Monthly Archives: February 2007

Survivor Fiji: Episode 2

Even though Erica saved the Ravu tribe from dehydration, she wouldn’t
keep her big yap shut at the Immunity Challenge. Her freakout made her
the latest contestant eliminated from Survivor: Fiji.

When
Sylvia joined the Ravu tribe after her brief stay on Exile Island, she
found them in rough shape. With no fire to boil water, they’d resorted
to licking the dew off of palm fronds.

Sylvia did what she does
best and started barking orders, but her exhausted team wasn’t in any
shape — or mood — to carry them out. Within a few minutes of joining
the tribe, she’d made herself the obvious target for elimination.

As
they stumbled about and fell down, delirious from dehydration, it
seemed like they might be better off forfeiting the Immunity Challenge
and saving their energy. But Erica started poking around the bushes
near their cave and discovered dozens of pineapples.

Refreshed
from their boost of citric acid, and now scurvy-free, the Ravu tribe
was ready to take on their pampered rivals. Earl, the early hero of
this season, even vowed to marry Erica.

Meanwhile, things
weren’t going all that well at Moto’s camp, at least for one of their
tribe members. Boo, a construction worker by trade, proved that he
might be the most accident-prone person on the planet.

First,
Boo poked his eye on a spear. Minutes later, using a terrible chopping
technique to axe wood, he managed to slice through his hand and into
his thigh.

With only one functioning eye, hand, and leg, Boo
decided to do the least dangerous thing he could: rest in a hammock.
That’s when the hammock became unraveled, dropping Boo to the ground
with a thud.

Somehow, Boo survived long enough to make it to the
Immunity Challenge. Teams paddled their canoes through the water,
collecting four boxes and towing them back to shore.

Once
ashore, teams opened up their boxes to find the pieces of a flag pole,
which all fit together as a puzzle. The first team to solve the puzzle
and raise their flag pole won the rights to the posh camp, fishing
gear, and, should Ravu win, flint. The winning team also sent one of
the losers to Exile Island.

Ravu got an early lead in the water,
and had already started assembling their pole by the time Moto got
their boxes ashore. But Erica flipped out, screaming about how to
correctly assemble the puzzle.

Distracted by Erica, Ravu fell
behind. Eventually, most of them stopped working on the puzzle and
gawked as Moto raised their flag in victory.

Moto chose Earl,
the fittest of the Ravu men to send into exile. They didn’t realize
that there was a flint on Exile Island, and that Earl would be in much
better condition than if he’d gone back to Ravu’s camp.

Earl had
only one complaint about Exile Island — the snakes. He regretted
having to kill a snake in self-defense, saying, “Snakes are
misunderstood. But we have an understanding now.”

When Ravu
returned to their fire-less camp, sentiment quickly turned against
Erica for her in-challenge freakout. Even if it only bought her one
more week, Sylvia was off the chopping block.

Anthony insisted
that the team had functioned better before Sylvia arrived, and that it
didn’t make sense to eliminate one of their younger, stronger members.
He tried to steer the vote away from Erica, but at Tribal Council,
Anthony and Erica were the only people to vote for Sylvia.

Next
week, Ravu manages to start a fire without flint, and someone on Moto
is seriously injured. Is there any chance that it’s not Boo?

Apprentice L.A.: Episode 5

On this week’s Apprentice, all the candidates survived a day spent among the honeybees. But, in the end, Team Arrow’s project manger, Aaron, couldn’t avoid getting stung by Donald Trump.

Trump
introduced this week’s task by ominously pointing out that Arrow
project manager Aaron had been awfully quiet in the boardroom the night
before, when he was supposed to be offering Trump his advice on which
member of Kinetic to fire. Trump’s words were a sign that, should his
team lose, Aaron would be in a heap of trouble.

For the task,
teams needed to harvest their own honey, package it, and then sell it
at a grocery store. The team who earned the most money won the task.

Surprisingly,
gathering honey from the hives of thousands of bees turned out to be
easier than developing a marketing plan. The folks on Arrow and Kinetic
in charge of marketing — Surya, James, & Aaron (Arrow) and Aimee
& Jenn (Kinetic) — wasted hours of time just coming up with names
for their honey. (I don’t know why contestants on The Apprentice always insist on group brainstorming, when it almost never does any good — just like in the real world.)

