Monday, July 31, 2017

The Inferno Episodes 1 & 2: Out Of the Frying Pan...

This is the official start of The Inferno. It was not a fun season. I mean, there were some nice moments, but it made me grumpy in the long run. The first two missions didn't make me hopeful, what with everybody questioning Ace's manhood, Syrus getting underestimated by his own team . . . and, yes, the time Julie scared the ever-loving shit out of Veronica. And I HATED Veronica. Once thing I do regret is harshing on the opening credits. Sure, they paled to Battle Of The Sexes and The Gauntlet,but they were fun in retrospect. These days, BMP has done away with those, which is a shame.

Oh, and I never tried to look for Piggy in the opening shots. Well, not that hard. Once again: she was cast for the Road Rules team (making that her third Challenge, but she had to leave, getting replaced by Christena. Needless to say, that turned out NOT to be an upgrade.

Airdate: February 2, 2004
Recap Published: February 11, 2004 (lame on my part; once again, hour-long episodes was not my specialty)

Welcome to Acapulco. We’ve got sun, sand, roaches, worms, and attempted murder. It's time for the latest Challenge!
Acapulco. We’ve got sun, sand, and women in bikinis. They’ve got their tops on... MTV only exposes stuff like that for special occasions. Anyway, the Road Rules team gets on a boat. Naturally, Abram is pumped. Some kid named Jeremy introduces himself. Once again: he was the guy who replaced Donell on Road Rules South Pacific, taking part in three missions. Seriously, why is he here? "There's $300,000 to win," he interviews. "I'll take that, thank you very much." Shots of the Real World and RR logos, followed by “$300,000 Challenge."

Real World Boat. You'll be happy to know that Mike now has a red Miz shirt. Yeah, whatever. Ace tells the others he can build a birdhouse out of popsicle sticks. He introduces himself, telling us that he's competitive. "I don't care if I'm playing tiddlywinks," he continues, "or if it's the last game of the season. I am all over it and I want to win." Trishelle updates us on her relationship with Mike: there isn't one. They broke up shortly after The Gauntlet. "Trishelle and I broke up because Trishelle doesn't know how to have a boyfriend," Mike snipes. "She thinks the world revolves around her." Since she's on this show and The Surreal Life, I think she might be justified in thinking that.

Road Rules Boat. Darrell is wearing a wig and fake teeth, joking about sending the women out. Like it isn't hard enough to understand half of what he says without the fake teeth. He introduces himself, saying he's back to whup RW ass. Veronica jokes about getting along with the others. She interviews, "I think it would be smart of me to be a good girl and stay out of some little romantic thing while I'm here." Naturally, there's a flashback of her and Abram in the shower. Ick. Timmy jokes about how people are going to get burned, and not by the sun. Abram: "You put this many people into one awesome house in Acapulco... it's gonna get evil!"

Credits. The credits are a bit of a letdown this time around. The good news is that the theme song is performed by Yellowcard, an up-and-coming band. I mean, do you see Midtown or Ill Kid being in the MTV2 rotation? The bad news: the credits are basically Dave Mirra riding his bike past the players. That's it. No wackiness, no playful slapping, nothing.

Dave jumps a fountain. Jeremy and Shane are on the roof, smiling at us. Dave whizzes by them. Dave goes down the stairs, past David and Trishelle. For some reason, David is listed as "Dave." Mr. Mirra scoots by CT (labeled as "Chris") and Leah right before they kiss. They just wink at the camera. Dave jumps a couch, nearly hitting Abram. He and Veronica turn around and smile. Dave passes the pool, where Mike and Coral are wading. Dave slams on the brakes, narrowly hitting a car. Syrus opens a car door for Julie to get out. They were in the video for Eminem's "Without Me," so it fits. Dave doubles back. Cut to Ace giving Mallory a rose. Fans of The Bachelor can make their own joke. Dave jumps the fountain again. Katie and Holly squeeze Christena between them, Another fountain jump. Everybody's dancing. Timmy looks like he's having fun. Why is he alone? He's too funny to be alone. More dancing. Kendal backs into Darrell. Dave jumps his bike onto the stage where Yellowcard plays. Quick highlights. Title. So underwhelmed.

Back to the RW boat. CT introduces himself, telling us that his relationship with his roommates has gotten better. Flashback to the time where he threatened to "work" Adam before shoving him. CT insists he's changed, adding, "I don't put myself in situations I really don't need to be in." Then why are you on this Challenge? The RW kids jump off the boat, toasting themselves and cheering.

RR boat. Katie interviews about not getting along with her teammates last season. "I don't hate anyone," she adds. "There's just people I don't care for particularly, like Veronica." Cut to Katie screaming, invoking the Tragic White Girl Head Bob. Kendal introduces herself, saying that since Campus Crawl, she's been pursuing acting, and she needs the money.

On land, Leah and Mallory chat. Leah introduces herself, admitting that her behavior in Paris was unacceptable. Cut to her season, where she got into a major fight with her roommates. She continues, "I think I can take criticism a lot better now." Mallory introduces herself. She has spent a lot of time with Ace, and they're dating exclusively.

David and Syrus check out "the three horsemen," the younger males on their team. David introduces himself. Today, he's a mortgage broker, and he's going back to school for his MBA. His hair's changed a little, but the Boston accent is still there. Syrus introduces himself. He admits the need to prove himself to the kids. "I'm old enough to be their dads right now," he adds. The camera pans to Trishelle and Julie chatting. Already, I'm nauseous. Julie introduces herself; she's moved to Huntington Beach, California and started a band called The Swerve. She adds, "I'm going to win because I got kicked off my last Challenge FOR NO GOOD REASON!" Shut up, Avril. Nice black fingernails, by the way.

The RR Boat nears the dock. Darrell taunts Mike, while Abram flashes two middle fingers. Coral prays for Abram to fall off the boat. Jeremy hops off and gets to hugging. Abram carries Coral around. Holly introduces herself; since Battle of the Seasons, she's been working at an international consulting firm in Colorado. Coral hugs Shane. "We all getting along," Darrell babbles, "everybody's happy-go-lucky charm. Everybody happy to meet everybody. It's about to change."

A helpful local directs the kids to their pad. They goggle in obvious awe over their new digs. Katie says she's not going home. "It looks like something Jimmy Buffet would live in," Ace says, "so I'm absolutely in love with this house." Syrus figures it's "too damn pretty to be true." Julie gushes about the bidet to Syrus. Shane wheels his stuff in. He introduces himself; turns out he's gone back to school to study anthropology. Syrus carries Timmy's bags up the stairs. Timmy tells us he's from "Road Rules Season Dos: The Prehistoric Years" Today, he hosts Guts and Bolts on the History Channel. Coral freaks out as she spots a lizard. She jokes about feeling like a jackass for coming back, after she got bit by a spider last time. Mike tells us that Coral lost the final mission last time. Flashback to the finale, with Coral dying and Mike yelling at her. Not good times. Mike: "It was kind of an unfair way to lose." Christena introduces herself. "This isn't a vacation," she interviews. "This is about winning, and winning a huge prize."

Nighttime. Lightning storm. Everybody heads to the Inferno site, with its torches and dark gates. Dave Mirra welcomes everybody to the new season. Mike gushes about how Dave has his own video game. Hey, so did Jonny Moseley! Abram: "I think he rides a bike better than he walks." Dave goes over the basics: ten players from RW and RR will compete in challenges. After selected missions, those teams must vote for two of their members to sacrifice to the Inferno, then pick one of the representatives from the other team. The two players chosen have a chance to save themselves by winning the Aztec Lifesaver in the follow mission. Turns out this "Plate of Protection" is an actual plate, and a good looking one at that. A player winning the AL can send somebody else into the Inferno. The two players competing in the Inferno will engage in a "battle of wills" to stay in the game. Dave adds that the first 15 challenges are worth $10,000 each, and the final mission is $150,000. Katie: "I'm not here for the fun anymore. I'm here for the money." Syrus: "Money makes the world go round. It won't make me crazy, it won't make me evil, but it does make the world go round." Christena: "We better enjoy ourselves tonight, because tomorrow, the pain starts." Oh, you have no idea, Christena.

Local shots. A clown juggles torches. Yeah, I don't know. Abram takes a huge dive, from what appears to be a balcony to the pool. Have I mentioned that Abram is somewhat insane? Jeremy and a female follow suit. Christena interviews that Jeremy wants to prove himself, since he came in so late on his season. Three missions, people. Leah and CT try to talk Syrus into diving, but he doesn't want to jump. "My whole team is full of stallions," he interviews. "All these dudes are cut, chiseled, and ripped. It's not easy being a team member on my team being the oldest and the heaviest." Can you say "recurring theme," boys and girls? Jeremy eggs Syrus on, but he doesn't jump. "No balls," Jeremy smirks to the camera. "He's got no balls." Shut up, fresh meat. Get back to me when you've grown hair on yours. Christena interviews that Syrus has arthritis, and he's 31 years old. In reality show years, he'd be dead.

