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.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

A Post-Election Hypothetical

My original plan was to post this on Facebook, but I feel it will be too long. So I'm blogging this and putting up the link. If this proves to be too inflammatory, I will delete it.

Let's say that the president-elect (whose name I cannot bring myself to type, as if that act would make him more powerful) visits the White House again and has a public meeting with President Obama. They're making small talk, with the president-elect swearing he was never serious about the President being a Kenyan socialist overlord, and Obama trying his best to make the transition peaceful. This goes on for about ten minutes. Then the president-elect crosses a line. He says one, some, or all of the following:

a. "I would go after every actor who made fun of me on Saturday Night Live beyond Alec Baldwin, but John Cena scares me. Also, somebody beat me to Phil Hartman."

b. "You know the garden your wife grew? Gone on January 22. Me and Melania will blow it to hell. Hey, I don't want kids eating healthy. I need them fat and numbly voting Republican."

c. "I am certain that you will have the best Presidential Library. It will be visible from space, because of all the burning crosses surrounding it."

d. "How does it feel to suck up to the man who defamed you for the better part of a decade? I hope you'll learn your place once I'm sworn in."

e. "You know, Putin really tastes nice. You should try him."

f. "How funny is it that you beat a guy due to a secret tape, whereas I said so much worse and still won?!?"

g. [Make something up here.]

Anyway, the unthinkable happens: Barack Hussein Obama snaps. He has been in the public eye since the DNC in 2004, and he has eaten a lot of crap between then and now. Republicans have obstructed him. Hillary Clinton supporters fought tooth and nail to try and make her the nominee in 2008. A lot of what he promised wound up not happening. Sure, he was a breath of fresh air compared to the guy he replaced, but he will probably go down as a grade-B president, if not B-minus. But he kept his cool because he saw himself as the standard bearer. One outburst might ensure that no person of color would get that position longer than two centuries. The best parallel would be how Branch Rickey had Jackie Robinson "behaving" in his first four years with the Dodgers, not taking the brakes off the first black player in the majors until 1951. It would kill Obama to deny somebody not entirely Caucasian the White House, even if that person was on the other side of the political spectrum (i.e., Herman "Shucky Ducky" Cain, Ben "My Luggage!" Carson).

Without any warning, Obama lunges at the president-elect. He has clearly thought this through in the darker part of his soul. He is not raining down punches like Ralphie on the bully in A Christmas Story. No, he goes right to choking. The president-elect reaches to retaliate, but he can't ward the President off. And Obama's face is red, as he screams, " GO TOWARD THE FLAME!!! GO! TOWARD!! THE FLAME!!!!!" He doesn't care how his family will react. He is not doing this for the people that did not vote that way. He is doing this for himself, and consequences be damned.

Now. I know that the President has a Secret Service detail, because he still has the office. I'm assuming the president-elect has his own detail, paid for by the government, because he's going to fill that role. The question: What the hell do they do? Does the president-elect's people pry Obama off the guy whose face is going from orange to blue? If that happens, are Obama's people obligated to fight them? Would weapons be drawn? Would it be possible for either man to take a bullet from somebody sworn to protect the President? I know, this would probably qualify as the worst thing to happen at the White House where somebody didn't die, but that's what I'm thinking. Yes, I have way too much idle time.

Thanks for letting me share. And let me give you one more mental image: Vice President Biden, waving a folding chair wildly, not wearing a shirt. Like I said on Facebook: Obama may not have lived up to Black Bart's example in Blazing Saddles, but Biden was totally the Waco Kid.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Battle of the Sexes - A Midseason Review

Like I said in the last recap, MTV gave Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle Of The Sexes the week off on March 10, 2003. I figured that I needed something to do, so I wrote about the season to that point. Reviews of the men's and women's teams will be forthcoming. As you'd expect, most of the material here is recycled from my prior recaps and posts I made on Television Without Pity's forums. Yes, I was a wannabe, and I will happily admit that. Anyway, this was posted on March 15.

With about half of Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes behind us, and without a new episode this past week, Jason thought now would be a good time to look back at the highlights (or lowlights) from the first part of the season.

