Monthly Archives: December 2005

The Beer Was Free (Episode 1-11)

Two contestants were shown the door on tonight’s episode of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Matchstick’s embarrassing airline commercial inspired Martha to fire both Ryan and Marcela. Looks like someone needs to buy Ryan a drink.

The three-person wrecking crew, Primarius, has been on a roll the last few tasks. Dawna, Bethenny, and Jim have found an effective way to work together, and Bethenny was able to capitalize her team’s momentum as this week’s Project Manager. She made most of the major decisions about Primarius’ 30-second commercial, leaving the administrative tasks to Dawna. Jim was given assignments that would keep him out of trouble, including drawing up the storyboard and schmoozing the actors who’d be starring in the commercial.

Primarius listened to the executives of Song airlines while designing their commercial. The executives specified that the target audience was women in their 40s. Bethenny crafted a spot featuring a married couple, a mother with a child, and a businessman; each vignette showed people that the target audience could relate to, either as a wife, a mother, or a business traveler.

Matchstick took the opposite approach. Project Manager Ryan disregarded the airline executives’ suggestions about target audience and made a commercial for his target audience: himself. Fulfilling his dream to play professional baseball in a really pathetic way, Ryan starred in the commercial as a ballplayer who’s missed his team’s flight. The frequent fliers who judged the ad’s success were treated to bad acting and shots of Ryan in his undies. In the end of the commercial, Ryan sat next to a boxer who’s delighted not to be traveling with his own team. Many viewers were probably surprised to find out that they even have boxing teams.

Like all the best boxers, Marcela decided to be a team player, and she went along with Ryan’s foolish decisions. On several occasions, she did object to the direction the commercial was taking. Unfortunately, by the time she complained, the editing process was well underway and Ryan was half in-the-bag. Apparently, the editing studio had a fridge stocked with beer. Ryan assumed that the editors did all of their work with a buzz, so he helped himself to a few bottles.

It was somewhere around beer number nine that Ryan decided that wordplay and subliminal messages were the key to a quality product. The result was a silly commercial that didn’t target the appropriate audience, didn’t convey the important points about the product, and didn’t test well with the frequent fliers. Bethenny and Dawna may have been on to something when they forbade anyone to give Jim alcohol.

The prize for another Primarius rout was a trip to Martha’s estate to ride horses and play Scrabble with her. Many of Martha’s rewards have been low key, but that’s what’s cool about them. Riding in a helicopter or on a yacht is nice, but everything is better when a celebrity is involved. Yardwork with Regis Philbin, grocery shopping with Katie Couric, ultrasound sessions with Tom and Katie: all way cooler than some dumb boat ride.

Ryan took the blame for the commercial’s failure in the conference room. He didn’t help himself when he justified drinking on the job by saying, “The beer was free.” Martha and the viceroys were also fed up with Marcela’s lack of leadership, so both candidates were shown the door.

Next week, the three remaining candidates face grueling job interviews. Jim’s won’t be able to mask his unprofessionalism, and he’s likely to be eliminated before the final task. Dawna is more than qualified to win the job, and Bethenny has shown amazing competence and an intensity that’s hard to ignore.

We Had a Meltdown (Episode 8-10)

The inevitable finally happened: the Godlewski sisters imploded on tonight’s penultimate episode of The Amazing Race: Family Edition. The four blondes showed America that, even though you love your family, you don’t always have to like them. More accurately, you don’t even have to pretend to tolerate your family. So much for growing closer together as a result of a shared experience.

Bickering was the Godlewski’s ultimate undoing. During the final Roadblock, Sharon decided she’d rather walk the golf course while searching for brightly-colored golf balls than ride in a golf cart with Michelle. Sharon thought Michelle was driving erratically in order to throw her from the cart. While the Godlewskis might not have been able to beat the Weavers to the mat for third place anyway, teamwork would’ve made the finish much closer and would’ve allowed them to depart with dignity.

Wally Bransen and his girls finished this leg in first place, earning them a new Buick Lucerne (yes, the same Lucerne featured on The Apprentice: Martha). Don’t be surprised to see the Bransens finish in third place next week because, now that Wally’s got his Buick, he’s just not that into the race anymore. Hell, if it’d been a Lincoln Town Car, he would’ve let the Godlewskis take his family’s place in the finale.