Slow-motion walk to the mission site. Cool, so we don't have 30 minutes of drama before the mission. Mallory sees ropes connected to two high-rise buildings. Dave welcomes everybody to Grope the Rope, a mission that will test balance and endurance. The object: cross the rope way up in the air. Naturally, Darrell reminds us that he has a fear of heights. "This is fear," Syrus interviews. "Real fear. Shakin', that's me." Dave lays out the exposition: players from each team will race side-by-side. Mallory adds that the players will wear a harness, sliding to the middle of the rope. Then they get out of the harness, and climb the rope to the building. Dave adds that the only safety measure is the bungee. Players can knock each other off using their hands and arms, but not their feet. Should a player fall, that player gets the slowest time, plus a one-minute penalty. The team with the fastest combined time wins $10,000 to put in their bank account. "I might not be as physically strong as some of the other members," Julie foreshadows, "so I'll probably do anything that I have to do."

Round One: Abram vs. David. At the sound of the airhorn, they slide to the rope. Abram takes the lead, while Julie screams from the ground. Damn, I had forgotten how screechy she can get. Abram finishes at 18.65 seconds, while David logs in at 18.71. On the ground, Jeremy jumps around as if he skipped his medication. David figures it'll come down to the women.

Round Two: Leah vs. Kendal. Kendal takes the lead while Leah struggles. Kendal finishes at 35.07. Jeremy is still jumping around. Dude, save your energy! Leah finishes at 55.87.

Round Three: Trishelle vs. Katie. Ooo... roommate rumble! Katie immediately slips, hanging on to the rope before falling for the disqualification. On the ground, Julie and Coral celebrate. Trishelle finishes at 28.14. Syrus is pumped, since Katie got penalized.

Round Four: CT vs. Timmy. CT coasts to the middle, while Timmy frantically pulls with his hands. As CT takes the lead, Timmy slips, grabbing onto the rope with his hands. CT finishes at 22.70, while Timmy, climbing as fast as he can without using his legs, clocks out at 27.43. Timmy interviews that he got out of the harness wrong. "Trust me," he adds, "it's harder than you can even imagine."

Round Five: Syrus vs. Shane. Somebody mentions that Syrus weighs 235 pounds. Coral jokes about him breaking the rope. Because he's heavy, you see. Those jokes are only funny when the person deserves it, and Syrus doesn't. Shane interviews that Syrus is an old dog, but he has bark and bite. He manages to beat Syrus, finishing at 17.28, while Syrus clocks in at 18.38.

Round Six: Mallory vs. Holly. As Leah cheers her friend from the ground, Mallory interviews that this is her first mission and she wants to prove herself. She takes an early lead, but her legs slip off the rope and she falls for the DQ. Meanwhile, Holly finishes at 21.65. Jeremy is still jumping around. Julie doesn't understand how Mallory can fall when she's that close to the finish line. Current times: RW 3:20, RR 1:41. Don't try to add it up... the numbers didn't come out right for me.

Round Seven: Ace vs. Jeremy. Ace interviews that the only way to win is to pull Jeremy down. Attaboy! Physical contact! Jeremy interviews that he has to win, since he's the new guy. Has he mentioned that yet? Have I mentioned that Syrus is old and heavy? Jeremy takes a lead, but Ace grabs his ankle, attempting to take Jeremy out. The newbie kicks around, and Ace uses his foot, earning a DQ. Jeremy lets go of the rope, taking a DQ as well. What? That was Ace's fault. Jeremy should've had a fresh run. He gripes about how he can get support from his team.

Round Eight: Coral vs. Christena. Christena clocks in at 22.80, Coral at 28.87. Round Nine: Mike vs. Darrell. Darrell takes a huge lead, finishing at 17.03, while Mike gets 21.01. Timmy jokes about Darrell taking off like a lightning bolt. Not bad for an acrophobic.

Round Ten: Julie vs. Veronica. On the ground, CT and Mike encourage Julie to do whatever she can to win. She has that look in her eyes, like she's already thought of something. As the players slide on the rope, Julie grabs Veronica's harness, and they start tugging at each other. Veronica: "Hey, stop molesting my [bleeping] vagina, you Mormon!" Tasteless? Yeah, but only on this show can you get lines like that. They start arguing on the rope, with Veronica kicking wildly, trying to shake Julie. "She wants to get the win for her team," Veronica interviews, "and be the hero of the mission. I'm not getting out of my harness." On the balcony, Dave informs the ladies that they have one minute to get to him, or get disqualified.

Now the poop hits the fan. Julie reaches behind Veronica, tugging on her safety line. See, when I bashed Julie last year, it was because I liked Melissa so much. Here, she's just being stupid. By holding Veronica back, she's holding herself back as well, screwing RW in the process. While this is going on, Veronica's teammates scream for Julie not to touch the safety line. Veronica is panicked. "WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" she screams at Julie. "WHAT IS SHE DOING?" she screams to her teammates. On the balcony, RR flips out. Coral has no expression on her face. On the ground, Trishelle smiles and covers her mouth.

Back from commercials, Dave blows the airhorn, disqualifying Julie and Veronica. "You're [bleeping] crazy!" Veronica yells at Julie. Like she has to tell me that. Julie interviews that she had to get Veronica down. Yeah, but there's stopping her, and then there's making her fall eighteen stories to her death. "That's just the nature of the game," Julie continues. "I have nothing against the girl, but I'm going to try to win. It's ten thousand dollars!" On the ground, Jeremy recaps the events for Holly. She thinks that Julie has pent-up anger, Veronica bore the brunt of it, and RR is pissed. Anger from what? From when mean ol' Melissa and her friends kicked her out? Give me a break.

Inside the building, production people help Veronica out of the harness. Julie tells her that she was trying to win. Veronica tells her to shut up. Julie says that she couldn't get the cord off even if she wanted to do that. Veronica tells her to shut up. Julie then turns to the camera and makes crybaby motions. I swear, the longer Julie is on this show, the less fun it's going to be. If anybody knocks her out of the game, that person will be my new best friend. Julie isn't a punk. She's just sad. Veronica wipes her eyes in the elevator. "Did I feel unsafe?" she interviews. "Yeah, certainly. We're in the air, eighteen floors above the ground. Accidents can happen."

Time lapses to night. Back at the hotel, Dave gives the times: RW finished with 9:05, while RR got 8:25. As a result, RR wins $10,000 for their bank account. If Julie had found a way to knock Veronica off quickly, her team might have won. "Once you get used to winning, it's hard to lose," Darrell interviews. "Real World will never win, simple as that." Coral: "Losing sucks. I don't plan on doing that anymore." Dave gives both teams 30 minutes to decide who to nominate into the Inferno, dismissing them to their respective lounges.

Darrell drops the exposition: the teams will rotate between men and women in their votes. So lame. I understand that the fairer sex was much maligned during Gauntlet. But right now, most of the people I want to get off my screen are women, and they're not up tonight. At the RR meeting, Shane admits he's frightened at the prospect of going home. Timmy declares he has no problem going in, but the others disagree. "Timmy, what is you doing, Timmy?" Darrell interviews. "What's wrong with you? You don't need to go! Be cool!" Timmy figures that he isn't afraid of losing, since he has a positive mind-set already. Jeremy volunteers, confident that he can win. "My team responds," he interviews, "with pretty much huge smiles on their faces and gladful hearts." Gladful? Whatever. Personally, I think he's overcompensating for being the third substitute on his season. The team does the usual "one, two, three, ROAD RULES!" cheer.

RW meeting. You have to wonder if Julie or the Paris girls would be dead meat if not for the rotation. Ace figures that the five males should put their names in a hat. Coral asks if he'd volunteer. Trishelle wants to vote for Ace since he was disqualified. She interviews, "I just feel like people should go balls out and say exactly what they think and just be honest." Coral, Mike, and Julie vote for Ace. He doesn't think it's fair. David votes for Ace... and Syrus. "I don't see you work out that much," David continues. "After 15 missions, that's going to work out." Leah and Trishelle vote for Syrus. He interviews that the others see him as disposable. Somewhere in Colorado, Sarah mutters, "Welcome to my world," and changes the channel.

Dave goes over the nominees: Ace & Syrus, Jeremy & Timmy. Mike mentions that they don't know the finishing times. All he remembers is that Syrus got smoked by Shane. Yes, 1.1 seconds difference does count as a beatdown these days. Dave gives both teams ten minutes to make their picks.