So, I've exposed myself to Real World/Road Rules: Battle of the Sexes for the past nine weeks. Oddly enough, it hasn't damaged me the way I thought it would. Yes, I have told Julie, Ellen, Puck, and Emily to shut up several times. Sure, I cringed when Melissa nearly froze herself stiff sitting on a huge chunk of ice. But I like the half-hour format, as opposed to the days I spent transcribing and writing recaps for Dog Days. By the way, could somebody tell Animal Planet to rerun the damn episodes, so I can record them all on one tape?

This past Monday, MTV aired a special episode of Diary, pre-empting BOTS. With a war impending, it was a good move to show life in Kuwait. Now try and balance that with airing Fraternity Life and Sorority Life. And trying to force a chicken to lay one last golden egg in The Osbournes. And shelving Clone High, the first animated series not to reek since Celebrity Deathmatch and Daria. Still, I did appreciate the week off. Seeing how there might not be a "halfway there" special like last year, I'll go over the highlights, in chronological order. In separate articles coming within the next few days, I will also review the men and the women, discussing what we've learned about them and going over some memorable moments. Now, on with the highlights:

1. Julie vs. Melissa: Best Friends For-never

Once again, I have to confess that I am a fan of Melissa. So it pained me to see her go after Julie and look like a bitch in the process. If you're outside the Bunim-Murray alumni loop, let me put it in simple terms: Eminem wishes he were as slim and as shady as Julie. Since the editors feel that an angry Melissa is the only kind worth airing, they made Julie look like the victim, which is total bull. If Julie had stayed, it would have been a disaster. Can you imagine a Julie/Ellen/Emily triumvirate? Girls would've been swimming from Jamaica to avoid that. Bottom line: you don't ever have to see Julie again, and that's a good thing. Unless you're a fan of Blind Date, then I'm sorry to tell you that she might be popping up there, even though she has a boyfriend.

2. David E. vs. Puck: When Lunatics Fight

Part of me thinks this was staged. BMP couldn't find an eighteenth guy, so they call David. He gets in a fight with his neighbor Puck, who proceeds to spit water on him. David, enraged beyond all belief, wants Puck to leave, going so far as to call executive producer Jon Murray to bitch about it. Once Murray comes down and boots Puck, darn near everybody protests, and Puck's let back in.
If this wasn't staged, then I have to forever doubt David's intelligence and sanity. Getting Puck kicked off should have been a piece of cake. But he ends up blowing it, says something about how Jesus Christ couldn't spit on him, and leaves the show. In Colin's recap, it turns out that David did spit on Puck during the filming of the opening credits. Then he spat on Beth, and Ayanna almost killed him because some of it landed on her. Can you believe Puck and David are over 30? It's a good guess that might be their combined IQ.

3. Amaya & Melissa: Miracle at Montego Bay

This isn't about girls triumphing over guys in Sergeant Says, the Simon Says game with a military flavor. True, the men didn't give their counterparts any chance of winning. No, this was about the two girls nobody, not even me, expected to triumph: Amaya and Melissa.

Amaya is the voluptuous beauty who got injured repeatedly during Challenge 2000, while Melissa stands less than five feet and can be twirled by the stronger contestants. I get the feeling that they were here because the other was here, much like Danny and Kelley on Battle of the Seasons last year. By paying attention to the drill instructor, they outlasted the other 17 pairs to win. This wasn't the United States beating the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Games. No, this was along the lines of having Angola beat the U.S. Dream Team in 1992. As a bonus, we got the wild celebration afterwards. Definitely one of the best highlights of the year thus far.

4. You Can Handle the Ruthie

When I heard Ruthie was on this show, I figured her coverage would come down to half the people there giving her drinks, and the other half knocking the drinks out of her hand. The lack of teaser highlights during the preview raised my antenna, much like JoAnna Ward was barely on the Survivor: The Amazon preview DVD. In other words, I thought Ruthie was going home early.

Cut to Ruthie in Dead Man's Drop, hanging onto a bar with her legs, having all the time in the world. And she checked her watch while upside-down. Suddenly her antics on Real World: Hawaii were starting to fade away. She had come to play, leading the other girls for seven straight events before getting overtaken by Ellen. Not to mention Ruthie gives the best confessionals. Something about her voice, her eyes, the smile on her face. She's a lock to make the final team at the end of the season.

