culminating with recaps of Dog Days from Animal Planet. And by the time Battle Of The Sexes rolled around in early 2003, I was ready.

In retrospect, the first year of recapping the Challenge was my salad days. With BOTS, I had to put up with a lot of bullshit from the show; specifically, the attention-grubbing antics of Puck from The Real World: San Francisco. It was clear that he never grew up, and the poster boy for media whores yet to come managed to make himself the center of attention before leaving midway through the season. There was also stuff like Emily (second season of Road Rules) and her two snotty friends (blah Christina, underfed Anne) and her vendetta with Veronica (RR: Semester At Sea), culminating with Veronica's dismissal from the game. But there were good times to be had: Jamie (RW: New Orelans), his Jesus-like beard and his overachieving; Antoine (RR: Europe) and his ambigious sexuality; playa David (RW: New Orleans) not only being on his best behavior, but also finding a love connection with crazy Ayanna (RR: Semester At Sea); and Melissa Howard in general. I adored the girl, and I enjoyed defending her, even when her heart wasn't in the game. Her getting rid of ex-friend Julie Stoffer in the first episode? That was a bonus. And I was recapping with both barrels. Sure, it took me longer to recap than the other writers, but I used the TWoP method: write down everything from the tape, put out the memorable quotes, and leave little out. I can't believe it's been almost seven years since I went over that season. I also can't believe I once treated Veronica, Rachel (RR: Campus Crawl) and Eric Nies as human beings back then.

Then came The Gauntlet in late 2003, which I consider to be the last truly great season. For one thing, I got to recap the dynamic duo from RW: Back To New York: aspiring wrestler/meathead Mike Mizanin and caustic bitch Coral Smith. But the real scene-stealer was Sarah Greyson. She had been the most identifiable to me during RR: Campus Crawl, and it broke my heart when she was voted off by her teammates, most of whom couldn't stand her. Two of said castmates -- Rachel and Darrell -- started off The Gauntlet by wanting to take Sarah out of the game. Half of the Road Rules team wanted Sarah gone, voting her into the Gauntlet five times. And all five times, she'd come back as the winner. That year, the website had its year-end awards, and we voted her as Most Courageous/Inspiring Moment on a Reality Show. Of course there was stuff to offset that, like Coral's breakdown after getting voted into the Gauntlet, the Abram/Rachel/Veronica threesome in the shower, and Coral getting bit by a spider and half her team thinking she was dogging it. All in all, The Gauntlet had drama, but it was fun drama.

Things went downhill throughout 2004 and early 2005. It wasn't just about writing about the Road Rules team bullying Katie during The Inferno or the guys destroying the girls throughout most of Battle Of The Sexes 2. Every now and then, I'd post something on the website's forum, something that wouldn't really offend anybody on TWoP, and I'd have other recappers looking to rip my head off. Suddenly, it was bad for me to have opinions. I swear, I never cracked my knuckles over a keyboard, hellbent to make other people mad. It was just a matter of my inability to feel the temperature of a room. Combined that with my increasingly negative recaps during BOTS2 and my inablity to produce in a timely manner, that was enough for the head honcho to boot me from the sight without me getting a chance to defend myself. I responded by making this blog and recapping the following two seasons: Inferno II and Gauntlet 2.

By the time Fresh Meat rolled around in 2006, I wondered, "Do I have to do this again?" Recapping a toxic Beth week after week during Gauntlet 2 had taken its toll, becoming one factor of many that led me to stop recapping. I had a brief fling with Who Wants To Be A Superhero?, a story that will be told at another time, but I lost the will halfway through the season.

So why start again now? Because the situation is similar to when I first got started. Because I still don't have much of a life. Because I need to work through the crappy season of The Real World: Cancun which precedes The Ruins. Because some of the folks entering The Ruins need to be reamed. For every person there that's halfway normal (Ibis, Darrell) or positively entertaining (Brad, Derrick), there are ugly mothers like Susie, Evelyn, Johnny, Evan and Kenny. Look through my posts on TWoP; people like them bring out the worst in me. And that's a reason for me not to recap. Why risk what little sanity I have left on the likes of Wes, Johanna and Shavoun? Is it funny for me to claim that Casey had "titty envy" of Coral, or is that anti-woman of me to say? Does saying "Shut UP, Veronica" and calling her "Verantula" every week really worth it? What do I have to prove?

Bottom line: I'm on the fence. The Ruins starts up in late September. I could go whole-hog and spend days going over an hour's worth of tape to bring the best recap I can. I could just half-ass it. Or I could not bother at all. It's nice to have choices, and I'd like to hear what anybody reading this has to say.