RR meeting. Veronica expresses the importance of winning the first Inferno. Holly figures that the RR guys would win no matter what, so she picks Syrus. Jeremy interviews that Syrus got chosen because... get this... he's over 30 and not gelling well with his team. When did we switch to Logan's Run? Veronica interviews that the best strategy would be to choose Ace, but Syrus seems to be a sure bet for a win.

RW meeting. Coral figures that Jeremy is a safe bet, but she wants to leave RR weaker. Leah expresses concern for the team's representative going home. Ace wants to stay, and he figures on having a better shot against Jeremy. "I can understand why they would want Jeremy," Mike interviews. "Hell, I'd be scared to go up with Timmy in the Inferno as well."

Outside, both teams announce their picks. Actually, it's done by putting plates up on a stand. Very cool... like on The Joe Schmoe Show. Sadly, the plates spell out "Jeremey" and "Cyrus." Actually, given how it was spelled "Sirus" in the "Without Me" video, that isn't the worst typo in the world. Jeremy hugs Timmy, joking about how Syrus looks nervous. Syrus expresses that it isn't easy to be (in case you're just tuning in) the oldest and heaviest on his team.

Now the times are posted. Coral and Syrus take a look, and guess what? Syrus had the best time for his team. Seriously... check the times. I was shocked as well. "It's disrespecting the Godfather, man!" Timmy exclaims. Syrus can't believe it. "We had no idea what the scores were until after we voted," Coral interviews. "If we had, we certainly would not have voted that way." Coral tries to tell Syrus that, but he wants to step up and be the team's weak link, since nobody else will. Military drums play as Syrus goes into a rant about representing the team. "I will always be the best team player," he tells his teammates. "And I guarantee if I'm here, I will carry the [Oedipus Rexing] flag to victory." He stalks off, interviews that he's won before, and he'll have to win again.

Elsewhere, Mallory and Ace lie in a hammock. For some reason, Ace smells like chicken. Mallory is relieved that RR picked Syrus, and there's no possibility of her boyfriend going home. The happy couple kisses and snuggles.

Daytime. Roosters crow, and Syrus crows along with them. Jeremy expositions that there is another mission before the Inferno, and he has an opportunity to win the Aztec Lifesaver. Dave welcomes everyone to the next mission: Birdfeeder. He points out the giant baby chicks propped up on hay bales. The objective: feed those chicks as much seed and worms as possible within three minutes. Timmy is wearing a t-shirt that says "The 0." That's sweet.... he's paying Theo back for the "Where's Timmy" shirts. The team with the most weight transferred wins $10,000 for the bank account. Shane's t-shirt: "Where's Rachel." Answer: not here, and that's good enough for me. Dave then shows the worms, which excites and repulses the players. "See these crazy funky chicken suits?" Dave asks. "They're mine, and I'm going to let you use them for this competition." I'm finding out more about the host's personal life than I ever wanted to know. He adds that they have to transfer the feed and worms by mouth. Holly doesn't look too good. "Worms in your mouth?" she interviews. "Dried chicken feed in your mouth and regurgitating into another bird's mouth? That is wrong?" By the way, this is Holly's third Challenge. You'd think she'd get a clue by now. Dave mentions that those on each team with the best time will win the Lifesaver, which can be used to save oneself or a teammate. Both Jeremy and Syrus hope to win it.

Time to put on the chicken suits. I'm more at peace with this than the fat suits from last season. Syrus dubs his costume his "pimp gear." Where? On Sesame Street? Coral straps the chicken head on while Abram dry-humps her. Syrus shouts "Cock fight!" and Abram repeats the motions. "Dude," Syrus says, "you're humping my neck!"

Round One: Veronica vs. Trishelle. Veronica voiceovers that she is the pickiest eater ever. The ladies stuff their mouths with the disgusting stuff, spewing it into the chicks. Veronica starts making retching noises. This might be her worst Challenge ever at this rate. After the airhorn sounds to end the game, she's still dry puking. Trishelle transferred 12.4 grams, while Veronica finished with 12.2. Trishelle complains that she got feed in her nose and eyeballs, and that she was "hotter than balls" in the suit.

Round Two: Julie vs. Kendal. Surprisingly, Julie doesn't make an attempt on Kendal's life, which Mike will be thankful for in the weeks to come. Julie transfers 22.6 grams, while Kendal transfers 21.2.

Round Three: David vs. Jeremy. "I have a huge mouth," Jeremy interviews, "and I'm going to go and tear this up." Swallowing. Spitting. David finishes with 23.0 grams, while Jeremy does indeed tear it up at 24.8. Needless to say, he's proud. Timmy jokes that he can take the feed and worms home with him.

Round Four: Mallory vs. Katie. Immediately, Katie starts gagging, while Mallory makes her run. Abram gets pleasure in interviewing about how bad Katie sucks. Leah yells encouragement to Mallory. Katie dry-pukes some more. Veronica yells at her to spit it out on the other side. Final totals: Mallory 24.4 grams, Katie 7.2 grams. "Katie went about three laps," Timmy interviews, "and then started coughing up cornmeal, worms and Marlboro Milds." I missed Timmy.

Round Five: Coral vs. Darrell. "I'm the only black male on this team," Darrell jokes. "I gotta play this game like I'm running for my life like a runaway slave, and that's how I'm gonna do every mission." Great... NOW I understand what he's talking about. Coral finishes with 25.8 grams, while Darrell finishes with 25.6 grams.

The next few rounds pass without incident. Mike gets 25.8 grams to Timmy's 21.8, and CT and Shane tie with 23.4 grams apiece. Before Round Eight, Ace interviews that he's already gagging. He manages to work through it, transferring 22.8 grams to Christena's 23.4 grams. Holly gets 22.0 grams to Leah's 21.4. Trishelle compliments Leah for her big mouth. "I cannot get over what is in my mouth," Leah interviews. "Who does that?" Forgive her... this is her first Challenge.

Round Ten: Syrus vs. Abram. Syrus interviews that he has one chance to win the Lifesaver. Both players run. Mike interviews that Syrus is lighting the place up. Syrus finishes with 28.0 grams, while Abram checks out at 21.0. Syrus hopes that it's enough.

Dave announces the results: RW finished with 229 grams, while RR came away with 204 grams. He awards the $10,000 check to RW, pulling them even with RR. Dave then awards the Lifesaver to Darrell and, after a long pause, Syrus. Sweet... the old guy pulled off two first-place finishes on his team. Leah interviews that he deserved to win. Dave adds that the final decisions will be revealed in the Inferno.

Hotel. RW meeting. Syrus figures it's between David and Ace to replace him, and he thinks Ace could beat Jeremy, but he can't make the decision by himself. David wants to vote on performance, while Ace honestly doesn't want to go into the Inferno. Coral figures that the team should go with their second choice: Ace. "Maybe it's because they think I might do good against Jeremy," Ace interviews, "maybe it's because they don't like me. Either way, it's really hurting my feelings."

Night. Mallory and Ace share some quality time. Mallory thinks that he shouldn't take things personally, and she wants to stay with Ace as long as possible. Mike comes by to see how Ace is doing. Ace says that his spirits are low, and it's hard to get pumped for a team that voted against him. "We're all going to go at some time or another," Mike interviews. "You can't take things personal. You just have to live with it and hopefully you'll step up to the plate." Mike tells Ace that he has to show that he came to play.

Inferno site. Dave: "Welcome to your first Inferno: The Bug Helmet." Oh, BMX bikers are such kidders! It's more of a box than a helmet. Actually, two boxes, both full of bugs. Jeremy looks squeamish, while Coral laughs. Ace's mouth hangs open. "It's scaring the bejesus out of me," he interviews.

Dave lays it out: the player who stays in the helmet the longest wins. The helmets are filled with crickets and hissing cockroaches. I'm a guy who freaks when a fly buzzes my ear, so I'm squicked already. Before the contest, one member from each team will smear syrup on their opponent's head. "I love gross stuff," Jeremy interviews. "If it looks like it's messed up, like it really looks like it should not be touched, I'm the one who's gonna touch it."

Dave asks Darrell about what he wants to do with the Lifesaver. For some reason, Darrell has the wig on and the teeth in. He tells Dave that he has faith in Jeremy. RR cheers, and I swear I heard a bicycle horn. Is that this season's clapper? Jeremy interviews about getting to prove himself. Dave asks Syrus who he'll sacrifice. We already know the answer. Ace interviews that he'll do his best.

Inferno. Both players get nose and ear plugs. Coral applies the syrup to Jeremy's face, while Darrell works on Ace. Both players stick their heads in the bug-filled boxes. Dave tells Ace to "go to a happy place." Not even Disneyworld would be happy enough for me. The players sit motionless, insects crawling on their faces. But after eleven seconds, Ace has had enough, running off. Jeremy asks what happened. Ace's ex-roommates look at one another, while Jeremy jumps around some more by himself. Probably since nobody wanted to touch him.

