Archive | March, 2013

Revenge of the non-nerds: Survivor Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites II March 20 2013 recap

21 Mar

With no tribal council to come home from, this is the rare episode that opens up in daylight, as the Favorites discuss Brandon’s meltdown from the previous episode. I couldn’t help but notice that Phillip’s shirt bears a strong resemblance to the one worn by James Bama’s rendition of Doc Savage.

After some uneventful preliminaries the tribes are called together and Jeff Probst announces a reshuffling. It’s probably a good idea at this point, but you might disagree when you see how the tribes came out. Here’s the new lineup which was chosen at random by passing out eggs containing different-colored dyes:

Orange tribe: Eddie, Reynold, Andrea, Malcolm, Sherri, Erik, Brenda

Purple tribe: Phillip, Corinne, Mike, Cochran, Matt, Dawn, Julia.

You might recall Eddie and Reynold started the game by deciding to form an “all-good-looking” alliance with Ally and Hope, which didn’t go so well. But look who’s in their tribe now: the likes of Andrea, Brenda and Malcolm. Re-tap the keg dude, the party’s back on!

Both tribes are now weighted 4-3 for the Favorites. Both retire to their respective camps, and Sherri wastes no time going swimming with Brenda and Andrea and campaigning against Reynold and Eddie, while the dudes do the same in reverse with Malcolm and Erik.

It’s different at the purple tribe. Here, the Fans are trying harder to fit in rather than going on the warpath. Now, a word about Michael. In previous blog entries this season I had cautiously characterized the event planner as being “presumably” gay. Corinne cuts right to the chase however: “Oh, do I have a special place in my heart for a gay. If I wasn’t a moron and hadn’t played this game before I would turn on my entire alliance just to align with a gay. That’s how much I like gays.” Hey Corinne, Richard Hatch is gay, would you turn on your whole alliance to align with him? Kind of a silly comment. Also Corinne, I think you meant “if I were a moron.” I think she needs to get with Cochran for some instruction on how to deliver pre-planned one-liners to the camera.

Meanwhile, Phillip is giving a recruiting pitch to Julia, which makes him the first person who has paid any attention to Julia at all this season, including the producers and all the people watching at home! She seems as surprised as anyone to be spoken to. Also, we see that her profession is “race car driver.”

Back to the orange tribe: Andrea tells Malcolm she dreamt he had the idol, which of course he does but denies it. He says to the camera “I’m an accomplished liar when it comes to women.”

All in all, it was nice to see both tribes being on the same show now, as opposed to only the Fans having to play the game while the Favorites enjoyed a lighthearted “Gilligan’s Island”-like first few episodes.

After a lingering shot of an incredibly gross spider, it’s time for the immunity challenge which involves having to continually flip some heavy blocks over to a wall, then stack and order them so the art on the sides spells out a message. This was done before, on one of the Boston Rob seasons. Hmmm, I think I have now officially mentioned Boston Rob in every recap this year. Well heck, Sports Illustrated just devoted a whole issue to Michael Jordan who’s been retired much longer than Boston Rob has.

Anyway, this challenge shows that we still have two mismatched tribes in this game, just different ones. The orange tribe wins in a blowout. They’re just way more athletic. Plus we have to see a shot of Cochran running. I’ve seen some unathletic, awkward runners in my day but I think he just went to the top of the list.

The losing purple tribe gets back to camp and there’s a long pep talk by Phillip, who has gotten way too big a share of the screen time this episode. Later he talks to Matt and Mike, though without a clear offer of a middle management position in Stealth ‘R Us … after all, the last guy he offered one to, Brandon, did a pretty poor job of fitting in with the corporate culture. Matt and Mike heartily agree with everything Phillip says though it’s not really clear what he’s saying.

Matt and Michael are among the big losers in the tribe shakeup. When they were among Fans they were the key swing votes everyone wanted to recruit, but the Favorites who are much wiser in the ways of Survivor see a strong duo that should be broken up if at all possible. Cochran and Dawn want to vote out one of the two guys, with Matt the preferred choice since they’re more sure he doesn’t have a hidden immunity idol. However, Phillip and Corinne both think Julia, who did poorly in the challenge, should be the one to go. It’s funny that Phillip and Corinne, each of whom has spent the whole episode telling the camera that the other one should be sent home, are in agreement on game strategy. Though Corinne says one of the reasons is that Julia is “really boring.” (You would almost think producer Mark Burnett had slipped Corinne a note before this episode saying “Corinne, we cast you as a designated and self-proclaimed bitch. I need you to start doing your thing.”)

