Joe Schmo Recap-6/22/04 The Plot Thickens
A Woman’s Intuition
Welcome back to another exciting episode of the least scripted reality show on TV, Joe Schmo 2. I am being facetious, of course, as Joe Schmo is an elaborate hoax with actors playing the roles of the contestants and host. These actors have the daunting task of convincing our Joe and Jane Schmo (Tim and Ingrid, respectively) that the show is real.
Last week, Tim and Ingrid arrived at the mansion and discovered that they would be taking part in a Bachelor-style dating show. The trap was set as they were introduced to the actor playing their competitors, the bachelor, and the bachelorette. Ingrid and Tim seemed to be buying into the concept of the show and into the characters created by the talented actors. However, Ingrid quickly became suspicious when the other girls delivered what she believed to be prepared speeches at the first elimination ceremony.
As this week’s show opens, we join the production staff mid-tizzy. They are frantic about Ingrid’s suspicions and try desperately to think of a way to remove Ingrid’s doubts. Ingrid, meanwhile, is on the balcony with Tim and the actors, tenaciously questioning the believability of the show to anyone who will listen. I am not sure if it’s the draw of her arguments or her cup size, but she holds Tim’s rapt attention, much to the dismay of the production team.
The producers discuss evicting Ingrid to avoid corrupting Tim, but ultimately decide that if Ingrid is out, it can’t be salvaged anyway. Personally, I was hoping for an eviction for her motor mouth ways. It would set a nice precedent should Jenna Lewis appear on Survivor again. Sadly, they decide to convince her again that the show is authentic. During the production meeting the next morning, Rhett reminds the actors how critical it is to run interference should Ingrid begin speculating in front of Tim again. The actors are shaken by the Ingrid Inquisition of the previous night and Piper calls her, “the spawn of Satan”.
The next day, we join the “contestants” enjoying their lunch together. A lunch that is accompanied by serious amounts of alcohol, I might add. Anyway, Ambrosia decides to get into her “Bitch” persona by taking a few subtle jabs at Ingrid. For some reason, I’m immediately struck by the realization that I will never be cast on a reality show. Besides my propensity for puking upon exiting hot tubs, I am also not great at conflict. Ambrosia’s comments would have sent me upstairs to eat Haagen Daas in my bathrobe the rest of the day, cursing my inability to think up scathing retorts. Well, I would think them up, just not for three or four hours after the fact. Then I would curse my bad timing for a few more hours. Thankfully, Ingrid saves us from this potentially boring scenario by insisting that Ambrosia accompany her into the other room to talk.
I’m not sure if Ambrosia was coached on what to say if Ingrid chose to confront her, but her response is brilliant. She tells Ingrid that she has been irritated with her, in part, because it is supposed to be a game and Ingrid is being too suspicious of everything and ruining everyone’s fun. This was a smart maneuver on Ambrosia’s part and will probably make Ingrid think twice before questioning things again because of the fear of looking delusional. However, Ingrid isn’t quite ready to let go yet, and confesses that she feels the show is very contrived. Ambrosia plays it smart again, by suggesting that it feels contrived because of the circumstances where they find themselves. When she points out the camera crew, we are offered a rare look at what the contestants are seeing when one of the camera operators pans around to show the crew, the production staff, and the lighting. Ambrosia points out that anytime you sign mountains of paperwork and have a camera crew following you around 24 hours a day, you have to expect it to feel contrived. Ingrid agrees and decides that even though the conspiracy theorist in her will never die, she’s there to have fun. She says that if there is a bigger scheme to humiliate her, she’ll just ease up and let it happen.
You’re Getting Sleepy…
Later on, we find T.J. and Tim alone in one of the rooms talking about the night before. T.J. tells Tim that he was having problems sleeping and went to Bryce to be hypnotized. I know that being hypnotized by strange men (whose sanity is under question) is my preferred sleep aid method. However, Tim finds nothing odd about T.J. asking Bryce for help. He only raises doubts about whether it worked or not, suggesting that it was the beer that was the main contribution to T.J.’s good night of sleep. T.J. laughs along with Tim and they decide that they should try to find out a little more about Bryce and hypnotic ways.
After summoning Bryce, the duo tells him that Tim has also had trouble sleeping and is interested in the hypnotism. Tim expresses his skepticism and says that he thinks the beer was responsible. Bryce offers to hypnotize them to prove it was his techniques that did the trick. The boys agree and Bryce puts them through a session, where he tries to implant the “suggestion” that they scratch like dogs when they hear the word “dogpaddle”. Tim and T.J. immediately break into giggles and assure Bryce that he hasn’t hypnotized them. Bryce insists that he did indeed put them under, they were just not aware of it. Tim leaves fully believing that Bryce believes that his hypnotism worked. He and T.J. decide that they will razz Bryce by responding to the suggestion the first time he says it and then revealing him as a fraud in front of the other contestants.
