Welcome to the premier episode of Spike TV’s “Joe Schmo 2”. Following the trends of other reality shows, Spike TV has added a few twists to the premise for this second offering of “Schmo”. For this season, they have decided to double our pleasure by having a male and female Schmo in the context of a reality dating show.
The narrator explains the show’s concept. As with its predecessor, “Joe Schmo 2” is an elaborate hoax. Most of the participants are actors hired to play reality TV show contestants. However, two of the contestants, our Joe and Jane Schmo, believe that the dating show is real. The goal is to get to the final elimination without the two unwitting Schmos realizing that they have been on a scripted show.
The host for the show (an American who later adopts a British accent for his role), Ralph Garman (aka Derek Newcastle) quickly names the two Schmos and the actors who will be taking part in the deception. Since most of the people participating on the show will be known by two names, I will list both names below for reference. However, to avoid confusion, I will just use their character’s names within my recaps unless otherwise noted.
Our Cast of Characters
Joe Schmo- Tim Walsh
Jane Schmo- Ingrid Wiese
Austin the Bachelor-Tim Herzog
Piper the Bachelorette- Valerie Azlynn
Gerald the Gotta-Be-Gay-Guy- Jonathan Torrens
Rita the Drunk- Natasha Leggero
Bryce the Stalker- Kevin Kirkpatrick
Eleanor the Weeper- Jessica Makinson
Ernie the Heir- Steve Mallory
Ambrosia the Bitch- Gretchen Palmer
T.J. the Player- Jon Huertas
Cammy the Moron- Jana Speaker
Derek Newcastle the Pompous Host- Ralph Garman
Introductions and the First Elimination
The actors are assembled for a production meeting as they await the arrival of Ingrid and Tim. Rhett Reese, the executive producer, quickly runs through a few characterization issues. He asks Rita not to be too wild the first day, as they don’t want to fire every bullet in the drunk gun at once and not have anything left for the next day. He reminds Piper and Austin that they need to appear as good, solid people so that the Schmos might be interested in them. Finally, he suggests to the entire team that they have a whole meal of deceit to deliver throughout the course of the show and that it was important to drop only breadcrumbs of deception for the first few days.
Soon, Tim and Ingrid arrive at the house. As a reminder, these two believe that the entire dating show is real. They both express nervousness and anticipation as they enter the grounds. Tim arrives first and is able to view Ingrid and her ample bosom as she walks across the courtyard. Whispering, “jackpot” under his breath, Tim quickly rushes to greet the lovely Ingrid and valiantly attempts to keep his eyes from drifting down throughout their handshake and hug.
They make small talk about their forthcoming “journey” and “adventure”, and Ingrid confesses to being nervous about the whole thing. Tim uses this opening to touch her, rubbing her back in a supportive way. We hear confessionals of Ingrid saying that she’ll have her wits about her for any twists and turns thrown her way and Tim saying that Ingrid is a very pretty girl.
Soon, the other “contestants” are shown getting into their limos and heading to the mansion. We find out that the actors are actually quite nervous about meeting their two victims. Rita comments on how surreal it is while Ernie jokes about wetting himself.
T.J. is the first to arrive, and he plays his lady’s man part well, giving Ingrid a smooth kiss on the hand. Ingrid titters and flushes, but we learn in Tim’s confessional that he wasn’t as smooth on the inside when he admits to having wanted to take a “nervous poop,” which quite possibly could be one of the most disgusting things I’ve every heard anyone say on television. Tim seems to like T.J. and shakes his hand. He tries to sound cool (but ends up sounding the opposite) by saying he and Ingrid have been hanging out, “kicking it kung-fu style”.
Tim is understandably excited when the Cammy steps out of the limo. Her Barbie-doll figure puts even Ingrid’s ample cleavage to shame and she giggles vacantly as she introduces herself. The chesty blonde has the desired Pavlovian effect on Tim when he is shown almost literally drooling describing Cammy in confessional. Ingrid seems immediately threatened and seems to be a bit snide about Cammy’s supposed profession of working at Baskin Robbins.
After Gerald arrives and introduces himself, the cast experience the first wrinkle in their deception. Although they have been told not to talk, Ingrid starts chatting with another “contestant” as the Soundman adjusts Tim’s microphone. It turns out this gorgeous brunette is a model who was hired to come in just for that first day. So, when Ingrid asks her how she heard about the show, the girl says that her agent had called her up with the scoop. I’m not sure why this information shocks everyone, as it wouldn’t be the first time a casting director or agent helped a contestant get on a reality TV show, but everyone is terrified that the jig is up. T.J. decides that an appropriate punishment for the model would be hunting her down and making love to her. Ingrid, however, seems oblivious and everything continues smoothly.
The rest of the contestants and temporary contestants arrive without incident and Ingrid says that she’s not nearly as nervous as she was when she first arrived. Soon, a motorcycle pulls up and Derek Newcastle steps out to a fanfare of trumpets. He greets the group and welcomes them to “Last Chance for Love” in a grandiose speech filled with flowery metaphors and cheesy clichés. Tim is tickled by the pompous Derek, and can barely contain himself as Derek goes on about love and lonely days.
