Thursday, October 28, 2010

Oh Slap! Cutthroat Episode Four

When we last left our Cutthroat heroes, Big Easy was upsetting Vinny in The Gulag, but still not winning the hearts and minds of his teammates. Shauvon was quitting the show without even trying in The Gulag, something as popular with TJ as I was in high school.

This week’s episode kicked off with Abram and Cara Maria fooling around while he was playing the piano. Talk about tickling the ivories.

Luke said he really needed to see Camilla’s boobs while she was in earshot. I may be out of the dating game for a while, but I’m pretty sure saying I want to see your boobs only works in Cancun, Spearmint Rhino, and lunch with Paris Hilton.

Unfortunately for Luke, it turned out Camilla has a thing for Johnny Bananas. Let this be a lesson to you kids out there. Before you turn 30, the bigger dick you are, the more people you piss off and the more you define the word douchebag, the more girls you will get. Life isn’t always fair that way.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Rolling the Dice: Cutthroat Episode Three

Before we get to this week’s Cutthroat review, it should be noted that host TJ Lavin suffered a horrific injury last week while performing a stunt at the Dew Tour Championships. All indications  are TJ will pull through, but he is in a coma and suffered a shattered wrist. Here’s hoping TJ gets better soon and is hosting the next challenge. As the retirement of Bob Barker is proving, once an iconic host leaves a show the network might as well get ready to find new programming because the replacement is never as good as the original. The same theory applies to The Challenge and TJ Lavin. He is to the MTV show what Gene Rayburn was to Match Game. With less sexual harassment.

This week’s episode of Cutthroat began with the gang sharing space in a hot tub. The show might be in Prague, but the hot tub culture transcends continents. Let’s hope the water is extra hot to kill off whatever may be crawling around in there.

Laurel told Big Easy that he couldn’t get a girl to touch him. She then proceeded to list all of the inadequacies she felt he had and how repulsed he made her, and the entire female species, feel. It takes a lot for me to feel sympathy for the cast members, mostly because I’m jealous I can’t compete for six figures over ta month in a foreign country. However, listening to Eric talk about how hard it is for him to lose weight makes you really feel for the guy. I’m surprised MTV didn’t play Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” in the background. Sure Eric’s feelings take a hit here, but Laurel is clearly coping for the fact she’s only appealing to men with a totem pole fetish. Laurel’s diatribe makes Leona Helmsley look like Mother Theresa.

The T-Mobile text came telling the group to be ready tomorrow and wear their bathing suits. Let’s get wet.

TJ mets the cast and explained the challenge “Bed Head” to them. The goal of this one was for each team member to jump from one bed to the next. They can’t move on to the next bed until the whole team makes it on the previous one. If someone doesn’t make the jump, they are disqualified. The team that goes the furthest, in the shortest amount of time, and with the most team members left wins. The catch is, the beds are suspended 40 feet above the ground. Where are the Flying Sandos Brothers when you need them?

The Red Team was up first. They were unremarkable in their execution but finished.

The Gray Team was up next. Laurel, even though tall enough to walk from bed to bed, botched the jump and fell off the bed. Karma is a bitch, but not as big of one as Laurel. Shauvon went into a panic attack before her turn because on a past challenge she tried a similar task and ended up popping her implant. She stalled because she was just trying to save her boobies. And you can too by donating for my sister-in-law’s participation in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure here. Shameless plugs are shameless plugs, but at least this one is for a good cause.

Because of Shauvon’s inability to jump, her team got disqualified. This led to Sarah going off on Shauvon about what a waste of space she is. Just because you have tattoos all over your body doesn’t mean you’re a badass Sarah. Hasn’t Good Charlotte taught you anything?

The Blue Team went last. Katie, despite a solid effort, decided to fight water falling 40 feet from the air. After countless similar battles, water is still undefeated. Johnny got disqualified for a boneheaded move. For a guy who acts like he’s the top dog, he sure does get humped by the challenges a lot. 

TJ told everyone the Red Team won. As a result, the Blue and Gray teams were headed to the Gulag and the Reds get to dine like kings. Just like Soviet-era Prague.

Shauvon volunteered to put herself into the Gulag. Seeing how she cost her team the chance to compete that’s the noble thing to do. Vinny got voted in by the team for the guys.

The Blue Team’s deliberations weren’t as civil. Johnny tried to strong-arm the votes how he saw fit. Like sheep, the team listened to him. After the votes, it was determined Eric and Katie were going in.

