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SUN 25 JAN 2004: First of the Mohicans

SUN 01 FEB 2004

SUN 08 FEB 2004: Can They Air That?
SUN 25 JAN 2004: First of the Mohicans


SUN 22 FEB 2004: Spot the Planet


One week of solid pain

We've developed an experiment to test the following hypothesis.

Reality shows blow.

We looked through our television listings to spot a sampling of "reality" programmes, and we've spent the week watching them and logging our reactions in real time. This is what we've come up with.


SUN 25 JAN 2004, 20:00 PST, MTV

"Bye Bye Babies" would be the title of the first episode, it seems. We open with Ozzy and Jack standing in front of some sort of panel, with lots of bleeping.

So the deal is, Ozzy is a musician with a wife, Sharon. They have a daughter called Kelly and a son called Jack.

Jack gives Ozzy a breathalyser, which reads .1. Sharon's response: "Maybe it's the gum." Yeah.

Anyway, Sharon says to Kelly, "I am special. I've got you as a daughter and I've got daddy as a husband." You sure special is the word you're looking for? You sure it's not bland?

Kelly gives Ozzy another breathalyser test, which reads .5. Kelly claims .6 is "red". Maybe it's been a long time since driver's ed, but isn't the legal limit in most states .08 or .1?

The entire show seems to be a series of non sequiturs, like Ozzy trying to explain to the dog how to fetch things, or Jack and Kelly visiting the family's other house back in the UK.

Sharon tells Jack not to play with the guns. Minutes later, guess what he does. It must be difficult to raise children on television - at least normal people tend not to have actual video evidence of their kids' transgressions.

Usually, when Ozzy speaks, it's either unintelligible or just bleeped out. If only all conversations could be that simple.

"Ozz Well That Ends Well" starts with Jack talking about people waking him up from a deep sleep. Apparently he doesn't like it. He continues going on and on about this, but the story needs some sort of punchline. You know how people just keep going on and on about the same thing and the conversation never goes anywhere but the person just keeps on the same subject no matter how hard you try to change the subject and they just won't talk about anything else? Yeah. Annoying, isn't it?

Meanwhile, Kelly's boyfriend has broken up with her, on Valentine's Day no less. There is much discussion about what a [bleep]er the guy is. The explanation he gave was, according to Kelly, "I just wanna rock!" Be reasonable. Who amongst us has never wanted out of a relationship for the same reason?

By the time Jack discusses waking up and finding himself fighting the dog, all I can do is think of Peter from Family Guy: "What the hell is this? For god sake! Somebody throw a pie!"

Yes, not even an hour into Reality Week, and we're already thinking about what we'd rather be watching.

Jack kills Mimi the dog, evidently in his sleep, and then Sharon runs away. Ozzy is so distraught that he gets stuck on the Weather Channel.

But, of course, no animals were harmed during the taping of that episode.


SUN 25 JAN 2004, 21:00 PST, KTLA

The cast contains Erik Estrada, Ron Jeremy, Tammy Faye Messner, Rob Van Winkle, Trishelle Cannatella, and Traci Bingham all living together. And what, if not this, has television been crying out for ever since it was invented by some crazy Scotsman?

Erik flashes the camera, which brings laughter from Rob. Mr Ice, your standards of humour must differ greatly from ours.

This week's visitor is Cheri Mancuso, who is a medium. And I'm a large. Ha ha ha! Ha ... ha ... kill me now.

Trishelle returns from her one on one session saying, "I don't like that stuff." Well, of course. That thing about red and black? She must not like the Chicago Bulls.

Rob's words of wisdom: "Don't be a follower!" And look where that got him.

Anyway, the nutjobs - I mean residents - all pack into the Séance Room, save for Tammy Faye, who declined. "Everybody wants to share that love," says Cheri. There are more vagaries and nonspecific pieces of advice on the way, followed by drinking. Not entirely clear how one leads to another, but, well, whatever. If that's what those kids want to see on television.

Ron: "Some say that alcohol brings out the truth. But it also exaggerates it." Finally, something marginally insightful.

Trishelle says she wants to kiss someone. She tries to point at Rob but misses. Hang in there, folks. That's about as funny as it gets.

Their task for the next day: put on a comedy called "Mutha Gooz" for a bunch of kids who are coming up to the house. Hooray.

Trishelle: "I usually don't get hangovers..." Riiiight.

