Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Reality Roundup Part 3: Solitary Amazing Race

Here's our final part of the "catch-up" from last week, after being at The Happiest Place on Earth... we've covered Idol, we've covered Survivor (featuring JT from Samson). Our last stop, at least for these batch of episodes, is The Amazing Race, followed by a television oddity called "Solitairy".

I've been watching The Amazing Race since its 3rd or 4th inception, and while it sometimes lacks the drama of Survivor, it is an equally good show... perhaps in some ways, better. I've often told The Lovely Steph Leann that were I given a choice, I would probably go on The Amazing Race for one factor only... its not a social game. What I love about Survivor is that not only do you have to be skillful in challenges, you have to play a people game--while that is fun to watch, I'm not so sure I'd be crazy about being in the midst of it. With The Amazing Race, its not social... its "first one there wins, last one there is out". Its a race, pure and simple. Oh, socialability plays into it, as there are many times you have to deal with other teams, negotiate, even help each other out, but for the most part, its "get there fastest, and your safe".

Don't get me wrong, though--if given a chance on Survivor, I'd be on that faster than President B. Hussein Obama would sign more legislation to take my hard earned tax dollars to give to someone who doesn't work. And if you think that I took way to long on that analogy because I'm a little bitter, than... you'd be right.

(searching the DVR for The Amazing Race... flipping past other programs that have been recorded already... flipping past "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street"... flipping past "Pan's Labrynth"... flipping past some ridiculous Hallmark movie The Lovely Steph Leann recorded... flipping past three episodes of WWE Raw... flipping plast eight episodes of "Great Weekends With Samantha Brown"--oh, I do love me some Samantha Brown...)

(still searching, beginning to be concerned... and... sigh... I knew I didn't set the DVR to record last night's episode of The Amazing Race, but surely I set it to record the first one, last Sunday while The Lovely Steph Leann and I were watching "Wishes", the incredible fireworks display at The Happiest Place on Earth)

(has now come to the sad conclusion that I've missed the first two episodes of The Amazing Race... and also sad with the knowledge that while Survivor is available on CBS' website and on iTunes--how I watched the first episode last night--for whatever reason, The Amazing Race isn't available anywhere)

Well, this just sucks. So... I guess I'll surf on over to EW.com and read what I missed. Oh, but good news... there's only been one single episode! Here's the recap from the episode, and apparently I missed what might have been one of the greatest challenges in The Amazing Race history... says EW:

The best Detours and Roadblocks are the ones that truly break their contestants. Learning a local dance? Feh. Eating a big pizza? Phooey. Being briefly driven underwater in a Jeep? Back to Feh. But this was something special. Each team had to climb to a cheese ''aging shack'' at the top of a large, slippery hill, and then collectively carry four 50-pound wheels of cheese down the hill on an incredibly rickety backpack-type contraption. At first it seemed like it would be a simple relay race of brute strength, but then the carnage started.

The cheese was heavy, the backpacks were fragile, and the hill was slippery with wet grass and animal poop. It was glorious. The cheese racks splintered into pieces, and the cheese fell to the ground and roll all the way down the hill into the woods at great speeds. At one point Luke lost his balance and his legs began pinwheeling down the mountain as he desperately tried to keep upright, until he finally tumbled to the grass, his cheese flying out of his hands. Mel, who had said he'd prepped for the trip by doing pushups and sit-ups, suffered a groin injury and could only slowly inch down the hill on his butt, cheese in his lap: if only he'd done some groin-ups! And all the while, locals below laughed and laughed, much like the Russian marching band when frat guy Dan attempted to master marching last season.

Its a shame I missed it...

That brings us to Solitary, or as this season is called, Solitary 3.0--meaning the third season. Now this is a show you can only catch on Fox Reality (unless you download it, which I had to do with the first episode, to watch on The Happiest Interstate in Florida to The Happiest Place on Earth). The fact that its on Fox Reality should tell you something... shows that appear on this channel, and shows that keep getting renewed to appear on this channel are bottom feeding shows that you wouldn't believe.

For example, if one were to flip to Fox Reality right now, channel 250 on DirecTV, you'd be treated to a few hours of "Divorce Court", followed by "Ex-treme Dating", a show in which people are paired up with former loves, then "The Worlds Most Incredible Animal Rescues" and "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol". Later, "Smile Your Under Arrest" and "Battle of the Bods".

I think I discovered Solitary on iTunes during one of those "free episode" chances... it actually turned up as the 87th Coolest Thing of 2007, and you'll want to flip to this link to not only read up on this, but also for #86, where you'll see a link to one of my favorite music videos ever, Kenny G's "Don't Make Me Wait For Love"... I mean, the manifest destiny potential of this clip is just unchartable. Seriously.

Now, we've already had a few episodes of this show go by, so I'll give you the best recap I can... the first episode does something no other season has done--they are blindfolded upon being put in their "pod", that being the little room they'll be confined in, and when they pull their blindfolds off, they see another contestant in front of them. The pods are octagonal, with one little "food slot", or door they open to get something to eat, or whatever else they have to use. There is another little "isolation room" they have for bathroom use, and on the wall is a green button and a red button. At any time, if they choose to quit, they can press the red button. The green button is only used when they finish a challenge.

