Reality TV season finale thread

Let’s see, what’s there to talk about…out of control megalomaniac in Russia simultaneously creating tragedy for a nation and wrecking his own…gas prices hitting an all time high, which everyone swore it was fine to do jack squat about the last time it happened…major league baseball suddenly finds common ground, meaning we’re only going to miss X games, with X to be determined at an unspecified date…TERF crap…video game crap…stupid convoy circling the Beltway like they’re practicing for the goddam Daytona 500…Disney failing to contest a grossly anti-gay bill, thereby vaporizing any good karma they got over James Gunn…

Ah, heck with it, I’ll just do some more reality TV stuff. Why mess with a winning formula.

Over the years, I’ve developed a keen eye for how these programs develop. My one overriding rule of thumb is: A reality show is only as good as its season finale. In the first episode, everything’s new and fresh, the cast is at its maximum size (Hey!), and the host’s/judges’ irritating habits haven’t become unbearable. By season’s end, the show has generally hit rock bottom; a lot of likable, quirky, interesting, or just plain funny personalities have been shown the door, the regulars are at peak obnoxiousness, and the whole production is wrapped up in the hype of the championship. Just compare this to this; it’s like night and day.

So the way I see it, to properly judge the season, one must judge the ending, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do here for a few shows that debuted in ’22 and a couple others if I feel like it. Hopefully I get some deeper insight out of this. Or at least a few laughs.

Let’s start with a favorite of this board, dancing.

The Real Dirty Dancing season finale - Fox, 1 hour, 2/22/22

The one overriding question I had throughout this whole exercise: Was Dirty Dancing ever that big a deal that Fox needed to build an entire show about it? I remember Roger Ebert being very harsh to it, and it’s never resonated through the years like Star Wars or Indiana Jones or even Ghostbusters. I’ve seen fun, breezy movies like Grease get whole episodes, but not a complete 4-week competition. I think a dance movie or musical-themed show would make more sense, and have much more long-term viability.

Anyway, the premise: Eight stars of varying non-A list statuses went to the summer hangout which was the set of the movie, and they learned to dance and get in character and get wet etc. Plenty of weepy drama thrown in because of course. And also of course, despite starting with a minuscule cast, it had to send two of them packing in the second episode and another two in the third. BOW DOWN BEFORE THE ALMIGHTY ANUDDA WUN BI DA DUS! IT IS YOUR MASTER! :man_facepalming::rage:

Start - Snippet of Time of My Life. A song, incidentally, that in my childhood was generally played when I was absolutely miserable and forced to do something I despised by worthless degenerate moral troglodytes. Funny how that worked out. :rage: Quickie recap of the previous three weeks. Bunch of predictable reality TV comments.

2 Names of all eight contestants given, including the four whose relevance was forcibly cut off. I have no idea why these shows do this.

3 The Iconic Lift practice. Quite an eye-opener. These women are learning what pairs figure skaters have to deal with. Except that, y’know, the water is frozen.

6 “I just peed.” Exactly the kind of sparkling wit that makes reality TV such a joy to watch. :roll_eyes:

11 Scene reenactment. Throughout the competition these have run the gamut from hammy to cringeworthy. I’m happy to report that the streak is still alive.

17 Final rehearsals. Gotta say, they look a lot smoother than some of the rehearsals I’ve seen on Dancing With The Stars. That’s the benefit of both dancers having the same ability. They’re working hard on The Iconic Lift.

23 Brief montage of the contestants doing some sultry arm-stroking thing. They’re not professional actors.

24 Lots of serious discussion about The Iconic Lift! Getting crowded in that auditorium. (Dunno what Covid protocol is like over there, but this finale is way too serious for anyone to start quibbling over masks.)

27 1:27 AM and someone’s still awake. I’ve mentioned in the American Ninja Warrior thread that reality TV is never, never ever worth getting hurt for, and losing sleep isn’t much better.

28 Cheering crowd lining the walkway to the front door of the auditorium, apparently superfans of this one movie. Again, not anywhere near echelon of Star Wars. They’re really, really pumped over the reenactment of the final scene.

29 “35 years ago, a romantic movie with a bunch of dancing was released. Now you have a vital role, namely, to remember what all those faceless extras were doing in that final scene. I trust it won’t be too challenging.”

31 Oh, look, some amateur hula knockoff. Just the thing a lifelong resident of Hawaii wants to see. :angry:

36 Finallists take the stage. They assure us that they were working really hard, but they’re here to put on a show. I remember Ford Prefect researching this exact behavior.

38 Obligatory treacly retrospective. Slightly shorter than usual because it’s only been three flipping weeks.

39 Oh yeah, definitely not professional actors. :roll_eyes: First dance begins, and…geez. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure the scene was markedly longer than that.

Aaaaaand, that is the absolute limit of my willingness to go through with this. Other couple does the thing, somebody wins or something, you know the drill. Brrrrrrr. :grimacing: Oh yeah, definitely nailed it on that rule of thumb. It’s just too bad the heavy female contestant had to go. The comedy value form the train wreck her The Iconic Lift would’ve turned into was probably the only thing that could’ve saved this.

And there you have it, The Real Dirty Dancing! Somebody thought this was a good idea! :woman_shrugging: Next up will be Next Level Chef, Gordon Ramsey’s latest attempt to catch lightning in a bottle (and getting mostly static electricity).

Before I get to Next Level Chef, a few tidbits about two other shows I’m definitely going to be covering.

America’s Got Talent Extreme is the second spinoff of AGT (after The Champions); it’s all outdoor acts with a certain amount of risk involved. I’ve been thoroughly underwhelmed by the three episodes I’ve seen so far. In addition to everything I hate about the main show (including what may be the worst judge on any incarnation of AGT), the production as a whole is atrocious. It doesn’t help that Terry Crews looks completely out of his depth and can do little more than blather “Don’t try this at home!” and endlessly repeat the obvious. Things could improve in the last two auditions, but I’m not optimistic.

Domino Masters was created by the same production team that made Lego Masters. The best thing I can say for it so far is that the host is a bland, clueless talking head, which is an unimaginable improvement over the endless ocean of aggravation that is Will Arnett. Other than that, you’ve seen Lego Masters, you know the drill: cute illustrations, cute descriptions, long hard hours, struggles, disaster, personality clashes, trash talking, candid confessions, and every so often something fun actually happens. I’m not expecting anything really impressive in the early rounds, but it’s kept my interest and should have a good, completely watchable season.

Next Level Chef season finale - Fox, 1 hour, 3/2/22

All right, quick recap. Fifteen contestants were sent headlong into Gordon Ramsey’s insanely extravagant triple-decker kitchen (it reportedly cost $4 million), five to each level, selected randomly. The top level is a top-of-the-line kitchen with every tool and appliance they could ever hope for, the middle level is a well-equipped but unspectacular kitchen, and the bottom is underequipped and low-quality. The first round was just for GR and his two, ahem, rivals to decide who they wanted on their team. Each round the teams would get sent to a different level, chosen completely at random (:face_with_raised_eyebrow:). The contestant with the best dish would win immunity for the team, and one handpicked contestant each from the other two teams would compete on the top level to feed the insatiable anudda wun bi da dus machine, what the hell did you expect. And amidst a torrent of supposed hostility between the team leaders, the random contestants would randomly get randomly sent to random levels and random random random random (:angry:), culminating in…the teams being completely scuttled and every man being officially for himself and berated by all three leaders. Ye gods, I have not seen a competition format this half-baked outside of pro wrestling. Could we, at the absolute don’t-look-like-a-complete-joke minimum, ensure that the contestants spend EQUAL TIME ON ALL LEVELS?


Start - Quick look at the finallists, Reuel, Mariah, and Pyet. Reminder of what’s on the line, $250,000. And having a permanent foot in the door of reality TV, which is generally the real prize of these things.

2 Oh yeah, also the 1-year mentorship with the three formerly bitter rivals. The challenge: prepare something in each of the three levels in turn, each of which gets judged separately, and…a catch? The contestants have a fixed amount of time for the entire competition, so they have to be very good at time management. Common sense would dictate that the basement dish should go the fastest, as the quality isn’t going to be very good anyway, whereas the well-stocked top level, which has the most potential for a game-winner, should get the most time. I’m assuming that common sense has anything to do with this show. I really need to stop doing that.

4 Did I mention how everyone repeats incredibly basic facts over and over and over on this show? :grimacing: “There isn’t a lot of time! I have to be on top of my game! This is a once in lifetime opportunity to be the winner of the first season of a Gordon Ramsey project!” I swear, Ford Prefect would have to set up a research station here. Quick pep talks with the hosts which further drive home what I’m talking about with a goddam steam piston. :angry:

7 Oh, they’re doing that weepy-family-reunion-one-day-before-it-was-going-to-happen-anyway thing, how cute. :roll_eyes:

9 Well-stocked mobile platform in the basement! GAME… “Wow, we have to make a three-course meal! Just like GR said earlier! This is a real challenge! Just like I said earlier!” :angry: *…ON!!

13 It begins with the big ingredient grab, everyone trying to get as many quality meal components as possible before someone else gets them. This was a much bigger deal with fifteen contestants than it is with three. As far as I can tell, as long as you have a second option for the one time someone beats you to the punch for that thing you wanted, you’ll be fine.

Running clocks of all three finallists; it stops only when they hit the buzzer.

Title drop by Mariah! Hopefully this will not happen very often! :roll_eyes:

Round 1, appetizers in the supposedly bottom-of-the-barrel basement. Pyet is making a sweet potato and pork empanata (sp? I’m no culinary expert.) with an avocado salsa. It’s apparently a pastry. Ooh, “go big or go home”! Can’t ignore the cliche quotient, can we? :weary:

14 Reuel is making neck clams with churriso and curry cream. Mariah is doing crispy battered chicken lollipops with a leeko pepper glaze.

“Ten minutes are gone! How much is left? It’s up to you!” Hoo boy, it’s going to be a long however-long-they-have. :expressionless:

15 Reuel hits the buzzer at 16:01. Considerably later, Pyet clocks in at 27:30. Mariah looks to be struggling but manages to stop the bleeding at 27:45.

17 Taste test! GR calls Pyet “mad” to try to make an empanata in such a short time. It’s well-received. Reuel’s clams weren’t impressive but definitely good, which seems like a smart move for the basement. Mariah’s chicken lollipops were a “big risk” because they were cooked from raw. Gordon barks “Do you know if they’re cooked properly?” going to commercial, which means that they are.

23 Yep. :grin:(:roll_eyes:) I don’t understand why Ramsey properties have to be so damn predictable. Oh, and total time is an hour and a half…dunno why he picked NOW to reveal that tidbit, but there you go. Incidentally, although there’s been some stuff on how terrible the equipment in the basement is, I don’t recall it resulting in a bad dish or swinging the outcome of an episode. Like, ever. A certain amount of finagling is to be expected in a contest like this, but if you’re going to make a big deal about how A Chef Can Produce A Top Dish Regardless Of Anything, could you make the levels actually mean something? Or at least edit it so it looks like they do? When you can’t even sell your own damn premise, there’s a problem.

25 Round 2 is a fish dish on the middle level. Pyet is doing pan-seared sea bass with a spiced sweet potato puree. Reuel is making pan-seared cod with pea subeef and summer vegetables. Mariah whines about time compression. Oh, and her thing is pan-roasted snapper and some corn thing.

28 Hey, did you know that the winner gets $250,000? :weary:

Reuel punches in at 48:00, which has Pyet mystified. Pyet burned something and doesn’t have time for a do-over. Aaaaand cut to commercial, which means that she’s going to come up with a perfectly acceptable workaround and this isn’t going to sink her.

33 Can I call ‘em or what? :+1::woman_facepalming: Buzzers mashed, round over. Mariah up first. Another risk, which of course pays off beautifully; just very mild criticism. Now Reuel. Presentation was less than impressive, but it tastes fantastic. Finally Pyet. “Sweet potatoes and fish doesn’t work…usually.” :roll_eyes: It’s terrific, of course.

OKAY, TIME OUT - All right, here’s a bit of How Reality TV Actually Flippin’ Works 101. If the show has a voting element, the people in charge don’t give a damn who makes the final or wins. All they care about is giving Powah Tuh Da Pipple and trumpeting colossal numbers so the show will continue getting nice ratings. If the show doesn’t have a voting element, and especially if the people in charge are the faces of the show, they want the very best in the final. It makes for a better final, obviously, but mainly it builds their credibility as decision-makers and that of the contest as a whole. These contestants have withstood the pressure of competition, overcome their limitations, learned from their mistakes. They are competent, confident, focused, and loaded, with fire in their bellies and wizardry in their hands. In short, they do not make stupid mistakes or collapse into balls of grief and ineptitude at the first sign of adversity. These elite chefs are not suffering a meltdown, no matter how much the editing makes it looks like it’s going to happen or how much you’d want one. Anyone with half an eye and a tenth of a brain can see this. Good lord, this fake-out criticism-not is just insulting. :angry:

36 Everyone knows how “[beep] delicious” tastes a lot better than the normal kind delicious! :roll_eyes:

On to the top level for the stunning meat entrée. Mariah laments over having only 28 minutes, which of course means I’m freaking sick of this crap. :face_vomiting:

38 Reuel is doing a palm soufflé. Pyet goes right for the rack of lamb, while Mariah turns to the filet mignon as her “golden ticket”.