Tammy Faye asks Rob, "You think I could be a good rapper?" Come on! What the hell does Vanilla Ice know about good rappers?

Unsurprisingly, there were plenty of arguments in the rehearsal. Something about who should be where and how to pronounce Fugly and the like. So will this episode lead to more participation in community theatre from the general public? Or less?

Traci, when you make a capital L with your thumb and index finger, it goes on your forehead, not your nose. Just wanted to clear that up.

Traci: "As crazy as this sounds, that was my best acting ever." Yeah. That sounds so crazy. Uh huh. Absolutely insane. Yep.

A kid: "I'm gonna go over and call him Vanilla Ice Cream!"

How was it? It has its moments, but memorable it ain't. Interestingly, the production company was called "Mindless Entertainment". Sounds about right.


MON 26 JAN 2004, 20:00 PST, KNBC

We had some discussion over whether this counts as a reality show or a game show. Stand by on that one.

Host Joe Rogan: "They are extremely dangerous and should not be attempted by anyone, any time, anywhere." Unless, of course, there's a television camera around.

This was Couples Fear Factor; there are five couples remaining, and there are rats in the popcorn. But tonight is not an elimination night. Instead, they're playing for a trip to Pamplona.

Apparently the game is: One of them sits in a dunk tank, and the other chucks softballs at the target. When the victim falls in, he or she is supposed to gather five cow's tails from it [there's also random other cow parts in there], and the other one carries the tails over to a bucket. In his or her mouth.

Melissa - who went in the drink - and Jim finish in 01:55.7. Joe: "How skank nasty is that?!"

Monica spends the 01:55.7 trying to hit the target. Jackson never falls in.

It really isn't that nasty. If you don't mind the wretched odor, and the vile water, and the potential for salmonella.

Rachael and Todd finish in 01:50.5. Melissa: "I am so pissed right now, I can't even stand it!" And I am mildly irritated right now, but I can stand it.

Meg dunks Adam in under ten seconds. They end up at 01:48.0.

Meghan and Jim are last. Jim falls in after ten seconds as well. Then they go to commercial. But on return, there are only two tails in the bucket. Meg and Adam win the trip.

Throughout the show there are clips of everyone saying nasty stuff about one another. So I guess it is a reality show. But wait, Weakest Link had everyone saying nasty stuff about one another. But they're playing for a million dollars. But they play for a million dollars on Survivor. I'm so confused!

The second game is, again, another non-elimination contest. Instead, they hang upside down from a helicopter, flying over a lake with flags in a long row. They grab as many flags as possible, drop into the water, and swim to a raft that holds another flag. The highest flag total wins, with the swim time serving as a tiebreaker.

But this time, the winning couple gets to gank a prize that someone else already won. Meg and Adam apparently took three of the four previously.

Monica grabs three flags and swims in :40.3.

Meghan grabs three flags as well and finishes in :37.1. "My knuckles kept cracking on me! It hurt so bad!"

Joe says to Meghan and Jim, "For a brief moment in time, you guys are winners right now." They haven't won so far.

Meghan says to Jim, "You were a winner when you found me."

Rachael grabs four flags, but Todd drops her early, and her swim is :52.7.

Meg and Adam go next. Immediately before commercial, Joe says, "They're actually really pissed that their prizes are up for grabs." What a surprise.

I guess the whole point is that as the show carries on, you get to know the participants and pick someone to cheer for, like at the World Cup. But it's a little different because, you know, at the World Cup, you can, like, actually, you know, tell the teams apart. I'm telling you, I think they cloned off all the couples and just changed their hair.

Meg grabs only three flags. She's pretty bummed.

Melissa: "I just wanna win." Somebody send that girl to Super Bowl media day!

Melissa grabs four flags. Joe: "It's gonna be close!" No it's not. Shut up. Her time was :29.5. But to build the suspense, they didn't show the clock on the screen.

Anyway, Melissa and Jim grab Adam's and Meg's SUVs. Hooray.

The verdict: I can see why my sister likes it, but if I need my Joe Rogan fix, NewsRadio is there.


MON 26 JAN 2004, 21:00 PST, KTTV

The premise: "You have to make your family believe you got engaged to a total stranger."

Steve is an actor. "I was hired to drive Randi and her family absolutely crazy."

Naturally, Randi's family is going to hate Steve. Come see a family ripped apart on national television! Isn't that great!