5. Puck vs. Ellen: There Are No Winners

Everybody knows how big a pain Puck can be. Well, almost everybody. After Puck drove David away, he needed a new target. Enter Ellen, who obviously has never watch a single episode of RW: San Francisco. Once she objected to Puck moving his wedding up to hold it in Jamaica, he had a new playmate. He jeered her, threatened her, and even went as far as puking in front of her. Oh, and according to Melissa on her site, he kept referring to her as "Janet," as in Janet Choi of RW: Seattle, another Korean-American.

However, anybody who has seen Ellen on RR: The Quest knows that she isn't easy to sympathize with. In one instance, she came from the Men's Villa blubbering about how Puck was going to kick her ass just for asking if she could get a pair of scissors. Much to my lack of surprise, the guys said that she exaggerated greatly. With Puck's departure, Ellen is now free to do what she does best: help vote people out of the game, and then cry about being manipulated.

6. David & Ayanna: Woo Woo Would You Be Mine?

So far, we've had only one spark of romance on the show, between slightly crazy Ayanna and noted playa David B. It could have been worse; I saw a picture of him hugging Ellen. There would have been no love for him had he hooked up with her. Listening to David talk to Ayanna, it's hard to believe this is the same guy who once slept with a woman and never got her name. Sadly, David underachieved in four missions and got booted by the Inner Circle, making the romance last for one episode.

7. The Wedding Of The Century Of The Week

Sometimes you see a UFO, sometimes you get a snapshot of Bigfoot, and sometimes you get to see Puck act like a decent human being. With his fellow contestants and his son looking on, Puck tied the knot with Betty. Despite the absence of a few ladies (Ellen in particular), the ceremony went off without a hitch, and Puck looked good. Of course, the good will on my part did not last that long.

8. Frozen Out

After sitting on ice for over three hours, something happens to your brain. In the Women's Inner Circle, each member passed on somebody to eliminate from the game. Ruthie wanted to keep Aneesa around for morale, Ellen had gotten chummy with Tonya, and Emily wasn't about to kick Christina off. All three then focused on Rachel. Suddenly, the strongwoman from RR: Campus Crawl was the worst player ever, the muscular incarnation of Satan.

When the Inner Circle made their announcement, it was as if a bomb had been dropped. I think Dan's jaw is still on the ground. The guys heckled the Inner Circle and cheered Rachel on as she blew a gasket. As Emily avoided the fallout, Rachel and Ayanna had words for Ellen and Ruthie. Then Ellen started crying about getting played by Emily, even though Ellen had been hell bent on voting Rachel off a few days earlier. This wasn't a highlight for the women.

9. Puck Goes Berserk

Actually, this was a mild outburst. Upset that he couldn't see his wife, who was detained in Jamaica for not having her green card, Puck tore up some equipment and left the show. BMP had to make it more dramatic, by implying that he had broken a window and put holes in the wall, which he hadn't. On another level, Puck stunk for planning on an early departure, not caring about the grand prize, since he could make more money off the suckers… I mean, the college lecture circuit.

10. No Skin? No Win

In an effort to make things more interesting, BMP introduced "Battle of the Opposite Sexes," a game show where wrong answers would (apparently) force contestants take off an article or clothing. Or that's what some of the women wanted you to think. According to Lori, stripping wasn't the way to get points. On her web site, she added that a wrong answer would give a player the option to give back a token. That does explain how Jake, Blair and Shane stayed in the game despite being naked.
But that was lost on a quintet of ladies: Emily, Anne, Christina, Ayanna, and Tonya. They formed Club Zero and took the night off, taking what they felt was the moral high ground. It was a rough night for Emily; not only was she nudged out of her place in the Inner Circle by Veronica, but her boyfriend James didn't join her in boycott. She was able to settle things with him, but it remains to be seen if she can climb back to the top.

So what's in store for the next few months? By my count, seven more elimination rounds before the final teams of three are set to compete. Keep tuning in to RealityNewsOnline for analyses of both the men's and women's teams, as well as a proposal for the next Challenge.