Ace goes into the pool. I'll bet his friends will like the drowned bugs he leaves in there. He laughs about going home, and that there was no way he could keep his head in there. Coral bitches that Julie would've been there all night. Yeah, she would be insane enough. Syrus is disappointed in Ace. "Ace didn't want to be here," Coral interviews. "We had no idea that he was gonna put on Pampers and [bleepin'] run up the stairs like that." For somebody who got taken out by a creepy-crawly, I would expect some sympathy from her. What if Ace had to deal with spiders? What would Coral have said?

Denouement. Dave congratulates Jeremy. Timmy interviews that Jeremy can go up against anybody from RW. Ace shakes hands with Syrus. "I think he responded less than everyone thought he was going to," Syrus interviews. "Put up or shut up... he decided to shut up, pack up and go home." More shots of Ace shaking hands, while Coral looks disgusted. Syrus: "The Bug Helmet is pretty damn scary, but I would've done it."

Hotel. Katie and Kendal chat up Jeremy. Kendal loves how Jeremy set the tone. Jeremy interviews about how he's a strong competitor. He was trying to prove himself? No way! I would've heard about it! As Ace packs, Coral asks Mallory how she feels about staying here. Ace insists that Mallory will kick ass. "I thought you wanted to be here too," Coral responds. Ace says that he couldn't handle the bugs, and he didn't have much "morality." Coral snipes about how she thought Ace would be ready. "Then somebody puts a cricket on your head," she continues, "and you're done." I guess Coral has selective amnesia. "We sent him in there thinking he was going to destroy Jeremy," she interviews. "And that just goes to show you... you never know who's weak, and you never know who's strong." Didn't Nathan say the same thing in the finale? I didn't want to say it, but I gotta: shut up, Coral. Stick your head in a bug box for a minute, then talk to me.

Ace's Farewell. He shakes hands and hugs. "I'm a little disappointed in Ace," CT interviews. "He had a really bad attitude. He could've helped us a lot." Wow... criticism from Mr. Cry Me a Rivah himself. Ace walks down the pier with Mallory, where his short boat awaits. He interviews that he wants Mallory to do what's best for her. "This is so much sadder than it should be," he tells Mallory. "I'm on a boat!" He waves goodbye as the boat slowly sails away.

So what have we learned? Don't trust anybody over thirty. Jeremy wants to prove himself. And Ace is a big ol' scaredy cat for not keeping his head in the bug box for more than eleven seconds. The nerve! Never mind that if both genders were eligible for vote, he wouldn't have been considered. Forget that natural instinct makes a person get away from insects. And thinking that Ace had a disadvantage going up against somebody hellbent on proving himself? Poppycock! Seriously, with a team attitude like RW has, combined with Julie's chances of leaving being halved, it's going to be a long season.

Mike voiceover: "This season on The Inferno, you bring something nice to wear." CT wears a sombrero, posing with a local. Jeremy has a Miz fit. Guys bash the hell out of some furniture while Yellowcard plays. Wall climber. CT is doused in some white liquid. Julie: "Girls, fight this! I wanna fight like a man! Right now, on the lawn!" Hate her. Guys wrestle. More bashing. Katie screams at Veronica. Julie calls the bashing the best experience in her life. Mike and Kendal wrestle.

Mike and Kendal love footage. Trishelle: "I don't enjoy you kissing other people." Hate her, too. More footage. Kendal unbuttons Mike's shirt. Leah thinks Darrell is the sexiest man around. Hope she's got an English-to-Darrell dictionary.

Inferno footage. Close up of a spider, followed by a shot of Coral. Mike: "Every time we walk to the Inferno, it reminds me of hell." Mike and Jeremy hold torches. Trishelle complains about burning up. Timmy get white stuff poured on him. Mike: "So you did lie to me! Why would I kiss a liar?" Kendal, walking on a beam: "Because I'm a good kisser!" Mike should really lay off the on-camera hook-ups. Fast-motion clips, including CT and Shane on some kind of whirlygig. Katie: "This game is so [bleeping] nasty." Title. Who's up for 16 more episodes?

 In the long run, I never cared for Ace. Dude spent a lot of time in strip clubs while in Paris, and I'm thinking even CT got more out of the city that him. That said, I sympathized for him. Seriously, I don't think TJ Lavin would have blamed him for bailing out after eleven seconds. Then his team ripped into him, including the lady who got taken out by a spider in the prior season's finale. I know, spiders aren't insects, but I would have expected a tiny bit of empathy from Coral, even if she couldn't stand Ace. In her Challlenge career, I think that's one of the few times she was wrong. I realize she wasn't for everybody, but it did help that most of the people she clashed with was assholes and bitches.

As for THAT incident? For the past few years, I have suggested that Bunim-Murray Productions wants somebody to die on-camera. When that happens, the company will fade from MTV. Once again: why else would they put a guy with a compromised immune system with a jackass that looked to be oozing eight diseases at any given time. There have been a lot of close calls . . . off the top of my head, there was Neil getting his tongue bitten off in London, Mark's parachute not opening right way in the first season of Road Rules, Sophia almost getting herself and a Spaniard killed by way of bungee in RR: The Quest, a drunken Ellen coming close to getting flattened by a car in that same season, and Ty causing Andrew to fall and get a concussion in RW: DC. And that's the stuff I can remember. However, I would expect that the first mission would be tested to hell and back, because falling eighteen stories is an awful way to go. Also, it would be too obvious, and BMP would be open to bad publicity and lawsuits, even if the players signed away the right to sue to get on the show.

Veronica was safe. There was little chance that Julie could have killed her. But when you're up that high . . . and you're suspended in the air by a harness and bungee cord . . . and an insane bitch wants to make up lost time from getting bounced first two seasons prior . .. . can you blame Veronica for possibly pissing herself in terror? And one thing I didn't emphasize back then was Jeremy on the balcony, screaming, "DON'T TOUCH THE SAFETY LINE!!!!!!!!" That probably didn't help at all. Veronica would be in the middle of a lot of shady behavior, and she probably would have deserved to get torn to pieces by Katie, but I felt for her back then.

Also, I grew to hate Jeremy. In his career, Syrus struck me as a chill guy. The outburst after the Inferno announcements was only one of three times I saw him get mad. The others: James repeatedly hitting Julie with the paintball gun in Extreme Challenge, and Syrus not getting the calls against Derrick in Gauntlet 2. At the reunion (which I never recapped), we saw TJ Lavin call Syrus "motherfucker," and the big guy needed Timmy to hold him back. In brief: Syrus = yay; Jeremy = "who???"

 Finally . . . I couldn't find the credits for The Inferno online, so I managed to find an episode and cut out the full version of the credits which aired in the first week. Let me be clear that I do NOT own this, that I am NOT profiting from this, and that my lack of a life causes me to want to leave behind a legacy of sorts. That includes showing Dave Mirra (RIP) biking around Challengers while Yellowcard plays. If I have to take this down, I will take it down. I just wanted to provide a complete picture. Apologies if the audio isn't that great for you.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Battle Scars: From the Gauntlet to the Inferno

Welcome to the start of my recaps for The Inferno. Sort of. In case you did not read the last few entries, MTV decided not to hold a reunion covering the events of The Gauntlet. Instead, they spent thirty minutes going over that season and hyping The Inferno, which would air the following week. Once again, the drama overlap seems so quaint as compared to the thirtieth season currently airing on MTV, where being "dirty" is an essential prerequisite.

Airdate: January 26, 2004 
Recap Published: February 1, 2004

We take one last look at The Gauntlet, one good look at The Inferno, and one lingering look at the various drama kings and queens who play the game.

Looks like my preview article wasn’t redundant after all. This episode abandons the old format, where the show’s host and a cast member talk up the season. Instead, we get a final look back at The Gauntlet, and a quick peek into The Inferno. Also, I get to tell some people to shut up one last time. I do that a lot.

Scenes from Gauntlet. Scenes from Inferno: Guys trashing a room with guitars, paintballs, bungee jumping, running on a wall, exercise bike, giant dominos, and David naked.

Voiceover Guy talks about sunny Acapulco and a $12 million house. “All quiet and serene,” VOG notes, “until The Inferno comes to town!” Players cheering upon arrival. Guys wrestling with each other, Katie going on a bitch fit. Coral and Mike argue. Guys do damage with guitars. Julie squirts lotion on Jeremy. Ace helps Syrus with his chicken costume. Abram wrestles somebody. Katie and Veronica fight. Katie: “This game is so [bleeping] nasty.” Zip line mission with Katie kicking and screaming. Bridge bungee. Guys with their heads in bug-filled boxes. Abram says he’s done. He’s wearing a mohawk for some reason.