At
least Kinetic made a vinyl sign to put up outside the store where they
were selling their honey. Arrow never even got that far.

At the
grocery stores the following day, Project Managers Aimee and Aaron
spent the majority of their time making coffee or standing around
looking bored — instead of selling honey.

By day’s end, Kinetic
outsold Arrow, earning the winners a trip to the Los Angeles Lakers’
practice facility to play a pick up game with legendary members of the
Lakers organization, like coach Phil Jackson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar,
James Worthy, and… Brian Cook? Are you telling me that the
lycanthropic Vladimir Radmanovic wasn’t available?

In
the boardroom, the original members of Arrow ganged up on new guy Surya
(who’d switched teams an episode ago) for his role in the lackluster
marketing campaign. Nicole was the only one perceptive enough to pick
up on Trump’s not-so-subtle hints that he wasn’t impressed with Aaron.

Aimee
wasn’t about to let her former teammate be bullied, and she stuck up
for Surya. She also questioned why Aaron, a sales professional, spent
so little time actually selling the honey.

Nothing Aaron said
made any difference to Trump, and Aaron was fired. That did little to
comfort Surya, who considered the disparaging remarks made about him in
the boardroom to be outright lies. After Aaron’s ouster, Surya couldn’t
stop fuming. He tried to talk to Trump, but Trump ushered him out.
Then, outside the boardroom, he whined and whined to Nicole. After the
show’s credits had rolled, the thin-skinned Surya was still complaining
to her.

Next week, Surya gives his teammates the third degree
for their boardroom conduct. And the weeks-long flirtation between Tim
and Nicole escalates, leading to a hot tub makeout session. (And since
they were making out in a fancy hot tub, we can assume that Arrow wins
the task and moves back in to the mansion.)

Survivor Fiji: Episode 1

Survivor’s fourteenth season brought a new group of castaways
to the islands of Fiji. Despite some early strategic (or at least
social) gameplay, Jessica was puzzled to find herself the first person
eliminated.

This season was supposed to have 20 contestants, but
moments before filming began, one of the survivors dropped out. That
left producers scrambling for a way to split the group into two tribes.

So,
instead of dividing the group, all 19 remaining contestants were
plopped onto a beach, where they milled about until host Jeff Probst
flew by in a plane and dropped a box with blueprints for building the
castaway version of a mansion, complete with a separate kitchen and
bathroom

Using provided supplies, the group followed the
directions of resident architect Sylvia and managed to complete the
floor of their shelter before the sun set and the torrential rains
began.

Work continued the next day, and the group managed to
finish their primary shelter. In two days, these 19 people had created
something that far surpasses anything yet made by the dumbasses on Lost–who, after two-and-a-half seasons, are still living in lean-tos made out of tarp.

Yau-Man
(no relation to He-Man) proved to be the most capable builder and
survivalist, despite having all the physical prowess you’d expect from
a skinny computer engineer in his mid-fifties, which he is.

The
group settled in for a cozy night in their new shelter, until “Dreamz”
and “Rocky” (who must really hate their real names if those are the
nicknames they’ve chosen for themselves) got into a loud argument.
Rocky bemoaned letting his emotions get the best of him, evidently
forgetting that he’s a reality show participant from Boston, who are
almost always cast solely because of their quick tempers.

At the
season’s first challenge the following morning, the group agreed that
Sylvia had been in charge of building the shelter, and Jeff Probst
singled her out to divide the team into two tribes. Since she didn’t
know which team she’d wind up on, Sylvia wisely divided the teams
evenly in terms of physical fitness — although she made sure to
separate Dreamz and Rocky.

Moto Tribe: Gary, Dreamz, Boo, Alex, Edgardo, Stacy, Cassandra, Liliana, and Lisi
Ravu Tribe: Yau-Man, Rocky, Mookie, Anthony, Earl, Jessica, Erica, Rita, and Michelle

As
a reward for her hard work on the shelter, Sylvia was sent to Exile
Island to spend the night with 1000 deadly sea snakes. On the bright
side, she was immune from Tribal Council, and she did get a clue to the
whereabouts of a hidden Immunity Idol. Unfortunately, the clue said the
Idol was somewhere back at camp.