The Linzes finished this leg in a close second, setting them up with a good chance to win the $1 million. They’re in the best shape and have been performing well on Detours and Roadblocks recently. So long as there are no complicated driving directions, the Linzes should be assured of victory. The only thing that could stop them is a Roadblock requiring team members to refrain from making fart jokes.

Look for the Weaver family, this week’s third place finishers, to finish in second place next week. They’ve struggled while driving lately, including getting pulled over for speeding this week. The Weavers feel as if everyone is against them, and that’s been weighing on them more heavily with each day. If they lose, they’ve got plenty of excuses lined up already. Because they’ve stopped holding themselves accountable for their own performance, there’s not much to motivate them to win.

If the Weavers do win, it will be an ending almost as unsatisfying as Flo the Quitter winning Season 3. But at least Flo won without counting on Jesus to pick up the slack.

Lessons For The Real World

When MTV launched its first season of The Real World in 1992, the young adults cast were eager to learn about themselves and different types of people. Throughout the early seasons, one trait all of the roommates had in common was a desire to experience new things that would help them grow as people.

By The Real World’s twelfth season, filmed in Las Vegas, cast members had stopped seeing the show as an opportunity for self-development. Instead, it was a means to achieve some temporary, low-level fame. Drinking and debauchery took precedence over understanding people of different races and backgrounds. It’s hard to see what any of the cast members from recent seasons actually learned from their experience.

Here’s a list of some of the lessons the cast members from The Real World: Austin should’ve learned (but didn’t) while they shared a loft, and who should’ve learned each lesson:

#1 – Being honest isn’t the same as being mean. (Lacey)
Lacey was always happy to point out her roommates’ flaws, usually to her boyfriend or to a roommate other than the person in question. As the only non-lush in the house, and living away from her boyfriend, it’s easy to see how Lacey felt like an outsider. She belittled her roommates so that she’d feel superior, and then justified her actions by (eventually) telling everyone what she’d said about them behind their backs. Lacey’s defense was that she was just being honest, and that people don’t like to hear the truth about themselves. She’s right; people usually don’t like to hear unsolicited, unconstructive, critical truths.

What’s really unfortunate is that, when the show started, all of the roommates seemed to look up to Lacey. She’s smart and hip, and she’s got a career that she loves. She’s even got a boyfriend (a sweet one) who’s in a wheelchair, something that would drive most women in their early twenties away. Lacey knows that it’s what on the inside of a person that counts. If she believed that about herself, she wouldn’t need to bash other people in order to feel better.

#2 – Everyone has to grow up sometime. (Wes)
Drinking too much and having a crappy work ethic are unappealing habits. Society tolerates these actions from young adults while they are in high school and college, but not beyond that. Time’s running out for Wes. He has said he would like to run his own business. By appearing on TV, he had a great chance to impress potential investors. But Wes squandered his chance at marketability when he treated his documentary filmmaker job only as an impediment to his partying. Because he doesn’t see anything wrong with his behavior, it’s going to be a long time before Wes stops acting like a kid and starts acting like an adult.

#3 – Learn the difference between right and wrong. (Johanna)
On the reunion show, Johanna said she learned nothing from her arrest. She brushed off the incident by saying that she only stole a rose. Replace the word rose with football, or necklace, or car, and it’s still the same thing: theft. It’s embarrassing that a college graduate can’t understand the concept of personal property.

What’s more frightening is Johanna’s aspiration to become a social worker. How could someone with such a dysfunctional moral compass give credible guidance? Johanna’s advice to Rachel after her fight with Nehemiah and Wes was to keep her anger in her heart. Bottling up emotions isn’t an acceptable form of anger management. It’s probably best that Johanna pursue another career until she understands more about dealing with emotions. And cops.

