Hello, and welcome back to the second installment of "There's not a whole lot I won't do to jumpstart my television spokesmodel career", better known as Average Joe. Everyone take a deep breath, because it's going to get worse before it gets better.
No Glove, No Love
Tonight’s show begins with a closeup of the universal symbol for fairy-tale romantic love: a boxing ring. As the Joes walk out of the house to find it sitting in their backyard, they naturally start discussing boxing. They debate the relative merits of various boxers. Tony’s favorite is Evander Holyfield. Sam’s is Muhammed Ali, becuase “he beats you with [his head]”. Phuc’s is Roy Jones, Jr. And wow! What do you know? Out of the house bounds Jones himself. What a fortuitous “coincidence”. Ahem. The 5-time world champ gives the men a short boxing clinic, explaining that they’ll be sparring against one another. He inexplicably goes on to say that he heard Larissa is “worth fighting for.” What does that even mean?? Just as a short aside, I had two guys fight over me once when I was 15. It was awful. Even at that age I found it ridiculous, and I stopped talking to both of them. I have to assume that most women would feel the same way. Men, make a note of that, okay? As Larissa comes out to act as the ring girl, the men catcall and “wooo baby” themselves into looking like complete asses. Excellent job, gentlemen.
Before the fights begin, Larissa tells the viewing audience that this exercise “isn’t about who wins, or who throws the best punches. It’s about how has the most fun.” Pardon me for injecting some logic into this trainwreck, but if that’s the case, why boxing? Why not have the guys hang out on the lawn and play with tinker toys? Tinker toys are fun for the whole family, don’tcha know? But, once again, they didn’t consult me prior to the filming. Maybe next time.
The first fight pits Phuc vs. Sean. Sean gets laid out almost immediately, dropping like the proverbial ton of bricks. He and Phuc shake hands after the bout, and Larissa makes note of their good sportsmanship.
Next up is Donato vs. David. Before the match, David was trying to get Larissa alone and show her some boxing moves. Fredo, however, joined them and basically took over the lesson, leaving David to whine like a sleepy 4 year old. “Does she want to spend the rest of her life with someone who’s only out for himself?” I’m sorry, but David is a huge idiot. This is a contest. They’re all there with the same goal. Either compete, or go home. Jerk. So David hops into the ring, ready to take on Donato. You fine people have no idea how happy this matchup made me. I envisioned Donato taking David over his knee and snapping him like a dry twig. At the very least, he could have bruised his windpipe, saving us all from the horror that is to come later in the show. Even though Donato did get some decent punches in, he didn’t actually permanently harm David, making it a blown opportunity in my eyes. They didn’t air Donato being proclaimed the victor, but we’ll just assume he won.
Match #3 pits Fredo vs. Sam. Fredo shares with the camera that he believes “Larissa is looking for a guy to take care of her and protect her.” Sigh. Again, men take note. Not all women are looking to be “protected.” And hell - a few of us can actually take care of ourselves. I’m not going to go on a whole feminist rant here, but it might be a good idea to wake up and smell the 21st century. Fredo goes on to say that he’s “pure testosterone.” He really may want to book an appointment with an endocrinologist. To that end, however, he quickly kicks Sam’s ass. Perhaps Sam should have done a better job channeling his idol Muhammed Ali, and used his head a little more. A few head butts to Fredo’s chin probably would have made all the difference.
The final aired match was between Tim and Tony. I was surprised to find out that Tim is a former Marine. Somehow I just didn’t get that military vibe from him. He has more of a Richie Cunningham thing going on. He also has three large shamrock tattoos on his back. Okay, we get it. Red hair, pale skin, shamrocks. You’re Irish. Unless you’re going to lead me to a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it doesn’t matter. During the fight, Tim landed a few cheap shots on the back of Tony’s head, and Larissa was less than impressed. See? It’s hard to find a way to land a cheap shot when you’re playing with tinker toys. You listening, NBC?
After the fighting ends, Larissa - sounding ever more like a cruise ship activities director - explains the game plan to the men. Over the next three days, she will be going on group dates with all the men. At the end of each group date, she’ll select one of the guys to spend some alone time with her.
Kill Me. Kill Me Now.
The set-up for the first date begins with a crazy shot of Larissa walking along a path with the (“bright blue!”) helicopter flying low behind her. It was very strange. I half-expected a gunman to hang out the side of the copter and start blasting Larissa with automatic fire. Now that would get the viewership up! Alas, it’s just to show us that the first date will be a helicopter tour of an active volcano. Her suitors for the day are Tim, David, Mike and Thom. I think it’s pretty clear to everyone that the helicopter, being an enclosed and finite space, was not going to be a robust-man-friendly date, and the producers chose the men accordingly. As they take off, David announces that “now’s the time to say everything you’ve ever wanted to say on an air traffic control headset.” Because that’s a dream I think all of us have held dear since our infancy. And what exactly is it that David’s always wanted to say? “My mom doesn’t eat corndogs.” Fascinating stuff. Another missed opportunity passes when none of the men push him out of the helicopter into the molten lava. These guys just refuse to take life by the horns. Jeez. We find out that Mike is too blinded by Larissa’s teeth (“She said she was a coffee drinker, but her teeth are really white. She must use a lot of whitestrips!”) to pay mind to David’s insane ramblings, but the other guys really dropped the ball.