Man, I was into the Puck/David conspiracy even back then. Apologies for speculating on that in 2016. And I'm not prepared to take back my opinions, even though I more or less forgave Emily for her shabby treatment of Rachel and Veronica while I watched The Gauntlet later that year. And Julie would wear out her welcome in three more Challenges. I'd like to thin she's grown up and gotten smarter in general, but back then? Forget her.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Battle of the Sexes Episode 10: Shirks and Skins

Apologies for the long wait. November 8 happened, and I didn't feel like blogging old stuff. Back in 2003, we were living in a post-9/11 world governed by Curious George and the Legion of Doom. Next month, we're getting a guy who would screw this country worse than Johnny fucked Sarah in Rivals III. Really, if Johnny and his idiot cousin get high-paying government jobs for their televised "work," I won't be surprised. On the other hand, I am forced to reevaluate evil in general. "Johnny Bananas" doesn't seem like such an asshole nowadays. Of course, he will be in the upcoming season, so I might change my view again.

Where were we? Right . ..  Puck was gone, Emily had swung her bloody axe, and the only person I was really rooting for was Melissa. And probably Ruthie, since it turned out she was much more than an alcoholic. Unbeknownst to us, another bump in the road was about to change the game.

Airdate: March 3, 2003
Recap Published: March 7, 2003

Who wants to play strip trivia? Well, actually, some of the women don’t. Too bad for them. It’s a battle to the skin if they’re going to win. But what happens when Emily doesn’t want to play while boyfriend James does? Uh oh.

Sympathies go out to Daniel Lue, who was voted out of Survivor: The Amazon last week. You may recall that he was eliminated from the early sessions of Tough Enough. On the bright side, should he get kicked off one more reality show, he wins a date with Jisela.

Previously on Battle of the Sexes: contestants played People Mover. Jonny announced that the women won the mission. Actually, if you add up the point totals, both sides were deadlocked. But Ellen and Ayanna got it done the fastest, and that’s what counted. Colin informs us that the guys have won three missions, and the women have won four. Emily at the Inner Circle: “I really think that the longer Veronica stays here, the more animosity our team has. She’s poisoning the team.” If you say so. Ellen tells us Veronica threatens Emily. Speaking of Veronica: “I would love, love, love, love to send Emily home.” Wow, I don’t know where Ellen got her impression.

Credits! Midtown! Since we’re now officially Puck-free, why won’t BMP do the right thing and erase him from the credits? Take him and Julie out, and all would be well.

It must be an off night, since everybody’s partying. Jamaican drummers play, and some of the players dance. Antoine and Ayanna do a little line boogying. Meanwhile, James and Emily are having dinner together. Emily attempts to get some of James’ pineapple dessert while he makes playful stabbing motions with the spoon. After MacheteGate, maybe BMP took away all sharp objects. Christina interviews that the couple has a good spirit of teamwork, and she’s happy to see a couple supportive of each other. James smudges dessert on Emily’s nose, telling her “it would be a lot better eating it off your naked body.” Don’t laugh; that might be how he got Rebecca during Extreme Challenge. Emily interviews that she and James have been together for a year, and she loves being in Jamaica with her boyfriend. James tells us he’s having a good time, and it’s good that Emily is here. They hug for a while, and James hungrily kisses Emily.

Morning. There’s a caterpillar or some other creepy-crawly on a branch. I’m stumped as to the meaning. It’s Mission Phone time, as Eric, Antoine, and Lori get the clue from different locations. The deal: wear shirts, shorts, and two undergarments, but no more than four. Veronica’s alarm goes off, as she thinks they might have to take stuff off should they mess up.

At the Women’s Villa, Tonya talks to Ruthie about voting off the lowest scorer. Ruthie interviews that the guys vote according to score. Tonya keeps talking as Ruthie presses her face on a pillow. “This is the healthiest way to go because I don’t want girls to backstab each other,” Tonya interviews. “If I’m at the bottom, I want her to send me home.” She tells Ruthie that the main goal is to push the strongest women forward to beat the men. Have I mentioned how glad I am that Tonya is here and not Cara? Tonya v2.0 rocks.

