Hello, hello, I’m back again. You know what time it is? That’s right, Benefactor time! In case you’ve missed my incessant complaining about this show’s timeslot, let me reiterate that I wish I could watch it in the company of the other bipedal, humanoid enthusiasts of the show. Heck, my cat is asleep by the time it comes on. And cats are more than merely nocturnal—they are like the slinky, fuzzy, residents of the night. They have to counteract all that daytime snoozing sometime. But even my Missy’s big, bright, rod-enriched eyes are shut fast by the time The Benefactor rolls around. Not because it’s a boring show, but because all creatures on God’s green earth should be sleeping! Hence my rampant joy at having some semblance of human contact. Yay!
But enough about me. It’s time to see who passes the tests of success. The tests of. . . .
The show opens much as the last episode did, with Mark reclining in the control room (nice shoes, Mark!) and watching the contestants on the big-screen TV. Thank goodness this mansion only seems to have one room. Mark says he’s beginning to see who has a chance to win the competition, as they’ve been dropping at a tremendous rate, and the group is getting more and more intimate. (No, not that way, you pervs. Though that would actually give this timeslot some merit. Yes, I’ll stop now.)
The contestants are in that room, and Mark comes in, plops down on that couch, and gives the details of today’s test. Up until now, the tests have been a group effort, and today they turn individual. “The war,” Mark says, “starts now.” Hmmph. And all this time I thought war wasn’t the answer. Each contestant receives $1,000 and twelve hours to prove that there’s something special in them—that they can be a star. What separates the doers from the dreamers? The doing.
Got to Get Up
And that’s all . . . the contestants begin their quest to be a star. For a moment, everyone sits and stares at one another, and then the chaos begins. People are dashing about and cell phones are whipped out of nowhere. As the contestants go berserk trying to think of ideas, Mark explains the concept more thoroughly to us, in case we want to try this at home. He’s looking for something that says “WOW!” It’s a challenge to push through the boundaries, leave your comfort zone, and explode with your creative juices. Aye, the war is getting graphic already.
While some contestants are still running wild, a few have already figured out what their plan will be. Shawn has decided to, once again, do it for the children and write a children’s book. Our first glimpse is a page that says something about tears running down . . . sounds like real family fun. Femia is planning to start her own business and vanishes back under the radar before we find out what it is. Tiffaney, in perhaps an odd move, is planning to go skydiving. Unfortunately for her, it seems that she’s having a bit of trouble finding an available facility. Spencer has decided to try getting one of his ideas patented.
Mark pops up again and says he looks for Chris and Dominic to be exceptionally bright stars in this challenge—Chris being a great competitor and Dominic possessing a heart o’ gold.
And the Cradle Will Rock!
So, what exactly is Dominic up to? He wants to be a rock star. Well, that’s cool. So do I, but . . . wait a minute! You mean that’s his plan? Why yes, yes it is. Dominic wants to put together a band, learn to play guitar, and become a full-fledged rock star in just twelve hours. Well, nice plan, man, but it isn’t just that easy. For instance, are you willing to make the commitment to wakin' up at the crack o' noon, for deep-knee rock squats!? Seven or eight at a time!? In a row?
His first plan of action is to equip himself with the proper tool . . . an awesome guitar. He heads over to the local Guitar Center to choose his weapon. Now, I’ve been to my local branch of this place, and it looks exactly the same . . . down to the shoulder straps they have for sale (more on that in a moment). Everything is there except for that one guy who rocks out while he’s “trying things out” and always makes me feel utterly talentless.
Dominic explains his plan to the salesman, whose eyes visibly light up upon hearing the words “This will be my first guitar” and “I’ve got a thousand dollars.” Dominic tries out all the expensive guitars on the wall that I only dream of purchasing and finally settles on a Gibson Explorer ’76. Meh . . . must be nice. He complements the selection with a learn-to-play book and a yellow strap that reads “Police Line – Do Not Cross,” which happened to be my least favorite when I visited this store. The total comes to over $1405.00, but the kindly salesman kicks it down to $1000.00, even. Pleasure doing business with you. Dominic says he didn’t expect to blow all the money on this, which begs the question . . . where is the band going to come from?
