I know what you’re thinking – The Family aired days ago, and the recap is just now making it’s way to print? You’re upset. You’re angry. You’re outraged! You’re mad as hell and you aren’t going to take it any more! Am I right? Well, before any of you decide to start a write-in campaign to the FORT moderators to have me replaced with another recapper, think for a moment. If I’m recalled, do you really want Arnold Schwarzenegger or Gary Coleman doing this job? I didn’t think so.
We pick up the show with Aunt Donna telling us how shocked she was when the board “took out” Maria, because it was the second time they had sent Cousin Mike before the board. She tells us that she thinks Cousin Maria “thought I took her out.” Let’s review; instead of sending her son Anthony to go before the Secret Board of Trustees, Aunt Donna chose to send Maria. I can’t imagine why Maria would be so confused as to harbor any feelings other than love and adoration for her psycho bus-driving auntie. If you’re reading this Aunt D, what you’re being subjected to here is called “sarcasm.”
Next, we see Andrew the Butler working a plunger in a toilet. Head housekeeper Linda comments “They should have a high fiber breakfast.” Andrew replies “More bran muffins.” This is way more information than I look for in my reality TV.
House of Secrets
Dawn Marie tells us “This house has a lot of secrets to it.” To illustrate her point she tells us there’s a missing checker and a missing chess piece. “I thought I was going to wake up this morning and like, find the butler missing.” This of course, would mean that one of her relatives was a murderer instead of just a kleptomaniac. “My main focus is that statue downstairs.” We see DM on the floor with a magnifying glass, carefully examining a white marble statue of a woman. Her madness apparently infectious, Cousins Ed and Robert, and Aunt Donna all decide to examine the statue. “I think that woman is holding the key to the money.” Yes, it’s true Dawn, the secret board of trustees is comprised of a statue of that statue, a lawn jockey, and several topiary animals from the grounds.
Andrew attempts to teach the family about afternoon tea, and its differences from high tea. Asking the family if they’ve had tea before, Andrew’s jaw nearly hits the floor when Dawn Marie answers “All the Celestial ones.” Back at Celestial Seasons HQ in Boulder, Colorado, the marketing department goes into a full blown panic; having their product associated with Dawn Marie could be nearly as disastrous as the “Hong Kong: It’ll Take Your Breath Away” tourism campaign that coincided with the SARS epidemic in Asia.
The next day the staff does it’s usual “wake the dead” routine to get the family out of bed. Social Secretary Ringo informs the group that they have a mandatory meeting with Mr. Hamilton that afternoon.
Seven Hundred and Fifty Thousand Dollars
The family is divided into two teams. The Green Team is made up of Captain Anthony, Uncle Michael, Aunt Donna, Dawn Marie, and Cousin Ed. The Gold Team consists of Captain Jill, and cousins Mike, Robert, Melinda, and Maria. First out of the house is the Green Team. Anthony greets our host with a casual “Hey, George.”
George explains the rules for this Fantasy Contest. Each team will be shown the same five “trinkets of the well-to-do.” They will then be given five prices, and they must choose which prices to match to which trinket. George finishes the instructions with “I feel so like Vanna.” Wrong show George, I think the game show personality you were looking for is Bob Barker. The winning team will be taken on a shopping spree to Sak’s Fifth Avenue, while the losing team will get to do laundry. Green Team, come on down! The “trinkets” are a Tourneau Mother of Pearl ladies diamond watch (12 carats), a champion schitzu complete with diamond dog collar and custom doggie bed, a 1988 Panther Calista Roadster, a perfectly preserved bottle of 1947 Cheval Blanc red wine, and a six-year-old Polo mare. Captain Anthony quickly discovers that being captain just means putting the price tags on the items that mommy and daddy tell him to. He argues that there is no way that a car with a 2.3 liter engine could possibly cost $75,000 and they should put that price with the watch. But he is overruled by Aunt Donna, who tells him “Do what daddy says.” Gee, mom, why not just pull him around by his ear on national television and complete his humiliation?
Once the Green Team has their prices selected, the Gold Team comes out and goes through the same routine. Finally, George reveals the actual prices. White hair. Golden leather tan. Blindingly white smile. Wait a minute – have George Hamilton and Bob Barker ever been seen together at the same time? Never mind, I doubt that idea holds any more water than my old Joe-Montana-is-Barry-Manilow theory.
Both teams correctly guess the price of the dog ($4,290) and wine ($11,230). The roadster ended up costing $14,000, and the watch $75,000. George twists the knife with “Anthony, I think your instinct was right.” Uncle Michael looks stunned. If only they’d listened to little Anthony, the Green Team would have been victorious. Instead, we go to a tie breaker. George reveals a Dolce & Gabanna crystal dinner jacket, one of only two in the world. The teams have one minute to write down how much they think the jacket costs, and the team that is closest wins. Anthony says “I know fashion.” He’s furious that his team is throwing out numbers as high as five million dollars, before finally settling on a whopping $750,000. The Green Team takes a new tack; they value the jacket at $13,801, which is the address of the mansion. The actual retail price of the jacket is $78,000, and Green Team wins.