We go to tribal council, and Matt is one of the first to be called on. The BMX biker whose voice reminds me of Jeff Bridges (and whose grooming is even scruffier than that of Bridges’ characters, which is really saying something) is asked what the new tribe is like for a longtime fan. With a straight face, he says that Dawn, Cochran, Phillip and Corinne were all among his favorites as a viewer. Nice try dude, nice lie dude, but he’s still the one voted out. Matt was a good player and could have been a contender to go all the way, but someone always gets a raw deal when there’s a tribe switch and this season he was the one.

Contender list: 1) Malcolm, 2) Michael, 3) Dawn, 4) Andrea, 5) Brenda, 6) Reynold, 7) Sherri, 8) Eddie

No-chance list: Phillip, Corinne, Cochran, Julia, Erik

“You don’t slap the gift horse”: Survivor Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites II March 13 2013 recap

13 Mar

Billed as an episode containing a shocking event, this was really just shockingly lame.

Early in the episode Brandon tells his tribe he wants to be voted out at the next episode. Then he tells them he was torn between saying what he just said, or instead lighting the camp on fire and peeing in the beans and rice.

At the reward challenge, the tribes are playing for lots of meat and vegetables. Two people from each tribe have to hold a rope that holds up a net, while the other tribe tries to toss in coconuts to weigh the nets down. At first I was surprised that Phillip, who has been the most accurate thrower of the group so far, is one of the people holding ropes, but it proves to be a brilliant move as he becomes the hero of the challenge by holding on longer than anyone, giving the favorites the victory. Phillip motivates himself through the challenge by shouting various rallying cries, among them “Kunta Kinte!” (Alex Haley fans nod knowingly, and I’m sure a few network executives shed a tear for that moment as they realized nothing on TV now will ever have the kind of ratings that “Roots” did).

Back at the Fans’ camp, now that Reynold played the hidden immunity idol at the last tribal council, everyone assumes another hidden idol is in play and goes looking, especially Sherri. Lo and behold, Reynold finds it. He goes back to camp and puts it in his bag, and tells his buddy Eddie about his good fortune. By the way, I’m surprised contestants who find the idol don’t just put up a pretense of continuing to look for it, which would divert any suspicion that they have it!

Over to the Favorites: Brandon is acting even more unstable than usual and starts a petty argument with Phillip over nothing. The two of them seem to bury the hatchet (with Phillip using the mixed metaphor mentioned in the subject line above). Both teams are seen suffering through 48 straight hours of rain, and Michael notes of the Fans “We’re failing on all levels of Survivor.”

Back to the Favorites again. Phillip is thinking of throwing a challenge to get rid of Brandon, even though we know from previous seasons that tribes that throw a challenge always regret it later. Brandon gets the idea that Phillip is disrespecting him, and he snaps. He “pays Phillip back” by dumping out the tribe’s sack of rice. As everyone says “no, don’t” he dumps the beans too. Nobody moves to stop him because he really has a violent, psychotic look in his eyes. The two tribes go to the challenge and Brandon wastes no time going on a self-serving rant. The Corinne speaks up and says the Favorites respect the game (too much to throw a challenge) but have chosen to forfeit the challenge so that Brandon can be voted out. Cue more long, self-serving rants from Brandon that sound like the kind of thing a guy who goes on a shooting spree at a school would come up with. Dawn bursts into tears… OK, granted she bursts into tears almost every week, but Andrea started crying even before Dawn did.

Jeff Probst is standing behind Brandon massaging his shoulders for about the last 10 minutes of the episode. Having heard the Favorites’ decision, he has them hand their idol to the Fans, who of course can’t believe their good fortune. Thankfully Probst doesn’t insist on rehashing all of this crap at tribal council, and simply conducts the council on the spot with Brandon being voted out 8-1. He sends Brandon to a neutral site to cool off, the tribes pick up their flags, and the episode is over.

The Survivor producers should not be patting themselves on the back for this episode. In fact they should be feeling bad about bringing Brandon, who was fairly unstable in his first season on the show, back for a second season. Don’t they supposedly give prospective contestants all kinds of psychological tests? And no, producers, this “shocking” episode was not entertaining, any more than watching someone go on a shooting spree would be entertaining. Worse, this season’s cast had two unstable guys who were incredibly annoying to watch in Brandon and Shamar.