But Wait, There’s More
Meanwhile, other contestants are taking action toward their own plans. Heading off to work on her task, Linda says that’s she focused on winning so she can help her mother who, as we learned in the first episode, was severely injured by a drunk driver. She says she’s computer-illiterate and is stepping out of her comfort zone by working with a web design team.
Femia is out buying clothes. Wait a minute, here! I thought she was supposed to be starting her own business, not updating her wardrobe! As it turns out, her business is going to be a fashion line, and she guarantees it will be *fabulous*.
Tiffaney has finally found some luck, and some guy named Joe is hooking her up with an opportunity to skydive. Doesn’t that sound fly-by-night? But, she has to get to the facility as soon as possible, and it’s an hour away. She races out of the house, impaling herself in the eye with her sunglasses on the way out. Poor thing—now all that money may have to go to optical surgery.
Returning from the guitar shop with axe in hand, Dominic sets out to learn the secrets of shred from his new book. He’s not progressing very well. I’m imagining the book to be titled “How to be a Rock Star in 24 Hours” and that he’s only going to read half the book. Spencer, for some reason, is in the same room and trying to work, and when he’s not being subjected to the buzz-twang of Dominic’s “playing,” is assaulted by Dominic’s conversation-making.
“It’s hard . . . not only do I have to get down the notes, but I have to learn a song by tonight!” bemoans Dominic.
“Well,” replies Spencer, “you’re not doing too bad for the first day. . . .”
Spencer manages to escape long enough to go on his own adventure . . . to the patent office. He speaks with a lawyer named Grady, who says that, usually, processing the patent claim takes a little longer than a few hours. Grady then asks Spencer to explain his idea.
I gather that it has to do with air traffic control, but the explanation is so long that it must be cut up into barely-intelligible snippets. Who ever knew the guy could talk so much? After about 5 minutes, Grady wakes back up and says he’ll do everything he can. The two shake hands and part ways, but not before Grady not-so-subtly hints, “Now, did you give me the money?” Since there appears to be no written contract, I fear that a certain slightly richer
pettifoggerlawyer may just come up with a brilliant new air traffic control system soon.
The Big Reveal
The moon rockets through the dark Dallas sky, the clock magically changes from 5:57 P.M. to 8:00 P.M., and it’s time to see all the contestants’ plans set into motion. Who can talk the talk and walk the walk? It’s kind of like show-and-tell.
Tiffaney: Shows a video of her big skydiving adventure. She says that she knows Mark is afraid of heights, so she wanted to show fearlessness, drive, and all that jazz. The video shows a not-very-scared looking Tiffaney leaping out of the plane (with an instructor) with just a bit more grace than the ladies from Outback Jack. The other contestants clap politely, but Linda’s expression clearly says, “Well, that sucked.”
Chris: “In case you couldn’t tell,” says a jersey-wearing Chris, “I’m a big hockey fan.” For his test, Chris took his love of hockey a step further and literally became a star . . . a Dallas Star. Working with coach Dave Tippett, Chris trained and found out what it’s like to play in the NHL. Coach Tippett says that Chris needs some work, but he shows a great passion for the game. For hockey fans, this may be all we’ll see this season. Chris doesn’t want to sound too arrogant, but he’d like to see one of the other contestants beat this!
Latane and his Ridiculous Wig: Yes, it’s an entity all its own. Latane, for some reason, is dressed like a member of Poison or another hair metal band, complete with a long, black, and conspicuously fake wig. What is this madness about!? Latane has purchased the web domain name www.whoisgoingtobearockstar.com, and hands out accompanying initial business plans. Dominic silently fumes at the identity theft which has just taken place.
Here’s something interesting, though. Latane actually said he bought the domain name www.whosgonnabeastar.com, which is quite different. Shield thine eyes, children!
Spencer: Presents his certificate for his patent-pending product (say that five times) and then attempts to eliminate the competition by talking them to death.
Kevin: Kevin brings a CD player up front and lets everyone listen to a song that he wrote, sang, and co-produced, titled “One Scene Left.” It’s a far cry from the rampant rocking that’s permeated the show so far, but everyone seems to like it. Mark is impressed because the song, inspired by Kevin’s father who passed away, is very personal to Kevin and that it meant stepping out of Kevin’s comfort zone.
