Last week’s episode ended with Cousin Anthony oiling himself up in front of a mirror to disco music. I wasn’t particularly troubled by this scene – you’ll remember that the music actually made me laugh, but I understand that reaction among the female viewers was much different. Most women screamed in fear, mothers comforted their sobbing children, and there were actually two cases of hysterical blindness reported from a convent in upstate New York.
This week started out innocently enough, with Ringo making yet another accident reference to describe our favorite Staten Island homemaker: “Dawn Marie is a train wreck in high heels, but she’s also a fascinating woman.” Ringo, Marie Curie was a fascinating woman. Eleanor Roosevelt was a fascinating woman. Queen Elizabeth I. Amelia Earhart. Rosa Parks. Fascinating fascinating fascinating. No Ringo, you should know by now that Dawn Marie is what we call annoying.
As if sensing my displeasure with his statement, Ringo continues, exacting his revenge not just on me, but on men all around the country. “I would like to see her go all the way.” Ringo, she’s got kids, so we know she’s gone all the way, but making us think about it is just cruel.
Next, our vengeful social secretary tells all the men in the house that he has arranged for a masseuse to visit the estate, and all the guys eagerly sign up for a massage. Our anonymous massage therapist turns out to be – surprise – a beautiful, buxom lass. Aunt Donna tells us “My son Anthony is a freakin’ horndog.” Truer words were never spoken. After his massage, Anthony reveals to Cousin Ed “You get sex regularly. I get it semi-regularly, but nuthin’ like what’s upstairs. If she would have touched my leg, my ass would have been 8 inches off the bleep-ing table.” What can we learn from what young Anthony just said? 1. There was no inflatable doll upstairs. 2. Haley’s Comet visits Earth semi-regularly. 3. Under normal circumstances, when laying on one’s stomach, one’s ass is already 6 inches off the table.
As evening falls, the family gathers around the pool for a gourmet barbecue. Oysters, ribs, corn on the cob, and – ohhhh - grilled Italian sausage. But wait, we have yet another twist to add to the game: eliminated family members don’t get to eat dinner with the rest of the family anymore. Instead, they get to eat in the kitchen, preparing their own TV dinners in the microwave. Either the creators of this show want it to have more twists than, well, Twister, or they’re making things up as they go along.
After dinner, Ringo asks everyone to reach into a bag and pull out a marble. Two of the marbles are colored. Aunt Donna gets a red marble and Anthony gets a blue ball, er marble. Whatever. This makes them captains for the next day’s Fantasy Contest, and they choose teams. Team Red will be Aunt Donna, Uncle Michael, Dawn Marie, Melinda, and Robert. Everyone else is on Anthony’s Blue Team. Ringo instructs the family that they will be meeting Mr. Hamilton at the marina the following morning. Dress will be sailing attire which has been provided for them. But wait! Just like last week, Dawn Marie’s pants are two sizes too big. She is livid with stylist Jill, who tells her it is too late to do anything about it. DM shows us her flair for the dramatic as she exclaims “Then they can eliminate me!” Dawn honey, I know that everyone is trying to figure out what criteria the Secret Board of Trustees uses to vote people out, but you can rest assure, trouser fit isn’t one of them. Jill tells us that she was the swing vote that kept DM in the game last week, and if she had to do it again, she’d change her vote. Jill, we all make decisions we regret. If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t have watched “Surreal Life.”
The next morning the family is awakened early, and while they’re all busy getting ready, Cousin Mike finds time to ask Andrew for some style tips. Mike, the dude wears nothing but black suits and white gloves. You wouldn’t be sucking up because you know he’s on the Secret Board of Trustees would you?
Wearing white pants and shirts that match their team colors, everyone piles into their limos, and it’s off to the marina to meet George. Surprisingly, Anthony’s dew rag is nowhere in sight. George meets the family and gives them the details of their Fantasy Contest. They will be given sailing instruction, then compete in a sailboat race. The winning team will take off on a Lear jet to see the sun set, and to make up for this being a relatively sucky prize compared to last week’s gourmet dinner on a yacht, the losers will have to perform some hard labor. George tells the group to have fun, then points to an attractive young woman in a nearby luxury vessel and says “My lunch date is eager to trim the sheet and raise the anchor.” Realizing that not even his cheesy laugh could save that line, he decides to save it for another day, and leaves us.
The family is subjected to several hours of instruction, and most of them are bored out of their minds. But just as she was last week, Dawn Marie appears attentive and asks the instructor several questions. She’s a good student. Or, perhaps she can’t help but talk because, like her pants, her mouth is two sizes too big. The lesson complete, the teams jump into their sailboats, and each team is accompanied by a sailing expert. This expert will give instructions to the captain of each team (Aunt D and Anthony), who will in turn relay those instructions to their crew. The blue team jumps out to an early lead and never looks back, winning fairly easily. The red team blames Dawn Marie for the loss, and she tells us “They all pick on me.” Yes, they do, but who can blame them? Blue Captain Anthony: “I give myself a lot of credit because they wouldn’t know what to do unless I was instructing them exactly what to do and when to have it done.” Did I mention that he was simply relaying instructions from an expert? Expert say, Anthony repeat. A talking parrot could have given himself a lot of credit.
As the blue team limo heads for the airport, we’re treated to the red team swabbing the deck of a sailboat and the obligatory “we have buckets so we must have a playful water fight” water fight. Everyone drenches Dawn Marie.