40 “NINE…MINUTES…REMAINING!” Plus some stuff about how they all deserve to be here, and another title drop! Are we almost done? :sleeping:

47 Bored out of my skull, so let’s just skip to the final verdict. First is Mariah’s filet mignon. “It looks elegant.” “Cooked beautifully.” “The meat is perfect; right on the money.” :clap::clap: Now Reuel’s redcap soufflé. “Redcap is a tough one to pull off. That middle section’s cooked perfectly.” “The sauce is amazing.” :clap::clap: And Pyet’s rack of lamb. “The lamb itself is cooked gorgeously.” “This dish is singing musical notes on my palate.” “It’s just unctuous and so refined.” :clap::clap:

Well. Looks like they’re all deserving of the top prize, which of course means that two worthy champs are going to learn they worked their butts off for several weeks for jumping jack diddly squat bupkus nada zippo, the same as the bum who got bounced in week 2. And with that the last subatomic particle interest I had in watching this gets shunted down the basement drain. :rage:

I give this show a rating of random number/other random number. You know what, give GR credit for not putting in the utterly unbearable elements that plague shows like The Masked Singer or Dancing With The Stars (or even Hell’s Kitchen, to be honest). But assigning levels at random makes zero sense except to appeal to America’s seeming obsession with rewards based purely on blind luck, and there’s way too much filler and white noise. It’s like if you take out the screaming and swearing and kicking things, GR has no idea what to fill the time with. That said, I can see some potential here. I think I’ll tune back in for the 10th anniversary; it should’ve hit its stride by then. :roll_eyes:

Something called America’s Song Contest just cropped up, which has a fairly interesting premise, at least. I’m (mostly) liking Domino Masters so far, so definitely catch an episode if you haven’t already.

America’s Got Talent Extreme season finale - NBC, 2 hours, 3/14/22

The regulars:

  • Simon Cowell, who is every bit as intelligent and entertaining as he always isn’t. Seriously, what the bloody hell did anyone expect. He was completely in his wheelhouse on American Idol and still barely managed to avoid being an utter tool. A show about risky outdoor stunts needs him about as much as Nissan Leaf needs a fuel injector.
  • Travis Pastrana. Ever been in a group that’s trying to enjoy something…a movie, an art exhibit, a sightseeing tour, a wrestling pay-per-view, what have you…and there’s that one guy who’s absolutely, utterly clueless, like, he doesn’t know the first thing about what you’re looking at, but still has very strong opinions about it and constantly aggravates everyone else with his ranting ignorance? Imagine him getting freaking paid for it and you have some idea of what this royal schmuck is. His reaction to pretty much everything as “This act was good but I’m going to crap all over it because it wasn’t exactly what I wanted, didn’t cater to my whims, didn’t worship me, I, I, I, I, me, me, me, me, ME ME ME ME ME ME MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!”
  • Nikki Bella. Her regular job involves putting on a gaudy skintight outfit and makeup and getting into corny pretend fights with similarly-dressed ladies, making her eminently qualified for this gig.
  • Terry Crews, who, incredibly, makes even less sense here than he did in this notorious body of work.

Incidentally they had access to buzzers from beginning to end and used them, very annoyingly, on several occasions. Why, on a show with such a paltry field to begin with (I saw like 20 acts, total, start to finish), they’d even need this 11th-dimensional chess routine to decide who to send home slightly earlier than expected is beyond me.

Oh, and of course each episode had to have at least one obvious-no-hope joke segment, because they clearly weren’t wasting enough time with all the gratuitous slo-mos and weepy profiles. I remember some female record holder of something trying to throw a football through a basketball hoop. She failed. Like, about fifteen times. Luckily for her the crowd here is much better behaved than the normal show, so they just watched in stunned silence rather than booing and doing that asinine X-arms thing. This thus far represents the grand total of positivity I’ve received from this show so far.

0:00 Boilerplate don’t-try-this warning. Montage set to an incredibly slow, ethereal rendition of The Final Countdown, which is kind of like performing The 1812 Overture on kazoos. :grimacing: I’m getting really, really tired of reality TV butchering 80’s metal.

0:02 The first half of the show is the 5th and final round of selections. We begin with a woman and an older man walking through a glass-panelled tunnel. They introduce themselves as Angelina Nock and Michael Angelo Nock, a daredevil stunt pair. They do tricky acrobatics on extremely high poles. Angelina nervously says that every time there’s a chance they’ll die, so we’re truly fortunate that reality shows edit the bejabbers out of every second of footage and there’s no chance we’ll actually see that.

0:06 Title card! The Nerveless Nocks, doing the 80’ Duo Sway Pole. All right, she’s climbing a ladder that only goes up a short distance. She’s climbing the pole. Crews compares her to Spider-Woman. Again, a pole, not a wall. Crews reminds us that there’s nothing but hard concrete below, meaning…geez…

OKAY, TIME OUT - At the risk of being "meta” (which, as far as I can tell, means “freaking paying attention to how the various entertainment industries actually work”), it actually would make a lot more sense to be as well-protected as possible. The drama isn’t whether NBC is going to show a real life human being suffer a horrible, bloody, messy death. They won’t. That is not a thing that will appear on television, ever, and anyone with any familiarity with television knows this. But if you do have padding, netting, ropes, etc., that ensure that they’ll come out all right (or at least not die), that means failure is a possibility, and there’s your drama! Even if the performers “never use a net”, there’s no reason NBC couldn’t make it a requirement to be on the show.

0:07 Okay, they’re up. They’re standing on a pair of rings with a few cross bars in them. They’re standing. The woman lowers herself and dangles by her hands. And…you see it coming, don’t you?..cut to commercial! What’s going to happen is when we come back is that the whole act is going to rewind about flipping half a minute before we learn she’s still fully in contol. And, yep. :roll_eyes:

0:10 And some slow acrobatics which…a little clumsy execution, but otherwise well done.

I dunno…the risk element is definitely there, but other than that they didn’t really do a great deal. Pose, hang, slide, that’s about it.

Ooh, our first gratuitous pointless slo-mo of the night! :man_facepalming:

0:18 Judges blah blah bullcrap, moving on. Next up is William Brandon, who’s really into fire, not unlike numerous other acts here. It’s kind of like Battlebots, easy wow factor. He says that he’s here to win, to which Crews responds with a hearty “Here to win!” This marks the end of the “wasting time talking about Terry Crews” segment of the writeup. :angry:

0:22 Title card: “Fire dancing with rope art”. Everybody Wants To Rule The World…the really awful version that sounds like an ultradramatic movie promo, and oh goddess, Tears For Fears isn’t safe now?..starts playing. All right…twirling fire. Breathing fire. Fire on the ground. Fire jets. More twirling, more jets. He’s really serious about this! :grin: Kick, some yo-yo thing. More twirling. And…it’s over. I’ll be blunt: It was pretty, but there was pretty much zippo danger here. You could probably see something this “extreme” on any given Saturday night in Waikiki. I actually think this would’ve been a much better fit for the regular AGT.

0:31 On to contestant #3, the JCB…Construct…something…wait for the title card. Dolly Parton’s Working 9 to 5 starts playing, which, as always, makes me reflect on the fact that neither I nor anyone else I know has ever worked those hours. :woman_shrugging: Their thing is heavy equipment dancing. Well, it’s different.

0:33 “The JCB Dancing Diggers”, who do “Heavy Machine Agility”. As four backhoes start up, Achy Breaky Heart starts playing, and now I have to mute. :face_with_symbols_over_mouth: (Is there someone at NBC whose job is to find the absolute worst worst worst worst song choices? And is it the same person who does those leitmotifs for American Ninja Warrior?) Two smaller bulldozers get moving. They move in circles. The backhoes do the the worlds slowest wheelies. The backhoes swivel around. Sparks fly and parts of then lift off or something. They’re in really delicate-looking arches now. Ooh, the bulldozer just drove under them! And fire, because whaddya expect. Plus a few fireworks, which regrettably limited effect because it’s daytime. And oh look, one of them’s flying the flag, that’s certainly not cheap pandering! :roll_eyes:

Meh. Call it what it is: Some corny stunts a bunch of blue collar workers made up when they were bored. Yeah, it was fun and looked kinda cool…that’s the whole point of corny stunts…and I’m glad I got to see it, but to call this an eck-streeeem act…no. It took ages to get going and had about as much risk as punching a timecard.

0:42 On to the final contestant of the night and the season, Erika LeMay, silks flyer. Apparently had a career-ending injury that she recently came back from so…yeah. (Don’t look for proper word use on a damned reality show, folks.) Title card: “Aerial silks suspended 90’ in the air.

0:46 She harnesses herself to a whole lot of balloons, ascends, and…and…wait for it…does a silks routine. Except for the lack of sliding, it’s not unlike what the Nerveless Nocks did. She looks elegant. It’s nice. It’s a silks routine, what do you expect? I’m actually more interested in how she avoided flying away, not to mention that suspiciously smooth and accurate descent. Eh, whatever, part of the magic. Good act. :+1:

0:51 Oh, did I mention Golden Buzzers are a thing here? Well, if you didn’t know, the roughly two minutes of yellow wretched excess should put any doubt to rest. :weary: Normally I consider this the kiss of death, but given that this has been like the fifth one of these and we’re at the bleedin’ season finale already, there’s actually a pretty good chance one of them is going to pull the upset.

0:58 Begin the second half, the actual battle for the 500K prize. Ooh, live performance! (And Pastrana gets to show off, because lord forbid there be an hour where he isn’t the center of the universe. :rage:) I don’t recognize the singer or song, but it’s pretty good! I’d started to fear that reality shows didn’t allow music with any energy whatsoever; guess I was wrong. :slightly_smiling_face:

1:01 Song, Bite Me, singer, Avril Lavigne. Got it. :ok_hand:

Judge crap…judge crap…tedious recap…commercials…skip, skip, skip…

1:12 All right, here’s what’s going on. There were a whole bunch of contestants in the prelims, including the just-concluded #5, and despite Pastrana’s constant snivelling protestations nearly all of them made it. Then there was some kind of elaborate cut-down process (your guess is as good as mine) from which the last four finallists, who may or may not have been Golden Buzzerees, were chosen…of which two will now compete for the ultimate prize. :slightly_frowning_face: Uh, producers…crew…team…I know I’ve been yelling for an alternative to anudda wun bi da dus since at least the good American Idol, but I don’t think “Nuke ‘Em From Orbit” is it.

Top four: Wheelz (wheelchair stunts), Erika LeMay, Afredo Silva’s Cage Fighters (dunno), and…didn’t get the name. We see some people I completely forgot about do the walk of shame. In slo-mo, because apparently it’s just pathological now.

1:14 Ooh, they’re doing the “come forward” thing, this is intense! :roll_eyes: EL and ASCF advance. “The Superfans have voted”, and the first semifinallist is ASCF. Now Wheelz and that other guy. Superfans’ call…Wheelz.

Oh, did I mention that this show continually jumps between times of day, often on the fly, and it’s really, really jarring? It was the dead of night when they were on the stage; now, back from commercial, it looks like early morning.

1:27 A great deal of time wastage later, Wheelz is ready for the jump of destiny! Which he completely messes up. But he does it again, and…wait, I remember seeing this before; on the first episode, in fact. Oh, that’s right, they’re not actually performing one last time, they’re just rerunning the past while something-something decides which one was retroactively better! :man_facepalming: Holy Festivus, American Gladiators had more logical playoffs than this.

1:42 Our last look at the first look of the ASCF. They ride motorcycles around a ball cage. Like Homer Simpson in The Simpsons Movie. The three of them go around and around (to My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark for some reason). Then a fourth ramps over the ball. And again.

Phew. Stick a fork in me, and stick a backhoe in this show. In a nutshell, this is a great show except for everything in it. I gotta admit, the acts, even if not all of them qualify as “extreme” or “death-defying”, were perfectly enjoyable, and the performers were legitimate and gave it their all. There is definitely entertainment to be had here. But it’s so completely drenched in aggravating crap…the slo-mo, the post-commercial rewinds, the endless profiles, the deluge of Acceptable Stories, the worthless judges, the equally worthless Terry Crews, the nonsensical transitions, the irritating music, every single thing that is not the precious few seconds of the performers doing the performances, it makes this all but unwatchable. I wholeheartedly recommend this if you play it completely on mute, fast forward liberally, and have something else to do that evening. Make sure anyone watching with you is on board with this.

[Man…I am so glad I’m not covering a full season of any of these shows. I would’ve been putting holes in the desk by around Spring Training.]

Just a little update here…it appears that Domino Masters is going to go longer than I expected. See, after the playoffs, which obliterates half of the field after one round, there’s this thingamajig called “quarterfinals” which the sixteen survivors compete in four groups of four, and one in each group gets the ax. It seems that in reality TV there are only ever two options, get rid of one person each and every damn round, or get rid of more than one person each and every damn round. (The Third Option, of course, is to get rid of no person after one extremely specific and never-to-be-duplicated round, but now that Dancing With The Stars is no longer on television I doubt we’ll be seeing that one again.)

The other thing is that I was going to do American Song Contest, but have decided against it, the rationale being I’m completely sick of that show and refuse to subject myself to another second of it.

Here’s all you need to know.

