Monthly Archives: September 2005

A Week of Finales

Summer officially ends on Thursday, and so must the remaining summer reality TV shows. In addition to the Rock Star: INXS finale, Tuesday brings us the rematch episode of the surprise hit, Dancing With the Stars. Wednesday boasts the final competition and reunion show for Bravo’s Battle of the Network Reality Stars.

Having been a long time fan of competitive ballroom dancing on PBS, I thoroughly enjoyed Dancing With the Stars. Admittedly, the “stars” they lined up for the program made it look like it would be a real dog. But, thanks to good show structure, a funny host in Tom Bergeron, and participants with at least some potential as dancers (well, except for Evander Holyfield), the program was legitimately fun to watch. And John O’Hurley deserves a lot of credit for being able to be charming and funny while totally out of breath.

As for the questions surrounding the voting when the show originally ended, Kelly Monaco had a built-in, rabid soap opera fan base that John could never compete with. I can’t explain why the show’s judges picked her, too, but I always expected Kelly would win. I’m just glad there was a controversy so I could see some more ballroom on TV.

As a side note, Dancing With the Stars produced the most disturbing moment of my summer. I spoke to my mother after one of the episodes, and she actually said, “That Kelly Monaco is so sexy.” I’d never heard my mom use the word ‘sexy’ before, and I’d prefer that I never hear her use it again.

Battle of the Network Reality Stars has proven similarly silly and amusing. Kind of the Real World/Road Rules Challenge for an older demographic, BoNRS (hee hee) cast many of the regulars from the MTV show. I’ve always liked Coral and Theo, so it was nice to see them with new teammates, especially folks like Matt “Joe Schmo” Gould and Chip & Kim of Amazing Race 5.

But I was happiest to see Brian Worth, hero of the second edition of Average Joe. He represents all that is Boston; he’s a guy who wouldn’t hesitate to bail on a date with a model for a chance to meet his favorite member of the Red Sox, Tim Wakefield. Brian’s famous line on Average Joe, “Ironman, I am not,” is frequently repeated in the Broken-Ox household.

No matter which team wins on Wednesday, we can always reminisce about the time Charla jousted with The Swan:


Charla Vs. Swan

Welcome Back to Chicago, Marty

Marty Casey won the real prize by finishing second to J.D. Fortune on the finale of Rock Star: INXS. Even though J.D. was named “Rock Star,” Marty and his band, The Lovehammers, are free to sign with the label of their choosing and will be opening for INXS on an upcoming world tour. All that, and a new car, too.

Mercifully, the first portion of the show proceeded as many viewers hoped it would. After the contestants performed their solo songs, Mig was eliminated. I’m not sure what hurt him more, tonight’s lousy performance of “Bohemian Rhapsody” or his past stint as Wags the Dog on the kids’ TV show, The Wiggles. I’m sure INXS took into consideration the fact that Mig’s core fan base isn’t even old enough to earn an allowance.

Following the elimination, INXS performed one of their songs with each of the two finalists; Marty sang “Don’t Change” and J.D. performed “What You Need.” Both did well, and it turns out that the members of INXS are still kind of cool. Well, Pengilly’s as cool as you can be playing sax while sporting a Snidely Whiplash moustache. But Garry’s over forty and still looks good in leather pants, and Tim’s sunglasses are actually appropriate when he’s on stage.

J.D. finally won me over tonight with his response when Dave Navarro asked early in the show if J.D. had considered driving his new car into the pool: “Where am I gonna live if this doesn’t work out?” INXS made the right choice, and good luck on the world tour, J.D. Sorry, but I’ll be busy visiting http://www.suziemcneil.ca and won’t make it to the concert.

snidely.jpg

J.D. Has a Will?

Marty failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity during the penultimate episode of Rock Star: INXS. The Final Three were given their choice of any song that had been previously performed by anyone on the show for their final performance on Tuesday night. Instead of following his first instinct and choosing J.D.’s song “Pretty Vegas,” Marty picked Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” a song he performed several weeks ago. By picking a safe song instead of trying to beat J.D. at his own game, Marty may have doomed himself.

