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Reality Hit List, July 8: It’s Getting Betterby Brian James -- 07/08/2003
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Last week, for me, was the best episode of The Amazing Race so far this season. Not so much because the episode itself was that exciting, but remember how I’ve been saying I’m having a hard time getting into the show this season? I’m finally into it.
I think a huge part of it is this was the first week that a team I really cared about was eliminated. I’ve figured out that that’s a big part of getting emotionally invested in the show. Last season, for example, right off the bat I was very sorry to see Tramel & Talicia and Dennis & Andrew depart in Episodes Two and Three, respectively… then the week right after that brought the drama of the whole Heather & Eve Taxigate elimination. I was sucked in right from the start. This season, I either haven’t liked or haven’t had the chance to get invested all that much in the teams that have been eliminated… until now.
I really wanted to see Monica & Sheree do well; they seemed like fun, positive people and were proving themselves to be quite strong and savvy players. My heart sank when I realized there was no way they could arrive at the pit stop before Jon & Al. This was the kind of investment I’ve been waiting for this season - although I would have preferred they had stuck around! They’ll definitely be missed.
But now, a lot of the deadwood is gone and we’re left with six very distinct teams. (Even David & Jeff’s complete lack of distinction makes them distinct.) I know whom I like and whom I don’t like. We’re getting to know the teams better as their airtime increases. A lot of the petty drama that’s been particularly prevalent and irritating this season seems to have abated - even Tian & Jaree, who seemed headed for a fullblown meltdown the previous week the likes of which this show has never seen, commendably managed to pull it together. (Tian is absolutely right that sometimes things need to come to a head before they can get better.) This is the show I know and love and anxiously await each week - and it’s about time!
One last thing - when Millie was wiping away tears as she told us, “If I won the money, I would love to come back to a place like this and help those kids,” if you looked really, really carefully off to the right, you could see Joe Millionaire’s Melissa bathing an orphan.
Meanwhile, on For Love or Money last week, the big bombshell was dropped as our host Jordan told Rob in his patented “you could drive a truck through these dramatic pauses” fashion that the women were told that… (Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny have been killed and are roasting in the fiery pits of hell) whoever Rob chose… (is wanted in twenty-seven states for grand larceny and jaywalking) would win…(a year’s supply of Rice-A-Roni and a For Love Or Money stickpin) one… (is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do) million… (paperclips and a three-toed sloth named Herbert) dollars. You know, I’d still take Jordan over Rob any day, but I certainly hope he doesn’t talk like that in everyday life as well. Could you imagine? “I have to run… to the store… because… I’m… out… of… paper towels.” Hilariously, Jordan then continued, “I know your mind is racing right now” - as Rob had an utterly blank expression on his face.
From then on in, this episode was like that point in soap operas where a character finds out something bad about someone they trusted, but for whatever reason the writers have cooked up to stall the plot chooses to keep it a secret, and the other character thinks the jig might be up but isn’t sure, and round and round they go. And, much like soap characters, Rob told us endlessly that now he wasn’t sure if the women were in it for him or the money, while the women told us endlessly that something seemed wrong with Rob but they weren’t sure what. In fact, when Erin slipped and mentioned to Rob that the “winner” would be taking the others to Vegas, I was halfway expecting Rob to counter in soap speak: “Oh? And what do you mean by that, Erin? Why would you, one of three women on this dating show, use the term ‘winner’ if there’s no prize involved? If all the woman I choose gets is the chance to go on dating me? It couldn’t be that there is some sort of prize involved that I don’t know about, because I know you’d be honest with me about such a thing, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you, Erin?” But alas, it wasn’t to be - although in an apparent moment of utter self-clarity, Rob did tell us, “I don’t think I’m a prize.” Paige similarly got my hopes up when she mentioned jumping off a cliff, but no dice there either. Oh well - at least she ditched that blessed “promise to MYSELF!” ring this week. I thought perhaps this week her Care Bears lunchbox would follow.
And she was indeed around this week, because, proving that he’s a moron, Rob chose Paige over Kelly. Seriously - am I missing something here? I mean, even just on a more basic level, whom would you rather have lunch with - Paige or Kelly? Ah well. Kelly, you were consistently entertaining and will be missed. Last night was the two-hour finale, which I’ll talk about in my column next week. Oh - and have they always been giving the losing women taxis instead of limos and I just now noticed? [Editor’s Note: Yes.] Cheap bastards. I suppose we should just be grateful that they didn’t arrange to have the taxi take them one block a year for the next forty years.
Finally, on Paradise Hotel, good grief - if people are at each other’s throats this much now, what on earth would it be like if they were competing for any sort of prize?
Charla forces herself on Scott so aggressively she seemed just one step away from binding and gagging him, then tells everyone it repulses her when roommate Dave touches her bare skin - then wonders why Dave felt embarrassed! Beau and Alex have a blowup over Amanda that seemed to stem from a case of Beau wanting to have his cake and eat it too - it was hard to follow, but best I could tell, Beau’s argument seemed to be, “I don’t care about her, but how dare you not care about her while she’s flirting with you just to make me jealous?” Whatever it was, I just wanted to scream, “Boys! You’re both pretty!” (Unintentionally hilarious moment of the week: Beau snapped at Alex to “talk like a man.” ”Talk like a man?!?” squeaked a worked-up Alex in a pitch so high he made Peter Brady in the “Time to Change” episode of The Brady Bunch sound like James Earl Jones.) This culminated in Alex snapping that he didn’t give a damn about Amanda while Amanda was in the bathroom and could hear everything, which might make me feel sorry for her if I didn’t find her an insipid twit myself.1 2 Next-->
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