  • There’s a “jury” that we never see or hear (how convenient :roll_eyes:) along with fan voting which determines who goes through. Of course this arrangement means that there are no judges, which I suppose is why hosts Snoop Dogg and Kelly Clarkson both try to make up for it by being four times as freaking annoying as a regular host. Dogg does all kinds of irritating singalongs and tiresome catchphrases (if I never hear “Who’s it going to be, is it you, is it me?” again, that won’t be adequate compensation for him pounding it about 20 times every goddam episode), while Clarkson’s deal is overexcited screeching and making mountains out of what looked like molehills but upon further reflection were more like dust specks. And the stupid questions, Aya Shameimaru’s shoes, the endless stupid questions.

  • The contestants come from all 50 states, Washington DC, and a number of American-owned territories. You would think that there would be tremendous variety in the music as a result. Ha. Such naivete. There’s some grossly overrated poetry recitation (“hip hop” or occasionally “[word other than “hip”] hop”), lots of bland pop, some bland country, some bland latino, and every so often something non-100% mainstream like The Crystal Method, which invariably stands as much of a chance as a snowball in Yuugi Hoshiaguma’s space heater.

  • The jury picks get ranked on-screen in real time. This is great for the home voters, who know in advance which acts not to waste their votes on, thereby ensuring that nothing even microscopically fresh or alternative is ever going to move on. :rage:

  • This is based on the Eurovision Song Contest, which is the sum total of what this exercise in reality TV time wastage has to do with the Eurovision Song Contest.

Playlists and Primetimer page for your edification. Enjoy.

Just a heads up…So You Think You Can Dance is back after a two year layoff. The big news is that it has all-new judges, JoJo Siwa, Matthew Morrison, and Stephen “Twitch” Boss. I vowed that I would not subject myself to another second of this until that overstimulated banshee Mary Murphy was gone for good, and it looks like this is freaking finally the case. At the moment I’m slightly hopeful, but I’ve never known a show where the judges got better over time, so I’m reserving my optimism. It premieres May 18 on Fox.

Anyway…that thing with the colored rectangles!

Domino Masters season finale - Fox, 1 hour, 5/11/22

After the most nonsensical elimination method I’ve seen in any show ever (and given America’s Got Talent Extreme, that’s saying a lot), here we are. And, for what seems like the hundredth time, I have to ask why they even need to knock off anyone in the first place. Have everyone around to the end, score them, and whoever finishes with the most points wins the prize. Seems pretty simple to me. If you must have purges, have one big purge just prior to the final, so that the team’s total effort decides whether they make the big dance or not. Sometimes a team that’s slow in the early going turns it around later and makes a legitimate deep run, or even wins it all. Heck, we’re probably seeing several examples in the playoffs (real playoffs) right now. This show punishes teams that aren’t red-hot and dialed in right out of the gate, which I find pretty unfair. (This, of course, is in stark contrast to American Ninja Warrior Junior, which frequently punishes competitors who are red-hot and dialed in right out of the gate, but I’ve certainly harped on that long enough, at least until this streaming-only nonsense comes to an end.)

0 Quickie montage which ends with the last team to get axed, OG Topplers. BTW, every team was required to pick a name for itself, including the 50% that got thrown to the winds after one lousy stinking episode where they had to share the spotlight with three other teams. That’s kind of like naming your band, doing one opener at a dive bar, and never performing again. The three survivors who will be competing for the really ugly trophy (Seriously, how is it that reality TV has so many terrible-looking trophies? I thought a hexagon with a circular hole in it was dubious, and that at least sorta fits the sport.) and the nearly as ugly 100K are Brains & Brawn, Mechanical Mavericks, and The Dominerds. And no, do not expect me to recall anything they did in the past, or their names, for that matter, because I couldn’t do it to save my life.

The announcer actually said “the biggest prize in domino history”. :roll_eyes: You make the metaphor; I’m tapped.

1 Eric Stonestreet gets to work. After watching him this season, I can safely say that he’s much better than Will Arnett, in the same sense that getting stabbed three times is much better than getting stabbed twenty times. Like every other reality TV host, he adds absolutely nothing to the show, but at least he only ever got somewhat annoying (I consider that childish pie-revenge bit on Circus Day the low point). I’m 100% certain that this rookie season is just a warmup and he’s going to reach chainsaw-on-a-chalkboard level, but at least it looks like it’s going to take a while.

Recaps of the teams’ previous winning efforts.

3 Stonestreet hooks up with the two judges whose names I don’t remember. The last member of the team, Steve Price, descends holding the trophy. (:face_with_raised_eyebrow: Seriously, what the hell even is that thing?) He has on a pair of fake wings for reasons nobody ever bothers to explain. Price’s persona on this show is mostly a foil to Stonestreet, stoic and tight-lipped in contrast to Stonestreet’s Kenny Mayne knockoff act.

Big announcement! The shackles are off! The teams can make whatever they want! Boy, if four-fifths of the roster hadn’t got thrown to the volcano, we could’ve seen some amazing variety! :angry: And the stuff has to end at the top of an arch. Whatever.

4 Recap of the judging “criteria”, “storytelling” (:face_vomiting:), “originality” (:roll_eyes:), “technical ability” (:roll_eyes::roll_eyes:) and “topple” (:roll_eyes::roll_eyes::roll_eyes::roll_eyes:)(also :face_vomiting:). Has anyone ever tried to explain boxing judging criteria to you, and no matter how many times you heard it, it never made the slightest bit of sense? (“Ring generalship?” How the hell does anyone say that with a straight face?) That’s what I’m feeling right now. This marks the first use of the word “topple” this episode, a word which has gotten a massive workout over the course of the past nine episodes. The dominoes are going to reach the arch via an ascending staircase.

5 Planning stage!

6 Checking out the props! Tons of cool stuff! Fast forward past a bunch of boring parts! We pick things up at Stonestreet being a useless intrusive pest to Brains & Brawn, which is part of the challenge, of course. Their story is “A Domino Fairytale: Once Upon a Topple”. Good luck, guys! :slightly_smiling_face:

7 The judges grill The Dominerds, who are working on “International Treasure Chest”. Looks ambitious.

9 Nineteeen hours left. Brains & Brawn are incorporating a launched ball. One of them says that this is way too overly ambitious, which is a weird thing to say when it’s the freaking final.

11 Mechanical Mavericks sound confident. Uh oh. Also, “ten foot tall dragon!” :man_shrugging:

12 All right, we finally get Mechanical Mavericks’ theme, “Our Domino Journey”. Sounds interesting.

13 Someone groans “Ohhhh god, so tired!” Phew, they’re human. Was getting a bit worried. :+1:

Stonestreet demands to know what The Dominerds’ build is going to look like when it’s like 30% finished. The lady judge, whose role in this show is apparently constant Debbie Downer, thinks that Brains and Brawn’s build is too complicated and something could go wrong. Yeah. :woman_facepalming:

14 “Uhhhh. I’m about to fall asleep.” Keep ‘em coming, guys! :+1:

16 Dominerds: “We’re behind schedule. What Brains & Brawn is doing is so much better. We’re faltering. We’re not going to win. We’re doomed. We’re toast.” :angry: Gods…that’s the thing about Fox reality shows in particular (American Idol and Masterchef are just as bad) I find so aggravating. The constant whimpering defeatism. The instant things get a little tough, bam, doom and gloom and despair and “I’m going to go home!” Geez! I’m not expecting constant rah-rah we’re-number-one boosterism, but is quietly hoping for the best too much to ask?? Having overcome literally decades of wall-to-wall bullcrap that would’ve have completely destroyed most men, I have no use for this defeatist nonsense on my television. And per usual, I don’t give a crap whether it’s a work or shoot. It’s inherently annoying.

20 The Dominerds look completely dialed in, which means that either 1. They’re completely dialed in, or 2. they’re about to screw up big time.

21 Blue team wins! :grin: The Dominerds have a major accident, which is called…wait for it…a “topple”. :scream: It was only one line, but it was in the dead center of a big and complicated field, meaning that it’s going to take a lot of time to fix, and another mishap is going to wipe them out.

22 Someone on Mechanical Mavericks is shooting the moon with their greatest strength, precision machines. He’s rigging an electromagnet to release a hammer to smack a ball into a wall. “If this goes, that’s it. No pressure.”

Oh, look, The Bullcrap Thrown In Completely Out Of The Blue For No Reason For The Sole Purpose Of Messing Everyone Up And Making An Utter Mockery Of The Contest, I mean, “Twist”. (Hey, remember that time on Lego Masters where the object was to make a beautiful structure, and a team was making this absolutely gorgeous tower, and about two-thirds of the way it, WOOAIT, WOOOOAIIIIIITTTT, now you need to make something destroying your structure, ha ha ha ha ha ha, and the team fudged up some squid thing and was eliminated? Good times. :rage::rage::rage:) During the run, one member of the team has to remove a bunch of white dominoes and replace them with their “team color”. Geez, I sure hope this doesn’t blow up in someone’s face and make complete hash of the final.

24 Mechanical Mavericks: “As if the build wasn’t hard enough, now one of us has to get suspended in midair and rebuild on the fly!” In addition to the defeatism, did I mention that they repeat stuff that’s already been said way too much? :angry:

Aw, geez, might not even come to that. Shortly after declaring “I need silence and concentration,” (:roll_eyes:), Gabe drops a piece which immediately takes out three towers. With less than an hour left, there’s no making it up. “It’s over. It’s…over. We’re done. That just cost me $100,000.” For once I’m hard-pressed to disagree with this pessimistic take, although of course it’s questionable whether they were going to win regardless. Always important to keep things in perspective.

28 Geez…I know you’re disappointed, but “the rest of your life”? A little perspective please. It’s not like this is, say, the Stanley Cup finals. I could tell you a few stories.

29 Man, he’s taking it really, really hard. Having no second or third prize was a fantastic idea, am I right? :rage: Stonestreet, in a rare moment of compassion, encourages him to go back out there and do his best for whatever time remains. He does, officially upgrading Stonestreet’s status to almost completely useless.

30 And they’re doing the reunite-them-with-their-families-one-day-earlier-than-expected because why the hell not. :expressionless:

31 IT’S LUNATIC [now the most sickeningly overused word in the history of Fox] TIIIIIIIIME!!!
Quick overview of The Dominerds’ International Treasure Chest, necessitating lots and lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of trains talking. :sleeping:

33 Joe Buck opens his big fat mouth.

OKAY, TIME OUT - Why. Why does this show need this smarmy windbag. A child could see what’s happening. It’s a bunch of stuff knocking over a bunch of other stuff. It’s not Cover 3 or a Simone Biles bars routine, dammit. If there is any need to explain that the line’s splitting or the little car is supposed to run into the wall, have on-screen captions. I’m pretty sure a sizable majority of us aren’t illiterate. Utterly brain-dead decision bringing him on. Goddamit. So many things that could’ve used the budget… :rage:

On to the actual run and…wow. Good. Really, really good. Lots of moving parts, lots of tools used, and it all came together perfectly. It was downright impressive. If Fox has any sense, they’ll put this up on their website.

36 And then the eternally tiresome blah-de-blah-de-blah from the judges. I feel like I’m hearing someone explain in suffocating detail why flowers are pretty. :weary:

37 Mechanical Mavericks’ Our Domino Journey up. Honestly, I’m not impressed by what I’m seeing, even taking the loss of the towers into account.

38 Wait a minute, why are we getting an irritating spotlight before the…oh. Oh crap. Something went wrong with the electromagnet controlling the hammer, and it just went off, wiping out the entire symbol wall and a huge chunk of another wall. Good lord, this is such a crushing moment that even Brains & Brawn look distressed. That’s two disasters with all the marbles on the line. Everyone in the room knows it: they’re toast. I assure you that this is not NASCAR and no one’s watching for the wrecks. Just an awful feeling all around. (Oh, BTW, so glad their families were all present to see this disaster live. :angry:)

43 And of course, the obligatory fuel on the fire: “There is absolutely no way we’d have made it this far without him!” In other words, he was the reason you worked your butts off from start to finish and are now absolutely guaranteed to take home diddly squat! Uhhhhh…awful. :slightly_frowning_face:

44 The (truncated, jury-rigged) show must go on! Geez, making it about their experiences on this show just seems like cruel irony at this point. I’m definitely not blown away by any of it; I don’t think it would’ve had much of a chance even fully intact.

46 A Domino Fairytale! Wow…if nothing else, that’s a lot of things. The main feature is that it incorporates a blatant suck-up to the judges, which they most certainly will assure us had nothing to do with their final decision. :roll_eyes:

48 And they’re off! Wow…wow…lot of things happening at once…those are some wicked curves…ball goes up, SCORE!..ooh, that drawbridge was ingenious…light my fire!..


