Dallas. The Skyline. The Oil. The Opening Credits. The Benefactor.
Yes, this is it, my friends, we’re back with another episode of fun with Mark Cuban and his posse of contestants. Last week, everyone had to compete in an individual test, helpless guitars were smashed into oblivion, and four contestants were sent packing. It’s down to the final six . . . the preseason is over and the regular season has begun. (Oh, the puns!) Who will pass Mark’s tests of success? Let us find out!
It’s a Beautiful Day
The show begins with Kevin, who is very excited to be in the final six . . . he’s in a good position to take his life to a new level! He shares that he’s never been able to take a vacation before, and this could be his first chance to take one. He notes that he’s jealous of the folks who get to have “paid vacations” or “paid leaves.” So am I, man.
Femia is confident, happy, and feels that while there are some people around that don’t deserve to be here, they will quickly weed themselves out. Linda takes the far more direct route and expresses her enmity towards Femia. What is the cause of this rivalry? Perhaps we shall never know. Did the producers speak with Linda about taking on the “villain” role following Shawn’s elimination? Stay tuned.
Mark arrives, signaling the start of today’s test. Last week, it was every contestant for him/herself, and now they will again be placed into teams. Mark picks the teams by choosing people he feels are comfortable with one another and will likely work well together. On the “Silver Team” is Femia, Dominic, and Tiffaney, while the “Blue Team” is Linda, Kevin, and
Mr. Bean Blackadder The FlySpencer. Hey now, I’m not being mean . . . Mark said it first! Okay, well, he said the first one. I was just running with the idea.
The teams will be taking part in the most high-stakes game of HORSE, ever. But wait, they won’t actually be playing the game. It’s their job to assemble the best team they can find comprising one man, one woman, and one child (age 12 or under). And no, you can’t go ridonkuloid and get any NBA players—no pros allowed. They are to meet back tomorrow at the American Airlines Center, where the titans will clash and history will be made. Say, did you know Mark Cuban owns the Dallas Mavericks?
The Beautiful People
Mark explains that choosing the best team possible—his job—requires your best powers of persuasion, intellect, and confidence. Your choices for your team will control your destiny, so you must use your best judgment for the selection.
Both teams hop right to work, and Spencer’s first move is to rag on the other team, “Team Beautiful.” He says that putting together a good team doesn’t have anything to do with who can get the best tan. Spencer seems like a pretty cool guy, so I don’t know why he’s making lame analogies like that, either.
For Team Blue, as a whole, the day begins with a battle for creative control. Linda claims to be the know-all-done-all regarding sports and is poised to take charge and bark out orders to her underlings. Kevin is having no part of Linda and decides aloud that he’ll call a recreation center and see if he can find out about some good players before they set out on a search; Linda then says that she’ll call instead, as she has “experience dealing with those people.” Kevin replies, “No, I’ll call them. You can call another one if you’d like.”
What? Someone dared to question Linda? She doesn’t completely blow up, but she advises Kevin to “not get all b*tchy.” Great people skills, right there. They’ll take you far in life.
In the meantime, Femia is making good progress, calling around to recreation centers, YMCAs, and so on. Dominic says she did a great job, and they head out early to begin their search. Linda is still on Kevin’s case, and Spencer has completely disappeared in the wake of the turmoil.
Team Silver Hits the Streets
Femia, Tiffaney, and Dominic’s first stop is at a rec center to check out some prospective players. Tiffaney announces the details of their quest, and asks, “Who’s the best player here?” Not surprisingly, everyone there raises their hands. Ok, so honesty’s out . . . how will they determine who the best player is, now? Why, the obvious way, of course . . . a Michael Jackson music video-esque choreographed dance-fight!