At dinner later that night, the question was posed, “What wouldn’t you do [on the show] for love?”. Gerald responded that he would balk at a “Foot Lick for Love” game, which sent the table into near hysterics. Then Bryce sees his “opportunity” and says that maybe they might make everyone go out and dogpaddle for a date. Tim latches on to the “suggestion” immediately and begins to scratch all over, but he notices that T.J. didn’t hear. He gets T.J.’s attention and then they both start scratching.
Ingrid, who has been told of the joke, can barely stifle her giggles as Bryce begins to look pleased with himself. Eventually, he proclaims that his hypnotism has worked and T.J., Tim, and Ingrid start laughing hysterically. Their laughter is soon halted, however, when Bryce pretends to become incensed that they were faking. Ingrid notes that Bryce is too “sensitive” to be made the butt of any jokes in the future.
Behind the Scenes at the Falcon Twist
We next join our Schmos at the Falcon Twist Ceremony. Montecore the Falcon somehow manages not to take anyone’s head off as he swoops down over the heads of the contestants. Derek, the host, unties the message from Montecore, and announces that periodically, a trip will be given away to the remaining contestants. At the next challenge, they will be competing for a trip to Costa Rica. Derek also tells them that there will be an eviction of a man for the first time that night. Tim states the obvious in his confessional when he says that this is really a game and people have to be eliminated.
We then have a brief comedic look at the rehearsals that Derek Newcastle (aka Ralph Garman) had with Montecore (aka Ace). Ralph complains that Ace is actually certifiably insane and possibly suicidal. We are shown footage of the saucy falcon, defying his orders and repeatedly slamming into the door to back up this claim. He literally bangs into the door hard enough to rattle the doors. They decide to open the doors to avoid this and he flies past the gauntlet again, this time into the house. As it turns out, the script calls for Derek and the haughty Montecore to despise each other. Ralph assures us that he doesn’t have to reach far for those feelings and we are shown him struggling with a very difficult falcon, who glares at him defiantly as he refuses to follow anything resembling a directive from Derek. He even hangs upside-down on the gauntlet at one point to avoid being placed on his perch. His disgust with the whole affair is written clearly across his falcon-face.
After the footage, the producers run a disclaimer across the screen that made me laugh so hard that I nearly fell off the couch. It read:
No falcons were harmed during the making of this show…
However, one came pretty freakin’ close.
Boobs, Ice Cream, and Bikinis
Ah, I thought that title would get the attention of the men and the women. How often does that happen? Besides, I seem to use the word “boobs” in at least one title per show I cover. Why mess with tradition?
This time, boobs are actually the topic of conversation, though, and not just a figment of my imagination. Ingrid comments that Austin might be too good-looking for her and the others are quick to point out her own voluptuous credentials. She jokingly grabs hold of her breasts, jiggles them, and introduces “Bertha” and “Louise” to everyone at the table. Cammy laughs incredulously and asks her if she’s really named them. Ingrid says, “You mean you haven’t named yours? Hell, I’ve named yours.”
Everyone laughs and they begin to toss around names for Cammy’s awe-inspiring cleavage. Tim finally comes up with “Baskin” and “Robbins” in honor of Cammy’s fictitious employer.
The group soon assembles at the pool for their challenge. They are once again in their bathrobes, which totally baffles me. They are going to be seen on national TV in their bikinis. Why is the walk from their rooms the time for modesty? Back on topic, Derek explains (in his usual melodramatic way) the game. The object is to try to recreate a pose from a drawing that is randomly assigned to them (on this show, random=scripted). The producers do not want Ingrid or Tim to win a trip yet, so they make sure that they are assigned the two hardest poses.
To further ensure that Tim and Ingrid lose, T.J. and Cammy pretend to lose their pose quickly and immediately begin messing with the Schmos. Cammy goes straight to Tim and gives him a close-up look at “Baskin” and “Robins” as she bounces up and down in front of him. I begin to fear for Tim’s safety as they come perilously close to his face, but Tim is a brave man. He holds out for a few moments longer before Cammy’s Double D’s break his concentration and send him crashing down in flames. He becomes so disoriented, that he actually falls into the pool as he stumbles away.
Ingrid is similarly tortured as T.J. begins to inspect the map that she has unwisely chosen to be the design on her swimsuit. He has his mouth inches from her stomach and breast as he searches for Costa Rica. Ingrid doesn’t flinch, however, until the other contestants point out that her remaining competitor, Ambrosia, has an insanely easy pose to hold. Ingrid finally falls and muses about the “irony” of Ambrosia being her final competition.