Voiceover Guy tells us that before we get into The Inferno, we have to take care of Gauntlet business. Clips time! Theo V. tells Alton to help Irulan pack. Roni takes a picture of Abram, Rachel R., and Veronica in the tub. Coral can’t believe Mike sent her to the Gauntlet. Coral almost dies during Gold Rush. Theo G.: “We’re Real World. Keep it real.” I’m sorry... what show are you on, again?

Voiceover Guy drops by one last time to tell us to get to the source of the RW/RR rivalry. Cut to Day One and Mike saying, “Road Rules, kiss my ass, baby!” Upon reflection, I prefer Jisela’s opener from Battle of the Seasons: “MTV, kiss my ass, because I’m not afraid of heights!” Mike interviews that RW is full of drama kings and queens. Coral thinks RW is more popular and that RR is “the red-headed stepchild.” Rachel R.: “I think they feel superiority over Road Rules, and I think Road Rules has to continue to kick their ass in every single mission until they get it.” Trishelle figures that RW has more fun, while RR is more concerned with competition. Katie thinks that RR has more rivalry within itself.

Title card: “Boys vs. Girls.” Coral interviews that the guys voted off the women, thinking that would help them. Sarah thinks it was weird seeing Adam’s anti-women interviews. Cut to Adam telling Dave and Theo V. that they should vote off the women. Katie becomes the first person to tick me off by saying some women, especially Sarah, let it happen. She continue, “Me, I was like, ‘I went already. Eat [bleep].’” Hey, Katie? Maybe if you didn’t waste your energy bitching out your teammates, you would’ve beaten Rachel B. Rachel R. considers the women to be the backbone of the RR team. Clips of Veronica and Roni winning missions back her up. “I wasn’t trying to vote off the girls,” Abram interviews. “If I had a team of Amazonians [sic], I’d be like, ‘Make me some money, man.’” Veronica: “It’s not like they were trying to have all boys. I’m sorry, but not all girls are strong.”

Segue to the next segment: “Road Rules vs. Sarah.” In a nice touch, the editors pipe in “Where Is the Love?” by Black Eyed Peas. Sarah laughs about how there were three teams: RW, RR and herself. Cut to Jonny calling her up to the Gauntlet five times. Mike thinks that RR copped out by going after an easy target. Veronica: “If one of our weakest players - Sarah - keeps coming back because she wins in the Gauntlet, she’s still our weakest. It doesn’t change that.” Rachel R. snipes about Sarah getting disqualified several times. Cut to Sarah dropping the cat in Inferno. Rachel: “She was complaining.” Cut to Sarah telling the team that her back hurt. “She quit on us.” Cut to Sarah, unable to move up the rope in All or Nothing. How many Roadies actually completed that mission? One. “And those are characteristics that when there’s $150,000 on the line, you don’t mess with. You send that person into the Gauntlet.” Dear Lord! Sarah’s still out there! Her underachieving will destroy us all! It kills me that I saw Rachel love Sarah last week, and now she’s badmouthing her all over again.

Trishelle: “If I would have been on the Road Rules team, I would have put Sarah in the Gauntlet every single time, every time. She sucks as a competitor.” First of all, I have to laugh anytime I hear Trishelle say the word “suck.” Second, I’m guessing somebody is a little bitter over her Gauntlet loss to the sucky competitor. Third, notice that Trishelle says that exactly as Adam would have. More on that later. Coral is proud of Sarah. “Gauntlets suck,” Sarah interviews. “I can’t put it any more simply than that. They just really blow. They both suck and blow. I don’t like them, I don’t ever want to do them again, ever.”

Next segment: “Friendship vs. Competition.” In previously unseen footage, Nathan argues with a hot-tubbing Katie. “I swear to God,” she shouts, “if she fell down, I would help this bitch up in a second.” The camera pans past Adam to Trishelle. Mike interviews that he takes friendship out of the game and looks at performance. Katie claims that RR took issue with her friendship with Trishelle. “We’re roommates and friends first, way before the shows,” she continues. “Fortunately, I like Real World people better, not because they’re on The Real World, but because they’re nicer people.” Coral notes that Katie and Trishelle traded secrets. “As soon as the competition starts,” Katie says, “that’s when the friendliness dies.”

“Road Rules vs. Alton & Irulan.” Cue the Irulan/Sarah Gauntlet. Coral interviews that RR booed Irulan when she was announced, and that set the tone for the nastiness. Irulan falls into the water, sealing Sarah’s win. Coral adds that Theo V. yelled “Ding dong, the witch is dead!” That’s harsh. Clip of Theo screaming “Go home!” and Nathan holding back an angry Alton. “Alton was ready to beat Theo down,” Mike interviews. “Back in the house, we basically had to keep him in the basement because he was looking for Theo. He wanted to basically kill Theo.” Sarah says that Alton and Irulan had been yelling at production all the time. She didn’t bring up getting hugged by a production member for wasting Irulan in the Gauntlet , which she discusses on her web site. Cut to Irulan making noise with her clapper, then threatening to drop Veronica. Sarah adds that RR would lash out at RW. “After a while,” she continues, “it became this giant feuding extravaganza.” Rachel considers Alton and Irulan a team within a team, which she thinks wasn’t good. Trishelle: “You can definitely use relationships with people to manipulate the game.” The sad thing is, I bet she’s not even thinking about herself.

Cut to Abram getting greeted in the bathroom by Veronica. Oh, no. “Veronica & Rachel & Abram vs. The Censors.” Trishelle interviews that Veronica’s butt was on the line, and she had to do something. Mike figures that Veronica knows how to play the game. Veronica correctly points out that Abram had already been bounced out of the game. Cut to Abram and the ladies hitting the shower. “Maybe they were trying to get votes?" Abram ponders. “I’d like to think no. If they were, all the more power to me.” Rachel notes that Abram was already gone, and she and Veronica would never vote for one another. “For us to have sex with each other,” she says, “it didn’t really matter at that point.” Rachel adds that Dave wanted to join in on the fun. Abram thinks that the scene was kept “a little too PG-13.” Cut to Veronica in the tub, her arms positioned between Abram’s legs. That’ll give you nightmares. Abe says that he was so proud of himself. Yeah, he would be. “I would not take back one minute on that show,” Rachel concludes. “If you ask me if I regret the threesome? Never.”

After commercials, we move into rivalries. First up: “Katie vs. Veronica.” In previously unseen footage, Katie bitches out about Veronica to the guys. Mike interviews that he’s never seen anybody hate each other more. Trishelle notes that the rivalry started when Katie thought Veronica voted for her. Cut to the altercation, where Katie loses whatever cool she had. She claims that Veronica manipulates a lot of people. Veronica replies that it wasn’t true. Katie then sheepishly admits that she was told Veronica didn’t do it, and Veronica tells us that she wasn’t impressed by Katie’s off-camera apology.

“Coral vs. Trishelle.” “Coral?” Trishelle gripes. “What a bitch!” Turns out Coral talked about Mike and Trishelle having sex before their first kiss, after she got into the bike accident. Coral interviews that Mizchelle would be lying if they denied having sex during the season. She adds that Trishelle “just bit off more than she can chew with me.”

“Mike vs. Trishelle.” Say what? Mizchelle is no more? Do I want to live in such a cruel world? Anyway, Mike tells the story: the day they came back from Telluride, she told him that she wanted to flirt with two of her exes at a party, and he couldn’t get mad. Mike continues, “I look at her, and I’m like, ‘This isn’t gonna work, is it?’” Trishelle tells us that after the break-up, she got back with Adam, and that pissed Mike off, since Mike and Adam hate each other. I did read about Trishelle and Adam, but hearing it out loud makes me sick. No wonder Trishelle sounded like him while bashing Sarah. “Who goes out with Trishelle?” Coral wonders. “‘Trishelle is my girlfriend?’ That doesn’t really work.”

“Coral vs. Trishelle vs. Mike.” Coral claims she wasn’t mad at Mike for dating Trishelle. Trishelle figures that Coral was jealous that Mike wasn’t paying attention to her. Coral: “It was Mike being hypnotized by her vagina, and treating me like [bleep].” Trishelle insists she didn’t turn Mike against Coral. “He just liked me more than her,” she adds. Cut to Gauntlet voting, where everybody voted for Trishelle, while she and Mike voted for Coral. “It was hard to vote her off,” Mike admits with a comically pained look, “so I didn’t.” Coral: “He was more willing to let me, his friend for three years, go home than to let his free [bleep] go home.” Mike admits to making a mistake. “Coral just gives you an eye for a second,” he adds, “and that will affect you for a week.”