The last time Brandon was on the show, his uncle Russell came to the finale and when Jeff Probst asked what he thought of Brandon on the show, Russell basically said he did a lousy job. I doubt he’ll say anything different this time.

Contender list: 1) Malcolm, 2) Matt, 3) Michael, 4) Sherri, 5) Andrea, 6) Brenda, 7) Reynold, 8) Eddie

Not sure yet: Corinne, Dawn, Erik, Cochran, Julia

No-chance list: Phillip

After the final time-kill: The Bachelor Recap March 11, 2013 (finale of Sean’s season)

12 Mar

Nobody stretches half an hour of content into three hours like The Bachelor. But readers, I fought back, and my weapon of choice was the fast-forward button.

Chris Harrison began the evening by welcoming us to the studio filled with female fans, and before the night was over he even interviewed some of them, bringing him a few precious minutes closer to his three-hour quota.

On to the business at hand: it’s time for Sean’s gabby sister and the rest of the family to meet Catherine and Lindsay. Fairly uneventful stuff but we do see that the hideous top-of-the-foot tattoo that was glimpsed on an earlier show does in fact belong to Lindsay. The Lowes like both gals, but Sean’s mom makes the obvious point that her son doesn’t have to propose to either of them, and if he can’t decide which one he likes better he probably shouldn’t be proposing. It’s sort of like the old football adage “if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have a quarterback.” Sean says (in so many words) lay off me, Mom.

Then Sean has a date with each of the girls. They’re uneventful except for the fact that Catherine goes on a crying jag after Sean leaves because he isn’t expressing his love for her enough. Now, don’t forget that Catherine went on a crying jag back when Lesley was voted out some weeks ago! The gal cries a fair bit.

This is followed up by a visit from that ring manufacturer and all-around attention whore Neil Lane, making his second appearance of the season. Then we’re back in the studio as Chris interviews some of the former contestants. Lesley looks incredible as always but her go-to “enigmatic/blue steel” look is perhaps getting a bit old, as is her penchant for canned sound bites. Well, she does work in Washington D.C. We also see AshLee who is skeptical about the whole thing and looks less psycho than she did on “The Women Tell All.”

The last three paragraphs of this recap were 90 minutes in real time, mind you! But now it’s time for the final decision. As you may recall from previous seasons, the final two women don’t live together, and don’t know if they’re getting to the site where the Bachelor is before or after the other woman. Of course, the woman who’s being rejected is always the first to arrive at the site. Who will it be? The SUV door opens to reveal… the tattooed foot of Lindsay. She’s wearing really high heels and a dress that reaches to the ground, and she’s walking on gravel, so it takes her quite a while to get to Sean at her snail’s pace. The fact that his face was twisted into a mask of tension might have clued her in. The turn-down is very sad and Sean even says “That’s the hardest part, I love you.” Both are in tears. Amusingly, Lindsay takes off the high heels to walk back to the car.

Then it’s time for something that’s been hyped for weeks… a mysterious personal letter (printed out, not written in longhand, mind you, it’s not that personal). Who could it be from? I guessed that it would either be from AshLee or Desiree or from Sean’s gabby sister, or perhaps even from last year’s Bachelorette Emily. Instead, it’s from Catherine! Is she having second thoughts? No, it’s completely anticlimactic, just basically Catherine saying she’s psyched. What a disappointment! She soon arrives, and the proposal is quite beautiful, and also the Neil Lane logo on the ring box is lit perfectly. Sean and Catherine saddle up on an elephant and ride into the Thai sunset.

Time for After the Final Rose, yes there is still one whole hour to go. Lindsay gets to be reunited with Sean, and of course like all of these girls she wants a specific reason for the breakup, even though Sean simply says that Lindsay is great but he just loved Catherine more. In fact he says it more than once. (Lindsay, if you’re reading this: I think it was the baby voice and the foot tattoo).

Chris Harrison has promised that there is still a blockbuster announcement yet to come. It’s finally time and Sean says that… he and Catherine are going to get married! Er, we already knew you were engaged, bro. Ah, now we get to it: the wedding will be televised on ABC. No big shock there. However, S & C don’t know when all of this is going to be (raised eyebrows all around the audience).