Uh oh. Bad game show music, followed by bad game show title: “Battle of the Opposite Sexes.” I don’t know how that’s different from “Battle of the Sexes.” Last year’s “Sidekick Showdown” made more sense. Those were the days: Dan and Theo revealing man-crushes for Timmy, Holly getting huffy and stalking off, and Coral smacking Mike with a cue card. Good times. Another title: “Starring Jonny Moseley.” Jonny’s hair has been moussed into submission.. Freestyle skiers should not use gel, ever. He uses the Game Show Voice, welcoming everybody to BOTOS, which is about how well the genders know each other. This week’s prize is an electric bicycle. Jonny goes on, saying that the player with the most tokens gets 36 points, and the last place finisher gets 16. Please keep that in mind as the recap continues. Anybody who gets disqualified receives no points. Anne shows a slight smile. Jonny goes on, saying that a correct answer gets a token from Tiffany, a blonde whose origins will forever remain a mystery. Jonny adds that anybody getting a wrong answer has to remove an article of clothing. Emily scratches her head. Anne’s smile disappears. Jake is wearing Eric’s dopey sunglasses, which does him no favors.

Anne does not like BOTOS. “I find this completely and morally reprehensible and obnoxious,” she says. “I refuse to participate.” Well, some people might find this show completely and morally reprehensible and obnoxious. There’s a group meeting amongst the ladies. Emily does not want to play, and Anne’s willing to receive zero points. Ellen says that some people are willing to do it. Anne rolls her eyes, Ayanna shakes her head, and Christina says she is nauseated. One of the girls asks if this is the Playboy Mansion. Hey, ask Anne! She went there during the first Challenge. More grumbling. Emily: “They can kiss my white ass.” Does she kiss James with that mouth?

Emily talks with James. He doesn’t want to be in a compromising position, but he’s caught between supporting his girlfriend and supporting his team. Emily feels wrong about BOTOS, adding, “We’re better than this.” Maybe this isn’t Emily. Maybe Emily’s locked up somewhere, and it’s Holly in an Emily mask. Antoine interviews that James is not playing because of Emily’s principles. “I think it’s very chivarlesque,” he adds, “but I’m just sorry to see that.” He’s not from around here, so he doesn’t make any whip-cracking gestures.

James tells the guys that Emily is not competing. Eric is wearing his “Got Soul?” t-shirt. Eric-haters across the land crack their knuckles simultaneously. Veronica tells the girls they can get through the game without stripping. Keep in mind, she posed for a Challenge spread last year in Playboy, so she’s no prude. Genesis says she won’t ring in if she doesn’t know the answer. Lori puts everything into perspective. “You don’t get points for taking your clothes off,” she interviews. “The objective is to be smart so you can keep your clothes on.” Thank you! Emily tells the dissenters those who participate will go up in the standings and take over the Inner Circle, and she’s willing to risk that.

Everybody gets ready to play or boycott. “You’re not doing it?” she asks James. “Thank you!” James interviews, “I don’t have a mission to screw up on.” Tonya turns around and asks him if he’ll do it, but he doesn’t know. He interviews that he could get voted off.

Back from commercials, James has joined the guys to play BOTOS. Antoine is glad to see him. “As soon as he takes his place, he’s got fire in his eyes and he’s ready to go,” Antoine interviews. “That’s the James we like to see.” Bet he hasn’t seen him throw a tantrum. It’s only a matter of time before Mt. James erupts.

Jonny asks the guys who was the first woman to run for the Vice Presidency. Naturally, Antoine (the Belgian) rings in, and responds with Elizabeth Dole. Immediately, he surrenders his shorts to Tiffany, and the guys find out it was Geraldine Ferraro. Jonny then asks the women what the tip of a condom is called. Melissa does the “Ooo! I know this!” dance, but Lori rings in with reservoir tip, which is correct. She licks the top of her rectangular token. Ew.

Montage. Tiffany grabs a guy’s shorts. Syrus takes his shirt off. Ellen takes off her socks. Tiffany receives more shorts. James loses his shorts. Melissa happy-dances in place. Ellen gets a question right. Blair takes off his shirt. Melissa cackles happily. Jonny has Eric’s sunglasses, and that’s not working for him. Ellen seemingly answers a question with “Your mother!” I smell an edit, although Ellen doesn’t strike me as a “your mother!” type. Naked Shane jumps around. Ellen correctly names two actors who played James Bond. Antoine voiceovers that Ellen is a fierce competitor. “When she’s competing,” he adds, “she’s ready to squash everybody and make sure she gets all the answers.” Antoine informs us that he’s down to his briefs, while Jake, Blair and Shane are naked. More laughter. Ellen looks flummoxed. After the first round, she leads the women with eight tokens, while Jake leads the guys with three.