“Coral vs. the Spider.” Clips of Gold Rush and Coral’s breakdown. She interviews about going into shock and being unable to breathe. “For somebody who’s deadly allergic to spiders,” Sarah chimes in, “she made it really, really far.” Mike didn’t believe her, opting to wait to see the episode. Rachel claims that Coral filled out paperwork about her allergy prior to filming. “Give me a break!” Trishelle snots, not endearing herself to me in any way. “Everybody knew she was lying. And even if she could have had a spider bite, she made it more than it was.” It’s amazing that Trishelle never got into nursing. Mike claims that Coral manipulated the team, arguing how strong she was. Clip of her collapsing. “We were pissed,” he adds. “We should have won that.” Sarah figures that RW would have won if they left Coral behind at the very beginning. Coral interviews that if she knew about the bite, she would have told her teammates to leave.

Sarah adds that Coral needed shots, and her leg got swollen. “I didn’t see it,” Mike notes with a sheepish grin. “I was over at Trishelle’s hotel.” Rachel thinks that it’s mean how RW had no sympathy for Coral. Sure, but had Sarah been bit and affected, Rachel would have smacked her. Cut to Nathan bitching out Coral. For the last time: shut up, Nathan. Coral says that nobody visited her at the hospital, and Mike was sleeping with Trishelle when she got home. Actually, in the Inferno on his web site, Mike claims that a nurse called him and said that Coral would be released soon, so there was no point for a visit. Sarah giddily reveals that Coral didn’t get bit during the mission, but while she was taking care of business in the bushes. “So we learned a valuable lesson,” she laughs. “Don’t piss in the woods.” Mike interviews that Coral’s hands were shaking at the wrap party from all the adrenaline pumped into her, and thinks maybe she did get bit. Coral still loves Mike, and hope he’ll be at her side in Inferno.

Before the commercials, we get a look at the Inferno site, which looks like Torquemada’s meditation room, with the torches and darkness. Cut to Coral wearing a t-shirt that says, “Melissa Will Kill You.” More on that later. Coral: “I’m gonna make Trishelle one that says ‘Infern-ho.’” She cackles, and Mike busts a gut.

Enough Gauntlet stuff... it’s time to get burned! Cast members arrive in Acapulco on boat. Abram flashes two middle fingers. “If there’s a Lord in Heaven,” Coral shouts skyward, “let Abe fall off the top boat!” Roll call: Abram, Ace, Christena, Coral, Darrell, CT, Jeremy, Julie, Holly, Leah, Katie, David, Kendal, Mike, Shane, Syrus, Veronica, Mallory, Timmy, Trishelle. Leah notes that everybody is friends already, and they tell her to cherish the quiet moments which will be gone soon. Mike adds that at the beginning of every Challenge, people don’t fight. “I see this is going to be boring,” he adds. “Then about a week or two into it... oh. My bad. I almost forgot... this is The Real World and Road Rules.”

Cut to guys fighting. Mike: “So you did lie to me!” Abram curses. Julie: “When I hear her voice, it makes me want to go home.” I instinctively reach for my wallet, willing to pay for her departure. Coral: “She cannot be talking to me like that!” David jumps around naked. Weird note: David looks like Antoine now. Maybe Mr. Nascah went metrosexual on us.

Coral interviews that Inferno will be intense, since some people hate each other. Cut to Katie yelling at Veronica. Actually, “yelling” is too small a word. “SHUT THE [bleep] UP!” Katie screeches. “YOU ARE A SHORT, SCRAWNY, ACNE-FACED [bleep bleep]!” And she flips the bird. Oh, I get it... David’s trying to be Antoine, and Katie wants to be Belou. Abram: “They wouldn’t bring them back if they didn’t think they would get some good [bleep] on them, man. It’s gonna be good drama. Katie: “[Bleep] YOU!”

Trishelle interviews that a lot of tension was brought over from Gauntlet. Back to clips: Coral asks Trishelle what she should have done. “Keep your [bleeping] mouth shut,” she replies. Veronica interviews that she thrives on drama. Clip of a mission involving zip lines and not touching a safety line. Veronica is in front, kicking and screaming, while Julie is pulling behind her. I have no idea what’s going on. Afterwards, Julie tells Veronica that she’s just trying to win. Veronica: “Shut the [bleep] up.”

Trishelle doesn’t know why people don’t hate Julie. Cut to Coral wearing the “Melissa Will Kill You” shirt, telling Mike that she’s wearing it for Julie. This is my official position: I am disappointed in Coral. If Melissa was behind it, then I’m disappointed in her as well. The shirt is not needed, because Melissa already killed Julie. Last year, Melissa and Amaya won the first event, cracked the Inner Circle, and kicked Julie’s annoying self out. Also, Melissa is the least threatening person around. I would be intimidated by Coral before Melissa. And yet, I know people who would want that shirt. Heck, I’d buy it and give it to a friend.

Flashback time: MTV salivates as they show Melissa in full-on bitch mode at the beginning of Battle of the Sexes. Trishelle blathers about how it’s all high school bull. Oh, head cheerleader Trishelle has a beef with Coral and Melissa. I’ll be begging Sarah to come back and run Trishelle out again in about a month. Coral: “As long as you’re getting up that ladder, Julie, you can stay as long as you want and win me my money.” Cut to another scene: Julie is blathering about how ineffectually women fight, and she wants to fight like men. David recommends wrestling. Coral’s response? “I don’t wrestle. I [bleeping] beat bitches up!” That has to be the first great quote of the season.

Coral interviews that four people from RW: Paris are here: CT, Mallory, Leah and Ace. Veronica thinks that RR has the advantage, since the Parisians have never had a mission. This is in contrast to Veronica, who has done 37 Challenge events. CT, who looks like he was gang-made-over by the Queer Eye guys, says he profiled everybody, trying to be “behind the scenes.” Abram: “Me and CT get along really well. We’re both assholes.” CT adds that people didn’t know what to think of him, and they were careful what they said around him. Trishelle reveals that Ace is a poor sport. CT gossips about how Ace would change the rules in a card game. He does a pretty good impersonation of his old roommate’s Southern accent. Trishelle interviews that Mallory was bitchier than she expected. Leah says that she went to support Mallory. “When I found out that Leah was going,” CT says, “I kinda figured they’re doing this for the drama.” Cut to CT wearing a bikini and a thong. Immediately, I wash my eyes with bleach. So not a fan of a man-thong. Leah gushes that the ladies were in awe over “his fine ass.” Veronica thinks CT is hot.

Mike: “Yes, you can cross team boundaries to get a little ass.” He’s such a smooth talker. Turns out he’s talking about himself and Kendal; they were friends before Inferno. Cut to the couple kissing and dancing. Coral gets a dig in, saying that she can’t see Kendal screwing Mike over. Coral goes on about how Kendal and Blair (from The Quest) used to date, how Blair and Mike are friends, how Blair and Trishelle are friends... then Coral runs out of steam. Trishelle notes that Kendal used to room with her and Katie. Apparently, Kendal has a high tolerance for pain. “You would expect some sort of loyalty,” Trishelle snots. Oh, shut up and stick to your own love life. Mike: “I just create drama, don’t I?” Katie jokes that her roommates are attracted to the same type of guy. “I like both of them,” she laughs, “and I think if they both stop dating people from the shows, we’ll be fine. It’s so incestuous, it’s sick.”

Veronica interviews that Shane is a loving person. Cut to a topless Shane on the dance floor. Trishelle notes that it’s a challenge to get the gay guy to kiss her. Cut to Shane dancing with and kissing Katie. Veronica thinks that Shane will kiss the girl, but not have sex with her.

Clip of... Darrell and Leah? Say what? It’s not even a racial thing. It’s just the weirdest combination I could ever think up. Coral shares my surprise. Cut to the new couple in the pool, discovering a camera trained on them. Turns out Leah crushed on Darrell during his season. Katie didn’t see the coupling at first. “Yeah, I heard it,” she adds. “They liked my shower a lot.”

Mike interviews that Inferno will be a lot more dramatic than Gauntlet. Leah expositions that the teams vote for two of their own members to face the Inferno. Coral adds that the opposing teams pick each other’s representative to go into the Inferno. No mention of the Lifesaver or the alternating events; either the editors cut that out, or I interpreted the description incorrectly. Katie notes her excitement, since she has a lot of friends on the RW side. Abram reveals that RR alternates between voting between males and females; whether this is a team policy or mandatory is unknown. CT rolls his eyes, saying that RW didn’t want to get rid of the women. Leah says that the first Inferno took 30 minutes, and the last one went four hours. Shots of roaches poured into a box, followed by guys with their heads in the boxes. Abram figures that this season will be so much better, television-wise, than Gauntlet.

Closing montage! Close-up of a spider. Close-up of Coral. A guy dives off a balcony and into a pool. Roller skating. Players going up a spinning wall. Abram curses twice. Leah squeals in terror. Busting of furniture. Bungee. Katie is scared to fall. Coral is spinning on a platform, out of paintballs. Chicken suits. Syrus: “I will carry the [Oedipus Rexing] flag to victory.” Somebody gets slimed. Wrestling. Guy bungees. “I [bleeping] hate MTV, man!” Fade to black.