After the vote, Johnny walked into the kitchen and said he found the “I Hate Johnny Bananas Club”. Really? When’s the next meeting?

Katie is pissed she has to go in the Gulag and took it out on Emily, a fresh face to the challenge. Tyler came to Emily’s rescue saying she’s only a rookie and had no say. I wonder if the Wizards are going to use the same mentality with John Wall this year.

Coach: OK guys, there’s two seconds left, we’re down by one. I want Wall to drive to the hoop and take the shot.
Arenas: But Coach, he’s a rookie. He shouldn’t even be on the floor.
Coach: You know what, you’re right Gil. You take the shot.

The sad thing is this conversation will probably happen.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, Lindsay Lohan and Katie might be separated at birth. The Olsen Twins are less alike.

A surprise development as the Gulag got canceled until the next day. Off to the bars!

After a few drinks, Johnny rounded everyone up because he thought it was time to go. Sounds like the move of another insecure douchebag on MTV. What is it with these guys making people leave bars when they say it’s time?

As the cast headed out the door someone crashed down the stairs. In the confessional Brad said he wondered if it was one of their guys. If it had nothing to do with the cast, would you really go home and confess about it? 
Turns out if was Johnny throwing someone down the stairs after claiming he was jumped by a few Czechs. He said he beat up two guys, threw one down the stairs, and then walked out of the bar without incident or law enforcement appearing? There were MTV cameras everywhere, but none of the footage made the cut? The only thing we saw was Johnny’s busted eye. For all we know a drunken Czech fell down the stairs and hit Johnny on his way down. OJ’s alibi had fewer holes.

Next up was the Gulag. The task at hand was getting a giant die to show the same number TJ rolled. They couldn’t have their feet on the ground to achieve this. Big E took it home for the guys. Vinny didn’t take losing too well and told anyone who would listen that he’d kick their ass. And here I thought O'Bannion ended his ways when Mitch Kramer poured paint on him.

Shauvon didn’t even try to compete in the Gulag, so Katie won by default. This angered TJ greatly since he likes quitters as much as politicians like facts.

In the end, the Blues kept two and the Grays lost two.

It was like Gettysburg all over again.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

News and a Review

Up to this point I’ve written on basically anything I can come up with. Mostly television, but a little bit of politics and sports mixed in to spice things up. People aren’t really sure what they are coming to the site for besides attempted dry humor, cynical observations and occasional tangents. Based on feedback for a recent column where I praised MTV’s The Challenge, including a "You Killed It" from the host, I’ve decided to write a weekly recap of the show. Apparently I’m not the only viewer over 30 of the program. Some people speak for those less fortunate than them, others speak for groups that pay them, and some just speak to hear themselves, but today I speak for those in their 30s who watch a program targeting teenagers.

This weekly column will debut today with a recap of episode two. I’ll still write about other shows and topics, but I’m going to try this weekly review and see how it goes. As Al Bundy would say, “Let’s Rock.”

The episode kicks off with Abram saying the house is haunted. He knows this because he said he saw a little girl standing next to him in the shower. I didn’t know R. Kelly morphed himself into a pasty white guy.

There are insecure people and then there’s Laurel. For no reason at all she ripped into Mandi, a cute blonde who is about as confrontational as my dog during a thunderstorm. Maybe the oxygen is worse for those who can see the tops of trees in a rain forest.

Mandi decided to take the hurt from Laurel’s attack and crawl into bed with Chet. To which Chet said something along the lines of “I’m a gentleman…if a girl jumps in my bed, who am I to kick her out?” Rhett Butler wishes he had as much class as Chet.

The team gets notice of the pending challenge the next day by a text on their T-Mobile. T-Mobile has been a sponsor of The Challenge for years. Does anyone still use T-Mobile? There are more rotary phones in circulation than T-Mobile users.

It’s challenge time. This one was called Brain Busters. TJ said it’s not called that because the cast is going to be thinking too much but because they’d be swinging upside down. That’s a relief. There was already one Manhattan Project, no need to embarrass Einstein and Oppenheimer on national TV by having these mental giants re-invent nuclear fusion.

Hanging upside down, the teams had to move beer steins from one end of the area to the other. The team with the best time got exempted from the next Gulag.