Femia: Stepping up in a very I Dream of Jeannie-like outfit, Femia brings in two models wearing outfits from her new line of fashion, the “Shining Star” collection. I commend her for taking the initiative, but the outfits . . . hmm. The best way I can describe them is costumes from Aida. Shawn loves them . . . she says they’re perfect for a mom who wants to look sexy, which just seems wrong on principle. Kevin says they’re nice, but he’d never wear them—even if he received them as a gift. Linda, ever the blunt one, says she’d never wear them. Evah.
Shawn: Hooray, story time! As it turns out, Shawn’s “children’s book,” titled “The Game Starts Now,” just looks like a draft copy, bound together with a spiral, not unlike the variety you can get at Kinko’s for $25.00. Hmm. Perhaps that’s exactly what happened here. I wonder what became of the other $975.00? Mark seems less-than-impressed with the book—every line in it is a direct reference to the game, and it’s in black-and-white, too.
Christine: Did you know that Christine was a dancer? Neither did I, but she took a professional dance lesson from the choreographer of the Mavericks’ dancers. I’m not blown away, but she feels confident in her presentation.
Linda: Linda says that everyone knows her as the athlete, so she’s decided to take a chance on something that she knows very little about—and Mark knows a lot about—computers. The seemingly extremely techno-phobic Linda put together a web page dedicated to her mother, in an attempt to bring some good out of her mother’s tragic circumstances. She has trouble finding the page on the laptop and has to get help from Mark to bring it up. Hmm. Is she playing up this fear of the laptop? Time shall tell.
Dominic: All right, ladies and gentlemen, it’s the act we’ve all been waiting for. Dominic leads the group out to the patio, where there is a swimming pool and an awaiting band. Dominic introduces the group, “Bacchus,” and proceeds to raise his goblet of rock with them. Is he singing? No. Is he playing mystical licks on his $1000.00 guitar? Not really. He’s more like the third rhythm guitar, but at least it looks as though he’s having fun. For the grand finale, he begins to strum furiously, jumping up and down crazily, much to the delight of the other contestants. He then slips off the guitar, raises it high, and . . . oh no he didn’t.
Yes, he did. He smashes the guitar (after many feeble, not-very-rock-star-like attempts at it). Bah! He could have given it to me if he so wanted to get rid of it. He then jumps into the pool along with the lead singer, and I can’t help but notice that our rock star’s signature hair looks exactly the same when he comes back up from the water. Everyone probably enjoyed the spectacle, but Shawn was less than impressed. “He wasn’t a star because he wasn’t the lead singer,” she says. No kidding. That means Eric Clapton was not the star of Cream, either.
Turn Your Back on Me
With that, the presentations are over, and it is time for four unlucky people to receive le boot. Mark says he’s pretty sure of his choices and announces the six that will stay: Femia, Spencer, Kevin, Dominic, and Tiffaney. The final “safe” contestant, he says, will be either Linda or Chris . . . but he is putting that decision in the hands of the five safe contestants. Will they pick someone to keep as a friend, or eliminate someone who’s a threat? Shawn, Latane, and Christine, in the meantime, have lost their shot at a million dollars and must say goodbye. Latane and Christine, Mark explains, delivered sub-par performances. Shawn frequently rubbed him the wrong way and didn’t do anything spectacular enough to change his mind. You’re not the only one who feels that way, Mark. . . .
The five contestants are sent off to a new second room in the mansion to ponder their decision, and they shortly return with their verdict. Who would they like to see stay?
Nothing close about this one. Linda will stay, and Chris is sent packing. This is a bit of a shame, as I thought he did a good job becoming a Star. Not that I’m biased towards hockey players or anything. Chris seems disappointed with the decision, but takes solace that it wasn’t Mark sending him home, it was his competitors. Linda is irritated at Femia for voting against her, but I say blah. That’s life.
And that, my friends, is the end of this episode. Be sure to come back next week to witness the virtues of friendship crumble, the first million-dollar game of “horse,” and someone giving in to flat-out bribery! Who will it be? Find out next week on The Benefactor!
Keep on rockin’ in the free world. Send comments, money, or expensive guitars to: firstname.lastname@example.org