#4 – Reading has many merits. (Rachel)
Rachel reminds us that, in order for the average IQ to be 100, somebody has to score below that. It’s time Rachel stopped drinking and turned to reading as her primary leisure time activity. Perhaps some books by Chris Crutcher would help her find better ways to deal with bullies. Maybe some of Maya Angelou’s poems would help her feel strong enough to stand up for herself. If those authors won’t do, the Berenstain Bears have a lot of good books. The books aren’t that long, and there are lots of pictures. They probably even have a book on bed wetting, which is apparently a problem for Rachel when she’s drunk, according to previews for Tuesday night’s clip show, The S@#t They Should Have Shown.

#5 – Don’t live your life in fear. (Danny)
Danny spends every second of the day fearing that the people he loves will abandon him. This fear comes from an obvious source: his mother left the family when Danny was young, during the worst part of her battle with alcoholism. Danny criticized the way editors portrayed his relationship with his mother, claiming that they got along fine. But that doesn’t explain his pathological need to push his girlfriend Melinda away, which sounds a lot like something that the adult child of an alcoholic would do.

Rather than risk Melinda leaving him, Danny dumped her first, and on several occasions. His finest moment came on vacation in Costa Rica, when he dumped Melinda after she admitted that, if they weren’t together, she’d have sex with someone else. Danny must have thought Melinda would’ve entered a convent had she not met him.

According to the roommates, Danny is now taking advantage of his 15 minutes of fame. He’s dropped his old friends and focused on advancing his limited celebrity, including proposing to Melinda on-camera for a previously-taped segment aired during the reunion.

Instead of realizing that he’s on his way to alienating everyone who really cares about him, Danny blames everyone but himself. His problems are never his fault: my roommates are jerks, the editors are out to get me, Melinda’s a slut, and my mom is dead. He has to stop being afraid to look at the role he plays in his own problems before the addictive tendencies that he inherited get the best of him. Giving up alcohol would help, too. Things are going to get worse for him before they get better, no matter what happens, and he’s got to take his lumps like a man. He can only hope that none of those lumps wind up on his face.

#6 – You deserve better. (Melinda)
Some piece of Melinda’s past is missing from the image she presented on The Real World. She left out the part where someone convinced her that she was ugly and unlovable. That would explain why she initially thought Danny wouldn’t be interested in her. And it would explain why she puts up with someone who breaks up with her whenever he drinks too much and who forbids her from going out with her friends.

Melinda’s so brainwashed that she can’t look at Danny’s behavior objectively anymore, siding with him no matter what ludicrous arguments come out of his mouth. Melinda, you don’t need Danny. You can find someone better than him. And since Danny’s face got caved in, someone better looking, too.

#7 – Violence isn’t the answer. (Nehemiah)
Having grown up with a mother who made drugs a priority instead of her son, it’s easy to see why Nehemiah has trouble trusting people. What’s harder to understand is why violence is always his first choice of action. If he’s not punching someone or pushing girls out of his way, he intimidates people by posing as if he is going to hit them. That kind of aggressive posturing isn’t instinctive. It’s learned.

While it’s sad that he had to learn to take care of himself by landing the first punch, it’s still wrong. You can’t hit someone just because they make you mad. And a drunken stupor is no excuse. Just like driving drunk, it means you didn’t care enough about others to keep some measure of self-control.

Nehemiah has some major problems, or else he wouldn’t have sabotaged the opportunities he was given on The Real World. He’s a film student whose job was to make a movie. He was introduced to professionals in the field. But when he should have been home working on the project, Nehemiah went out, drank, and got arrested. He’s violent, irresponsible, and unremorseful. Who’d want to work with someone like that? Nehemiah might want to see a therapist before he gets himself into real trouble.

Scumbags (Episode 11-12)

Do you hear that? That mournful sound is the wailing of doormen across the country crying out for their brother, Judd, the latest castaway voted off of Survivor: Guatemala. Judd’s gentle, honest, and coherent nature made him an ambassador for doormen everywhere. And if you don’t think so, you’re a scumbag.

This episode’s Reward Challenge gave Judd the perfect opportunity to inadvertently engineer his own demise. It was time for another Survivor auction, where contestants bid on healthy snacks like beef jerky, cookies and milk, and a Philly cheesesteak. Danni took home the lion’s share of the booty, buying the beef jerky for herself and sharing the cheesesteak with Rafe. Danni also purchased the most important item up for bid, a clue to help her win the next Immunity Challenge.