The Red Team was up first. Brad said he had a hard time getting the steins to Melinda. He went so far as to say she wasn’t really moving much. No wonder she and Danny are getting divorced. Speaking of which, if those two can’t make it work, what chance do the rest of us have? The Red Team placed one stein out of four in the time allotted, then they all clapped. There’s nothing like being content with mediocrity. It’s like they work for Kruger Industrial Smoothing or voted for governor in Alaska.

The Blue Team was up next and they actually finished the challenge. Nothing of note happened. It was like watching CNN.

The Gray Team finished the day pretty unimpressively. Since they got to go last you’d think they’d be a little more prepared since they saw the previous teams’ efforts and their methods that worked or failed. But then again Look Who’s Talking Too got made so it goes to show watching something suck doesn’t mean you learn your lesson.

After getting back to the house, deliberation for the Gulag began.

Chet voted Mandi in, even though he was a gentleman that kindly placed part of his body in hers not too long before the vote. It looks like he’s more of the untrustworthy Daffy Duck type than the Southern gentleman of Foghorn Leghorn. Either way, he’s loon for voting in Mandi. He’s throwing away an attractive girl who likes him. Given he looks like Anthony Michael Hall from The Breakfast Club and wears glasses that could be mistaken for Dr. Bunsen Honeydew’s, I can’t imagine he’s beating the women away with a stick. Trust me, we can smell our own.

Cara Maria and JD were voted in from the Gray Team. Cara Maria, upon hearing the news, said essentially “I had a bad challenge don’t hold it against me.” She's right. I mean, if the cast has to be judged on their merits, how fair is that? This is like Hoover saying “If you elect FDR because of one bad term, that is bullshit.”

Brandon and Mandi were selected from the Red Team. This is two weeks in a row that Brandon got picked even though he’d done nothing to warrant it other than not being part of the Alpha Betas.

Onto the Gulag. I think TJ should have grown a thick, Stalin-esque moustache for this challenge, just for emphasis. The contestants are strapped to each other and have to get to their side to knock over a barrel. If the challenge was called Chernobyl would those barrels be full of green toxic waste?

The match-up between Brandon and JD was as competitive as the rivalry between a dog and a fire hydrant. Brandon kicked JD’s ass like trying to get a JD kicked mine.

The battle between Mandi and Cara Maria was a little more competitive, but not much. Perhaps like the dog and a stiff breeze - some occasional brush back but the job gets done. Cara Maria, who won, said “this is a physical one-on-one type of Gulag”. Aren’t they all one-on-one? It’s like saying the 76ers-Knicks game is a special kind of basketball game where it’s 5 on 5 and the ball has to go in the hoop. I’m starting to think Cara Maria isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer.

After the Gulag it was time to drink and make bad decisions.

Sarah, seeing Abram and Cara Maria go into the bathroom together, said “when two people go into the bathroom together and shut the door that can only mean one thing.” Blumpkin, right? She had to mean a blumpkin. When Abram came out of the bathroom he had more scratches on him than a record in Pauly D’s arsenal. I hope he got a tetanus shot before going to Europe.

Next week looks like another week of difficult challenges, empty promises and putting off a real job.

Y’all come back now you hear?

UPDATE: Read my week three re-cap here 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

MTV's Cut Throat: Are You Up For The Challenge?

Tonight marks the premier of the 20th season of MTV’s Challenge, a Survivor meets Amazing Race meets Temptation Island reality show pitting former cast members of MTV’s The Real World, Road Rules and some also-rans. Is it a little juvenile that I’m 33 years old and the only other people in my age bracket I know who watch this are my wife, my brother and his wife, Bill Simmons and some guy named Jacoby? Perhaps, but if Edward Stratton III could dress like an engineer and ride a train around his house then I can spend my Wednesday evenings watching a bunch of people afraid to get a desk job compete in challenges that would put me in the hospital in less than three minutes.

Past versions of The Challenge include The Gauntlet, Inferno, Battle of the Sexes and others. Every year the same group of people comes to an exotic part of the world to spend three weeks to a month playing hard during the day and even harder at night. It’s like the Olympics, if only the men and women stayed in the same house and were allowed to collude on who would make it to the gold medal round.

This season the show is titled Cut Throat. Instead of the normal two teams there will be three. Each team will have ten members, five men and five women. There will be daily competitions to determine what team gets a bye, and the remaining two teams will have some members compete in an elimination challenge called The Gulag. The loser of The Gulag goes home and the winner lives to fight another day.