52 …wow…wow!..oh yeah!..whoooo! That was pretty amazing! Great job! :grin::clap::clap::clap::clap:

Which…dammit. With a finale like this, and by “like this” I mean “where the second place finisher gets a log forcibly rammed into a sensitive area” (or in the case of Geoff Britten, an entire goddam forest), I want a clear winner. I want the One Prize Awardee to be the one, clearly, unambiguously. With The Dominerds’ technically amazing run and Brains & Brawn’s elegant and visually appealing run, that means one of them is…gah. :face_vomiting:

Another one in the can. I definitely could’ve done this sooner…this is not a complicated or nuanced show by any means, nor is it especially hard to watch (well, except for the parts that are)…but somehow I just can’t care all that much. Part of it undoubtedly was the thoroughly nonsensical elimination system which not only eviscerated the roster way too quickly but made it impossible to tell what stage the contest was even in at any given time. But I think the main problem (other than the usual judges/host BS) is that 16 hours isn’t enough time to do something truly spectacular. Look up some dominoes videos on YouTube (like, oh, this one). Those things take days to finish, and they are absolutely dazzling. When you shovel the contestants some ham-handed theme, require them to ramrod a “story” in, and throw in an asinine “twist” out of fricking nowhere, all within a tight timeframe, with no extra time to fix mistakes, there’s a good chance you’re going to get a lot of lackluster or outright bad runs. And all the pressure results in more accidents, more failures, more catastrophes. Bottom line, if you want lots of cornball banter and hype, this is the show for you. If you want brilliant artistry, seek out the real stuff.

Couple more dance shows willed into existence, Come Dance With Me, which is actually about halfway through right now but I only recently heard about because it’s on CBS and what the hell is there for me on CBS. Then there’s Dancing With Myself which is going to be on…Fox, I believe. Not expecting much, of course, but I’ll be there.

In the meantime, I’d like to say a few things about the recently-concluded season of American Idol. It played more like a concert than anything, the three finallists and a bunch of guest stars doing a lot of covers ranging from listenable to unlistenable. The opening had a tribute to Bruce Springsteen, of all people (seriously, I’ve heard his name mentioned on TV maybe 4 or 5 times in the past 20 years), whom the producers clearly loved so much that they had each contestant due one whole flippin’ song of his. :roll_eyes: Did I mention that two of them were female? :woman_facepalming: After that was the usual triple-vanilla pop-ified fare, occasionally interspersed with some theoretically funny bit with the judges that lasted maybe 2 minutes and still seemed to go on freaking forever.

It should come as no surprise that the winner was the affable white male country singer. See, country is really popular right now for some bizarre reason, and since reality TV audiences cannot acknowledge the existence of more than one thing at a time, his triumph was never much in doubt. In fact, it seemed that he was certain of his win, given how suspiciously muted his reaction was. I remember a time when AI winners would scream, jump, cover their mouths, sink to their knees, pump their fists, y’know, the standard responses to a great victory. This guy was, eh, okay, let me know when you want me in the booth or whatever. In fact, I don’t recall anyone in the room being all that thrilled. The runner-up wasn’t either elated or crushed; it looked for all the world like she just wanted to get out of there.

Which brings me to the crux of the matter, which calls into the question the whole point of ABC resurrecting this franchise in the first place: What is even the point of winning? For Kelly Clarkson, getting a guaranteed recording contract was a huge deal. Now, not only is that often next to worthless, they don’t even have to win to get one! There’s a nice fairly valuable game show-style prize, but both 1st and 2nd get it. Heck, after all these seasons there isn’t even a trophy! What is there for the winner besides what he already has at that point, other than the right to say, “Yeah, I won American Idol.”…which is the kiss of death in some circles?

It looks to me that American Idol is one of those institutions that survives because a few dedicated people just really, really want it to. Kinda feel the same way about most scripted programming these days.

Quick update on some stuff. Masterchef Junior will be wrapping up soon. American Ninja Warrior is underway, which I’m talking about on its own thread, per usual. Currently heavily disinclined to cover America’s Got Talent again; I’ll decide after watching the finale.

Okay. Dancing With Myself, NBC. There’s been only two episodes so far, but I’m already tired of this show and don’t feel like waiting. What happens is that twelve dancers, not professionals but with at least a fair amount of skill, are placed in large enclosed boxes. For the whole contest, they are isolated in their spaces and cannot see any of the other contestants. The host blurts out way too loud stupid nonsense at completely random times, basically a combination of Tyra Banks and Will Arnett (yeah, major :grimacing:). There are also three judges, who are like every other reality show judge ever.

After the first round, the in-studio audience (no call-in vote) decides which four contestants will be at risk of getting bounced after, I remind you, about one freaking minute of action. Then the judges decide which two they will SSSAAAVVVEEE (:man_facepalming:), whereupon the other two have to leave the show in a highly literal blink-and-you-missed-it fashion. Then a little more footwork before another vote and SSSSAAAAVVVVEEEE, then some other stuff, then some contrived “team” competition (at which point the contestants still have no idea who the hell anyone else is) which is every bit as fair and logical as every other team competition on every other reality show ever, and some stuff before the finale, whereupon the winner gets a whopping 25K and the loser gets admittedly far less agony than someone who had to bust his or her rear end for a whole season to win an equal amount of jumping jack bupkis squat nada zilch null vaporware. :rage:

Interspersed throughout are bits and bobs of the usual elements you’ve come to know and planetary-antipode-of-love, such as Acceptable Stories, lots and lots and lots of judge/crowd shots, and obnoxious judges’ skits which, as always, are completely unwatchable irrespective of their degree of workedness. I say “bits and bobs” because the show proceeds at such a ridiculously breakneck pace (we’re talking Dancing With The Stars second episode level here) that it can barely bother to tick off the box before flying off to something else. “You lost a leg to polio wow bummer all right on to the corriggadation round!”

When I watched both of the first two episodes, the whole experience came across as not so much a goofy competition so much as reality-TV kabuki theater. The contestants were completely interchangable and disposable, mere tools for the crowd and the judges to foist their pass/fail decisions on (and damned if I had the slightest hint of how the process worked as there was no on-screen information of any kind, which I probably wouldn’t have been able to follow anyway at the approximately Warp 9 the contest was progressing at) and the host to blabber random stupid crap about. Seriously, at least half the airtime was given to voting, judges’ commentary, and SSSSSAAAAAVVVVVEEEEESSSSS. This is a show positively enamored with the mechanics of reality TV…voting, eliminations, reprieves…which strikes me as downright baffling. It’s like a football-themed contest revolving entirely around penalty flag throwing and first down measurements. And of course, the upshot of it is that old gripe I’ve had about this genre for ages: The longer the contest goes, the less entertainment there is and the worse the show gets…and here you get to see the whole degenerative process played in full every episode.

I’m sure there are fans of this. If any of you are one, I’d like to hear your opinion, because right now I’m at a loss as to not only who wants this (I imagine the lack of call-in voting is also going to be a pretty big turnoff), but why NBC thinks this has any legs. I can see it reaching burnout stage far quicker than any other dance show, and given the mass destruction committed, again, every episode, simply finding enough contestants to keep it going could soon be a challenge.

It’s on Tuesdays after America’s Got Talent if you’d like to pick up an episode or two while it still exists.

Masterchef Junior season finale - Fox, 1 hour, 6/23/22

0 Retrospective of the season, featuring a great deal of children who will not have any role in the finale.

2 Big, raucous studio crowd on hand. Entering is the big boss, Gordon Ramsey, along with fellow judges Aaron Sanchez and Christina Tosi. Now it’s time for the two…that’s right, TWO…finallists, Grayson (of which the crowd was kind enough to bring a number of really garish oversized face cutouts :grimacing:).

3 Retrospective of Grayson. I should point out that both finallists got hyped to the damn moon in last week’s retrospective (really hate that I’m using that word so many times in the first four goddam minutes :angry:) episode. Apparently GR is banking heavily on them actually becoming successful chefs. No one said he was afraid to take risks.

4 And here’s Grayson’s one opponent for the night, Liya, who also has ridiculously gaudy face cutouts, albeit fewer. I haven’t been able to pick out much in the way of personality in either of these kids, but since this isn’t the normal Masterchef, that’s actually a good thing.

6 Brief entry of some of the eliminated contestants, who have failed to make the final and are here to watch someone else take home 100K and be completely powerless to do anything about it. :roll_eyes: They’ll be watching from the balcony, whereupon if anyone does get the urge to heckle it’ll probably just get lost in the crowd.

Aaron announces that this season is offering the biggest prize ever, which is great because when tonight’s loser takes home the same jumping jack diddly squat double-oh-zilch as nearly every other reality TV runner up, it’s going to sting even harder! :rage: Upon hearing the figure A’dan blathers “Split the money with me!” and it’s a testament to the show’s impressive security detail that no one shouted “Get a job, you bum!”

8 Hoh…lee…crap. They actually went there. They freaking spelled it out. GR: “Anything less…and you’ll be going home with second place.” Tosi: “It would be such a shame to have come so far and not win it all.” Not that GR didn’t mention any prize at all for second, because there is none, of course. They’re rubbing the loser’s face in it before the contest has even begun! :astonished:

Forget it. I can’t go another second. You know, I know, anyone who’s seen one of these blasted things in the past decade knows. Two fantastic kids are going to have the world on their shoulders for the next hour, several contestants who were caught off guard or were just plain unlucky for one day sit and seethe, the peanut gallery spouts lots of useless advice, and in the end both contestants will have made absolutely stunning dishes, and the judges have to decide which of the two winners is the loser, because ripping a kid’s heart out like that in front of a big crowd is just how you want to end the season. :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:

I’ve railed about how the ham-handed, unworkable, mindless, useless dinosaur of anudda wun bi da dus has made complete hash of Dancing With The Stars voting…how the voters have to juggle fifteen bodies they’ve seen on stage for a grand total of 45 freaking seconds each, and they have about an hour to do so, and next week they have to do it again, and by the end of the season the two favorites’ blocs are so powerful that if they’re pulling for someone else they may as well throw their votes into a trash compactor. But it’s effects are just as pernicious on a show where the judges have all the power. One day is simply way too little time to decide who has no chance of winning. And sometimes no one was particularly terrible and the smart thing would be to table the decision. Conversely, some weeks it’s become clear two contestants are completely out of it and both deserve the boot. Taking out one at a time, every week, nothing carrying over to following weeks, and absolutely no opportunity to do it any other way, guarantees injustices. That’s fine for Hell’s Kitchen, where the whole point is treating people badly (it’s right there in the title!), but when you’re dealing with children who might want to do this for a living someday, I think a little damn reason in order. Cuts. Have a bunch of rounds, cut out the bottom however many, but not too many. And have a reasonable number in the final; 4-6 would be perfect. This would also help ease the sting of First-Last Syndrome (i.e. If you’re not first you’re as good as last, which isn’t supposed to be this glorious ideal :rage:). I mean, there absolutely SHOULD be a prize structure (even American Ninja Warrior Junior has one!), but if you ARE going the First-Last route, being one of three nonwinners is going to hurt less than being one of one nonwinner. You do see this right?

Hahh…the real pity of it is, on the whole, I like this show! Really! It’s always great to see children who are well-behaved and working hard to learn practical skills. And Gordon Ramsey and Aaron Sanchez toning down their usual eye-gouging personas is always nice to see. It’s just a really fun, really positive experience. Right until the end.

All right, I said I’d be there for Come Dance With Me, but first, a bit of background. This show runs on CBS, which, of course, is the network which ushered in the modern reality show era with the groundbreaking Survivor. Since then, however, it’s been largely overshadowed by the other networks, and possibly on some of my cable provider’s roughly 500 channels which I have no interest in. CBS has always skewed conservative (as in “understated”, not “unfathomably evil”), and as such has little taste for over-the-top grandstanding (American Ninja Warrior, Dancing With The Stars, Wipeout), raging dysfunction (Hell’s Kitchen, Next Level Chef, The Bachelor), or endless wearisome slapfights (The Voice, America’s Got Talent, The Masked Singer). Furthermore, their shows almost never have any voting element; the only one I can think of is Big Brother.

In short, if you want something a little easier on the eyes and ears than your usual reality show assault on the senses, CBS is a good place to look. On the other hand, given that they’ve kept all of the ironclad conventions, you may find that without the noise and drama and heat, there’s no entertainment value…more an exercise in Producing A Reality Show 101 than what the finished product is actually supposed look like.

The premise, at least for the inaugural season (although if this gets renewed I don’t think they’re going to change much) is that 12 kids have dance dreams, and they’re going to have them with one of their parents because reasons. Daughter/father, daughter/mother, son/father, and son/mother are all represented. Unnamed choreographers work out their routines, and after short profiles, get into costume and do them. The judges then score them; this being a reality show, they have to all but bellow their scores in real time, because that works so well on Dancing With the Stars :roll_eyes:. They score in half-point increments, so 9.5 is the second highest score, then 9, then 8.5, etc. At the end the scores are listed, and the non-bottom two are moving on to next week, with the only downside being that their scores get promptly flushed down the toilet, but since that’s actually an upside for the pair that barely squeaked through, it balances out. :roll_eyes: The bottom two have to do an extra number, whereupon the judges then make a completely routine decision completely baked into the rules comparable to college gymnastics dropping the SSSSSAAAAAVVVVVEEEEE (:man_facepalming:) one of them.

Oh yeah, credit where it’s due: One of the things the producers got completely right was the PACING. They always make sure there’s enough time and that it’s used constructively. Nothing ever looks rushed, nothing ever drags, nobody ever needs to get cut off or hustled off the stage because something ran long. That’s real professionalism! :+1:

Oh, I did mention that I never even knew this show existed until the season was well underway, but I did catch the first episode on VOD (just to see who I missed), and…it was perfectly tolerable. :slightly_smiling_face: Poppy/ultrasoft rock music, judging a bit on the mush side but almost nothing bombastic, host who did his job and didn’t make it all about himself, and contestants doing their best with minimal Acceptable Storying.