Tonight’s non-performance show succeeded at making Mig look like a total fool. Mig’s speech about feeling like he earned his place in the Final Three was followed by genius commentary from Marty, who theorized that Mig’s strategy must be to save it all for the finale since he hasn’t shown much thus far.

The clinic for the week was a songwriting session with Andrew Farriss, who said he was pleasantly surprised by Mig’s writing. “Pleasantly surprised” is Australian for “you stink.” Andrew was impressed with Marty’s lyrics, as well as his willingness to collaborate. As in the recording studio clinic, J.D. came unprepared to the session with Andrew, who was taken aback at this. Andrew said J.D.’s got great ideas and passion, but that he needs to start getting those ideas down on paper. And even though the final product was good, Andrew has to know that if J.D. is picked, Andrew will be the one doing most of the work.

Mig’s song selection was one of the stupidest things I’ve seen in this series. Thinking that he’d lost his reputation as “the guy who starred in the Queen musical,” Mig picked “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Not smart. He’s a tiny guy with a high pitched voice and a girlish haircut – all I can think about him is that he’s the guy who starred in the Queen musical. Mig’s a goner and everyone knows it but him.

J.D. made a brilliant choice with “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” by the Rolling Stones, which is apparently in his will as a song he wants played at his funeral. This raises the question – how is J.D. organized enough to have a will? And as a guy who’s supposedly homeless, what does he have to leave to anyone? “To my sister, I leave my collection of unflattering hats.” Despite that, it’s a great song choice because it will show off J.D.’s voice and style, and all he has to do is perform it better than Ty did. If J.D. performed the whole song choking on one of Dave Navarro’s nipple rings, he’d still do better than Ty.

At this point, I’m done speculating. It’s Marty or J.D., and I almost don’t care which one it is. It’ll be fun to see Mig’s ego get crushed, and I’ll endure J.D.’s non-answers to questions. But if the rejects show up and I have to see Ty stick his tongue out one more time, I’m gonna be pissed.

Medic! (Episode 11-1)

Survivor: Guatemala distinguished itself from previous seasons by filling its first episode with abundant dry heaving. It was a triumph for the out-of-shape, as four of the strongest contestants succumbed to dehydration within the first 24 hours.

The game began with contestants already divided into two teams: Nakum – Margaret, Jim, Blake, Judd, Cindy, Danni, Brandon and Brooke – and Yaxha – Brianna, Lydia, Gary, Jamie, Morgan, Rafe, Brian and Amy. When high priest Jeff Probst revealed this season’s twist, Stephenie and Bobby Jon of Survivor: Palau magically appeared atop the ruined temple. Steph was assigned to Yaxha and Bobby Jon to Nakum as full-fledged members of the tribes.

Players endured an 11-mile hike through the jungle for their reward: flint and the better of the two camps. Along the way, a thorny tree branch fell on Blake, injuring his shoulder, and almost as soon as Nakum won the challenge, Margaret had to nurse most of the men of her tribe back to health. Brandon was the only man not to suffer from dehydration, and if I had to see one more shot of Bobby Jon’s eyes rolling back in his head, I was going to pass out for him. It was no surprise that Nakum lost the immunity challenge the next day. Jim tore his bicep during the challenge, making everyone’s choice easy.

Big props to Gary for lying about his last name and occupation; hopefully he can keep his NFL past a secret for all 39 days. Next week, Blake dry heaves some more. I can hardly wait.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

WHAT WAS THAT?! I guess INXS wasn’t actually
watching Mig’s performance of “What You Need” tonight, or they would’ve
axed him instead of Suzie. Mig doesn’t have the low vocal range needed
for most INXS songs, let alone the stage presence, and Suzie does. She
was given the kiss-of-death song “Suicide Blonde” and still
sang better than Mig. Whether their decision was motivated by pressure
to please Australian fans, Mark Burnett’s orders, or some weird ideas
about what was best for the show, it certainly wasn’t made on what was
right for the band.