No, I’m just kidding. The way to decide is to watch the players in action. I know, this seems painfully obvious, but just keep it in mind. Team Silver finds their man in the form of Bernard, a long-haired man with considerable well-rounded basketball skills. One down, two to go. At the same center, a 12-year-old kid named Junior makes four out of five three-point shots. Needless to say, he’s in. Shortly thereafter, they find the perfect final addition to their team . . . Amy, who played basketball in college for five years and sinks a perfect shot to prove her point. Team Silver is complete by 2:30 P.M. Time to party away the rest of the day!
Team Blue Hits the Streets?
Getting off to a slightly different start, Kevin has found some guy via phone who claims that he can play. I suppose keeping this mysterious man in mind, the trio sets off on their own team-building journey. Their first stop is a schoolyard, where a lone kid practices free-throws. We don’t learn his name—in fact, they don’t even get out of the car to talk with him, so obviously he’s not very good.
The streets of Dallas weren’t satisfactory, in fact, Linda’s stepping in a pile of dog pollution pretty much sums up their experience. Team Blue decides to head the opposite direction . . . the “Premier Club.” Perhaps they think they will find the “premier” athletes of Dallas here, but it looks more like the patrons you’d find at a hotel’s fitness center. The first hopeful is some random braggart who misses every shot he attempts. Ha! Team Blue is 0/1. Good thing they have the mysterious guy on reserve. They also hear tell of a woman named Rhonda from the club’s owner . . . Rhonda’s supposed to be very, very good. I guess they’ll keep her in mind, too.
Speaking of the mystery man, it seems that Kevin and Linda have an important meeting with him at . . . Foot Locker. Leaving Spencer to watch and deliberate at the club, they head over to the extravagant interview. The man, whose name turns out to be Bernard, impresses Linda (who claims she is a great judge of character). Don’t say anything . . . don’t say anything! In fact, she can tell if someone can play basketball just by the way they walk! A couple of dribbles, correct walking, and a shot into the air are enough to earn him a spot on the team.
Meanwhile, Spencer finds a young man of 10 by the name of Lucas, who is playing racquetball with his dad. This gives you an idea what sort of club this is. Spence asks Lucas if he plays basketball, which Lucas does. Huzzah! When Kevin and Linda return, Lucas demonstrates some of his shooting prowess, and he earns his own spot on the team. Voila! Just one more to go, but it’s getting late (7:47 P.M.) by this point. To keep it simple, Spencer speaks with Rhonda over the phone and gives her the honor, hoping that she’ll live up to the hype. Notice the kid is the only one that they’ve witnessed taking an actual shot.
The big day is here, and the two teams arrive to play at the AA Center. Mark has pulled out all the stops, and it feels just like they’re arriving to play an NBA game! Ok, maybe not all the stops. There’s not a full crowd there or anything. And there aren’t any Mavs there, themselves. But that doesn’t matter . . . there are some mighty nice-looking cheerleaders doing a nice little dance, so I approve of all this whole-heartedly. *Manny grabs popcorn* Thanks, Mark!
The “managers” of Team Silver and Team Blue, clad in matching silver and blue polo shirts, respectively, are ready to go, and their teams, who are wearing their very own Mavs jerseys, run in to the flashing lights and ubiquitous deep-voiced arena announcer’s introductions:
For Team Bluuuuuue:
Keenan, the street ball player! Rhonda, the . . . mystery woman? And Lucas, the kid!
For Team Silllllllver:
Bernard, the maaaaaaaaan! Amy, the ex-college star! And Junior, the three-pointer!
The contestants and imaginary crowd go wild, and Mark steps out to explain the rules. “Welcome to my boardroom,” says Mark. This game, he explains, is like HORSE, but better! Why is it better, you ask? Because this game is instead called LOSER, and, thus, makes the losing team feel even worse. That’s always better, right?
In case you’re not familiar with HORSE, er, LOSER, it goes a little somethin’ like this: Mark will show what kind of shot the player must make (and from where on the court). If one team’s player makes the shot and the other misses, the missing player’s team gets a letter: L, then O, then S, and so forth. The first team that spells out LOSER, well, loses. (That’s humor through the obvious.)