We have Katie, 19, an actress... we have Jennifer, 36, a chainsmoking pin up model... big tattooed Jason, 30, a bouncer... we have Jen, 38, a web designer... we have Ceon, a senior citizens home director... Maureen, 31, a former tv reporter, and so far, my personal favorite and possibly the hottest... Andrew, 20, a college student... Rob, 38, a computer programmer, and a guy who loves this show so much, he built his own pod at home... then there is Karrie and Trizz, who's ages and professions I didn't get.

Anyway, the first challenge for them to do laps around the small room, with the floor being covered in rocks. They complete as many as they can with shoes, then with only socks, then barefoot, each in 30 minute intervals. First they face off, pod vs pod, then finally, with 10 contestants and only 9 pods, the first to get bounced is 38 year old Jen.

And here's the Pod Rundown... #1 Pod Jen, the pin up model, is obsessed with serial killers. #2 Ceon runs a home for senior citizens. #3 Katie is a 19 year old kickboxing streaking actress. #4, RobRob, is stupid just cause he goes by that name. #5 is Maureen, who I did, even though I'm usually not an Asian chick fan. #6, Trizz, 27, is a cashier, a former foster child, hates technology and loves chick flicks. #7 is Andrew, 20, and an ametuer magician. #8, Karrie, is 28 and had a husband died in jail. And finally, #9, Jason, the bouncer, who loves bacon and hates old people.

Val, the computer voice who tells them what to do, gives them a chocolate bar for dinner, and then makes it about 98 degrees in the pod. Consider they also have not slept for over 24 hours. All for $50,000. This is a show I would not go on.

The first challenge involves a stool. They sit on the small wooden stool for an half an hour, or so, no big deal, even though they aren't allowed to put their feet on the footrest. Well, the next hour, they have to sit on a bicycle seat for half an hour. Then, for the next round, its a bowling ball for 45 minutes. This looks very, very painful...

Finally... they have to sit on a small round stool, perhaps four inches in diameter, for 60 minutes. To quit, you press the red button--but the trick is, you don't know if anyone else has pressed the red button yet, so if you can't take it, you can gamble that someone else has already quit. Within 60 seconds, Trizz, Katie and Big Jason pressed the red button... but its whoever is first that is gone. Trizz is now gone, the #6 pod goes dark.

Having been awake for over 40 hours, a bed slides out from the wall. They all get excited, but beware... I've seen Val give them as few as 10 minutes of sleep--without telling them they only get 10... this time, they get 30, before being rudely awakened by a loud alarm. We do this whole "speak to your loved one" for a segment (blah) and then onto the next challenge... in the pod, there are 8 weights, each with the exact weight of another contestant. They must match up each pod's contestant with each weight... there are over 40,000 possibilities... though knowing their own weight, it reduces the possibilities to only 5,000. Of course, several of them are getting their own weight wrong.

Finally, Val relents and instead of telling them "incorrect", she'll tell them "incorrect, you have four correct". Over 45 hours with only 30 minutes sleep, a chocolate bar to eat, and three hours into this challenge, #2 Ceon gets it right, only a few minutes before #1 Jen gets it right.

The next challenge is a big bowl of white rice... with one grain of orange rice. Using chopsticks, without tipping the big bowl over, find the orange grain and hold it up. RobRob, #4, finds it, but not before #2, Ceon, holds it up, making it 2 for 2 in challenges. His reward is a big plate of teriyaki chicken and rice--sometimes the rewards are pretty good, actually.

Everyone else wanders around their pod being silly, hungry, tired and stupid. And the next challenge is a pinching one. The contestants are required to place harsh metal pinchers on their body all over, in specific directed places, from faces to thighs to legs to arms to stomachs to fingers... Ceon, #2, gets to skip the challenge and also gets to make another (he chooses #9 Jason) put on 2 extra clips.

And the clips go on. My dear #5 Maureen, starts with her stomach. Others go for the legs. Some on shoulders. Another goes for his knees. Imagine a potato chip bag clip, times a thousand.

So, Fox Reality is showing all these shows that probably cost next to nothing to make, and seriously, how much could the syndication rights to "Celebrity Mugshots Exposed" actually cost? And yet, only $50K to the winner.

Karrie, #1, puts the clips on her fingers... bad, bad news. Ten clips, twelve clips, fifteen clips. Forty in all. Jen, #1, puts clips on her fingers too. Very bad. And finally, #1 Jen pushes the red button, hoping that someone else had done the same thing. The #1 pod goes dark, and red headed pin up model Jennifer leaves forever.

The bad thing about this challenge is not just the clips, but what happens when you pull them off. After so long on the skin, the skin deadens, but when the clips come off, blood rushes to the area and it causes great, great pain.

Alright, well, 2 episodes in, and I have 3 more to catch up on... and I'm not going to watch them all right now, frankly cause I want to do some other stuff.

Tonight... American Idol's first 12 contestants sing, and apparently, the top 3 go on to the Finals. And coming Sunday, the annual Oscar running diary... until then...

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