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Mr. Personality, Episode 1: Down by Halfby Bruce Barker -- 04/23/2003
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For weeks now we've seen the commercials during American Idol and most of Fox's other big shows. It's obvious from the amount of ads that Fox feels they have a winner here. A man who resembles John MacEnroe's ugly inbred cousin almost always accompanies the tagline, "Things could get ugly!" Much to our dismay, this man is not one of the actual contestants.
From the first time I saw the ads, I wanted to be the one to write the recaps. It took a while for me to come into my own as a youth and I was the guy who wound up as every girl's best buddy. The one who gets told, "Oh, I like you too much to ever date you! I could never see you that way," if you get my drift. Girls would hook me up on a blind date and tell the victim, "He's got a great personality," which is date-speak for, "he's so ugly he has to sneak up on a bottle of water." I saw this show as vindication for all the great guys out there who seethe quietly every time some woman bemoans the fact that all the great guys are married or gay.
Our host is Monica Lewinski - yes that Monica Lewinski. The show opens with a view of a beautiful mansion and 20 guys in identical clothing and identical masks. The only way to tell one guy from another is by the numbers marked on the side of the masks themselves. We hear the rules. The guys must keep the masks on at all times. They cannot reveal their occupations or their income. Break one of these rules and you are gone. This is even better than advertised! The show is completely about what the guy is, not who. One of the real hidden gems about this show is the fact that these are not all professional and rich guys. At least one is unemployed and the incomes ranged from almost nothing to one who is a millionaire.
The woman who must find her Prince Charming from amongst the masked marvels is Hayley Arp. She is quite stunning and her family says that she's dated plenty of good-looking guys who were too self-centered to be worth her time. In short, she may be ready for the real deal. She has been married to her job for the past several years and has a passion for cooking. She has no idea what she's getting into.
There is a brief ballroom dancing sequence as the guys try to make a first impression. Some bend and kiss her hand (something she loved) while others try to finesse her in the time-honored tradition of kissing the proffered bootie. Hayley is introduced to the men only by their numbers at this point but cannot help but comment that #17 has a piercing and confident way of looking at her that has her very intrigued. We are told his name is Chris and that he's a motivational speaker.
After the dance the men are led into a room one at a time where they are allowed to present Hayley with a gift they have brought with them. Some give her poems they have written; others present her with various sorts of books. Contestant #14 gives her a pair of porcelain frogs. Now, this could have been an ideal gift, but the guy blows it by telling her they are named Va-Va-Voom and Don Juan. A true smooth talker would have told her that the female represented her and the male was the frog that would become a prince if she chooses wisely. Throughout the gift-giving process, Monica writes copious notes, or perhaps she's composing letters to a lost love of her own.
The next step in the process is a visit from an expert astrologer. She will divine truths about each of the men for Hayley to ensure that the process is as scientific as possible. Most of the guys take it with a grain of salt, but a couple get… well, odd about it.
Contestant #7 tells the astrologer, "I like to please my women over and over again and then please myself!" Uhm, yeah. The looks that the other guys exchange tell us exactly what they are thinking. Since it's my job to dish out the details, it seems the most prevailing thought is, "I'm not shaking hands with that dude!"
Contestant #10 has a complete meltdown. He scornfully dismisses the findings of the astrologer and walks out. In one of the more humorous moments of the episode, contestant #10 leaves the room and Hayley turns to Monica and says, "That guy scares the crap out of me!" Seconds later he turns to the cameras outside and says, "I think that went well!"
After a commercial break, we come back to find ten of the men standing back outside. They are told bluntly and as a group that they have all been eliminated. One by one they come up to Hayley and unmask before her. Most are polite and thank her for the opportunity. Several wish her well in her future choices. Good old #10 is revealed to be Robert Federihi, football mascot. He is furious. She asks him if he had a good time and he says, "Yeah, up until about two minutes ago!" He blasts Hayley for basing her decision on an astrologer and storms off. But wait! He turns back and says, "Let me tell you another thing!" and continues to make a fool of himself. Monica's face and body language make her look like a constipated bouncer in a biker bar.
As #7 (Johnny Martez - teacher) exits, Hayley turns to Monica and says, "Wow, I'm sorry to see him go!"
The elimination session is disappointing for what doesn't happen. I was pulling for one of the eliminated guys to take off his mask, turn to Monica Lewinski and say, "Oh well, what are you doing after the show? That's a lovely dress you have on. Wait… is that a stain?" Also, there hasn't been one wrestling match yet and I know if I were on the show there would have already been several as the "Masked Avenger" took on Mysterio, Bandit, The Black Phantom, and any others who would stand in his path.
So we are left with our top ten. But there are some twists revealed in the final moments. The ten men are reintroduced. Each one is wearing a new mask. From here on out the men will be identified by the color of their masks instead of by contestant number. Here they are:
Pete - Gold Mask - unemployed
Next week we are allowed into Hayley's "dark room." This room has no lighting and is the only place where the men can remove their masks. Hayley however, will be blindfolded to ensure she sees nothing. Also we will watch as Monica and Hayley observe the men through the "suitor spy cam" as other women are introduced into the mix.
The show looks to have plenty of surprises in store for us! Now if you will excuse me, I'm thirsty. If I'm lucky, the bottle of Dasani in the fridge won't hear me coming up behind it. See you next week!
Mr. Barker is co-owner of Movie Boss (www.movieboss.com), a free online movie game, and author of "Zippers," a humor column that looks at mistakes in movies. He can be reached at BBarker@movieboss.com.
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