They meet a wedding planner, Jill. She leads them to a series of tables filled with "ripe comedy fun", as Steve puts it.

Randi: "I don't want any memories from all this, in all honesty." So why'd you sign up for that show? Oh, right, for the bling bling. For the Benjamins. For the dollaz. For the pocket liner. For the palm grease.

"I mean, look at Steve." What's the problem? Look at Peter and Lois.

Okay, here's a real challenge. Can I get through the rest of Reality Week without bringing up Family Guy again?

"I had no idea I would be pulling this prank in front of multiple people." What did you think? You'd get married in a freaking closet?!

Steve: "I think she's concerned that my character is going to fall for her. So, of course, that's the road we went down."

Gotta give props to Steve. He's in his role all the way. The guy runs away as they're trying on their wedding gear, which, of course, makes Randi whine some more about how "real" it is. Again, I'm not seeing the problem. You wanna play a game, go download SnakeBall.

"Steve let me know that he likes Asian girls. That put me totally at ease." Did you ask about his other fetishes?

The next day, they're sent to a sex therapist and are supposed to be completely open about their sex life... or what it would be like if they had one.

Guess which one of them was not eager at all about that.

That bit could have been really hilarious, but... nope. We find out that Randi doesn't like her ass groped, but that's about it.

My question is, why couldn't her Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé be British?

Randi would say: "Hi, I'm Randi with an I."

Fiancé: "I'd like you to be randy with I!"

Randi's next task was to tell her best friend, "Anna Banana" [?!], that she's engaged. Anna seemed to buy it for a while, up until Steve showed up. Didn't see that coming. No sir. Not at all. So surprising.

So, anyway, if I wanted to see two people pretend to be something they're not, I could just turn on those endless reports about Ben and J-Lo.


MON 26 JAN 2004, 22:00 PST, KNBC

"Right now, everything is about to change." That's nice.

So there's some girl called Larissa, and she's got some guys from which to choose. Then a bunch of other guys from which to choose showed up.

The originals are all bitching about how keen she looked when the non-ugly guys showed up. "She was all [bleep]ing smiles, man."

The blathering about old guys [geeks] against new guys [jocks] continues for the entire first half hour.

One new guy says, "I can push buttons, but it was like there was one big button, and I just pushed it." Not an English teacher, are you?

So when things actually started happening, they were all loaded onto a school bus and taken to some sort of school. Larissa was supposed to be the teacher.

There were three rounds: some sort of examination, some sort of physical education, and some sort of sport thing. The old guys went up against the new guys, with best two of three. Not that it's rigged or anything.

After the first two are split 1-1, the third game is dodgeball. Not that it's rigged or anything.

The new guys are supposed to play without shirts. Not that it's rigged or anything.

Larissa: "I thought the old guys would do okay in dodgeball." Yeah. Whatever. Not that you rigged it or anything.

Anyway, the new guys' reward is an opportunity for each to dance with Larissa individually. Guess what! The new guys were all the same! Seriously, I think there's some secret Reality Show Contestant Cloning Facility in the Nevada desert.

Or possibly in Cleveland. I think two of the guys on this show were from Cleveland, OH.

Larissa: "Today I'm going to take the new guys canoeing." The excitement.

Then they bleeped out the word beaver.

Ah, would that Average Joe could actually ascend to the lofty heights of an average show.


TUE 27 JAN 2004, 20:00 PST, KTTV

Our channel guide describes tonight's episode as follows: "More auditions. More horrified looks from Simon, Paula, and Randy." Yaaaaay.

So there were ten thousand people camping out at the Rose Bowl for the LA auditions. Some fraction thereof made it through to the Horrified Looks round.

Note that out of all these reality programmes on the schedule for this week, this and The Real World are the only ones I've seen previously. Last time I saw American Idol, they had already advanced past the auditions and had reached the bit where people at home cast votes online.

But this week's programme didn't even bear the opportunity for audience participation. No, it was just Simon and Randy telling everyone that they blow.

They talked to Bao Viet's father. He had a slight accent, Vietnamese I think, but for some reason they felt the need to subtitle his English words in English. Thanks, Fox.

Anyway, Bao Viet was the first from LA that Simon and Randy sent through.

Yeah, I've got a lot to say about this, but a much more contrite description of the programme would be, "Nothing's happening... nothing's happening... somebody's singing... Simon's being a bastard... Randy's agreeing with him... somebody else is singing... Simon's not being so much of a bastard this time, although I can't really tell the difference between this person and the other person to whom he was being a bastard... nothing's happening."