Come Dance With Me season finale, CBS, 1 hour, 6/24/22

0 Boilerplate season recap and reminder of the prize (100K! :grin:), complete with one of the judges yelling his head off, which really didn’t happen that much so I’m okay with it. :slightly_smiling_face:

1 All right, judges names: Jenna Tawai, Tricia Miranda, and Dexter Mayfield. Dexter carries a Japanese-style folding fan, usually wears eyeshadow and mascara, and does his hair up, which can mean anything and I don’t give a crap anyway. :stuck_out_tongue: Everyone’s on stage for the big opener. It’s not ballroom competition level, but it’s pretty good.

3 Host Philip Lawrence announces the start of the finale. There are three teams doing two dances each tonight, which he sincerely hopes will be sufficient material for the finale.

4 The first round features a dance the finallists did in a previous round. Emily and Anna will be doing Tricia’s pick, week 4 set to Ice Cream. In the profile, she said “You guys murdered hip hop tonight.”, which is apparently a compliment coming from her. :question::confused::question:

6 Tricia explains in considerable detail why she chose the week 4 dance, which is all very zzzzzzzzzzzz. :sleeping: Then Emily and Anna come out in ice cream-esque pastel outfits and do their thing. I think it was all right.

8 Judges say some stuff. :man_shrugging:

9 Profile of Kennedy and Justin, whom Jenna will have reprising their week 1 dance, set to Carousel.

11 After Jenna provides some truly edifzzzzzzzzzz, Kennedy and Justin emerge dressed as a marionette and puppetmaster, respectively, then get reprisin’. I think it was all right.

13 Judges say some more stuff.

18 Profile of Avery and Jack, who of course have Dexter. Week 5 dance, set to a strange version of Rock Me Amadeus which has Falco’s voice but no German lyrics. Like, why even bother.

20 Dexzzzzzzzzzz, and Avery and Jack dance in gaudy sequined suits. I think it was all right. (Look, you want fricking blow-by-blow expert analysis, hire Len Goodman. :grin:)

23 Scoreboard…geez.

Okay, here’s the deal. The judges are going to judge the second round without announcing the scores right away (they did this last week too) as a measure to avoid giving the winner away. Unfortunately, in a contest with no fan vote, this only works if it’s close after the first round. They could have fudged the scores to ensure that they were close, but (to their credit) they take their jobs seriously and don’t collude. So Emily and Anna are on the bottom with 27, Avery & Jack have 28.5, and Kenney & Justin…have…30. :astonished::slightly_frowning_face:

Dangit. A one-increment spread might be surmountable. Three? Six? Sorry, just not seeing it. And especially not against someone who just nailed a perfect. That’s as stone cold a “game over” moment you’ll see on a scores-only show.

In an interesting twist, they actually took the trouble to announce who finished third (exactly who you thought it was, of course). I suppose this was inevitable, given that scores are all-important here and the producers want to emphasize that, but it seems pointless to me. There’s only one prize (OF COURSE :rage:), so there’s really no functional difference between second and third; either amounts to “did all the work and went the distance only to win the same amount as stop me if you’ve heard this before”. :weary: The only difference this really makes is that instead of two pairs who feel like total crap, you have one pair that feels like total crap (third) and another that feels like an entire freaking galaxy of total crap (second).”

I had…not high expectations, but definitely pretty high hopes for this. It seemed like a nice, fun, clean competition with lots of decent people who genuinely loved what they were doing. So given this, never mind the ironclad stupidity of anudda wun bi da dus, why did anyone involved with the show feel the need to eliminate anybody? Here are the reason to have eliminations, in no particular order.

  1. Cutthroat competition between the contestants, the Survivor “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast” model (which almost no one else uses, but that’s another thread). Complete nonissue here; no one has the power to “vote out” anyone else even if they wanted to.
  2. Need to have the fans vote out someone every week so the show can trumpet 99 hippieskippillion votes. Again, no fan input here of any kind, so nonissue.
  3. There are lots and lots and lots of contestants, so they have to narrow it down to a managable field for the final. That is true for Dancing With The Stars, which starts by cramming 15 contestants into a 2-hour time slot, followed by 15 contestants and a goddam elimination. (Strangely enough, even after jettisoning the bulk of its cast it still manages to have horrible pacing. Go figure. :angry:) It also makes sense for America’s Got Talent, which has literally dozens of contestants make it through prelims. It makes no sense when there are 12 pairs and the producers are professionals and have no trouble fitting them into the slot.
  4. Need a dependable process to get rid of the bad contestants. I didn’t see a single bad contestant here. And not to burst anyone’s neurons, but you don’t like bad contestants, why just not put them on the show in the first place? (Mumble grumble Sean Spicer mumble grumble…)

So…it’s a nice show. If you’re into that sort of thing, this is worth a watch.

Next up is The Challenge: USA, which premieres on CBS on July 6. It looks like it’s going to be an athletic competition featuring former contestants of Survivor, Big Brother, Love Island, and The Amazing Race. Remember what I said about how the vast majority of the time the only door reality TV opens is more reality TV? I didn’t expect to see this played out so literally, but there you go.

Oh, in case you didn’t know, there’s a new Wipeout on TBS. Well, technically not “new” since the first season’s already over, but it’s definitely an unexpected revival. It stars John Cena and…some woman. I took the liberty of watching the first and last episode of the season.

All right, I was never a big fan of the original incarnation. I thought the forced Flanderization of the contestants was annoying, the announcers were excessively cringe long before I even knew what that meant, the cheesy tacked-on graphics were an eyesore, the word “wipeout” got used too much (You can say things like “go down” and “splash” and “divebomb” and “hit the deck” and “deep six”! The world won’t end if you go twenty seconds without a title drop!) and the overall production was simply trying WAY too hard. Look, flying bodies and boxing gloves on poles and questionable goop sprayed with abandon are inherently funny! You don’t need to constantly pile drive that point home! All that said, it always got one thing absolutely right…the attitude. Goofy, loopy, weird, irreverent. Given how self-serious even Dancing With The Stars has become, that was almost a breath of fresh air.

Alas, that is completely gone from the revival. We get three bland and largely interchangable courses, the contestants are also mostly interchangable, complete with excessive you got this-es, the jokes either fall completely flat or sound like they were read out of a textbook, and there’s no energy whatsoever. Even stuff like spray goop and booby traps just get thrown in there haphazardly. Honestly, it comes across as a reenactment of the original Wipeout done by apathetic 4th graders. Cena and company took everything that was fun and made it boring, and took everything that was aggravating and made it aggravating and boring. I really didn’t want to, but I have to say hard pass.

Now I’d like to expound a bit on The Challenge: USA, because I’ve definitely taken a keen interest in this one. (It’s reportedly a spinoff of an MTV show called The Challenge, but I haven’t been able to find it.) The format is pretty simple. Everyone starts with $1,000. The contestants, who were paired up via an “algorithm” (I have no idea whether it’s preset or random) at the end of the previous episode, compete in a challenge with both a physical and mental element. The first had doing a math problem while rappelling down a building, the second was retrieving letter tiles from an airborne buoy and making words out of them. The worst team goes to eliminaton contest; the best team wins $5,000 each and gets to select the other team to face elimination. Loser of that, of course, is out, while the winner takes all of the losing team’s money. In between is lots of conversation between the contestants, because Survivor is to CBS what the Olympics and American Ninja Warrior are to NBC. At some point everyone with less than $5,000 is out, although how much of an impact it’s going to make at the point is questionable. At the end of the show, the “algorithm” (:roll_eyes:) creates completely new pairings. Each contestant gets a partner they never had before until the inexorable destructive process of anudda wun bi da dus makes this impossible, whereupon they simply get a different partner.

I’m…intrigued by this one. Well, first off, I like a reality show where skills and smarts determine success, so I know I’ll be watching this season all the way. My main concern is that the winner-take-all setup has the potential not only for injustices but rewarding bad strategy. I can very easily see a contestant who’s had consistently high finish but never the #1 spot deliberately play poorly to go to elimination. If this show reaches the point where multiple luckless contestants are tanking, it could get ugly. Besides that, CBS is trying to push the drama and scheming and intrigue angle, but unlike Survivor, there’s no voting on this show. It doesn’t matter if you’re as hated as Vladimir Putin; as long as your brain and brawn are up to the task, you can laugh in the face of your detractors. On top of that, once the field gets eviscerated and the sole focus becomes winning, exactly where are they going to get 20 minutes of drama from?

Right now I’d hazard a guess that The Challenge: USA is on the level of The Titan Games, in that it has the makings of a great show and just needs some fine-tuning to unleash its full potential. This is absolutely a show that promises to be only as good as its season finale, and rest assured that I will be keeping a close eye on it.

Well, not that anyone cares, but I’ve started watching the live shows for America’s Got Talent, the first night of five. Two acts per night determined by votes (app or website only, no phones) are going to advance to the final; the judges have no “saves” this season. This, incidentally, comes after the show also completely excised the weeding-out round following auditions, opting instead to have the judges pick the You’re-Going-To-Hollywoodees who are actually going to be seen again. Of course Simon Cowell, who apparently still has fans for some bizarre reason, gushed about how innovative and exciting this is, but cutting this many corners is a clear sign that a show is circling the drain. Everything just keeps getting worse and worse. All the quality acts bailed a long time ago when it became clear that the game was rigged and they never had a chance, but the bar seems to get lower every year. There are so many desperate foreign contestants that “Hey, isn’t this supposed to be America’s Got Talent?” has gone from a cheap joke to a bitter lamentation. The judges shenanigans are unbelievably tiresome. And the winners? You just to look at Dustin Tavella’s post-AGT life to see how tarnished the top prize is now. Right now I’m starting to think that the season finale might be the only episode that’s watchable.

Nowhere is this more obvious than with Ben Lapidus. I’ll sum up: His thing is that he has an utterly irritating, zero-effort song which he sings over and over and over. In his audition, all four judges buzzed him, but due to audience pressure to put this worthless, infantile, irritating hack through (:rage:) they reversed their buzzers and said yes, yes, yeeeessss. :face_vomiting: (I’m certain it was 100% a work, which of course makes it 0% better.) Then in the live round, he made like he was going to do an insipid but calm song, but switched to his fifth-circle-of-hell song and screamed it, whereupon the crowd cheered him on, and the instant he got the tiniest blowback from the judges (one of whom called it an “earworm” as a compliment :face_with_symbols_over_mouth:), gave a more violent reaction than I thought was possible for a group of bought and paid for empty-headed cretins. And wouldn’t you know, the reactions I’ve been able to find were about 20% “this guy sucks” and 80% “I LOVE IT, IT’S PERFECT, GIVE ME MORE, MORE, MORE MORE!!!” :scream::scream::scream: You know what Ben Lapidus is? A disgusting, rotten spoiled brat who’s never heard “no” once in his entire life and is constantly surrounded by toadies and sycophants and slobbering cheerleaders who praise every bit of scum-flecked filth he churns out. He got freaking free food out of this travesty! :rage: I’ve observed it before, that if something is not that good it’s going to receive tons of harsh criticism, but if something is absolutely horrible it’s going to get a disturbingly large cluster of super-diehard megafans who LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it and will defend it to the freaking death, the lesson being that if you’re brazenly awful, unspeakably vile, execrable beyond measure, you will always eat and have attention. :rage:

Oh yeah, the country guy and the saxophone player are in the finale. I’ve always thought that musical acts have an unfair advantage on this show because the audience can still follow them during the obligatory 50,000 cutaways to the judges making hammy facial expressions (:rage:), so this isn’t a surprise. I don’t think either is a million-dollar act, but given that the bar’s sunk to maybe a middling five figures at this point, I’m not going to complain if either takes it.

On a more cheerful note, The Challenge: USA is proceeding nicely. Nobody wants to go to elimination, so there’s no risk of tanking, and the winner’s choice of elimination opponents adds a bit of strategic flair. The host can get pointlessly annoying, but he seems to know when to rein it in. (Fingers crossed. :grimacing:)

Okay, time to knock off another one…

So You Think You Can Dance season finale - Fox, 1 hour, 8/10/22

0 A bunch of dancers we haven’t seen for a while, y’know, because they were steamrolled by anudda wun bi da dus, but they’re not dead or anything so they’ve been brought on to perform on a show they now have zero chance of winning. They…look energetic? Hey, did someone ever find out what the prize is for winning, or is it just some meaningless way-to-go like American Idol? I’m getting the feeling that the real reward is being seen on national television.

3 Alexis and Keaton. “For the first time ever”, the finallists will perform in the finale. See, in the past there was stuff like retrospectives and fan videos and skits and such to fill out the then-two hours. Y’know, back when this meant something.

4 Introducing our judges. Leah Remini, who I remember mostly rambling a lot and not making much sense, Jojo Siwa, who’s loud and not very smart, and Twitch, basically a slightly more upscale Randy Jackson. They add absolutely nothing to the show, of course, but I’m still so joyous at finally getting rid of that brainless howler monkey Mary Murphy for good that I can’t get too upset at them. Someone FINALLY picks Scylla! :partying_face:

5 Alexis does an energetic lifty-jumpy-shaky-squatty number with Carter, whoever that is. The song is “Samba”, which sounds suspiciously similar to Conga, but I imagine there aren’t that many Pump It Up players in the audience so it’s probably a nonissue.