There were several in attendence (besides
Suzie) who weren’t pleased with the decision. When Tim Farriss made his
pronouncement, Marty and J.D. both dropped to the ground like they’d
been shot. And Dave Navarro looked like he was trying not to punch Tim,
since the interactions between Dave and Suzie have been some of the
best moments of the series. After Suzie made her farewell remarks,
Andrew Farriss spoke, with Garry Beers sitting to his right. Garry sat
there with his hand over his mouth, looking like he wasn’t happy about
what they’d just done.

As for the rest of the show, Marty got
the encore, the audience picked J.D. for the other encore, and then he
joined Suzie and Mig in the Bottom 3. J.D. had the best night of
anyone, singing “Pretty Vegas” for the fourth time, but accompanied
only by Raphael and Jim on guitars. J.D. also did a solid job with “By
My Side,” and has proven that he and Suzie are the only ones who can
sing INXS songs well. Since Suzie’s gone, J.D. should win by default.

I’m
sure this is not the last we’ll hear of Suzie, especially if she takes
my advice and starts touring as “Sweet Suzie McNeil and The House
Band.” Hell, I’d go see them before INXS. Then again, when you go to an
INXS show in the future, you’ll also get to see the prize winning hog
and the biggest pumpkin in the county, so that’s a bonus. But right
now, I’m gonna make myself feel better the same way Suzie would. So,
who’s gonna let me drink champagne off of their foot?

Mig Is A Wuss

The final performance show of Rock Star: INXS started with a bang and ended with a girlish squeal. After all these episodes, viewers are left to wonder, “How the heck did Mig avoid the Bottom 3 this whole time?”

Suzie started things off with “Interstate Love Song” by Stone Temple Pilots, a bad song for her voice, and she wasn’t sure when to come in on the first chorus. Still she did run about the stage and in the crowd, which is always where she wins me over. I try to imagine what it’d be like in the audience for all of these performances, and Suzie’s always the performer I’d most like to see live. She did a great version of “What’s Up” by 4 Non-Blondes, a song I usually don’t like but was able to enjoy when performed by her.

J.D. reprised “Pretty Vegas,” this time with a glittery megaphone. INXS clearly likes this song and sees its hit single potential. He also performed Pink Floyd’s “Money,” which has weird timing that makes it hard to sing. He did a great job with it and established himself as the clear front runner. I’m never gonna get why people think he’s hot, but that’s not why you choose a lead singer. Right?

Marty and Wee Dave Navarro did an unplugged version of his song “Trees.” But Marty wasn’t as exciting as he normally is when he performed his second song, Radiohead’s “Creep.” The song’s a downer, but there are lots of times when the restrained fury he’s shown before would’ve been perfect. Instead we got lots of screaming and bulging neck veins, along with some embarrassing faux-operatic cooing near the end of the song. It’s too bad INXS picked it for him; it doesn’t sound anything like an INXS song, and all it did was highlight Marty’s shortcomings.

Speaking of short things, Mig ended the show with the second embarrassing set of the evening. Granted, he was doomed by the songs INXS assigned him, but he did nothing to help himself. “Paint It, Black” by the Rolling Stones showed that he can’t connect with any heavy or dark material, and Seal’s “Kiss From a Rose” has such stupid lyrics and bad vocal jumps from chest voice to head voice that there’s not much anyone can do to make it sound good. It’s the love theme from Batman Forever, for Pete’s sake! INXS wasn’t impressed and Wee Dave topped off the absurdity by asking Mig to take his jacket off. Then, Mig foolishly agreed to do it, showing off his 120 pounds of pure muscle, baby.

Ugh. Please, people, don’t do this to me. Don’t make me have to watch spry little Mig prance about any longer. I’m sure there’s some Bee Gees musical in the works that he’d be perfect for.

Survivor: Guatemala Preview

(Author’s note: this was written before CBS announced that Bobby Jon and Stephenie would be competing. That’s why they’re not included in this list.)

Summer’s over and it’s Survivor time again! This season is set in Guatemala, affording contestants the opportunity to deface and mock the relics of ancient civilizations. The ugly American strikes again.