Once again: I was NOT a fan of Katie. Aside from her, Holly and Christena, I didn't change my opinions that much about this cast. I was dead-on about Julie, which you will see almost immediately.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Feeling the Burn – Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Inferno Preview

Sorry for the delay. I haven't been that busy lately. I'm just been lazy. Also, I went to an event in New York for The Challenge: Dirty 30. It did not go well for me. I did not mingle at all. It's stupid in retrospect, but maybe it's because I recapped some of the stars in my "career." Or that I fear about saying something bad (e.g., to Aneesa, "Thanks for chasing Beth and Trishelle away, but isn't it sad that you haven't won once, and you more or less peaked in your very first mission?") Or maybe I'm just a huge wuss. Back to the topic: this was published on January 28, 2004. Also, I think this was the season I wrote my own intros after the headlines.

Did you think there wouldn’t be another Challenge for a while? MTV and Bunim/Murray Productions beg to differ, as they unleash The Inferno.

On Sunday, February 1, CBS will premiere Survivor: All-Stars after the Super Bowl. This season will feature 18 past contestants, and it will be the focus of many recappers here at Reality News Online. What do I have to say to my fellow writers? Four words: Welcome to my world.

On Monday, February 2, MTV will premiere Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno, the eighth season of the series. Filmed shortly after The Gauntlet ended, Inferno brings 20 alumni from Real World and Road Rules to Acapulco to gossip, fight and hook up. Oh, and there are missions as well. While the kids from RW: San Diego are setting the bar higher in terms of drama, the seasoned veterans always come through in the clutch.

The Host

Jonny Moseley has headed off into the sunset, back to his world of moguls skiing. In his place is Dave Mirra. I’m not into “Extreme” sports, so Dave’s career as a BMX biker isn’t known to me. He’s been on Made and has been scammed on Punk’d. My expectations are low, so he shouldn’t disappoint me too much. I liked Jonny, but he wasn’t in the class of Jeff Probst and Phil Keoghan.

The Missions

From’s description, we can look forward to the same intense events as before. One of the events is “an adrenaline-fueled 13th floor rope climb.” This could be a return of the infamous tightrope mission from Extreme Challenge. Sadly, the other listed mission involves eating worms, which might be the one with the chicken costumes shown in the commercials. Once again, each mission is worth $10,000, and the finale is worth $150,000.

The Inferno

I figured that the Gauntlet concept was good enough. After each mission, the teams had to vote one of their own into the Gauntlet, regardless of how well the team did. The two selectees then fought it out. Winner stayed, loser packed up and left. It wiped out strong players (Elka, Steve, Theo G.), served as a showcase for others’ athletic prowess (Mike, Alton), and transformed Sarah from an eternal scrub to a queen. So why mess with success?

This time, things become a little more complicated. At the end of a mission, each team picks two people to go into the Inferno. Then, the teams choose which opponent from the other team they want to go up against. Do they then fight it out? Nope, they get to compete in the next mission. In an added twist, the Inferno nominees will try and win the Aztec Lifesaver. Should one of the doomed players win, that player can select somebody else from the team as a replacement. Only after the second mission will the Inferno be held.

As for the Inferno itself? Apparently, BMP wasn’t as riveted as I was watching Sarah hang by her legs three times. Two tasks mentioned on involve wearing a helmet full of bugs, and getting soaked in itching powder and placed on a treadmill. Gee, I always wanted to recap Fear Factor! Thanks, BMP! Anyway, the winner stays, going back to the teammates who might not want them to stay. The loser packs up and heads back home to shame and obscurity... at least until the next Challenge.

The Players

Once again, BMP has cut the number by eight, going from 28 in Gauntlet to 20 here. Excluding the last seasons from each show, only one person hasn’t been on a Challenge before. Half of them have been on the last two Challenges, and the rest I’m familiar with for the most part. Like I said before, there isn’t going to be one non-athletic girl I’ll be defending from start to finish, so expect me to potentially go off on everybody.

Real World

While RW kept things competitive last season, winning six of fourteen missions, they took heavy losses in the Gauntlet. In the final mission, whatever edge they had with a smaller group evaporated as Coral dropped out from a spider bite. That was RW’s first loss since Challenge 2000, and they’ll be looking to get back on top.

Syrus Yarbrough (Boston): A two-time Challenger, Syrus doesn’t bring the drama like his cohorts. The only time I’ve seen him lose it was back in Extreme Challenge, where he almost throttled James for pelting Julie with one paintball too many. The only trouble Syrus caused during Battle of the Sexes was jumping on Antoine’s back upon getting voted out. Seeing the Belgian dance up close, I’m amazed he can still walk, let alone bust a move.

Syrus can be a force in missions, but his bulk has been known to hinder him. In Sexes, he nearly killed himself on the stirrups course, and his slow time in Stairway to Heaven led to his elimination. Still, with his mellow personality, he should be a cinch to make it to the end.

David Burns (Seattle): Once upon a time, guys from Boston with thick accents were a novelty, as opposed to the norm (CT from Real World Paris, Rob Mariano of Survivor). Ditto for cast members who would reveal their private parts to roommates. Before Brad and Alton, there was David and the “eighth roommate.” Seriously, when you look back on Seattle and look past the Irene/Stephen drama, who do you think of? David expressing his heterosexuality, David trying to secretly romance an ex-BMP casting director, and David getting into a heated fight in a parked car with said director. Remember that? “You don’t even KNOW!” makes me laugh every time I think about it.

David does have one Challenge under his belt; in Challenge 2000 he was the alpha male for the RW team. Sadly, that team hit a losing skid even he couldn’t stop. I still think of David trying to kiss a cow for a scavenger hunt, dismayed that he underestimated its speed. It’s been four years. He’s rested, ready, and a helluva lot better than former roommate/VMI buddy Nathan. You don’t even know.

Julie Stoffer (New Orleans): Once upon a time, there was a girl named Julie. She was the token ingenue of her season, a wide-eyed Mormon who departed BYU to live in New Orleans, experience new things and (gasp!) sleep in the same room with boys. Then came Extreme Challenge, which filmed soon after. Gradually, she started to get on my nerves. Julie protested Ayanna’s dismissal after she beat up Christian, she cheated in a rappelling mission against Emily, and she basically behaved like a brat.

Then came Sexes, where she was cast alongside people who considered her shady. Chief among them was ex-roommate Melissa, who bitched Julie out on camera. In the first mission, Julie was forced out when her partner Ellen got disqualified from Sergeant Says. Meanwhile, Melissa and Amaya won the event, entered the Inner Circle, and proceeded to dump Julie. The smile on my face lasted for days, because Julie is just that annoying. And I’ll say this much: if she makes it past six missions, you’ll see her as I do, as nothing less than a female Puck.

Coral Smith (Back to New York): The obvious question: Why is she back? The last we saw of Coral, she dropped out of the final mission, due to an allergic reaction to a spider bite. Not only was she sidelined, but Mike and Nathan made her the scapegoat for their loss. Come to think of it, given the increasingly “extreme” missions, why would anybody return to compete? I still think BMP is out to kill their cast members.

Maybe Mike begged Coral to come back, asking forgiveness for the way he treated her. Maybe she feels like she has something to prove. Maybe she lost a bet with Melissa, and wants to go double-or-nothing. Past problems aside, it still would take a lot to keep Coral out of commission for too long. One more thing: remember how some people consider Julie shady? Coral allegedly has first-hand experience in that. Could Coral finish the job Melissa started last year and force Julie out?

Mike Mizanin (Back to New York): Apparently, BMP thinks I need more Miz in my life. The last we saw of Mike, he was still working on the puzzle in the Gauntlet finale, unable to solve it before RR. This came after he was unable to keep Coral in the game. So why is Mike back? In one word? Trishelle.

The scuttlebutt is that Mike and Trishelle (a.k.a Mizchelle) were so in love with each other that they signed up for Inferno together. The biggest concern is that Mike’s status as RW leader was compromised when he refused to vote for her. This time, with Syrus and David around, Mike’s status might be downgraded, and his status as a mainstay may be in jeopardy should he fail in the clutch.

Trishelle Canatella (Las Vegas): She’s harder to get off your television than infomercials at 4 a.m. In addition to appearing on The Surreal Life 2, Trishelle makes the trip to Acapulco to compete. Although she underachieved in most of the missions last season, she did manage to knock Steve out. Her run ended the next day, as she became Sarah’s third victim.

My main beef with her involves the men in her life. It’s not just a matter of quantity, but quality. You need two hands to count all the guys she’s gotten cozy with in the past few years, and they’re mostly schmucks like Mike. If Mizchelle were to hit the skids, who would she gravitate towards? Or will Trishelle be booted before she can, in Coral’s words, cast a “vaginal spell”?