Meanwhile, the ladies who aren’t playing (a.k.a. “Club Zero”) are riding around in a golf cart. Remember the last time Emily took a stand? During Extreme Challenge, James felt slighted during a paintball mission, thinking that Jamie hit Emily after she completed a course. So he nailed Julie in a similar fashion, and didn’t try to hide it. Next thing, Syrus had him jacked up and almost grinded him into a frat meat patty. Anyway, BMP sent the RW and RR teams to New York, where their case would go before Judge Mills Lane to decide who would get the $10,000 prize money. I am not making this up. Emily decided that the RR team would boycott the mission, since she didn’t want to go through it again. The lone dissenter was Laterrian, who went on to present his case. Because Laterrian was the only person representing his team, Judge Lane gave the RW team the money, and gave Laterrian a gavel. That’s why Laterrian was cussing out Emily in the preview. I’m still not certain whether that boycott was as ill conceived as the one she organizes here. Sorry for the tangent. Anyway, the girls sing about not taking their clothes off. Fortunately, they don’t break into song about Tonya’s kidney stones.

BOTOS. The guys huddle up, noting that the girls can get better scores since they can divvy up the tokens six ways, as opposed to the guys’ eleven. Syrus interviews that Blair has decided to sacrifice himself to go along with the plan; to let Jake (the leading scorer) answer the questions. Blair interviews that he doesn’t mind doing that for others, as long as it’s for the greater good of the team.
Jonny asks the women who won the first gold medal for the United States at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Melissa rings in, but she has no clue. In desperation, she lobs a half-court shot: “Jonny Moseley?” That’s correct, and Melissa goes into Excited Game Show Contestant mode, jumping around and screaming. Since BMP hates my guts, this is the last I see of her. Jonny asks the guys to name the vibrator mentioned on Sex and the City. Jake rings in with “Rabbit,” which is correct. The guys celebrate, lifting Jake up.

Montage of Jake’s Answers. He names three Spice Girls. He answers several questions. Ellen looks miffed. Veronica and Melissa take their shirts off. An overhead shot shows Lori and Veronica disrobing. Jonny’s final question to the guys is on vaginal exercises. Jake answers correctly, and the guys lift him up again as he covers his privates with a shoe.

A caption shows that Jake has eleven tokens, while Ellen has ten. Ellen looks upset at not winning. Jonny invites Jake to accept the bike on behalf of his team. Ellen’s upset face makes way for an “Ew!” look, as Jake sits on the bike naked. Genesis has to hide her eyes, as Jake pushes the bike forward. I’m hoping that Jake got that bike, as opposed to a fresh one. He interviews about being thankful for the sacrifice by the others.

Scoreboard. There’s a new leader on the ladies’ side, as Ellen has passed Ruthie. As much as I hate giving any credit to Ellen, I cannot ignore this: she scored 107 points out of a possible 108 in the last three missions. Ellen jokes that she’s taking Ruthie down. Ruthie notes that because Emily didn’t play, she plummeted in the standings, and Veronica has taken her place in the Inner Circle. Emily walks down the stairs. “I think I’ll stay for a while,” Veronica grins. “I’ll stay and have some fun sending people home.” This must be her birthday, Christmas, and the Fourth of July rolled into one for her. Tonya thinks that there’s no other way to play than sending home the lowest scorer. Blair is fairly sure he’s going home, since he’s in last. James walks down the stairs.

Ruthie chats with Emily, telling her not to be mad at James. Ruthie interviews that Emily feels betrayed, and she and James are not on speaking terms. Emily doesn’t know if she can forgive him.
Wait. Do you hear that? It’s can’t be! But it is! Popular music! “One By One” by Foo Fighters plays as James sits down. “Weird as it sounds, you’ve got to put a price on misery,” he says in an interview. “Right now, misery has a much higher price tag than what they’re offering.” Huh? He keeps going, talking about how he and Emily have had to deal with crap, and it’s not worth it. He semi-dramatically pulls a clothesline loose.