Jasmine the One Metre Tramp earns a place. Okay, that's not fair. She was more like 1.2 metres.

There is much discussion about how Simon and Randy haven't let any gentlemen through. But the first male through is some guy, Jeffrey or something.

A common theme amongst the rejected ones is that Randy and Simon will somehow come to regret their decisions. The hell do they care? They get paid either way.

Victoria didn't make it through in Los Angeles, so she followed them to San Francisco. What changes did she make? She changed her hair. Way to go, genius.

Something I'd like cleared up. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire migrated from Britain to the US. The American version was called Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

Weakest Link migrated from Britain to the US. The American version was called Weakest Link.

Whose Line Is It Anyway? migrated from Britain to the US. The American version is called Whose Line Is It Anyway?.

Pop Idol migrated from Britain to the US. But the American version is called American Idol. Thanks, Fox.

They let some cheerleader through. She squeals and hops up and down. Hooray.

The only phrase this programme inspired was: "Make me give a rat's ass already!"


TUE 27 JAN 2004, 21:00 PST, KCOP

Now there are ten women remaining from an initial field of twelve. Many of them have ridiculous names like "Shandi" and "Yoanna".

Shandi's name is ridiculous, but she's the only one who looks like a normal human.

Heather telephones her mother and whines about how nobody likes her. I think they're trying to get me to care.

Tyra Banks: "Jenascia, you are 5'7". Your hair is too long for that height." The hell?

"Shandi, we are going to get contacts for you." Nooooooooooooooooo!

Heather whines about being bleached. Give it a rest, yo. I can tell you a thing or two about bleachings.

So Shandi loses the glasses and gets platinumised. Congratulations! You look generic!

Catie's hair is clipped short. She whines about looking like a boy, and Tyra must intervene: "You still got titties. You still got a booty." Catie, dye it pink, and then call me.

Anyway, their next task is to run up to a mirror and give themselves "smoky eyes" in fifteen minutes.

Yoanna wins and selects three others - three more bland ones - to join her for dinner. The rest are supposed to cook for them.

Shandi collapses, and they cut away to commercial. Yes, let's make dramatic moments out of the participants' health!

This show would be pretty good, except for one problem: Tyra, they looked good to begin with! And you screwed them up!

They are sent to a photo shoot where they'll be suspended thirty metres over the ground. Catie whines about it.

She's the last one out. She's finally coaxed onto the wires, but she gets a winning shot.

As they show the midair photographs, one of the judges says he likes Mercedes's booty. Just to be sure we get the idea, they zoom in on her booty.

Heather and Xiomara are the last two. Tyra calls them forward, and I wait for her to tell them to fight to the death. No such luck.

Heather, the Anna Kournikova wannabe, is eliminated. No doubt she leaves to telephone her mother and whine about how nobody likes her.

Most of the other shows I've seen so far this week just didn't make me feel anything. This one actively made me angry, because they all ended up less attractive, at least to me. Especially Shandi. Give me the bespectacled original any day.


TUE 27 JAN 2004, 22:00 PST, Bravo

Richard Miller has a toupee, at the encouragement of his mother. The guys try to uncover the Real Richard.

They discover that his shirt is a Stain Defender. Naturally, they dump ketchup, whipped cream, and anything else they can find onto it. And then it wipes right off. Hooray.

Carson, the guy who called Charles Barkley a "hottie", is distraught at Richard's collection of suits. Richard says he has trouble saying goodbye to things. Carson gives him a hand by dumping the shirts out the window. "Goodbye! That wasn't so hard, was it?"

Kyan looks a lot like Alan Ruck. You know, Cameron from Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

He removes the toupee and shaves Richard's hair, making him look like Sean Gullette. You know, Max from π.

Carson advises that if he can only afford one really good suit, he should wear it every day "until people complain about the odor". Thanks, Carson.

They go through Times Square, and Richard looks like Sean Gullette again.

By the way, ladies [and gentlemen], just keep in mind that Charles Barkley prefers to be called a "strapping lad". Just so you know.

Jai encourages Richard to be more expressive with his wife. In the bedroom. Which is now blue.

Kyan asks Richard to burn the toupee. He agrees, but the toupee creates such massive flames that they must slam the grill lid down.

"That bed looks like an altar to sex!" Really, what else would you want your bed to look like?