Finally, the fanfare begins again as Piper and Austin are brought in by “slaves” on one of those couches that Cleopatra and company were so fond of. Piper looks like a mix between a young Geena Davis and Darryl Hannah and is introduced as an opera singer and jewelry designer. Tim finds her attractive and seems happy to get to know her better in his confessional.
Austin exits his own couch flashing a million-watt Colby Donaldson smile and Ingrid says she could easily see herself with him. Get in line honey, we all can. Anyway, Austin is introduced as an athlete and successful model. Newcastle continues his over-the-top performance by telling the contestants that the smell in the air is the sweet smell of love.
The Schmos are given no time to relax, as Derek announces that its time for the very first elimination ceremony. He explains that Piper and Austin have been give three black balls and based solely on first impressions; they must pick out three people each to eliminate. Spoofing real dating shows, the dramatic music swells as Austin and Piper hand out their elimination balls to the unknown models (who are all ethnic minorities) with their apologies. Rhett Reese appears in confessional to explain that in all of these shows, the minorities get the boot in the first few days. They wanted to parody this by eliminating nothing but minorities right out of the gate. To her credit, Ingrid notices and is irritated by this, but not enough to leave, apparently.
After the “shocking” elimination ceremony, the contestants were treated to a Luau Mixer. The actors took this opportunity to drop hints about their characters. To establish himself as the charming, rich heir, Ernie (who’s faux last name is Gallo) dropped broad hints about his family winery business in California. Bryce acted appropriately creepy and lurksome as the stalker, and Rita faked being drunk within five minutes. All but Rita were fairly convincing, as she got “drunk” so quickly, it led Tim to note that she must have been sniffing glue in addition to the vodka she was consuming. She danced provocatively around Austin and kept stumbling and talking loudly.
Tim is definitely buying into the whole dating show theme at this point, as he tries to chat up Piper. She acts very coy and shy and he tells her that she just needs to relax and enjoy the “process”. The casting directors probably chuckled in glee when they met Tim and Ingrid, because the two of them quote reality show clichés like scripture. I find myself wanting to keep a tally of all the “amazing journeys” we will take through the “process” of making a “connection”. Anyway, he’s convinced enough to be miffed when Gerald steals Piper away for some alone time.
The Gift-Giving Ceremony
Soon, Derek gathers the contestants at the pool for the gift giving ceremony. He reminds them that before they arrived, they were told to bring a gift to either Piper or Austin. Except for Tim and Ingrid, of course, the ceremony is merely a method of further establishing the roles of the actors.
Cammy is first up with her gift of her own cell phone. She tells Austin that she wants him to be able to call her whenever he wants. Ingrid laughs in confessional about Cammy’s obvious lack of foresight in not realizing he couldn’t call her if he had her phone and Cammy’s reputation as a moron is sealed. Rita gives Austin her drinking glass as a sign she’ll try not to be as crazy as she had been at the luau and Ambrosia gives him one of her early beauty pageant crowns.
Ingrid was nervous about her gift, an autographed copy of an autobiography of Madeleine Albright. She tells Austin that since she didn’t know him yet, she brought him something that someone she would want to date would want to receive. I’m guessing she doesn’t get laid much if that’s the case. However, Austin pretends to dig the gift and Ingrid is pleased.
Eleanor follows up with a Love-Coupon book. These little gems are something women’s magazines claim men like but they actually could care less about. I mean really. When do you ever see a man use a coupon? They don’t even use them at the supermarket. Why would they pull one out in the bedroom? Anyway, Eleanor tearfully presents it to Austin and Ingrid thinks it’s sweet.
The guys also do an excellent job of establishing their characters. T.J. gets the playah vibe rolling early by presenting her with panties and a garter belt. Tim actually admires T.J.’s “strategy” and notes that if Piper is into that sort of thing it should work great. Gerald is next with a gift of emollients (that’s lotion for you straight men) to pamper herself with while they are out there at the mansion. Although Gerald throws the clues out perfectly to “sow seeds in the gay garden,” I seriously think that Tim is one of those people devoid of gaydar. Instead of being suspicious of Gerald’s sexual preference, Tim seems irritated that the gift was well received and cracks on it when he goes to present his own gift.
Tim presents a picture of his nieces and nephews. Now, I’m sure he loves the little buggers, but listen up girls. That’s really just a lame single-guy thing to do to say, “Hey look! I love kids. Maybe I’ll have some with you one day if you give me some nookie now.”
The final two gift givers are Bryce and Ernie. Both do a masterful job. Bryce is incredibly realistic as the weirdo stalker as he presents Piper with his own pet frog. He mumbles about wanting it to live with her and how he'll help her take care of it as he shifts his weight nervously and looks glances around creepily. He tells her it eats mice (which oddly, Tim seems to believe) and that it represents how she has to kiss frogs to find her Prince Charming. My respect for Ingrid takes a hit as she decides that this is a romantic gesture. I’m not sure a circumstance even exists that would ever make that a romantic gesture, but different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
Ernie shows how sensitive and charming he is when he presents them all with a child he has adopted on their behalf through his family’s foundation. They all open their envelopes and look at pictures of their “children” and I am struck by a thought. I wonder if the show actually adopted those kids? Or did they simply find random pictures of underprivileged kids to use as props? Anyway, Ernie did an excellent job and plays his role to perfection.