This cast is interesting because there are no African-American Survivors. I can only assume that the camp sites are nowhere near bodies of water, because what’s a season of Survivor without the stereotype-fulfilling black person who can’t swim? It may actually be a refreshing change of pace to eliminate at least one of the stereotypes, although it’s too soon to tell if Lydia will renew the role of loud, angry Latina, originated by Sandra in Pearl Islands (“I can get loud, too, what the f—!”).

In anticipation of Thursday’s Survivor: Guatemala premiere, I’ve used the bios at CBS.com to give a rough ranking of the contestants. I’ll qualify this, since I know there’s no chance that this will be the real order of elimination, by saying that these are general placements – basically who’s likely to go quickly and who might be around for a while. Or, in an idealized version of the game, who’d win if nobody else noticed how well they were playing:

16) Lydia – She’s 42 and petite, attributes the typical early-20s Survivor will interpret as old and frail. She’s a fishmonger, which is totally awesome, but the Survivor she most admires is Rupert, so I can’t like her. Unless she starts roaring as well.

15) Brian – He’s 22 and a recent graduate of Columbia University. He’s trying to justify having majored in Psychology by thinking it’ll help him play mind games with the other contestants. That’s not the way it works, nerd. You’re out!

14) Rafe – Another Ivy Leaguer, Rafe’s 22 and a recent Brown graduate. He’s a Mormon who’s in love with his mom. The jocks are going to love that.

13) Jim – At 63, Jim is actually the obvious one to vote out first. But he’s a retired fire captain who now travels the world and climbs mountains, so he’s got a high novelty factor. He may be able to pull a Rudy and stick around till the end if he’s cool and smart enough.

12) Jamie – At 24, this water ski instructor/aspiring actor has an identical twin named Ramie and really mean parents. If he’s strong enough, his tribe may keep him around till the merge, at which point they’ll cut him loose. *When my college friends Rick and Jamie started dating, we nicknamed them “Ramie.” See, it’s not a real name.

11) Margaret – This nurse practicioner is 43 and sports a mullet.

10) Morgan – She’s a magician’s assistant, which is both neat and sad, so this 21-year-old may not last long. If she’s cute enough, she could stick around, but unless she can saw herself in half, she’s gone.

9) Blake – He’s 24 and a really creepy looking model. He likes skydiving and kissing, meaning he’s probably got an online personal ad at Match.com (seriously, everyone there likes skydiving. I mean, come on…). Like Jamie, being young and fit means he won’t win.

8) Brianna – At 21, this make up artist looks like she tried out for The Real World and was miscast. Young women who succeed in the game generally get by on sweetness (Elizabeth, Neleh), but Brianna describes herself as “deceitful.” She’ll have to play an even luckier, er, better game than Jenna Morasca to last to the end.

7) Amy – This 39-year-old police sergeant from Massachusetts is apparently the female version of Tom Westman, last season’s Survivor winner. She even played pro-football (where and when, her bio doesn’t say). There’s no way anyone’s letting her near the final four.

6) Brandon – He’s 22 and a farmer. I’m guessing he’s strong but quiet enough to go unnoticed.

5) Brooke – She’s a 26-year-old law student who grew up on a farm – the thinking woman’s Stephenie. If she can hold back a bit, but still be worth keeping around, she could win it all. But something tells me the others will figure her out and not take their chances.

4) Gary – As a former NFL quarterback, everyone is going to want to hang out with Gary. That is until they remember that he was an NFL quarterback and they punt him off the island.

3) Judd – Why rank a 34-year-old hotel doorman third? He could be another Chris Daugherty, likeable and non-threatening enough that people don’t realize he’s pulling one over on them. Also, he has parents kind enough to name his twin brother Timmy, so that might bode well.

2) Cindy – Another contestant with mean parents! Cindy is a 31-year-old zookeeper with a twin sister named Mindy. Come on people, rhyming twins aren’t cool. Cindy seems pretty buff and a little bossy, so she’d be worth teaming up with if you knew you could beat her in the final vote.

1) Danni – Right now, Danni’s my girl. She’s 30 and hosts a sports radio show in Kansas City. She was a competitor in beauty pageants as well as athletics. The guys will keep her around as long as they can since she’s pretty and knows sports, but by the time they realize she’s a real threat, it’ll be too late. Game over. Hand her the million.