The two new tribes then took
part in their first Immunity Challenge. The winning tribe would not
only avoid Tribal Council, but would return to find their camp tricked
out with a sofa, dishes, and a solar shower.

The losers would be
sent to a new beach furnished with only a pot and a machete — slightly
better than the conditions those Tent City losers on The Apprentice L.A.
have to live in. After voting someone out, Sylvia would return from
Exile Island to fill the spot of the eliminated tribe member.

For
the challenge, seven members of each tribe pulled a chariot containing
the tribe’s two remaining members, who collected three hanging bags of
puzzle pieces along a dirt course.

At the finish line, four
tribe members assembled the three puzzles, revealing the numerical
combination to a wheel puzzle that functioned like a combination lock.
Turning the wheel the correct number of times revealed a bin containing
the knife, which cut the rope, which raised the flag, that wriggled and
jiggled and tickled inside her.

Both teams were neck-and-neck
through the chariot phase and started their puzzles at about the same
time. Jessica got hung up on her part of the puzzle, and Ravu fell out
of contention. Alex cut the rope for Moto and raised their flag, giving
them the victory and rights to the sweet shelter.

Ravu made
their way to their new home, which had a cave for shelter and plenty of
coconut juice to drink until they could build a fire and boil water.
But there wasn’t much time to get comfortable before Tribal Council.

Jessica,
Erica, and Rocky had formed a pact not to vote for one another, and
they tried to sway their teammates to vote for Rita. But, seeing as how
Rita and Jessica were evenly matched physically, the team held
Jessica’s poor puzzle skills against her.

Although Erica and
Rocky got wind of Jessica’s impending doom, they didn’t tell her, and
she was surprised to be voted out at Tribal Council. Erica and Rocky
stuck to their word and didn’t write Jessica’s name down, instead
casting throwaway votes for Yau-Man and the hitherto invisible Mookie.

Next
week, we see the first evidence of Boo’s (also not his real name) bad
luck streak. He settles into a hammock to relax after cutting his hand
with a machete, only to have the hammock collapse underneath him.

America’s Ballroom Challenge 2007 — Week 1

Ben Ermis & Shalene Archer-Ermis won this past week’s American Smooth round of America’s Ballroom Challenge, making them the first couple in the show’s finals.

American Smooth includes dances like the Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot, and Viennese Waltz. While the names of the dances may be familiar to viewers of Dancing with the Stars, these performances looked very different than those on the ABC show.

DwtS features the same dances done in the International Standard style: partners in close contact with infrequent separations. American Smooth is a more open style of dancing more akin to Broadway-style dancing, where partners may dance alongside one another, instead of in a closed hold.

The style made for very dramatic and energetic performances. Still, it was hard not to imagine the voice of Len Goodman screaming about couples breaking hold.

Six couples competed in the American Smooth Category: Ben Ermis & Shalene Archer-Ermis, Kostadin Bidjourov & Carrie Babcock, Steven Dougherty & Eulia Baranovsky, Mazen Hamza & Irina Sarukhanyan, Tomasz Mielnicki & J.T. Damalas, and David Weise & Valentina Weise.

During the first round of competition, all six couples took the floor at the same time and performed all four American Smooth dances.

None of the couples knows in advance what music they’ll be dancing to, so they must create their routine as they go — while simultaneously trying to avoid crashing into the other dancers. Couples are ranked in each dance, and the pair with the lowest overall score wins the group dance round.

In this case, Ben Ermis & Shalene Archer-Ermis took the victory.

The second round consists of showdances — routines couples have prepared in advance to their own music, designed to convey a story. A winner is selected in this round as well.

Some of the highlights from the Week One showdances included a goth/punk Tango from Tomasz Mielnicki & J.T. Damalas, a classic Fox Trot by Ben Ermis & Shalene Archer-Ermis, and a martial arts-inspired routine from Mazen Hamza & Irina Sarukhanyan.

A third place finish in the showdance round, combined with their first place in the group round, earned Ben and Shalene Ermis the overall victory in the American Smooth category. The win was of special significance to the couple, as they have said this competition would be their last before retiring from competitive dancing.