Lap Dance-The Gift that Keeps On Giving
Sometime that night, the guests are assembled together in their bathrobes. Derek explains that to win a private date with Piper and Austin, the contestants must play a game called “Lapdance for Love”. Broken up in teams of two, they are to strut their stuff down the stage while stripping off the costumes they are given and then give Piper and Austin lap dances. Whichever team earns the most “tips” from the duo would go on to accompany them on a hot tub date. Incidentally, when did taking a soak in a hot tub become a date? Hot tubs just get me overheated until I feel like I want to puke. I’d like to see a girl like me on one of these shows one day. Throwing up over the side of the hot tub always makes for good TV.
I have to say that the entire “Lap dance” game was one of the funniest scenes I have ever watched. Each male/female “team” came out dressed up in corresponding costumes. Tim and Eleanor were a gorilla and a banana. He pulled off her “peel” to reveal her bikini underneath as she awkwardly stumbled out of the costume. These games obviously have predetermined winners, but Tim’s team would have lost anyway. He jumped around the stage, monkey-style as he peeled away his costume and finally did what amounted to dry-humping Piper’s leg.
The other teams were all hilarious as well. Gerald and Ambrosia were the chicken and the egg and Gerald was very funny with his intense dance-moves. Ingrid demonstrated that she wasn’t as uptight as she appeared when she came out as a costumed dog and pulled Ernie’s steak costume off with her teeth. She then gave Austin a crowd-pleasing lap dance and the two were showered with tips from Austin and Piper.
Then, Cammy and T.J. came out as a cow and a jug of milk. T.J. tore open Cammy’s costume to reveal her jugs and both bumped and grinded like seasoned professionals. Cammy and T.J. that is. Not the jugs. Although they kind of did too. Then, jumping astride Austin’s lap and gyrating like a woman possessed, “Cammy” almost made “Austin” forget that she was supposed to lose, I'm quite sure. Even Ingrid admitted that despite being a woman, she couldn’t even take her eyes off the gifted Cammy. Finally, Bryce and a supposedly hammered Rita performed as a bunny and a carrot and Rita did more falling than dancing. After counting the tips, Ingrid and Ernie were declared the winners.
Falcons and Fruitcakes
There seems to be a lot of little meetings for this group and the next scene is no exception. Derek Newcastle has once again called the group together, this time for the “Falcon Twist”. With a gauntlet, Derek waves into the trees behind the assembled group and a falcon swoops down to land on his outstretched arm. Reading the card inside the attached envelope, Derek tells them that one girl will be eliminated that night. He also informs them that the individuals chosen by Piper and Austin will also win $100,000 a piece. However, the contestants are not allowed to tell the Piper and Austin about the money.
That night, while Ingrid and the others were at the hot tub, the rest of the men were gathered in Gerald’s room hanging out. Bryce took the opportunity to further establish himself as the resident psycho by standing on Gerald’s balcony and gazing longingly at Piper. After the men finally pull him in to hang out with them, he tells them that he has a huge crush on Piper and is already falling in love with her. With a few vague comments about past relationships and restraining orders, Tim is starting to give more than a second thought to Bryce’s sanity. Bryce also tells them that he once took hypnotism courses for fun. In his confessional, Tim admits to being completely freaked out by the twitchy Bryce and is worried about the hypnotism course he had at “Waco community College”.
After all of the prerequisite panning and dramatic music swells, the host finally arrives to lead the elimination ceremony. As the women are the only ones on the chopping block for the night, the men stand soberly in the back row. Derek gives a self-important speech about the meaning of love and then explains that if Austin wants to keep the one of the women, he will call her forward and present her with a pearl necklace. First, the women are asked to present their case to Austin.
Anyone should have been able to see that the was a bad idea, as Ingrid would be hearing the other ladies recited scripted lines as she struggled to come up with a “speech” of her own, but apparently no one thought it through. Ingrid is immediately suspicious and during the presentation of necklaces, begins to question the girls about whether they knew about it in advance. She still has a look of confusion as Austin is eliminating party girl Rita.
After the eliminations end, the tenacious Ingrid continues to put the actors through the third degree, refusing to believe that they came up with their speeches on the fly. This, my friends, is why you never lie to a woman. The producers are also looking like they are questioning the wisdom of having a Jane Schmo and scramble to try to get Tim out of the room and away from Ingrid’s onslaught. As we see, “to be continued,” flash across the screen, we hear Ingrid say that she felt like she was on “The Truman Show”.
Will Ingrid find out the truth? Will the frog really eat a mouse? Join me next week for the next installment of “Joe Schmo 2”.
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