11 Keaton does something with lots of lift-flips and hand motions with Anna.

21 Keaton does a hip-hoppy jumpy thing with Lex. Given that Jojo Siwa is a part of this show, you’d think that same-sex dances would start serving some purpose other than occasional filler. Maybe eight years from now when she’s earned some gravitas or cred or whatever. :roll_eyes:

24 Alexis profile with…a leitmotif :grimacing:…framing an Acceptable Story. :face_vomiting: Yikes.

26 Alexis in of those ridiculously short solo numbers this show has an inordinate number of for absolutely no good reason!

27 Quick look back at contestants who are not on this show because they got unceremoniously catapulted!:

34 Alexis in some ethereal-y thing with Jason Glover, who I suppose is famous or something.

38 Keaton profile where we learn that absolutely no one in the goddam country knows how to discipline children. And hey, another leitmotif! :rage: Followed immediately by his RSSNTSHAINOFANGR.

47 Ooh! Highlight of the night! The finallists dancing together and…wait for it…doing unfathomably godawful amateur acting! :man_facepalming::angry:

And someone wins the something and that matters to someone somehow, thanks for watching, no really we need every rating point we can get. :woman_shrugging:

It was a baffling experience. It’s as if the producers went along with their mindless slavish Queen song worship right until the end, whereupon they realized “Hey, we can’t fill an entire hour with just two people!” and awkwardly tried to shove the toothpaste back into the tube. And that, more than anything, is what makes anudda wun bi the dus not only idiotic but actively damaging to this show. There is literally no reason for it to be here, it is all bad and no good. SYTYCD needs contestants, needs dancers, needs entertainment, full stop. It has nothing to fall back on once they’ve been cast to the winds. Since spectacular vote numbers don’t really matter, the solution is so simple: Keep everyone to the end, count the votes each week, and the one with the most total votes is the winner! What could be simpler or more satisfying? Literally the only reason to eliminate anybody is because that’s how everyone’s always done it, which is no reason at all.

And now I just learned that World of Dance got cancelled…last year. Gah. May as well make a show about chess at this rate.

Update! Checking the schedule a few days ago, I realized that due to a truly baffling (ahem) coincidence, the season finales of The Challenge USA, America’s Got Talent, and Masterchef are happening tonight. Furthermore, since my TV privilege were curtailed for a couple weeks while my sister and her kids were here on vacation, I had a big backlog I still haven’t worked through yet. I’ll get right on them when I see them.

In the meantime, a quick update on Challenge. The “algorithm” was ditched in the round of…twenty?..making it a solo contest, just one man or woman bounced each week, for the remaining…four weeks, whereupon the winner will get decided the same episode. :confused: Bottom line, there are going to be a whole bunch of contestants remaining, not all of which will have gotten much airtime or have actually done much. I mentioned before how I never want to get too invested in anyone since anyone can hit the bricks at any time, but at the very least I could count on the contestants who went the distance and whom I’ve seen from start to finish to be familiar to me, so I could be assure of having things to say about them. That’s not going to be the case here, and be warned that you’ll probably going to be as confused as me.

As I’m going to be covering AGT first, here’s quick rundown of the eleven finallists.

Kristy Sellars (pole dance/background video act) - I’ll admit, before I saw what she was capable of, I had just about completely given up being able to be impressed by anyone on this show. Words don’t do her justice. Just look her up on YouTube and prepare to be dazzled. This is one of the extremely few things this season that looked like a Vegas act. Won Australia’s Got Talent; don’t know if that’ll work for or against her.

Nicholas Ribs (magic) - His thing is a digital-whatever table. Good for what it is, but not on the same echelon as Shin Lim. Also, I have serious reservations about a performer who can’t speak English without cue cards having any kind of career in this country.

Chapel Hart (country band) - Y’know, I don’t see what the point of breaking boundaries even is if you’re just going to regurgitate the same warmed-over crap hacks like Lee Greenwood have been force-feeding us for decades. I need flag-waving jingoism like I need Covid.

Mike E. Winfield (comedy) - At this point I’m convinced that the comedian in the final is here to meet a quota. I’ve never given so much as a sympathy chuckle at a single one of these performances. Just another case where the real pros don’t need a damn reality show.

Metaphysic (digital impersonation) - Oh, wow, bad covers of great-grandfather music with blatant sucking up to the judges thrown in! Where’s my wallet? :face_vomiting:

The Mayyas (36-woman dance team) - I’m split on them. Sometimes they looks like a Vegas act (although not a top one), sometimes they look like a second-string Rockettes squad. It’s good that they’re trying to flee a sexist country, but honestly right now I’m not convinced that America is that big an improvement.

Avery Dixon (saxophone) - Look, shouting the magic words didn’t sell me on Brandon Leake (“BEAT POETRY! MESSAGE! INSPIRATION!”), and it’s not going to sell me on him. Another contestant who should be finding his niche instead of thinking that playing an instrument real good is going to make him a superstar.

Celia Munoz (ventriloquism w/o a puppet) - I like her. A lot. She was robbed in her live round and absolutely deserved the wildcard slot, and she didn’t disappoint. Just a fine performance all around. The best part was that she looked completely at ease doing voices with stuff in her mouth. Not spectacular, just wonderfully entertaining.

Sara James (singing) - Young diva. Yawn. :yawning_face:

Yu Hojin - (magic) More polished than Ribs; otherwise not much difference.

Drake Milligan (country/Southern/Blake Shelton rock) - Haaaaahhhhhhhh. :weary: Singers like him get their three hots and a cot no matter what, so I seriously don’t know why he even had to be here.

Prediction? Probably someone I don’t like. I just expect it at this point.

Before I begin, I’d like to stress that the only reason I watched this season at all was because I have family members who insist on watching it, and after this season I’m definitely done humoring them, damn the complaints. No one reason…the quality has been declining for a long time, and taking out two rounds and the judges’ saves screams “point of no return” to me…but the breaking point was definitely Ben Lapidus. When an obnoxious spoiled brat shows up and the show not only gives him all the attention he wants but gives him another week, that crosses the line. I can tolerate a lot of things in my entertainment, but gross immorality is not negotiable. There are few things in this world I find more loathsome than an enabler. Either the show takes out the trash or I take out the show. No exceptions.

America’s Got Talent season finale - NBC, 2 hours, 9/14/22

0:00 Literally the first words out of Terry Crews’ mouth are to announce the Black Eyed Peas, doing Don’t You Worry. Then the moment they’re done, Light Balance, one of many very entertaining acts that got completely shafted due to the endemic injustice of viewer vote-decided reality TV, did their hey-we’re-doing-fine-no-hard-feelings best…with Crews as a guest member. I remember when this episode was a fairly slow paced trip retrospective through the contest and the finallists’ lives, and right off the bad we’re going at Dancing With The Stars speed.

0:04 Crews announces AGT Live, because the only way to prevent all these nonwinners from going their own way and possibly feeling some resentment toward this show for performing their hearts out only to get zilch is to bring them all together by force. I imagine this is going to get pretty big pretty fast.

0:05 The judges. :fu: For those of you lost track: Howie Mandell is the bitter scold with colossal delusions of grandeur who’s at least 20 years behind the times, doesn’t know the first thing about how reality TV works, and exists basically to spray around his pigheaded opinions like diarrhea, Simon Cowell is the useless washed-up corporate tool with the charisma of toxic sludge who knows as much about entertainment as King Charles knows about NASCAR, Heidi Klum is the hyperactive shrieking airhead, and Sofia Vegara is the backup hyperactive shrieking airhead. They’re here due to a mandate at NBC that the finale cannot be far less irritating than the rest of the season. :rage:

0:06 Recap of the final performances.

0:13 Crews proudly announces that we had “the highest number of votes this season”, which… :man_facepalming: geez, really? I’d certainly hope so! And he couldn’t even give the number. Wow, no way does this mean that the number is way lower than it was previous seasons and this show’s one little setback away from being banished to streaming! :roll_eyes:

Oh yeah, 1.5 billion views online, because when your show runs on television, it’s a good idea to hype up one of your biggest competitors. :woman_facepalming: In fairness, YouTube is the ideal medium if you want to see a specific act and not have to wade through mountains of dreck to get to it.

0:15 Backstage tomfoolery with Mandell.

0:17 Guest host Henry Winkler, who now bears an uncanny resemblance to Ric Flair (I don’t know how this came to me, it just did, okay? :grin:) announces Shin Lim, Nicholas Ribs, and Yu Hojin, who regale us with card tricks. Lim’s still as sharp as a razor, the others…charming in their own way. Not seamless, but looks very pretty nonetheless. I was going to draw an extremely unflattering comparison to Dustin Tavella, but I’m feeling too good right now.

Winkler plugs his new book. :man_shrugging:

0:26 Drake Milligan pairs up with John Parney to…ugh…

OKAY, TIME OUT - All right, I’ve avoided this long enough. My problem with “both major types” is that it has no types. Metal has a plethora of styles, sounds, and speeds. So does rock. And jazz. Even pop. Electronic, heck, don’t even get me started. Country or southern or whatever the hell you want to call it is the same bland, boring, safe, predictable, consistent, constant, dull, lifeless pablum every time. I was forced to listen to hours and hours of this slop as a child, and I swear I could hear my brain shutting off. Country has poisoned AGT and is one of the surest signs that the quality has gone completely down the drain. Don’t @ me. Don’t #, ^, or \ me either, for that matter.

…well, whaddya expect. Milligan, incidentally, not only has a #1 hit out right now, he’s already signed a record deal, and he’s in talks with…gah. :angry: He’s set for life. He needs reality TV or a one-day Vegas act like Connor McDavid needs a paper route. If he wins the million, all that means is that he’ll get that nice ranch home in Tennessee a little sooner than expected. Geez. (If you haven’t guessed, I’m fuming just a bit at his presence here tonight.)

0:29 Immediate segue to Chapel Hart. It’s a cover. :woman_facepalming: They set the stage on fire in their audition and each successive week have just gotten less and less impressive. :slightly_frowning_face:

0:36 Crews informs us that a comedian has never won, and here to show us why is Mike E Winfield (:expressionless:) with a montage of some of the other humor vacuums that have been on this show. Of special note is this season’s Mr. Pants, whose thing is dressing up as an oversized pair of pants and making pants puns. That’s it. That’s all he does. A routine that sounds like a prank by a 5-year-old. And he made it past auditions! :rage: Anyway, Winfield and his fellow hacks, whom I will not make any effort to research, are here do a hearty roast of Simon Cowell for being critical of their performances. Because as we all know, the proper response to a small bloviating twit ripping on you is to act like an even smaller bloviating twit. Fricking pathetic. :rage:

0:49 Ventriloquism act featuring the captivating Celia Munoz. Joining her are past stalwarts Darci Lynne, and soon after Terry Fator (one of the few Vegas headliners this show has actually produced). Thanks to the kindness of the second-chance voters, she not only got to make twice as many appearances as she would have, she got to rub shoulders with two winners. I have to think that she’s flying high no matter where she finishes tonight.

0:54 Something something Halloween Horror Night something something haunted house something something bad acting.

0:57 Kristy Sellars and The Mayyas with some highly abridged bit they whipped up in one day. No real point other than to get them on stage for tonight.

1:04 Crews suck-up bit. :roll_eyes: This is his fourth season, for crying out loud…

1:06 Avery Dixon on saxophone and Jobo (sp?) Shorty on trombone. Exactly what it sounds like. Dixon, of course, was Crews’ Golden Buzzer, but nobody puts crushing expectations on saxophone players so he should be all right.

1:09 Season retrospective, just in case you needed to be reminded how this season could’ve been so rushed and at the same time seem to last freaking forever. :weary:

1:17 Sara James and…wait for it…The Black Eyed Peas! They do a bunch of singing! :woman_shrugging:

1:21 Greetings from family and well-wishers. Cool technology. And given how internationalized this show is now, highly practical.

1:22 Oh hey, what’s this? Things have gotten so desperate that there’s now a prize for someone other than the winner! :astonished: Kia is giving an EV6 to the winner and “the runner up or a special person who inspired their act”. Um… :face_with_raised_eyebrow: Well, I only saw two cars, so it’s not going to be both. I have the sinking feeling that this is just going to very slightly alleviate one massive injustice while implementing another one, but I’ll just have to wait and see with the official rationale is. If it ever becomes public. Not holding my breath.

1:28 Promo for AGT Live, in that impractically shaped hotel in Las Vegas. Confirmed acts are Duo Transcend, Light Balance, The Silhouettes, Deadly Games, Kodi Lee, The Clairvoyants, and Lea Kyle.

1:29 All right, it looks like they’re ready to begin. :stuck_out_tongue: First off as always is the not-top 5, in no particular order, not like it matters.

1:30 Mike E Winfield. :man_shrugging: Eh, he tried.

1:31 Nicholas Ribs.

1:32 Celia Munoz. Whatever, she made her mark. She’ll go as far as her creativity, passion, and props budget take her.

1:33 Yu Hojin. Yeah, didn’t really expect either magician to win it all. Anything that relies that much on a piece of electronic equipment, fairly or not, is going to carry a “ooh, it’s just technology” stigma. That and I don’t really think an act where all the action takes place on a small surface is really a good fit for Vegas.

1:37 Avery Dixon and Chapel Hart. Predictable also-rans.