Whining In the Vineyard
The group date that day takes the group to the vineyard on the estate. The actors laugh in their confessionals about the sad state of the vineyard, which seems to be dried up vines tied to sticks. They also make fun of the tasting room, which turned out to be a garage with barrels marked, “wine”. As Derreck leads a tour, educating the group on the wines, Ernie begins to show him up by interjecting with information that could have come from a seasoned sommelier. Derek acts as if he is irritated and ushers everyone outside for a tasting.
As they contestants sample the wine, Derek continues his descriptions of various kinds of wines. It is at this point that Ingrid notices the attention that Austin is lavishing on Cammy. Apparently, Austin was told pay more attention to the busty blonde in the production meeting the day before. So, being the company man he is, he obliges with gusto. He plays with Cammy’s hair and he allows her to sip from his cup (err, that wasn’t’ supposed to be dirty, no matter how it sounded). Ingrid finds the behavior tacky.
Meanwhile, Tim knows that there is an elimination ceremony that night, so he tries to get to know Piper better. While he is chatting with her, Bryce ups his creepiness stock by pressuring Piper into giving her views on destiny and love at first sight. Tim stands to the side, looking aghast. He begins to become so alarmed at Bryce’s strange behavior that I half-wonder if he’s planning to tackle the weirdo to protect the virginal Piper.
Thankfully, for the actor playing Bryce, Tim is quickly distracted by a "massage game” that Austin has initiated with the girls. Each girl comes up and gives Austin a quick rub as he tries to guess who is giving the massage. Tim casts a wary glance at Gerald as he steps up to try to seal his gaydom in Tim’s eyes. He massages the blindfolded Austin with lingering strokes and catches a feel of his pecs. Tim watches closely and Gerald in confessional tells us that Tim has commented that he doesn’t believe Gerald is gay. Merely Canadian.
Later that night, the contestants take part in another game, the “Grape Stomp-a-thon”. As they are getting dressing in their togas, Austin is again being overtly affectionate with Cammy. Eleanor finally flips out, screaming at Austin that he shouldn’t give lockets to them all and then single one out for special attention. She produces realistic tears, and effectively makes both Ingrid and Tim uncomfortable as she sobs onto Austin’s Greek godlike shoulder (which I’m sure was quite the chore). Tim notes that she’ll be eliminated quickly if she keeps up the crying and Ingrid feels sorry that such a “genuine” girl is being hurt by the game.
The grape stomping ceremony is used to further establish the characters in the minds of Ingrid and Tim. Gerald introduces his germaphobe tendencies when he requests the use of his aqua socks during the stomping. When Piper chooses Tim as her stomping partner, Bryce falls devastated to edge of his barrel. As Piper’s stalker sulks, we see that Ingrid and Ernie are actually having a great time in their barrel. In confessional, Ernie explains that he is supposed to have an “Average Joe” persona. Funny, smart, educated and overweight. As he takes off his shirt, Piper feigns disgust and continues stomping with Tim. Meanwhile, the ever-bubbly Cammy is losing her toga and bouncing merrily in Austin’s barrel.
The Eviction Ceremony
Once again, the editors use all of the suspense devices at their disposal for the eviction ceremony. They cut to the door multiple times, pan the cameras dramatically, cause the falcon to screech, and the music swells are fit to burst. Derek enters with a small flame on a saucer and welcomes them to the first, “Flame of Love” eviction ceremony. This time it is the men on the chopping block. Derek tells them as they “all stand here with your candles erect” that Piper will choose the suitors she wants to keep around by lighting their wick. As Tim did the ceremony before, Ingrid can barely stifle her laughter.
The men present their cases to Piper, asking for the opportunity to stick around. All of the men delivered pat speeches except for Bryce, who delivers a tearful poem that manages to repulse everyone but the seemingly oblivious Piper, who smiles politely. Derek then instructs the men to approach Piper if they are selected so that “she can dip your wick in her flame of love”. Tim and Ingrid start to crack up, but manage to compose themselves for the wick-dipping ceremony (don’t try to say that too fast). Predictably, Piper chooses Ernie for elimination. He delivers a touching speech, and leaves gracefully. Ingrid’s suspicions are gone for the moment as she tearfully hugs the remaining competitors.
Join me next week as Ingrid’s suspicions begin anew and the producers are forced once again to consider her eviction.
Want to explain to me that this show is a fraud and that I should be more aware of the role editing plays in reality TV? Email me at Stagazer@fansofrealitytv.com