Clyde “Ace” Amerson (Paris): I hate saying this out loud since fellow RNO writer Jen Shrader is a huge fan of Ace, but I’ll say it: he’s a phony. Get past the “aw, shucks” surface, and you’ll see a guy who only stayed in Paris in order to reap the post-show benefits. For every knock on CT, you have to remember Ace bitching about French people, the time he almost came to blows with a taxi driver, and the time he spent $1,000 on strippers in one night. I do think he’s a nice guy at times, but the brighter the picture, the darker the negative.

From what I understand, Ace and Mallory were cuddly in Paris, and I think they were dating at the time of the reunion special. Will they be a couple in Acapulco? Also, while Mallory does bring athletic skills to the table, Ace is a bit of an unknown.

Chris “CT” Tamburello (Paris): In contrast to Ace, I don’t think CT is a phony. CT is aggravating to watch - a sweetheart on some days, a pain on others. But it’s not phoniness. Rather, he wears his heart on his sleeve, and is unable to hide emotions. I don’t excuse CT smacking that guy and screaming “ONE ON ONE!” so loud that mimes would scream for him to shut up.

CT’s is another unknown in terms of competition. He has the potential of either being top dog on RW, or be the first one out. One thing is for certain: with his poofy hair cut and his almost unibrow fixed, CT will be prime eye candy on the screen.

Leah Gillingwater (Paris): I think “bitch” covered her nicely during her season. Between her frequent clashes with her roommates, dragging Christina to accompany her on long distance date with the cute Italian boy, and plagiarizing an assignment, I figure Leah sets a standard that the San Diego kids will have trouble reaching.

Is there hope for Leah? Of course - last year, I had written off Tonya as the worst thing to come out of Chicago. Today, she is somebody who doesn’t blame the editors for the way she was portrayed. Perhaps Leah will follow suit. I’m not putting money on it, but it’s good to hope.

Mallory Snyder (Paris): It’s hard for me to get a fix on Mallory. That’s probably because my attention was fixed on the guys and Leah. I do remember that Mallory was the token ingenue of that house, and she fell for Ace.

Interesting fact: Mallory played soccer for Iowa State. In fact, she gave up her scholarship in order to join the cast, Normally, I’d question her intelligence, but c’mon... this was Paris. I don’t speak French, and I’d still go. Anyway, Mallory could emerge as RW’s alpha female during missions.

Road Rules

When Mike sent Elka to the Gauntlet, he talked about how RW had to be a family to win the final mission. By contrast, RR was about fourteen people taking thirteen cabs to the missions (Dave and Cara would have shared a ride). Will two members of the winning team be enough to ensure a second victory?

Timmy Beggy (USA): Believe or not, alpha males don’t have to be jerks. After suffering through Adam doing everything short of shoving Sarah down a flight of stairs, I now get to recap Timmy. One of the stars of the second season, Timmy blends athleticism with a wacky sense of humor. He came back to help out in a few missions (Islands and Australia) and partnered with Emily in Seasons. Rumor had it that he signed up for Gauntlet, but scheduling conflicts kept him out. That explains the “Where’s Timmy?” t-shirts wore by a few RR males.

One knock on Timmy is that he’s wishy-washy. In Seasons, he hemmed and hawed before helping to boot out Chadwick and Piggy. Also, he does tend to go overboard with the funny, so he can be hard to take. But he should be able to keep morale high on his team.

Holly Shand (Latin America): Truth be told, Holly’s season is one of the few that I haven’t seen all of. I do consider the Gladys/Abe beatdown as the turning point for Road Rules, the moment where the show went downhill. I do know that Holly was a crier and that she wears her heart on her sleeve. Then again, I don’t remember her weeping during Seasons. Oh, and she hooked up with Timmy, but that probably won’t come into play this time.

Holly does bring experience to the team, as she enters her third Challenge. Normally, I’d be leading the “get a life” chant, but her trips have been spread out over six seasons, so I’m good with her.

Veronica Portillo (Semester at Sea): Why do I hate Veronica? This is her fifth Challenge in the past six seasons. At this point, I have to wonder if she has a life. Yes, I did feel bad after she was voted out of Seasons and Sexes. Then came Gauntlet, where she lied about how many Challenges she lost, acted indignant anytime the votes went against her, and joined Rachel in giving Abe a send-off he’ll never forget.

Unlike Beth, another shady BMP alumnus, Veronica does bring more to the party than drama. Her performances in Turntable and Dukes of Saturn kept her out of the Gauntlet, and set a tone for her teammates. But will she play nice with others this season?

Katie Doyle (The Quest): Let’s see if I have this right: I can only see Blair and Steve once in a Challenge, and Sophia not at all, but I have to endure Katie again? Feh. To recap: she was sent to the Gauntlet, won, and had a massive hissy fit against Veronica. She talked to RW about the RR voting strategy. She got sent to the Gauntlet again and lost, perhaps taking any massive attack Sarah would have had away from her.

From the commercials, I see that Katie and Veronica will go at it one more time. While it would be nice for somebody other than Emily to take Veronica down a few pegs, I don’t think Katie is the one to pull it off. I expect her to beat Trishelle back to their apartment once again.

Darrell Taylor (Campus Crawl): On the one hand, I hated him. He rarely had anything positive to say about his teammates, particularly the women. Also, he and Rachel decided from Day One to take Sarah out of the game on Gauntlet, setting the tone for the entire season. It’s worse that I can barely understand what he says. He’s like Pootie Tang, but without the magic belt.

On the other hand, Darrell isn’t a total alpha jerk like Adam was. On some level, he does seem to care. In terms of his season, I’ve basically written off Rachel, but not Darrell. Maybe Sarah taught him that anybody can be a winner, and he won’t start picking people off in his mind.

Kendal Sheppard (Campus Crawl): I’ve forgotten about her since her season aired. Back then, she was the midpoint between the highly overrated Rachel and perennial scrub Sarah. Most people remember her romance with alpha male Eric. Some people I know adore her funky coat. It was funny... they’d even refer to it as an entity to itself.

After her season, she got into a heavy relationship with Blair (The Quest). Last I heard, she was single. Kendal should be fun to watch, both on and off the field.

Shane Landrum (Campus Crawl): At first, Shane got on my nerves. I could barely stand the guy. But during Sexes, he turned things around, finishing in fifth place. During the face-off between Campus Crawl and South Pacific, he beat Tina in a sleep-deprived spelling bee, keeping his team in the game. Given my hatred of the latest RR season, that feat clinched the title of Second Favorite Crawler... after Sarah, of course.

Never mind his goofiness and the weird tan. Shane is a fighter. After Veronica was booted out by the Women’s Inner Circle, he gave them crap about it. He almost quit the game, but was inspired by Genesis to stay in. He’ll probably be in the drama, but he won’t cause it.

Abram “Abe” Boise (South Pacific): In case you haven’t seen MTV in the past year... meet Abe. Abe is a pain. Abe had issues about women. Donell got on his nerves, and Abe beat him up for it, earning an ejection from his season. During Gauntlet, Abe managed to get himself disqualified a lot, earning votes for the Gauntlet. One day, he tied with Sarah, and Theo sent him in to face Mike. But Abe couldn’t pull off the upset, as he rushed Mike in Knock Your Block Off. Result: Abe was knocked out of the game, while Mike stayed on.

Abe must learn to take direction. He’s a hothead to be sure, but he can be tamed. Another concern: he might cozy up to Veronica, since she and Rachel gave him a hero’s goodbye that since makes me nauseous thinking about it.

Christena Pyle (South Pacific): Christena was my favorite from South Pacific, at least most of the time. Rather than recoil from Abe, she tried to teach him what he was doing wrong with the others. For the most part, she was very sensible and mellow. My biggest beef was when she and Chris voted Cara out, keeping Donell in. Not only did viewers endure three more weeks of the odious Donell, but newbie Tina proved to be as big a pain as the portly Roadie.

Christena might prove to be good with Abe once again, calming him down when he needs it. However, rumor has it that she was a last-minute substitution for another player. Is she ready for the madness that a Challenge can provide?

Jeremy Blossom (South Pacific):Who? Good question. After Donell was voted out, the gang had three more missions. For whatever reason, Jeremy was sent in as a replacement. All I know was that he was from Parma (Mike’s hometown), he kinda looks like Steve, and he liked Raquel a lot. Also, given the way he helped his team through the final mission, I suspect he was a BMP intern, sent to make sure the kids won their handsome reward.

Jeremy is an enigma. At this point, he won a car for three missions. Admit it... you wish you could do that. Why he would go back is a mystery to me.

Up next: the Gauntlet review/Inferno preview. It turns out there was stuff I didn't get looking on Also: the reason for the Mizhelle breakup. In case you forgot, it was pretty much Trishelle's fault.