He shaves, but they cringe at the direction in which he does it.

Carson: "I'm not so crazy about the baby's shirt. It's not so good with his bone structure, but whatever."

The mother turns away. "Too bad, mama!"

Richard's confidence built during the programme, and the Fab Five seem to agree that the trend will only continue.

The show kept me interested for a bit, but, you know, I'm still not interested in makeovers. Just like I'm not interested in bad singers. Or a woman choosing from a whole bunch of men. Or a whole bunch of E-list celebrities living together.

Don't worry. We'll rejoin our regularly scheduled Family Guy references tomorrow.


WED 28 JAN 2004, 21:00 PST, KABC

So this time there is someone called Meredith, and the initial field of twenty five men is now down to ten.

Ian is "most compatible" with Meredith. Whatever the hell that means. So, he wins a date with her in Chinatown. [The Los Angeles version of Chinatown.]

Ian: "What's the specialty of the house?"

Meredith: "You're sitting right next to her." Ah! Perfect opportunity to calibrate the Vomitometer!

Todd: "I've never been on a two on one date. Maybe I have and I didn't know it." I'm not going to ask.

He and Ryan are apparently the next most compatible, and so Meredith takes both of them to the Santa Barbara Zoo. Naturally, neither of the gentlemen is keen on the idea.

But they take the opportunity to talk smack about the other guys. Naturally.

Then, she takes the remaining seven to Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, home of the defending NHL Western Conference champion Anaheim Mighty Ducks. The ad boards surrounding the ice are blurred out. Thanks, ABC.

Lanny wins some sort of shooting competition and goes to the penalty box with Meredith. But it's only a two minute minor.

Every time they cut away to commercial, they remind us that Meredith makes a surprise last minute request, that this will be the "most dramatic rose ceremony ever", and that one of the guys "can't handle the rejection". Yeah, yeah.

One of the guys is talking to her alone, and then another guy barges in. The first guy leaves, calls the guy a bastard behind his back, and doesn't get bleeped.

As the evening goes on, everyone talks to her alone, and they all say basically the same thing.

A common problem in many of these programmes is the pace. This show is cramming twenty minutes' worth of action into sixty. Likewise with My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé, The Surreal Life, American Idol, America's Next Top Model, and Average Joe. And then there's The Osbournes, which crams no action into thirty minutes.

Meredith whines about having to eliminate someone she's not sure about. She asks to give a seventh rose, and the host guy says, basically, okay.

Ian: "I'd like to tell you what I wished for, but I want it to come true." Hmmm. I wonder what it could be.

Host guy: "Usually I come down here with the roses and tell you what's gonna happen. This time, I don't know what's gonna happen." Yeah, so?

"Gentlemen, Meredith has seven roses to hand out tonight." Yeah, so?

Meredith: "I'm so confused." And I'm so bored.

She gives roses to Guy I Don't Care About 1, Guy I Don't Care About 2, Guy I Don't Care About 3, Guy I Don't Care About 4, Guy I Don't Care About 5, Guy I Don't Care About 6, and Guy I Don't Care About 7. Surprisingly, they don't cut away to commercial before the last one.

Guy I Don't Care About 10 utters a string of bleeped words.

Here's a hint if you want to make a show like this: Either make the participants interesting, or make the things that they do interesting. This programme accomplished neither.


WED 28 JAN 2004, 22:00 PST, KABC

There are five players left out of eight. Dennis Rodman's English words are subtitled in English. Thanks, ABC.

This show takes place on the Yucatán Peninsula. One of the participants is a "mole" and is trying to engage in subterfuge in some poorly thought out way.

The first game is to carry bottles of tequila across a bridge on trays. Meanwhile, there are three "bandidos", and as Ahmad Rashad says, "They will be pelting you with dodgeballs."

Angie Everhart: "I don't like that word pelting."

Ahmad: "They will be throwing dodgeballs at you."

That's almost as funny as it gets, folks.

Tracey Gold and Angie bring across the first two bottles. The "bandidos" are, unsurprisingly, the eliminated individuals from previous weeks.

Tracey bitches about being clanged in the head with a ball. Finally, Dennis figures out the secret: Run across the bridge. Be a rapidly moving target.

The term "celebrity" is used loosely here. The last time anyone on this show did anything important was 1998, when Dennis won his fifth NBA championship with the Bulls.