When the helicopter lands, each of the men vie for some alone time with Larissa, hoping to be the one chosen for that night’s date. Tim takes her to the side first, and tries to undo some of the damage of the ill-fated cheap shot fight. He wants her not to see him as a brute, but she doesn’t seem to buy it. Mike is next, and he starts talking about Jesus. I honestly don’t want to offend anyone’s religious sensibilities here, but why did he do that? I’m sure he’s a good Christian, and I’m sure that Jesus is mega-important to him and all, but it was just so awkward. “Hi, I’m Mike and I love Jesus.” What do you say to that? “Go on witchya bad self, Mikey!”? Their conversation was mercifully brief. Thom steps up to the plate, and drops some science. With the dulcet tones of Snap’s “The Power” playing in the background, Thom assures Larissa that he’s “not your average white boy”, and goes on to tell her that she’s “prettier than Wonder Woman.” The best thing I can say about the conversation is at least he didn’t rap it. Last, and most certainly least, is David. David’s mission is to show Larissa that he’s more than a clown. Yes. Yes he is. He’s also an annoying little tool, but I guess that just goes without saying. He tells Larissa how passionate he is, and that he cries. A lot. For instance, he cried just the previous night, because he was so thankful and appreciative to be there with her. Oh ick. No, really. Just ick. Larissa, surprisingly, seems to be eating it up.
After what had to be careful consideration (i.e. “Eenie meenie miney moe”), Larissa tells the guys that David has won the date. As the three dejected guys shuffle away, Tim says that he’s surprised, as he’s “the best catch of the day.” Ease back, Opie.
Larissa and David’s date consists of wine on the lava field. Honestly, I found it to be an amazing setting for a date. There’s something about flowing lava that’s just mesmerizing. Unfortunately David was there to ruin the whole thing for me, but we haven’t even begun to probe the depths of how bad this date is about to get. He tries to light a candle out of some flames shooting from beneath the hardened lava, and fails miserably. Lighting candles isn’t the only thing he’s terrible at, though. Not by a long shot. They trade inane banter over wine for a while, and David is thinking he died and went to heaven. And then it happened - the worst minute in the history of human existence. He sang to her. He sang and sang and sang.
Guys, let me explain to you how I write these recaps. If I can, I’ll catch the show in real time, as it’s aired. I’m taping it at the same time, though, because the first time I watch the show, I just want to watch it as someone who doesn’t have to write about it later. If a really good joke comes to me during the initial airing I might jot it down, but that’s about it. So on Monday night, I’m watching this show. I’ve already developed an intense dislike for David, and I’m seething that she picked him for this extended date. But when he opened his mouth and sang, I almost had to turn the television off. I was pleading with him to stop. I was shouting at him to never do that again. I think I may have cried a little. But no, my efforts were in vain. He..just..kept..singing. I could hear him singing through the blanket and two pillows that I’d placed over my head to try to block him out. I could hear him over the “LALALALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU LALALALALALALA” that I was shouting. And I’ve heard him every night since in my nightmares. Damn you, David Daskal. Damn you to the fiery pits of hell. When I watched the show a second time to make the notes I need to write the recap, I fast forwarded through it. I’m sorry, but there’s nothing on this planet I can be threatened with that would make me listen to him again.
After the singing came to an end, David went in for a kiss. This 3-minute date segment really ought to go into the television hall of fame for the most awkward and uncomfortable moments in history. He leaned in, eyes closed. Larissa’s eyes were also closed, and her mouth was so tightly pursed that she looked as though she’d just eaten a hundred lemons. Afterward, David talked to the camera, proclaiming it the best date ever. “The rush of kissing someone for the first time is....wow! And she responded too!” If David’s parents are reading this, please buy your son a dictionary for his birthday, as Larissa gave him the animated antonym of “responsive.” David went on to say that this was especially awesome, because it’s not like supermodels are exactly lining up outside his door. What, and “regular” girls do? I’m thinking not so much.
Where's That Jaws Shark When You Need Him?
The next day, Larissa embarked upon date #2. This time she was going “snubaing” with Sean, Bill, Justin, Fredo and Brian G. She took note of the fact that Fredo immediately went right to the bottom of the body of water to explore the sea life, and that Sean - despite his pre-date claims to the contrary - seemed a little bit scared. Later on the boat, she went through her screening method with each guy, trying to pick that evening’s date. They really glossed over this whole bit very quickly, evidently having run out of time after airing David’s vocal fiasco in its entirety. Without much fanfare, she picked Fredo to join her for the extendo-date.