1:43 Moment of truth. 5th place, Chapel Hart. Three black women trying to make a break into country. AGT gave them TV time but nothing else; now they’re going to have to make it under their own power. The expression “good luck, you’ll need it” comes to mind.

1:49 4th place, Metaphysic. Did as well as could be expected. Good luck with whatever they’re trying to accomplish with that face technology.

1:51 3rd place, Drake Milligan. In an interesting coincidence, this was the same spot Josh Blue, another colossal ringer who had an army of backers before he took his first step onto the stage, finished last year. Let’s be honest, AGT was little more than a glorified publicity tour for him. It served its purpose and now he can drop the pretense and get on with his real career. Ride off into country stardom and never look back. That’s all I ask.

Which means…the two acts I thought should’ve been the final two actually are! :astonished::grin: Funny how Primetimer thought they were in trouble because they performed the previous week (something about familiarity or whatever), and now here they are.

And now a dilemma I rarely see on reality TV, much less AGT, the contestant who deserves it more versus the contestant who needs it more. Kristy Sellars was the star of this season, hands down. Hers was the only act in the final that I thought had the feel of a grand, bold, gorgeous Vegas act. So she won the Aussie program, so what? Winning a college championship doesn’t mean you can’t also have a Super Bowl ring. On the other hand, with such a pedigree and the airtime she’s gotten here, I have no reason to think she’ll have trouble becoming a success story. The same isn’t true for The Mayyas, who made a big jump from a really, really crappy place to live (Hey, don’t take my word for it!) to a nice place to live if you speak English and have enough money. They don’t have an international presence or any clout in the various entertainment industries. This is their big shot, their foot in the door, their ticket out of the fields of death and ruin. If they come up short here, they just worked their tails off and went the distance only to get no annuity, no Vegas act, no future. (Plus I have no idea how all 36 of them are going to split up that car.)


1:58 Winner…The Mayyas. :clap::woman_shrugging:

As usual, totally sucks that one of them had to finish second. :slightly_frowning_face: I’m outta here…

Correction, it was Avery Dixon who just missed the top 5. Chapel Hart was 5th place.

As a footnote, according to the wrapup at Primetimer, The Mayyas won Arabs Got Talent in '19 (the same year Kristy Sellars won Australia’s Got Talent), and Sara James won the the Polish Voice Kids. The days when a truly maverick act like Olate Dogs could come out of nowhere to win it are long gone, but this contest has gone full Olympics: If you’re not an established professional, you don’t have a prayer. No turning back.

Still truly, madly, deeply hoping that Kia gives Sellars the other car. Come on, let there be some justice in this miserable world.

(Wow, three posts on AGT in as many days. You’d think I was still a fan. :wink:)

All right, it’s a nice, relaxing Sunday…time to knock another one off!

The Challenge: USA season finale - CBS, 2 hours, 9/14/22

0:00 A shot of the five men who have locked up their spots in the finale, Domenick, Tyson, Enzo, Ben, and Danny, and the six women fighting to avoid being the last anuuda wun bi da dus victim, Justine, Alyssa, Cayla, Sarah, Desi, and Angela. I’ll valiantly attempt to dig up whatever I know about these people throughout the course of the episode.

0:01 All right, all right, what’s going down…uhhhhhh…apparently the final challenge is going to be really tough, and the winners get the half-mil prize, while the…other…survivors…split the remaining cash that they’ve banked…over all the previous episodes. :confused: Look, I don’t have all week for this, I’m just going to keep an open mind…

0:02 Enzo and Cayla have a chip on their shoulders about Angela, who has “a very strong group in the compound”. And something about Alyssa. Enzo looked really bad when he gave up on a rope swing in a daily challenge but has since rebounded, going to elimination three times and winning them all. Angela right now has the most money.

0:03 Alyssa discusses beverages with Tyson.

0:04 Sarah has a gargantuan chip on her shoulder about pretty much everything. She really, really has it in for Tyson. She tried to boss everyone around in the previous daily, which didn’t work out. Domenick gets philosophical with Danny. Danny really loves his wife Kiki and his daughter Zoe. They have a video chat. I don’t drink.

0:06 Domenick: “We get news that we need to prepare for a challenge to-nahaieeeet? We don’t go out at night for daily challenges! Something is about to happen.” FYI, he barely survived a colossal blunder during an elimination and since then has looked mostly clueless. Should be fun to watch in the final! :grin:

They enter a big truck. Desi displays an irrational fear of serial killers. :roll_eyes: And Cayla is afraid of getting buried alive. :roll_eyes::roll_eyes: Tyson finds other people’s panic soothing. :expressionless: (also :roll_eyes:). Tyson dominated the early dailies with three wins but lately has struggled just to avoid the bottom. Weirdly, despite other contestants openly expressing their hatred of him, no one’s ever put him into elimination. Enzo is still afraid of the water.

0:07 The first appearance of host and “BMX legend” TJ Lavin, who also hosted the regular The Challenge on MTV for many years. He reminds me of a young Jeff Probst, a dependable straight man for the most part, with the only real faults being that he tends overexplain things, cracks abysmal jokes, goes into cheerleader mode too much, and does this absolute nails-on-a-chalkboard laugh at completely random times for absolutely no goddam reason. :angry: With each passing month the departure of Tom Bergeron just looms larger and larger.

Today’s game is Getting Tired. The contestants have to swim across a 500m wide lake and enter an abandoned army complex decorated with random scary stuff. They need to find and retrieve tires of varying point values; the higher the value, the harder it is to claim. Then run 1k to the official scoring poles, put the points on the board, repeat. Only one tire can be carried at a time. Total time, 2 hours. As this is a women’s challenge, the winning man and woman get to select one woman to take on the last-place woman.

0:10 Apparently Sarah, Cayla, and Justine are in the same…thing. Really not seeing how factions are going to matter beans in the final, but give it time.

0:14 Cayla briefly gets a foot stuck in the mud and calls it a “sinkhole”. Bailed out by Sarah. Not liking her chances.

0:16 And Justine says the hell with it and grabs a 5-point yellow! :slightly_smiling_face: Meanwhile Enzo is bringing up the rear. Again.

0:17 Tires go on poles. Enzo makes a 3-point blue official, so at least he can say he made some effort. Tyson scores the first 20-point pink. :clap: Angela…is struggling. All this time there have been lots of vaguely spooky shots of stock horror movie stuff just lying there and not doing anything. :man_shrugging:

0:19 Justine tries to copy Tyson’s work. More tires go on. Angela is going nowhere fast. 1 hour 30 minutes to go. Cayla is feeling vindictive toward Angela. Domenick has scored two 10-point reds and is right behind Tyson.

0:20 A couple of 7-point oranges are claimed. Ugh…even if it was a nerve-wracking puzzle, I really don’t think risking hurting your foot like that is a good idea.

0:21 30 minutes left and Angela…the current money leader at $21,000…is still running in place. This is just sad now.

0:25 With all the more valuable wheels claimed, there’s a run on the blues. Except for Angela, who’s still doing her thing.

0:26 Finally, success! And for Ben as well! Until he trips up and injures his shoulder. :man_facepalming: Um, you do know that this is the last women’s elimination, right?

0:27 :checkered_flag: Time! For the first time ever, we have a tie for first; both Tyson and Domenick got 52 points. As there is no tiebreaker for this contest, both get $2,500. Winner on the women’s side is Sarah with 42 points; she gets all of the $5,000. Angela, predictably, is on the bottom with 24 points. And now Tyson, Domenick, and Sarah now have the arduous task of agreeing on something. Hoo boy, this should be fun. :wink:

0:30 Lots of confusing politicking.

0:37 Angela has face time with boyfriend Tyler. More confusing politicking.

0:39 Final elimination time. Tyson nominates Kayla, Sarah choose Alyssa, and Domenick…oh, get to the damn point, you blowhard :angry:…Alyssa. The game: Pole Wrestle. Both of them grab a pole and fight to take it from the other; best two out of three wins. The individual eliminations have no mental element, and I’ll leave it to you to figure out why. Provided there is a reason.

0:49 Angela, excessive crocodile tears notwithstanding, :roll_eyes: wins handily, bumping her bank account to a beefy $33,500. Now the extremely prolonged weepfest, which would be very emotional for someone who’s religiously followed CBS reality TV for the past ten years or so and has also managed to care the whole time. :angry: Can we get back to the part where stuff happens, please?

0:59 Cozy plane trip to the final battleground. Ben is in serious denial over how much of a problem his shoulder injury is. Destination: Patagonia. TJ is standing next to some kind of box with a crank in it…and immediately delivers the bad news. The medic who looked at Ben’s shoulder has deemed that it is too risky for him to continue; he’s done. In his own words “I wanted to do this, I know I could do this…this sucks.”

1:02 The final test! Climb the mountain in the distance (didn’t quite get the name…“Semino Lopez” or something). First man and first woman to reach the summit get $500,000 (and have to give up the banked money although obviously that’s a small sacrifice). In what is truly a radical departure from how literally every other network does reality TV, the nonwinners get to keep all the money they’ve scored so far…IF they reach the summit. Give up, run out of gas, or get hurt, and all their labor was for nothing (and the other summiters get to divvy up their bank).

Justine wants to win it for her parents who survived the Rwandan genocide. We briefly see a family photo. CBS understands the need for Acceptable Stories but doesn’t like to spend a lot of time on them.

Oh wait, there’s more. The contestants will be in male-female teams, decided by the “algorithm” :woman_facepalming: (very much looking forward to that tell-all expose 25 years from now which explains how the frack this worked), and have to switch partners at each of an unspecified number of checkpoints. If one drops out, both team members are finished. Sarah calls this “nails on a chalkboard”, to which I can only shrug, because this is reality TV, you were expecting any of this to make sense? Each woman runs one leg alone due to Ben’s departure.

1:04 First pairings: Danny/Cayla, Domenick/Angela, Tyson/Justine, Enzo/Desi, and Sarah solo. 1st leg, a 500-yard swim through freezing water to the shore, and a sliding puzzle. And…gods, it’s really annoying getting all the rules piecemeal like this…each checkpoint is worth points, 5 for first, 4 for second, and so on, and the finishers with the most points take the half-mil. There, I think I got it now. Angela immediately expresses her trepidation at the puzzle.

1:08 Uh oh. Desi and Enzo are still waterborne, and they’re not anywhere near the shore. Enzo whined a lot about how much he hated the water this season, but now it’s much more serious…he’s foundering. Badly. He’s screaming for help. Desi, who’s not a strong swimmer herself, can’t do much to help him.

1:10 It’s over. The bull-headed knucklehead who tried to go the distance on sheer stubbornness barely got one foot on the dance floor before crapping out. He actually says “I quit”, which I’d probably be fuming at if I had a macho molecule in my body. (I’m a pudgy account clerk with blood pressure issues who spends hours on the computer, and the last physical game I was any good at was Red Rover; what do YOU think? :slightly_smiling_face:) Desi is devastated and extremely raw at Enzo, and again, why the freak does any of these people expect justice in reality TV? They were on it! They know how this lousy scam works!

1:12 And then there were seven! Danny and Cayla quickly figure out the puzzle and claim 5 points. Dunno why he’s choosing this reality show to uncork “There ain’t no second place”, but whatever works for him, I guess. Sarah makes a fine unassisted effort to claim 4 points. Justine and Tyson get 3 points. Angela and Domenick timed out, but by virtue of at least making it across the damn water, they have 2 points and a glimmer of hope.

1:13 Round 2! Danny/Angela, Sarah/Tyson, Domenick/Justine, Cayla solo. They hike to the first part, a table with plates, forks, and knifes, and bottles of what Angela says is lemon juice. Each plate has a large onion and a several pieces of garlic on it, all raw. “You must eat all the food at your table before continuing.” Having attempted to eat raw onion on a couple of occasiosn…yiiiiikes. Some of them have trouble finishing and have to take a break to, uh, clear the air. Justine proudly proclaims “I have the best vomit of everyone here” and…y’know, I’ve heard lots of dubious quotes on reality shows, but that is definitely a new one. :sweat:

1:16 Danny and Angela are the first to the second part, an equation. They have to get numbers and math symbols from barrels; it’s largely the same as the first daily. Meanwhile Cayla’s appetite has been seriously suppressed. “I’ve been eaten maggot cheese on The Amazing Race. I don’t know if it’s the garlic or the onion or lemon juice, but my taste buds are completely on fire.” Domenick and Justine finish their exercise in extreme veganism and methodically make their way to the barrels. Cayla just reversed another fortune (normally when I watch reality TV, I’m the one who feels like throwing up, it’s not the contestants who are actually throwing up), and she still less than half done. She says that she doesn’t want to quit, but it looks like the clock is going to make the matter academic. “My body is shutting down completely.”

1:22 Angela and Danny easily nail the equation…holy cow, Danny, who’s been practically an nonentity up to this point, is in the lead with 10 points! Could he pull of the worst-to-first miracle upset? Cayla, now waaaaaay behind, trudges to the barrels. Tyson and Sara finish business and get 4 points, which leaves Dominick and Justine with the gentleman’s 3. Cayla, incredibly, manages to finish the task and get 2 points, but I’m guessing there’s going to be a very unhappy man on the next leg.