Mark Curry was a sitcom star in the mid 1990s. Angie was a model in the mid 1990s. Tracey and Keshia Knight Pulliam were sitcom stars in the 1980s.

Well, at least I actually know who these people are. Half of the residents on The Surreal Life were unknown to me.

Angie: "That's the biggest worm I've ever seen!"

They are challenged to eat the worms from the tequila. But the others don't want to, so Dennis agrees to eat everyone's worms.

Tracey: "Dennis never takes any notes in his journal, which is very suspicious. Would the mole do that?" Please. This is the same guy who turned up at a book signing in a wedding dress.

One of the commercials plugs "Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital", a place where there's a lot of shaking. Looks more like Kingdome Hospital. Thank you, I'll be here all week.

Then they are supposed to divide up into a group of three "children at heart", a "chatterbox", and a "good eye".

The "chatterbox" [Mark] gets a walkie talkie and must describe three paintings to the "children at heart" [the women], who must recreate them in finger paint. Then the "good eye" [Dennis] is to match the finger pieces to the real ones. Naturally, all the recreations suck, and Dennis is unable to match any of them.

On this programme, the cutaways continually announce the "most surprising execution yet". How about a little less talking, a little more shut the hell up!

This concludes your Family Guy reference for WED 28 JAN 2004.

There is a caricature of Ahmad in there, which has some sort of mole in the corner. Tracey: "Is that a mole? I thought it was a mouse."

They are asked ten questions about who they think the mole is. The tenth question: "Who is the mole?" Doesn't get more blunt than that, does it?

All of these shows have some extremely slow way of revealing who is to be eliminated. On this one, Ahmad enters names into the computer. After about ten seconds, the screen changes colour: red indicates that the player is out. Keshia is of the opinion that she's out. She's right. She says, "Told y'all it wasn't me!"

Mark: "Won't be the same without Keshia.... Seeing Rudy naked? I called my mama after that."

Keshia exits in a yellow SUV marked: Driver only carries $30,000.00 in change. That was the funniest part of the show, and you really had to look for it.


THU 29 JAN 2004, 21:00 PST, KNBC

Rich guy Don Trump is in charge of this programme, which pits some men against some women. They're down to five men and eight women, and I think they started with eight of each, though this isn't adequately explained in the opener.

The group has trouble getting out of bed. Obviously you're not going to make money like that.

They go to Planet Hollywood in Times Square. Trump pulls up in a limousine, steps out, and tells them to run the restaurant for a night. Women one night, men the next.

The team that pulls in more cash [relative to the same day a year previously] wins and plays golf. The losers go to the boardroom. "And you know what that means." Elimination for one of them, evidently.

One of the women: "I'm now more scared of the men because they don't have Sam."

Kristi observes that they only pull in 25% of their cash at the bar. Odd that.

One of them suggests that they be "Planet Hollywood Shooter Girls". "It's modelled after Hooters girls." Who woulda thought.

Unsurprisingly, they don't succeed. They start distributing coupons, promising the opportunity to meet the "Shooter Girls". One guy: "Who?"

One person they meet says he's planning to go there tomorrow. They respond, "It's closed tomorrow." Power move.

Meanwhile, the men are playing Trump the Home Game. They argue. No surprise.

The women are also arguing. Katrina: "I'm upset because you're upset."

Jessie: "I'm not upset."

And so on and so on.

Kristi says Heidi is a good shot seller. So good, in fact, that one guy buys shots for all the women. "It was probably a bad idea, but...."

Kristi: "I could see management was upset because this was something that they don't normally do." None of them seem to know what the hell they're doing. Just like Yuri's Night.

When it's the men's turn, one guy promises that the staff member who sells the most each hour gets US$100. "You can win it again two hours later; you can win it again the next hour." Okay then.

One guy asks a group of patrons if they'd like a photograph to remember their experience. "We don't want to remember this! We're working!"

The women go out that night for two reasons. "One, because we worked our butts off last night; two, because we deserve it." That's the same reason.

Then someone comes up with an idea. "Get an autograph from Kwame Jackson! Who's Kwame Jackson? He lives in New York, and he works on Wall Street!"

Nick is none too pleased. The others feel he's checked out on them.

The men are up 6.8% over last year. The women are up 31.3%. Trump: "Again - again - the men are taking a beating."

Bowie: "Everyone's just going, What the hell just happened? How the hell did we just lose that?"

Heidi: "I don't know how to do golf!" You don't know how to talk about it either.