Sitting in plastic lawn furniture (way to break the bank, NBC), the two sipped tropical drinks and bonded over Fredo’s surprising love of classical music. He told her of his plans to start a children’s charity that will supply computers and “other equiptment” to underprivileged kids. Very sweet. As he continued to show his depth, Larissa’s voice tells us “There’s a lot to Fredo. There’s really something behind his eyes.” There sure is, Larissa. It’s called an optic nerve, and you have it too! All in all, Fredo came off well, and when he kisses Larissa, she doesn’t look as though she’s ready to run for the nearest bleach bath.
So Wait. You Actually Wanted To Show Me Your Etchings?
On the final date, Larissa and Sam, Donato, Phuc, Brian W. And Tony trek through the rainforest. In a superficial nod to “girl power!”, Larissa clears the path with a machete as the guys follow behind her. They all come upon a beautiful waterfall, and Larissa challenges them to race into it. Phuc, Donato and Brian W. all decline. Bad form, fellas. Since Tony won the race, he was the first to get alone time with Larissa. Completely dispensing with any pretense of normal conversation, Larissa asks him “why should I choose you to spend time with tonight?” Tony tells her that he’s brought his portfolio along (where, tucked in his swim trunks?), and he’d like her to take a look at it. She seems enthusiastic about the idea. Sam completely blows his chance by bluntly telling her “I have no game.” You know, some people can pull off a statement like that as self-deprecating humor. Sam just can’t. Phuc doesn’t fare any better, and looks everywhere but at her while they talk. Nice job, buddy. Donato at least makes an effort, and brings her a piece of ... sugarcane? I think that’s what it is. Finally Brian W. is up, and I rescind everything I said last time about letting him read me the phone book. For some reason that I’ll never figure out even if I live to be ten thousand years old, he asks her “If you had a wish in one hand and a piece of crap in the other, what do you believe would come true?” Huh? I’ll give him a dollar to never ever ever say that again.
Coming as a shock to nobody, Tony wins the date. Larissa invites him back to her place so they can compare artwork. After perusing her paintings, they decide to do portraits of one another. They really bonded over this experience, and you could tell that she was being maybe just a tiny bit real with him. It was the first time she didn’t seem faker than a three dollar bill. At the end of the night, she asked him to kiss her. A real kiss this time, too. I was sort of hoping that David was hiding in the bushes, just so he might get a clear understanding of what “responsive” looks like. After the date ended, Larissa said that she thought it might actually go somewhere. She described the night as “special, a magical experience.” Tony is blown away by the whole evening, and looks as though he was just hit by a bus. Good for him.
Wouldn't Want To Be Ya
Before we even get to the cuts, we find out that evidently Justin/Booger had some “issue” and left before she had the chance to kick him out. Good. That nickname bugged me.
At the pre-booting cocktail party, David runs up and salivates all over Larissa the second she walks out into the yard. He tells her “it’s felt weird not having any contact with you for two days.” You could see that he was waiting for her to respond in kind, but she stayed silent. Ha! The pain he felt at that moment was nothing compared to the pain I’m still dealing with after his song, so I have no sympathy.
Knowing that damage control is necessary for a lot of them, the guys come up to her one by one, trying to undo the past. Mike apologizes for his whole sermon, and they agree to give each other a chance. Sam tries to tell her that he’d like to get to know her better, but it was just so damned uncomfortable. This kid is the living, breathing embodiment of awkward. Donato also tries to make his move, and I really feel bad for the guy. You can tell he wants to convey the real him, but he just can’t figure out how to do it with her.
When it comes time for the cuts, Larissa is apologetic. She knows there will be hurt feelings, but that’s the nature of the game. First to go is Tim, who claims he isn’t upset by it. Sure you aren’t, buddy. Sure you aren’t. Next is Sam, who rudely left without a word. Third is Phuc, who she tells “You made me laugh so many times.” He takes it well, with a “Hey, life goes on” attitude. Bill is fourth, and she gives him a line I’m sure has haunted him for his entire adult life: “I hope we can still be friends.” The final man to go is Donato, and Larissa seemed to genuinely struggle with his dismissal. He tried to leave quickly, but she pulled him back in, softening the blow with a “I’m sure I’m going to regret this, and I think you’re going to get a million love letters.” It was a nice gesture on her part, but he was still very hurt. He vowed to next time either find someone who isn’t shallow, or else lose some weight. Here’s hoping he does both.
So that’s it for this installment, ladies and gentlemen. Tune in next week, as it appears the pretty boys will be staging their invasion. God help us all.
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