As the winners jump in a limousine to go shopping, the losers grab some lunch before heading off to do their household chores. Anthony tells us “If my parents listened to me about the car, we could have won.” He says of his dad “What a moron.” Uncle Michael advises his son to show a little more respect, replying “Eventually this is all gonna be over. I would be very cautious.” Anthony tries to dig himself out of the hole with “I was kidding!” Every kid tries that line on their parents right before they get sent to time out. Or in the case of this family, right before they get sent to sleep with the fishes. You didn’t really think Anthony had always been an only child, did you?
Meanwhile, at Sak’s, Stylist Jill Swid is treating the winners to their shopping spree. They’re living in style, drinking champagne while models come out to show them the high fashion clothing they’ll have to chose from. Jill says “I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.” Apparently, high fashion makes Jill feel like a Hollywood hooker with enormous teeth.
Back at the mansion, Aunt Donna slaves away over the laundry. Anthony proclaims “I’m not touching Jill’s thongs.” Jill wears thongs? And here I thought Andrew’s toilet revelation was too much information. Doing the laundry eventually turns into cleaning the floors and bathrooms of the mansion. Seeing the bathroom, ever vocal Anthony continues his tirade. “Just getting near a place where someone has relieve their flatulence disgusts me. Yes, we know; you made that perfectly clear with the thong comment a minute ago.
When the shoppers return, the losers are forced to sit and act excited about seeing all the clothes they bought. Learning that Maria bought an ensemble by Dolce & Gabanna, he asks “Did it cost seven hundred and fifty thousand dollars?” Anthony, if you don’t stop taking shots at your dad, he’s going to buy you a nice set of cement shoes.
Robert tells us that he’s “leading the grass roots effort – the resistance” against Uncle Michael. As he and several of the other members of the resistance are discussing things, Uncle Michael walks in and asks “What’re you guys doing?” As if the dead silence that meets him isn’t incriminating enough, Jill attempts a feeble “I dunno.” Way to act casual, kids. I’m sure Uncle Michael doesn’t suspect a thing. Pay no attention to the call he’s making to “Guido’s Concrete Emporium.”
Smells Like Tension
The next day, the family piles into a stretch Hummer limo, headed for points unknown. But their trip ends before it every really begins; twenty yards down the driveway they come to a halt. The partition to the driver’s compartment reveals our ever smiling host, George. He informs the eliminated family members that they must exit the vehicle. The remaining family members must stay in the limo until they unanimously decide on which two family members to send before the board. Should they not be able to reach a decision, the first two people to step out of the Hummer will go before the board. And there are no bathroom breaks. With “My day is still young.” George closes the partition, and departs.
Cousin Mike kicks off his shoes and settles in for the long haul. Aunt Donna tells us she’s pissed off. Wait, you mean sometimes she isn’t? I thought pissed off was just sort of her natural state, I mean she just has the one facial expression.
Mike makes a suggestion. Since they’re a couple, Aunt Donna or Uncle Mike should go. It’s what everyone was thinking, but nobody had the guts to say. Uncle Michael says he’ll agree to that, but only if the two of them get to choose the second person. And that person isn’t allowed to have any hard feelings. Anthony comments “This car smells like tension.” I’ll have to try that the next time I get the car washed; I usually go with “Lemon” or “New Car Smell”.
Finally, the two agree that Aunt Donna will go, and she’ll take Jill with her. She didn’t want to risk going against Mike, because he’s already survived the Secret Board of Trustees twice.
As the cousins all discuss how the decision came about, Jill is having hard feelings. Apparently, she was too busy with the mini-bar in the limo or something and missed that whole “no hard feelings” discussion. As she vents to Maria, Mike tells her that Aunt Donna “will be feeling a lot worse when the decision’s over, trust me. That’s all I’m going to tell you.” The only viewers who still think Mike doesn’t know the identity of the board are the same people that think editing had nothing to do with Dat Phan winning “Last Comic Standing.”
The Queen is Dead
George Hamilton brings the names of Aunt Donna and Jill before the board, or the staff in case you’ve forgotten (it has been a couple months since we’ve been here, after all.) Stylist Jill says “ we finally have the Queen Bee.” The room is filled with sinister laughter, and any doubts that Jill wouldn’t survive this week are quickly laid to rest. Franc comments about the initial run-in he had with Aunt Donna in the kitchen. Ringo says “She coddles her son.” Jill states “She’s proud of her son” and Ringo asks the question everyone wanted to: “Why?” Linda the housekeeper states it best: “She’s a bitchy control freak.” And of Jill “If she becomes a contender, she’s obviously not as stupid as I thought she was.” Come now Linda, how could anyone underestimate the intelligence of any of these people. I mean, really? To save us any further drama, we’re shown each member of the board stamping “Denied” on Aunt Donna’s picture. George returns and with his now familiar “So be it, I’ll let the family know” he’s off.
The family assembles, and George tells them that the fourth person to be denied access to the million dollar fortune is Aunt Donna. The cousins smile. George smiles. While I didn’t think it was possible, Aunt Donna’s expression actually gets more sour, so much so that it wiped the smile off George’s face. Personally, the only thing I could think of that would have made me smile more last week would have been to hear Phil Keoghan utter the words “Jon and Kelly, you’re the last to arrive.”
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