1:24 Round 3: Domenick/Cayla, Angela/Tyson, Sarah/Danny, Justine solo. This is a memory/decoding task with plenty of hiking. Tyson rattles off his credentials and laments that the stuff he’s seeing in the final he’s done just for fun. Angela/Tyson with 5 points, Sarah/Danny 4, Domenick/Cayla 3. The overwhelmed Justine times out and gets a nice-try 2.

1:28 Round 4: Danny/Justine, Tyson/Cayla, Domenick/Sarah, Angela solo. 10:27 PM with tents set up. They have to…shovel dirt into a wheelbarrow…and…dump it in a boxed-off area. Plus they have to finish before they can camp for the night. I’ve seen all kinds of tasks on these shows, but only CBS would see the entertainment value of back-breaking forced labor. Angela, currently 2 points shy of the lead, says the hell with it and goes to her tent.

1:30 1:58 AM and no one is finished. Rain is falling. This…this is just getting unsettling now.

1:31 Domenick & Sarah get the monumentally hard-earned 5 points. Tyson & Cayla get 4. Danny & Justine get 3. 3:58 AM. And at 6:59 AM, a little over 3 hours sleep for most of them, it’s go time. TJ makes fun of how much someone smells. He then grills Angela, who admits that she was willing to accept last place in exchange for more rest. Sarah is full of moral indignation about how everyone’s tired, wet, and cold and she took the easy way out, which I’d totally agree with if this was something of actual importance and not a ludicrous and extremely poorly designed game show. Seriously, get bent, Sarah. :rage:

1:38 TJ gives the highly predictable bad news: for not trying to complete the task, Angela is done. “I do not quit.” No, you messed up, which amounts to the same thing. Don’t worry, I would’ve done the same. Forced labor. Bah. :rage:

1:39 The final push! The remaining 6 contestants now compete individually to get to the peak. Points are doubled for this round. The leaderboard comes up: On the women’s side Sarah has 17 points, Cayla 14, and Justine 11; on the men’s it’s Danny 17, Tyson 16, and Domenick 13. Tyson gives some highly overconfident final words. Rain is now pouring down.

1:40 Checkpoint 1, a hex puzzle. I used to play this on my IPad. I needed a lot of hints for that one. I do not like this puzzle. Tyson is the first to clear it. Cayla is struggling with the cold. Domenick finishes. Justine is struggling badly but gets the puzzle first. Cayla laments the Amazing Race where she arrived first and came in second…can anyone explain that?

1:43 Tyson chest-thumps about how strong he is, and right now I’m hard-pressed to disagree. Snow is pouring down. He’s the first to task #2…Sudoku? Sudoku. Danny’s here, and ooh, he once went through a whole book of this before, looks like he has the advantage! Back at the hexes, Cayla is done, Sarah…is not. She’s made no progress on the puzzle, and she sounds like she’s suffering. Even if by some miracle she gets this, I don’t think she’s making it to the finish line.

1:45 Justine, now with a walking stick, is stubbornly hanging in there, but she’s never done Sudoku. This is bad. Now we see them all at their respective boards. They’re struggling. This is very bad. It’ll be a miracle if no one gets frostbite out of this. Danny is the first to finish, and I’m starting to think that he really is going to steal this. Dominick is at his limit and he still has at least 7 spaces to go. “This is not doable.”

1:52 Oh boy. Dominick’s reached the point where his senses don’t even work properly anymore. Tyson has two spaces to go, but neither of his remaining numbers fit in them and his hands are quickly becoming useless. Justine has completely hit the wall. They’re done. They’ve had enough. Frankly, I’m astounded any of them lasted this long. Cayla is the only one there smiling, and she looks confident.

1:53 Back to Sarah, who’s still stuck at square 1. She really, really, reeeeeally doesn’t want to surrender the grand prize, but with each passing minute it looks more likely that hypothermia is going to settle the issue. Lonely shot of Danny hiking the final few meters. Cayla…oh dear. No longer confident, and I see at least 12 blank spaces on that board. She’s out. Back to Sarah, who finally finishes the hex puzzle and soldiers on.

1:55 Back to Danny…where we see that the trail has ended and he has to climb up a rocky, snowy slope. And…he’s got it! And now…Sarah… :angry: I really hate deceptive editing sometimes. Finishes the puzzle, reaches the top. She thinks she finished last. She’s soon corrected.

Due to the computations, Danny takes home $245,500, Sarah $254,500.

(I’d really like to see just how Sarah completed that Sudoku puzzle. I felt cheated there.)

Okay, I’m not going to do Masterchef after all, not because it’s a bad show (I think it’s one of the most consistently good Gordon Ramsey properties), but because I don’t have any interest in recapping the finale. The best chefs do their best work, despite some tiny stumbles they produce great dishes, two of them don’t win. Not much more to say about it.

I would like to say some more about The Challenge: USA. It was a totally fresh experience that I went into it with an open mind, and as is usually the case with these, I ran facefirst into all kinds of heavy-handed crap that ended up spoiling the experience. (Case in point, my experiences with this notorious game). I knew that the rules would be screwy by design and eliminations would be mostly a matter of luck. I knew that there would be at least one major injustice in the final leg, and lo and behold, it literally happened right away when Enzo bombed the swim (and he wouldn’t have even been here at all if he hadn’t nailed two brute-force eliminations) and took a helpless partner down with him. But the sheer level of finagling in the final was astonishing. It was, to put it bluntly, a total mess.

And then I read some of the responses to the finale. Hoo boy.

Do you know what my response to the final climb was? I was stunned that they had to do all these painful tasks. I was gobsmacked when the last task on the day involved exhausting labor and sleep deprivation. If this happened outside of reality TV it’d be considered a human rights violation. And then two very tricky puzzles, which not all of them were familiar with, in the freezing cold, for goddess knows how long. I was genuinely afraid that someone would suffer permanent harm from this. Now, if an incredibly tough (or lucky!) contestant was up to this, fine. Your body; your right to wreck it however you like. But I’d think that anyone with a brain would be going “This was not what I signed up for!” by around the raw onion and garlic, and definitely no later than the big pile of dirt. Yes, there are shows that push the players to their limits. But there’s a big difference between Sean Bryan fighting for that last lache or Justina Machado completing an exhausting freestyle than miserable, sleep-deprived wretches killing themselves for a shot at some cash.

So what was the overwhelming response? “Quitters! He quit! She quit! Everyone quit! They’re scum! They’re not worthy of that MTV show! Wimps! Weaklings! Quitty quit quit quitta quittoo quittai quit!” No compassion. No appreciation of how difficult the contest was. Hell, no one’s even interesting in picking out the deceptive edits, something which used to be automatic. It’s all preachy self-righteousness from a bunch of useless blathering entitled couch potatoes who couldn’t handle fifteen minutes of Hawaii humidity without screaming for mercy. (The other main factions appear to be the sadists, whom I am confident require no explanation, and the CBS reality superfans who actually follow the whole lineup, Survivor and The Amazing Race and Big Brother and Love Island. Not exactly sure how going on dates in a lavish Vegas resort prepares one for shovelling fifty pounds of dirt in the dead of night or nearly fricking dying on a frozen mountainside, but that’s just one of those quirks, I guess.)

Here’s a useful phrase: “Seeing the elephant”. The rule for any brutal, miserable, or painful experience is that unless you’ve seen the elephant, you don’t get to say ANYTHING about ANYONE who’s actually done it. You are nothing. Your opinion is worthless. That I’m seeing all these blathering sheep go “Quit! Quit! Quit!” isn’t just irritating, it’s morally repugnant.

And on top of that, I just flat out don’t care. Jeannie Mai had to leave Dancing With The Stars due to health problems. I kept watching. I saw a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen tell Gordon Ramsey “I don’t wanna do this no more,” he responded “Fine, goodbye,” and that was that. I kept watching. At some level, I think everyone has the right to say “I can’t go on” or “I can’t take anymore” or even “This isn’t fun for me anymore”. It’s a reality show. It’s not important. No one should keep competing who doesn’t want it. “But, but, it’s a great privelege, and someone else didn’t get this great privelege, and it’s totally unfair to that…” It. Is. Meaningless. Entertainment. Nothing. More. If my enjoyment of The Challenge: USA is dependent on getting hugely emotionally invested in these contestants and turning into an erupting volcano of outrage and indignation every time someone says enough, well, it’s not happening. Plain and simple.

Seriously, though, forced overnight labor. That is just messed up. :rage:

(Wonder if The Real Love Boat is going to be any good? Ah, only one way to find out…)

A little bit on my problem with streaming. I’m a Gen-Xer; not exactly old, but not young either. As such, I’ve developed pretty distinct ideas of what television is supposed to look like, what online videos are supposed to look like, what movies in DVD are supposed to look like, etc. I already watch computer videos on a number of locations, primarily YouTube. A service which provides television or movies to my computer is, in effect, a computer video service _that I have to pay extra for. On top of that, despite this surcharge, some of them run ads as well (Peacock, which has American Ninja Warrior Junior, is one). So if I’m going to pay to watch, say, The Real Love Boat, I’d better be getting some service beyond what I can see on YouTube. Worse, since shows are exclusive to each service, I could easily find myself shelling out a lot each month and never having the time to properly enjoy them all.

So no, I will not be signing up to Paramount Plus to catch the remainder of that series which completely failed to move the needle past “pointless” in the four episodes that ran on CBS. And given the rock-bottom ratings and potato clock-level of buzz it got, I don’t regret this decision.

Right now I’m watching the regular The Challenge (turns out we do get MTV after all), where the Ride or Die season has just hit crunch time. I think. It’s really hard to tell just what stage this show is in at any given time. But the competition has been mostly fun, and the machinations make for good TV even if I have trouble following them. Too much dumb luck IMO, especially with the elimination daggers, but that’s been baked into the show for years so there’s no point in grumbling. If the finale is good, I’ll consider it time well spent.

There’s a new military-themed show coming up called Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test, premiering January 4. From what I’ve been able to find, it’s a grueling test of strength, endurance, and will…and…that’s it. Still not quite sure what these Dancing With The Stars-caliber celebs are getting out of the experience, but as long as it doesn’t go overboard on the patriotism…big if! should be at least watchable.

And just a friendly reminder that Battlebots gets its own threads. :wink:

Okay. Recaps. Ready go.

The Challenge: Ride or Dies - Not nearly as riveting as The Challenge USA’s finale, which is saying something. Plenty of milking of Aneesa’s injury, way too much friction between Nany and Bananas. Up until the very end I was rock-solid certain Jordan and Aneesa were going to win it, as this really looks like the show where the biggest cesspool always wins. “100 hour finale!!” nonsense led to way too much The Amazing race-style dead air and making everything but the final homestretch completely irrelevant (another reason I thought Jordan and Aneesa were going to win). Did I mention that there was way, way, way, way, way, waaaaaaaaay too much vomiting? :grimacing: I swear, MTV is trying to make “bulimia chic” a thing, and that is just disgusting on so many levels. Anyway, Tori and Devin won, and in true The Titan Games style it came down to one big roadblock which one team could handle and the other didn’t, which turned the whole contest into a boring anticlimax. Tori and Devin ended up giving away a pretty big chunk of their prize money to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placers (the last of which had to drop out due to a freak slingshot accident…only in reality TV, folks :stuck_out_tongue:), both as a show of respect and a means of building rapport for future seasons. While I think this was a nice (and smart!) gesture, it just goes to illustrate just how unbelievably sucky winner-take-all is, especially a show that puts its contestants through as much crap as this. All, in all, there’s a few interesting moments every season and TJ Lavin isn’t the worst reality TV host (low bar, I know), but it’s hard on the eyes and ears (especially, y’know, the throwing up parts) and I definitely don’t have any desire to ever watch this again. Maybe if it has a season with former women gymnasts or whatever.

America’s Got Talent All-stars - Saw the final night of performances. Underwhelmed. Didn’t watch the finale, but caught this. Eh, I’m cool with him winning; he didn’t deserve to finish second to Dustin Tavella. Eh, picks up some car money and a slight career boost, I guess. Eh, good enough. Eh.

Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test - Something’s been eating at me from day one, and the final episode made it unavoidable: Given that there are no prizes, no photos, no nothing, as long as you make it to the final day, does it really make a sand flea’s worth of difference how do then? You’ve been on national television for every episode of the season! You’ve gone the distance! You’ve been seen by millions! People are actually going to remember you being on this foolishness! History will show that Hannah Brown and Carli Lloyd “passed”, which meant that theoretically a Special Forces unit who had actual recruits with a comparable level of competence doing actual Special Forces training would theoretically get accepted (or something :confused:), but Dwight Howard got to have some fun butting heads with real life military trainers and Danny Amendola got to push himself in a physically grueling contest, so isn’t that really just as good? “You screwups have zero chance of ever joining Special Forces!” Well, that was the case no matter what, so what exactly did either of them lose?

And regrettably, I’m going to have to draw an unfavorable comparison to Stars Earn Strips. Yeah, it went way overboard with the jingoism, but it had a very crucial factor: entertainment. It had target shooting and chases and doors being busted open and explosions and desperate searches and jumping and rolling and sprinting. Not so with SFWTT. Yeah, personal journeys and growth and testing yourself…I don’t care. I really don’t care about a washed-up basketball player or a mother of way too many wrestling with life choices. I want action, thrills, spills, fun! More than any show I’ve seen in recent memory, I was left asking: What was the point?