At the golf course, Trump takes the women into a meeting room and tells them not to rely on their sexuality to make money. Do you need to be told that? This is Don Trump, not Larry Flynt.

Back in the boardroom, the men spend a few minutes dissing one another to their faces. Kwame says that Nick and Bowie were the underperformers, which means that one of the two - or himself - will be eliminated.

Don can't decide whom to fire, so he calls them all back in to talk it over. The merchandising is where they failed; Bowie was in charge of merchandising; Bowie is out.

This was quite painful to watch, more so than most of the other programmes this week. Don decried the "questionable ethical decisions". So do I.


SAT 31 JAN 2004, 20:00 PST, KCBS

The granddaddy of them all. The original version, which Ed McMahon hosted in the 1980s, gave us such wonderful talents as Britney Spears.

This time, the host is Arsenioooooooooooooooooooo Hall. It was previously recorded, by about three hours.

"You should see the people backstage right now. They're more nervous than Martha Stewart's stockbroker."

Naomi Judd, Matti Leshem, and MC Lyte are the judges. Arsenio spends the first several minutes making endless American football references, because it's a day before the Super Bowl.

The first competition is young singing. Forrest gets eleven stars. Brittany scores eight. Hence, Forrest gets to take on someone from the winner's circle.

The young singers in the winner's circle are illuminated in spotlights with red backdrops, like on Weakest Link. Forrest: "I challenge you, David." To screw in a light bulb?

I think that TV Nation reference will end up the most obscure of the week.

Arsenio: "Did you know that all TV shows used to be live?"

Forrest shakes her head, and Arsenio continues, "I'm talking to a girl who probably TiVos Spongebob Squarepants."

David sings like a girl. Seriously. I mean, yeah, he's thirteen, so his voice is going to change soon, but when it does, he'd better find some different songs to sing.

Matti: "I thought you had amazing phrasing." Musicians and their euphemisms.

David gets twelve stars and remains in the circle.

Then we move on to young dancers and Danny, who's representing the "the East Coast. The left coast." Hey Arsenio, which way up do you hold your map?

Lyte: "I've never seen a dancer use his elbows in that fashion!" But the other judges don't like his elbows, and he totals only eight stars.

Jon does some ballet funk and gets thirteen stars. He challenges Rah'Shan and Rah'Shad, a pair of identical twins.

Arsenio sounds like he's playing one of his well known previous characters, the preacher from Coming to America: "Give it up for Jackson Heights' own Mr Randy Watson!"

Matti says Rah'Shan and Rah'Shad were good, but sloppy. He is booed. Anyway, the twins finish with a total of ten stars, and Jon gets both of their medals.

"This next category is open to basses, altos, tenors, and sopranos. I don't think there's anything higher than soprano, except maybe Snoop Dogg."

Now on to adult singers. Nina gets only four stars, which was the maximum on the original Star Search but isn't so good on this fifteen-star version. Melissa doubles her up, but Matti feels she's not good enough for the show either.

Vickie looked like she was disgusted with her performance, but the judges were ecstatic: fourteen stars.

So there's young singers, adult singers, and young dancers. They wanted to have adult dancers as well, but then they couldn't be on CBS.

It's kind of like American Idol, only, you know, watchable. They've filtered out all the lousy ones first and just get to the good stuff.


With 98% confidence, we accept the hypothesis that reality shows blow.


  • Pull the plug on The Osbournes, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiancé, Average Joe, The Bachelorette, Celebrity Mole, and The Apprentice. These shows are beyond help.
  • The Star Search judges should avoid jargon like phrasing, presence, and elbows.
  • Fear Factor needs to take some lessons from sports broadcasts.
    • Don't cut away to commercials in the middle of someone's stunt.
    • Don't hide the clock to build suspense. Either show it every time, or leave it out every time.
  • The auditions on American Idol are boring as hell. Pick some people and move on.
  • In general, getting players' reactions to the action is fine. Just as long as there is some action for them to react to.
  • The Surreal Life exceeded expectations [though that's not saying much] owing largely to the fact that, unlike most of the other programmes, it's not a competition of any sort.
  • In the interest of equal time, let's have Queer Tongue for the Straight Gal, in which a pack of lesbian women make over a heterosexual lady. Just to see what it would be like.
  • General advice for all of the competitions amongst these programmes: Start with a smaller field, so that the possibility exists that we might actually tell them apart.