Nothing drives home the importance of stay or go home than comparing an athletic competition to something that makes Russians who can remember the 1930s thru 1950s shit their pants in terror. I thought MTV was a politically correct channel? Then again, if any of The Challenge contestants know what an actual Gulag was I’d be more surprised than John McCain was when his campaign told him who his Vice-Presidential candidate would be.

The Challenge is hosted by TJ Lavin, an X-Games champion BMX biker who takes quitting very seriously. If you want to see someone’s self-worth destroyed on national television watch The Bachelor Pad. But if you want to see someone not give their best effort and be called out for it, watch The Challenge. TJ doesn’t tolerate quitters.

I could only imagine how TJ would have treated Nixon shortly after he resigned.

TJ: “Tricky Dickie, you’re a quitter. You let those spineless Dems and 4th estate chattering class push you around and you quit.”
Nixon: “But I am not a crook!”
TJ: “I’d rather be a crook than a quitter. That’s all for you now. I hope you enjoyed your time in Washington, DC.”

Just as he likes to berate those who quit, TJ also praises a good effort from the cast. If you win an event and TJ tells you “You killed it” you know you kicked some ass. In the best man speech at my brother’s wedding I almost told him, “Great job on picking a mate. You killed it.” But as I said before, only three other people in the room would have got the joke.

The cast for Cut Throat brings back some of the usual crop of people. However, it seems the bar/hosting circuit isn’t paying what it used to and some familiar faces of old are making returns. Since there are 30 cast members, I’ll highlight a guy and girl from each team.

Red Team:
Brad is back after taking a season off to let his eye recover from the trauma it received at the hands of Darrell.  In what was one of the dumber moves I’ve seen Brad do, he got drunk and picked a fight with a boxer. There are some things people should never do. Don’t drive drunk. Don’t believe a girl when she says I never do this type of thing. And don’t get into fights with boxers.

Paula is back yet again for another bite at the apple. Paula is probably the most sympathetic yet dislikable characters on the show, which is tough to pull off. You feel bad for her because she is constantly being used and manipulated by smarter teammates. You hate her because she thinks she deserves to win when she really has the athletic prowess of Steve Martin’s son in Parenthood.

Blue Team:
Johnny Bananas, like Brad, returns after a season away. If someone could be arrested just for being a dick, Johnny would have been locked up years ago. He is about as misogynistic as anyone this side of Ike Turner and yet the girls on the show flock to him. I will never understand women. I hope Johnny is the first one eliminated. It bothers me to no end this prick has made more money from this show in a few moths work than I will in five years. Study hard kids!

Katie reminds me of Lindsay Lohan. She smokes, drinks and swears like a lounge singer. She has no talent other than her abrasiveness. She gets by on name alone. She’s been doing this for years and has got to be on the wrong side of 30, which will come back to bite her. Trust me.

Gray Team:
Abram is back for another go around on The Challenge. In his day there was no one more fearsome than Abram. Then CT emerged as the drunken Masshole everyone who’s ever lived in Boston and gone out in Faneuil Hall or The Alley knows all too well. Abram also used his general bad-assery to pull off a three-some with Veronica and Rachel a few years back. So he has that going for him.

Shauvon re-emerges after two memorable stints on past challenges. In one she was caught having sex on the roof with the aforementioned Masshole, which in a roundabout way led to a fight that might have resulted in a murder charge had CT actually gotten Adam in his grasp. Shauvon’s other claim to fame/infamy is she popped an implant on a challenge. I hope they were insured.

A lot of the cast is made up of Real World veterans from Washington, Cancun, and Brooklyn. I don’t watch The Real World anymore because, well because it’s just not very good anymore. If I want to watch a bunch of people get drunk, fight, hook-up with strangers and each other and try to milk fifteen minutes of fame for all its worth, I’ll watch Jersey Shore.

Some people hope for world peace. Others hope for their team to win the World Series. I hope one day MTV comes to their senses and pits Jersey Shore against some Challenge All-Stars. There is no way The Situation is athletic and JWoww needs a chance to be allowed to show off her aggressiveness. Plus who wouldn’t want to see Snooki and her giant slippers trying to do an obstacle challenge?

I think if TJ heard about that, he’d say “you killed it.”

UPDATE: Read my week two re-cap here 
                 Read my week three re-cap here
                 Read my week four re-cap here
                 Read my week five re-cap here
                 Read my week six re-cap here
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