At the airport, Anthony, Ed, Mike, Jill, and Maria climb aboard their Lear jet. They take their seats and feast on champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries. Maria screams “Oh my God – I can’t look!” Women all over the country averted their eyes fearing Anthony was whipping out the oil again, but thankfully, Maria was just a little nervous about takeoff. The winners are treated to two sunsets instead of one; apparently the producers felt this prize was suckier than I thought.
The next day, the family is treated to tennis lessons. Anthony shows up in a classic white dew rag. I’m good with that, as long as it means that we don’t have to see him with his collar turned up during confessional any more. It quickly becomes clear that nobody has ever played tennis before, but it just isn’t funny. Then Dawn Marie opens her mouth, and the producers decide not to cut this segment from the show. She asks the tennis pro “Do you, like, go to a lot of openings or no?” Confused, the pro asks “What do you mean?” “You know,” says DM, “like the U.S. Open.” In confessional she tells us “It makes me feel good just accomplishing things I never thought I could do.” I think many of us share that sentiment, but usually it involves something a little more earth shattering than nearly hitting a tennis ball over a net.
Maria tells us “I could get used to living like this.” She goes on to say that she’s from Uncle Michael’s side of the family, while all the other girls are Aunt Donna’s nieces. “I wouldn’t say that she has it out for me, but they are her nieces and I’m not.” Please refer to last week’s recap for an explanation of “foreshadowing.”
Hold Your Liquor
The family isn’t given the details of their Immunity Contest. Instead they are simply given black tennis shoes and black jumpsuits. Since her outfit fits correctly, Dawn Marie is forced to come up with another way to be dramatic, and is convinced that they are going to parachute out of an airplane. This terrifies her because she is afraid of heights. Being the concerned, sensitive cousin that he is, Anthony assures her that if she dies, it’ll be quick.
It’s not a parachute challenge (damn those sissies in the network law offices). Instead, George meets everyone behind the house and has each family member take an hors d’oeuvre, but instructs them not to eat them. Once everyone has selected their snack, they are informed to find the person with the matching hors d’oeuvre, as that will be their partner. The contest is a simple one. Each team will hold a serving tray between them. Every 40 seconds, a round of drinks will be delivered to them, and they will have 20 seconds to stack the drinks on their tray. If after the 20 seconds they are still touching the glasses, or they spill a drink, they are eliminated. The winning team will select the two names to be presented to the Secret Board of Trustees.
Ed tells us that their Sacred Family Crests say “Blood or Money” on them, and that’s really what it’s about. His comment has nothing to do with anything, but I suppose it was good to throw it in there. If you’re like me, you’d forgotten all about Cousin Ed. The teams are Aunt Donna and Uncle Michael, Mike and Anthony, Dawn Marie and Jill, and Maria and nearly forgotten Ed. Robert and Melinda are already out of the game, so they sit on the sidelines with George. The game moves along quickly. Anthony and Mike are eliminated on a touching violation. Um, no, that’s too easy, I’ll move along. Next out are Maria and Ed. I’m pretty sure they dropped their drinks when Ed misunderstood Maria’s “I’m gonna go on top” comment. The last team to be eliminated was DM and Jill, leaving Aunt D and Uncle Mike to choose the names. Uncle M goes first “What was the first team that dropped the tray? I don’t know ‘cause I was concentrating.” Yeah, Michael. We all believe you, Mr. Impartial. He doesn’t blink when he learns it was Anthony and Mike. Before we can blink he says “I’ll take one of them then – I’ll take Mike.” Aunt Donna is upset, and can’t believe that her husband left her hung out to dry like that. Choose Anthony and she risks removing her own son from the game. Choose someone else and she’ll be accused of playing favorites. So, she chooses Maria. George says “So be it.” Apparently he’s taken to that phrase and couldn’t wait until he picked up the envelope from the trustees this week.
Anthony barely has time to breathe his sigh of relief before he starts telling everyone how upset he is that his mom didn’t choose him. “My mother didn’t pick me – I was upset, because I don’t want to be looked at the rest of the time here as the guy that got a free pass.” Aunt Donna informs us “I’m trying to do everything fair at this point because there are still so many to choose from.” Suddenly Uncle Michael’s “I was concentrating” lie sounds so much more convincing.
Mike, who has no idea who the Secret Board of Trustees could possibly be, makes a beeline for Andrew. Now that Mike has worn black in the sun, he suddenly feels so sorry for Andrew. Ah, nothing like a little bonding with the butler before he goes to vote, eh, Mike?
And so it goes. Aunt Donna attempts to apologize to Maria and place the blame on Uncle Michael. Ringo tells us Donna’s choice “made her appear weak.” Anthony complains to anyone that will listen that he’s mad about his mom not choosing him. Funny, his nose seems bigger than it did last week. George takes the names to be voted on.
The staff debates. Jill said that Mike “grabs us” and “is a really cool guy.” Apparently the Mike grabbing Jill scenes were too racy for TV. Damn censors. Ringo speaking about Mike: “He’s greater than the sum of his parts. There is a soul in there somewhere, and I think access to the trust would bring out some great philanthropic works.” Ringo, if you mean he’ll give the strippers twenties instead of ones, I agree with you.
After more debate, they vote. George shows up to get the results, taps the envelope, utters his line, and heads off to, well, you know. The family is assembled and George informs Maria that she will be joining Melinda and Robert at the kitchen table.
As the credits roll, we are subjected to watching the women in the family doing sit-ups out at the gym-tent. The accompanying bow-chicka-bow-bow music would have been much more appropriate if personal trainer Natalie had made an appearance, but sadly, that only happened in my imagination. Instead, I get a glimpse of how women must have felt watching last week’s credits. Ladies, I'm so sorry I laughed at your pain.
There’s still six more episodes of this thing? So be it.
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