One more blockbuster: the next Bachelorette has to be announced. Well, we’ve seen every main “character” from the season in these three hours with the notable exception of Desiree. So it’s no huge shock when they announce that the Bachelorette will be Desiree. I like the choice. Mere months from now we’ll see a crop of dudes torn between her incredible face and body and her equally incredible (in a bad way) brother.

All in all, Sean was a way better Bachelor than his two immediate predecessors, Brad the Austin bar owner and California winemaker Ben. I have to say I’m not convinced that he and Catherine will live happily ever after. Sean, if I see you around Dallas I’ll buy you a beer, bro.

“This agent sucks bad”: Survivor Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites II March 6 2013 recap

6 Mar

The two tribes are experiencing very different games so far this season. While the Fans have long faces and lots of conflict, for the most part the Favorites have been enjoying a beach vacation, with beautiful girls and plenty of comic relief. Much of the latter has come from Phillip, who comes up with more nicknames than George W. Bush. He even has one for Brandon, and welcomes Brandon into “Stealth ‘R Us Inc,” though behind the Specialist’s back, Brandon gives us the quote in the subject line of this post. And for further entertainment, we briefly see Andrea wrestle Brandon to the ground. What can’t the girl do?  (My Andrea crush shows few signs of abating.)

The tribes line up for the reward challenge, and the Fans just don’t look impressive. Physically, morale-wise, or in any other sense. They do, however, have two tiny girls in Laura and Julia, and the producers dish up a challenge where that’s a big advantage: two people have to walk across hand-held platforms held up by other players who are in the water (easier when you have two tiny players), then everyone has to swim to a tiny platform and fit the entire tribe onto it. The Favorites pull out a narrow victory.

The reward is to have a native Filipino come to camp and teach the tribe some jungle survival skills. A little old fellow with rudimentary English shows the Favorites how to cook rice inside bamboo and other such tricks. After that, he sticks around for a while and seems to spend most of his time hugging Brenda. I can’t blame you a bit, sir.

Cut to camp misery, where Shamar is up to his old tricks and has a few new ones. The Marines and the NAACP must be competing hard to see who can be the first to disassociate themselves from this guy. And he’s bad TV too — he’s not a hissable villain you love to hate, he’s just annoying. Once again he tells everyone that they can’t imagine how tough this game is because they’re not as big as him. I’m not so sure about this… when there’s not much to eat, is it better to be a 90-pound pixie like Laura who’s all skin and bones, or a big guy who has lots of fat reserves hanging over his belt? His latest thing is to tell the rest of the tribe that it’s their job to bring him rice once a day. This seems to be the last straw for his tribemates… except Sherri who grits her teeth and gets him some rice! She is determined to have him sitting next to her at the final jury no matter how much she has to endure to get to that point.

Then Shamar has a phantom eye injury, and we say g’day to a couple of female medics who, as in every Survivor season, are Australians for whatever reason. The Sheilas’ diagnosis is that Shamar actually has a badly scratched cornea, and Jeff Probst, who has said leaving the game is optional unless the condition is life-threatening, doesn’t try particularly hard to convince Shamar to stay. Considering he was derailing the entire season, the producers must be thrilled to see him taken away.

Time for an immunity challenge. Sherri runs out of gas after a brisk swim and puts her tribe behind, but Reynold’s uncanny throwing ability, already on display a few times this season, almost lets the Fans make an incredible comeback. But Phillip can throw pretty well himself, and the Specialist seals the victory for the Favorites.

Back at camp, things get interesting. Reynold and Eddie assume they’re still on the chopping block (especially Eddie, who doesn’t have an immunity idol), but Matt (BMX guy) pulls his best buddy Mike ((presumably) gay event planner) aside and says that the two of them plus Reynold and Eddie are the only good challenge players on the team, and they can’t afford to lose another one. Mike worries about casting his lot with “this wild-card Mr. Awesome” (meaning Reynold). Matt goes to Reynold to tell him the plan, but Reynold, who of course has no way of knowing Matt and Mike are sincere, says he wasn’t born yesterday and isn’t buying it! Matt and Mike have their sights set on Laura, who is a liability in challenges and whose main skill seems to be passive-aggressiveness. As Matt or Mike correctly points out, in the immunity challenge “she was breathing heavy after trying to unlock locks.”

Meanwhile this hasn’t been a good day for the fast-food franchisee Sherri. Shamar, whom she saw as “my Phillip,” is gone, Matt and Mike have minds of their own, and her ally Laura looks to be in trouble.