A crab scuttles away from the camera, threatening it with his mighty claw. Mark Burnett has a patent on the scuttling crabs, so maybe he should sue. The Women’s Inner Circle meets. Ruthie states the obvious: team morale is down because they lost BOTOS and because of the split. Ellen says that Anne was upset that the girls didn’t come together to back out of the game. I’m starting to like Anne less. Veronica looks away and smirks. Ruthie asks what’s on her mind. Veronica goes over what happened, saying that the only one with moral issues was Anne. Ayanna and Christina joined her, and Tonya was having problems with her family and her boyfriend. Is she back with that putz, Justin? Ah, never mind. Veronica then notes that Emily backed out. “Yet [James] does it?” she playfully gasps. “As a woman, I’m embarrassed!” If that’s a low blow, then why am I smiling? Ruthie agrees with me, breaking out a big grin of her own. Back to business, Ruthie tells the others that Tonya is going home anyway, and Veronica says that they didn’t have to discuss this.

Inner Circle Announcements. Tonya comforts Ellen as they sit on a chair. Tonya interviews that Ellen doesn’t want her to leave, and she might have moved up in the standings had she competed. As a friend, Tonya is a huge step up from Julie.

Jonny still has the Game Show Hair and he’s talking in his Game Show Persona. He calls up the Women’s Inner Circle. Ellen thanks Tonya for being “the most positive person to be around.” Tonya tells her team that she’s leaving because of the points, and that is the easiest way to go. Veronica interviews that she could have taken Emily out, but she didn’t choose to do that. Emily interviews that she got a lucky break.

Jonny brings up the Men’s Inner Circle of Colin, Mark, and Jamie. Mark is still wielding Puck’s broken guitar handle like a scepter. The cult lives on. Mark brings in a guest speaker, “Sy-Mon.” Syrus then praises Jake for his performance. What? Well, it turns out that Jake had decided to go home earlier in the day. He interviews, “For my teammates to push me forward like they did without knowing I was going home, was just incredible.” Jake gives the Ion Lifesaver to Blair. Jake interviews some more, saying that Blair should be going home, but Jake had been out of the loop back home, so it was his time.

I just want to pause for a paragraph. Blair has got to be the luckiest stiff in Jamaica. If Jake hadn’t recovered the ring during Seven Rings of Saturn, he and Blair would not have gotten points, and Blair would have been out. If Ellen gave the Ion to Dan, then Blair and James would have been candidates for dismissal. If Dan hadn’t replaced Puck as Blair’s partner during People Mover, Blair wouldn’t have been guaranteed at least one person with fewer points than him. And now Jake spares Blair the trip back to the Saddle Ranch and the mechanical bull. Fortunately, I like Blair, so his staying doesn’t bug me.

Emily smokes alone at the bar. James is walking somewhere else. “I’m tired of fighting,” the background music drones in the background. James joins her. Emily interviews that she’s having a miserable time. They talk to each other. Emily continues: “A guy is like a machine when it comes to competition. He’s programmed to compete and do his best. To sit out for emotional reasons isn’t programmed in a man. He has to go fetch the stick when it’s thrown.” Is Emily a sociology major?
The couple cuddles in bed. James voiceovers that he can’t be happy unless they’re both happy. He asks her if he can stay until she falls asleep. Emily interviews that James needed to play to stay in the game. Actually, Jake already planned to depart. This is the hindsight episode. “He’s my best friend,” Emily concludes, “The best friend I’ve ever had.” Somewhere, Christian, Devon, and Timmy sob uncontrollably.

Next time: Jonny’s hair is back to normal! He says that the object of this mission is to traverse a river via the stirrups course. Genesis interviews that the women are fractured and there’s a lot of animosity. Anne: “The one huge pool of negativity is Veronica.” Shut up, Anne. Veronica yells as she’s caught in a stirrup while hanging upside-down.

 I just want to scream "YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO TAKE OFF YOUR CLOTHES!!!!" even today. And Veronica didn't dropkick Emily out of the game, which would bite her in the ass a few episodes later. At least I had the brief Melissa moment. Also, this would be one the last times we'd see a sane Tonya. She'd return in The Gauntlet, but she wouldn't last long. Watching her be well-adjusted was one of the neglected storylines that season. Then came Battle Of The Sexes 2, where she binged on crazy wafers, and she wouldn't be the same. Shame, really.

One final note: MTV didn't air a new episode until March 17. I filled the void with three midseason analyses. I'll try to get those out in a more timely manner.