The final reward up for bid was the inevitable family visit. Survivors’ relatives paraded out of the jungle so that the Skinny Six could bid on a night at camp with a loved one. Cindy, who was out of the running after dropping much of her wad on the cookies, loaned Judd the money to buy a night with his mafia moll wife. The woman wore a lime green, terrycloth jumpsuit into the jungle, man! How are you planning to use the can when you’re wearing a one-piece? Judd seemed to dig the outfit and said that looking at his wife was “like eating twenty-five White Castle cheeseburgers, man.” Apparently Judd missed the Seinfeld episode where George tried to combine food and sex into one perverted activity. George couldn’t eat a pastrami sandwich without getting turned on!

In a shocking twist, which has only been used two or three times each Survivor season, Judd got to pick two people to share in his reward. The remaining tribe members would have to spend the night in exile at the old Yaxha camp. Judd let Cindy bring her twin sister, Mindy (not a joke), since she loaned him money.

This was where things went wrong for Judd. He could’ve picked Rafe, who was predictably crying at the sight of his mother. He could’ve picked Danni, whose brother looks like a bigger version of Rafe, so it would have been like picking a fourth tribe member to share in the reward. Or, Judd could’ve picked Lydia so that she could spend a night with the brother she hasn’t seen for two years. Instead, misguided loyalty won out over intelligent gameplay and Judd allowed Steph to bring her bland boyfriend Mike back to camp.

Rafe, Danni, and Lydia were the worst three people to leave together. Danni and Lydia were both fighting for their lives, and Rafe’s the smartest person on the island. They decided that if Stephenie had proof Judd would turn on her, she’d turn on him first. All they needed to do was return to camp and get Judd to put his foot in his mouth.

It didn’t take long for that to happen. Lydia asked Judd how badly he wanted to be in the final two, and what he was willing to do to get there. Danni walked over just in time to hear Judd say that he knew who was really in control and that they all had to do what was necessary to win. He even threw in his favorite squirrel trying to get a nut analogy. Lydia and Danni felt they had enough ammo to convince Steph to turn against Judd.

The Immunity Challenge was essentially a 3-D version of the Intellivision game Snafu. Contestants moved across a tiled board in turn and weren’t able to stand on any tile that had been previously stepped on by any contestant. The object was to keep moving for as long as possible without getting painted into a corner. Danni was able to use the clue she purchased to swap positions on the game board with any tribe member. She switched spots with Steph and went on to win Immunity.

Any plans to oust Danni were put on hold, and the alliance decided to boot their second choice, Lydia. But Danni got to Stephenie, telling her about Judd’s budding plans to get rid of her. Steph reasoned that Judd had already lied a lot and Danni hadn’t, so Danni was probably telling the truth. The two ladies discussed the matter with Rafe, and Judd’s fate was sealed. Lydia was brought in as the fourth vote, leaving Cindy and Judd as the only two without a clue.

Upon arriving at Tribal Council, where jury member Jamie wore a hideous, hot pink ringer tee, Judd told the group that whoever was voted out would just have to deal with it. Jeff read the votes, and Judd proceeded to not deal with it. Leaving as graciously as could be expected, Judd wished that the remaining contestants be bitten by a freakin’ crocodile and then called them scumbags, twice.

Judd’s ranting continued in his exit interview. He was pissed about being blindsided, unlike previous blindside victims Jamie and Brian, who viewed it as a sign of respect. Best of all, Judd was mad that he’d been lied to since he hadn’t lied in the game. Just last week, Judd admitted that he lied about the location of the hidden Immunity Idol! How quickly some people forget.

In case anyone was wondering, that wasn’t a cardboard cutout of Judd sitting on the couch during the Febreze Family Moment. It was Judd’s twin, who apparently isn’t shaving until Judd comes home with $1 million. Good luck with that, Rip Van Winkle. And no, the twin’s name doesn’t rhyme with Judd.

Guatemala will be a sadder place without Judd. But he assured viewers in his exit interview that he’d have a lot to say to the final two contestants at the last Tribal Council. We can only hope for some ridiculous prepared speech that rivals Sue Hawk’s explosion from the first season. Until then, this cheeseburger’s for you, man.