The first shot, which Mark demonstrates with ease, is a simple free-throw. Team Silver sends up Amy, who makes it in perfectly. Team Blue opts for Lucas, who misses. Team Blue receives an L. Linda pouts and says, “They stahted with their female, and I think she just got lucky on an easy shot.” Thankfully, she doesn’t also beat up Lucas for his incahmpetence.
Next, Mark makes another shot which I can’t really describe, being rather basketball-illiterate. It’s shorter than the free-throw. Team Blue sends up the mysterious Rhonda, who doinks it off the backboard and misses. Bernard, for Team Silver, makes it easily. Team Blue is at LO.
The final shot of the round is outside the three point line on the side. Junior comes out to represent Silver, but just misses. Keenan responds for Team Blue, making it and putting Silver on the board with an L. Linda says something arrogant about men versus boys, at which I’m sure she’d flip out if it were turned against her team. As for Junior, I know why he didn’t make the shot. The cheerleaders were way too close at hand for this shot, thus throwing off his concentration. I feel your distraction, buddy. Recap? What recap?
More magical shooting from Mark (hey, why isn’t he owner/player, like that Michael Jordan-Wizards deal?), and we’re ready to go. First up for Team Blue is Keenan, who misses. Bernard answers with a good shot, and Team Blue is at LOS. Linda sulks even more, fuming that Team Silver is celebrating their good performance so far. She says she wants to knock Femia off the chair and claims that the Team Silver “managers” are three non-athletes. And if you can’t perform, you can’t celebrate. *huff huff*
Next, the kids go head-to-head, with Junior landing his shot and Lucas missing. Team Blue’s situation becomes even more unfortunate, now at the ominous LOSE.
Now, there is a brief pause in the game for an inspirational speech from Mark, who says that no matter how low things seem, you can never, ever quit. Why, is that Mr. Foreshadowing knocking at my door? I believe it is. Now, he’s a cool guy and all, but I prefer the company of my pal Les Doodis. On that note, back to the game. Will the tides turn? Hmmm.
Rhonda returns to take a shot for Team Blue, which she lands. Amy cannot do the same for Team Silver, and they are, thus, at LO.
For the next shot, the players must face away from the hoop and throw it in backwards. However, they cannot look back at the hoop while shooting, unlike Mark in his demonstration.
First up is Bernard, who does it properly and misses. Keenan follows and makes it in, but it also looks suspicious as he peeked back while he was shooting. Connection? You decide. Team Silver is now at LOS, Team Blue at LOSE.
Next, shooting from directly under the basket and with eyes closed, Rhonda sinks her shot nicely. Amy does not, and it’s all tied up!
FINAL ROUND SHOWDOWN!
Linda, in another fine moment of sportsmanship, rants that Team Silver is nothing more than two bimbos following a cult leader. She clearly finds it disgusting, and she says that they’re not at her level. Thank goodness!
The final round has come down between the two kids. The score is tied, and the tension is thick—this couldn’t have been better if it were scripted. Dominic coaches young Junior a bit, instructing him to give the other team dirty looks. Junior does, and it is simply priceless.
The shot is a college three-pointer . . . a looooong shot and probably very difficult for kids. Junior steps up first, amidst much yelling and attempts at distraction from Spencer and Linda. Classy. He shoots . . . and misses. Lucas steps up next, shoots (without distraction), and . . . also misses! Gah! They must both shoot again. This is, as Spencer would say, “hardcore.” Junior steps up again, greeted by even louder yelling, takes his shot . . . and lands it! Team Silver explodes with celebration and Team Blue finally shuts up . . . for now. Junior makes some sort of hand gesture towards the other team, which I do not recognize, but I’m proud of him anyway. Mwa ha ha!
Lucas steps up to take his final shot. Will he make it? His shot sails through the air in slow motion, hits the backboard, rolls around and around the rim, and . . . no! It falls out . . . no good. Aw, poor kid. It’s not his fault; his team lost because they were ridiculous. Lucas is distraught, and to her credit, Linda consoles him. Team Silver is the victor!