When the Fans go to Tribal Council there are only seven of them thanks to Shamar’s departure. Then Laura is voted out by a vote of 6-1… surprisingly even Sherri and Julia voted for Laura.  This leaves only six Fans. Remember, the Favorites have nine people, as the only person they have lost is Francesca who was voted out the first week!

Before the votes are read, Reynold does play his immunity idol. Some might say he wasted it but I disagree. He had no way of knowing that Matt and Mike were serious and not just trying to trick him into not playing the idol. My thought is, better to play it a week to early than to be voted out with the idol in your pocket.

Contender list: 1) Malcolm, 2) Matt, 3) Michael, 4) Sherri, 5) Andrea, 6) Brenda, 7) Reynold

Not sure yet: Corinne, Dawn, Erik, Cochran, Eddie, Julia

No-chance list: Brandon, Phillip

The Women Tell All: The Bachelor March 4 2013 recap

4 Mar

Hey readers: remember when you told me this wasn’t just the best blog about reality TV, but the best website on the entire Internet? And that you would gladly pay hundreds of dollars per blog entry if it were a pay site? Wait, how can you say you never said that? You’re making me look like I’m making things up. Readers, come on! You said it. You really did. I heard you. How can you say you didn’t? I triple guarantee you.

Yes, that was my nod to AshLee’s antics on this show. But let’s take it from the top. A bevy of beauties is on hand, but I must say 80% of them are long since forgotten which means the camera is usually on Lesley. Not that I will complain about that for one single second. When it’s not on Lesley it’s on Chris, and partially on the first row of spectators in which sits a lady in pink who has epically huge boobs. Either she gets cast for next season or at the very least, the producers are hiring her tailor.

In the early going not much happens, so the subject of Tierra is brought up fairly quickly. Brooke (the black community organizer) tells the girls that they’re just bitter that they didn’t have the idea of faking injuries to gain attention the way Tierra did. We go to commercial with the promise that Tierra will be out to be interviewed next. We come back from commercial and see … some stagehand briefing Tierra on how to walk to the couch? This was a new “behind the curtain” twist that hadn’t been used before. Tierra comes out, and if you want to know what polite applause sounds like, you should listen to those few seconds. She is her same old self: “When I walk into a room I bring this joy,” etc. etc. But guess what, she’s engaged, to an old flame she reconnected with.

Thereafter, Sarah (one arm) and Desiree (Katie Holmes-type with the trailer park brother) get their moments on the couch… or are these their auditions to be the next Bachelorette? AshLee gets her turn as well.

Now Sean comes out and AshLee returns to the couch. This is the woman who didn’t want to say a word to him when she didn’t get a rose. Now she wants answers about what happened. As Kacie who is sitting in the second row knows, this conversation cannot go well, because there is an obvious answer: the guy liked someone else more. Sean answers this as diplomatically as possible, but now AshLee wants to take him to task for not calling her later to check on her. Ummm, AshLee, you’re the one who didn’t want to talk at all when he was begging to explain himself, right? And gave him the ultra-evil eye when you didn’t get a rose? Even the crowd of sympathetic women doesn’t think much of AshLee’s idea.

So now AshLee tries a Hail Mary pass: “Why did you say you had absolutely no feelings for them?” [meaning Catherine and Lindsay]. Cut to some women in the crowd who think this makes the Dreyfus affair look inconsequential.

Sean says he never said anything of the sort, so AshLee regroups and says what he actually said was “There’s absolutely nothing between those two.” Of course the latter sentence makes no sense, and why would Sean say the former? At the very least Lindsay and Catherine were 2 of his top 3 favorites of 20-plus beautiful women. AshLee keeps insisting he said it. It reminds me of the early-70s song “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember” (which AshLee may well be old enough to remember, zing!). Sean very politely denies he said any such thing. It’s silent in the studio and many a pin can be heard to drop. Commercial. Then as we come back (once again before anyone says “Action”) and stagehands bustle about, we see that Sean and AshLee are still discussing this amongst themselves, with her saying 10 more times that he said it. Chris asks for a final word and Sean diplomatically says that if any other thing he said hurt AshLee he’s sorry. No doubt he’s congratulating himself on his decision now that we see how psycho AshLee is.

After all of this not much else happens except that Sean exchanges some words with Desiree as well. She was my pick to win, of course, and I still think he has more chemistry with her than with the two finalists. Damn you, redneck brother!