The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat
Mark thanks and congratulates everybody for the most superb and exciting game of HORSE. . . . er, LOSER. He also comforts the upset Lucas with a big hug, offering the manly advice that this experience will make him stronger . . . and more importantly, that the girls won’t remember his missed shot, they’ll just remember he was cute. This cheers him right up, and he’s as sound as a pound again. Linda, however, is not. Luckily, she informs us that there are good losers and bad losers, and she’s a good loser. She follows by relating how badly she wants to go over and kick Team Silver’s @$$es. Not because of the loss, just because she can. Yay sportsmanship?
Nevertheless, Team Losers are looking Blue, and the spotlight is now on them. Mark has an envelope which contains the name of the person whom he has picked for elimination, but wait . . . there’s a twist! Mark has a tote bag slung around his shoulder, and he produces a thick wad of hundred dollar bills from it. Dropping it on the floor before Team Blue, he declares that he’s offering one of them a bribe. Ten thousand dollars to leave the game. Will anyone accept? All three politely decline. “All right, then,” says Mark. Let’s up the ante! How about $20,000 to walk away? They still decline, expecting him to keep raising the bribe. Spencer says, “Raise it a couple hundred thousand and we’ll talk.” Greedy people. Throwing down yet another wad of bills, he proposes a $30,000 bribe. Linda claims she can spend that in a one-hour shopping spree. On what!? So, how much more does Mark have in that tote bag? We shall never know, as Kevin quietly concedes and agrees to take it.
Yes, Kevin has accepted the bribe and begins to take his leave of the game. As a final honor, he opens the envelope and reveals the name of who was to be eliminated . . . Spencer! Spence is shell-shocked and certainly thankful that Kevin saved him. It’s from hanging around with the wrong crowd, Spence. Mark says that Spencer took too many “easy ways out,” i.e., accepting a player onto the team without even meeting her in person. Kevin is unfazed by the whole deal and believes that he did the right thing. “Oprah will be proud of me!” exclaims the newfound parvenu as he walks off into the sunset. He is now officially a thousandaire.
But Wait, There’s More. . . .
Nope, it’s not over just yet. Mark won’t let the contestants just go home and have an easy rest of the night. No. They have to go eat at Chili’s. Once there, a round of drinks is ordered in honor of the final five. But, Mark reveals, the celebration cannot last for too long. With tomorrow comes another test, and it will be performed by two teams of two. Utilizing higher math skills, one can see that there will be one too many people to divide equally, and the odd man out will be eliminated. There must be strategizing tonight!
Linda and Spencer sneak out to the patio in a secret rendezvous to discuss their strategy. They would both make horrible, horrible spies, as you can see their every move clearly even on the grainiest of hidden camera footage. Not surprisingly, these two decide to stick together like glue, thus forcing Team Beautiful to vote out one of their own, much to Linda’s effusive glee.
Upon receiving this news, Dominic, Femia, and Tiffaney brainstorm for ideas how to decide who will go and who will stay. Pick a number? No. Draw straws? Nay. Rock, Paper, Scissors? Bah! Well, what about . . . a game of Jenga?
Yes, it’s perfect! I’m sure all the critics of the show come crawling out again to complain about lack of structure and meaning, but I can honestly say that this game is much more entertaining than the last one. This time, all the players are loaded. (And not with money.)
The tower looks precarious at every moment, but finally Dominic leans forward to make his move, knocks into the table, and it all comes crashing down. I guess that settles it. To add injury to the insult, Dominic falls back onto the couch in disbelief, only to whack his head. Everyone laughs, including Dominic, at the rather fitting end.
And that, my friends, is all for this week. Be sure to come back for the next episode, as Linda and Femia clash, and the teams perform “random acts of kindness” around the city. And what will become of Dominic? Find out next week on The Benefactor!
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