“Love. It’s why we’re all here.”
A small, lonely tear will forever come to my eye when I hear those familiar words. I’m afraid it’s that time. Joe Schmo 2 is coming to an end. No more Tim or Ingrid. Montecore will fly no more. Well, except for in the two-hour finale. We see plenty of them through miles and miles of recycled footage. Schmo took the flashback to an all new level in this final episode. If you would like to know what happened in those flashbacks, please see my other recaps because I won’t be covering them here. If it wasn’t footage I hadn’t seen before, it got left on my cutting room floor. Just because they stretched what should have been an hour show into two hours doesn’t mean I have to. You see, I hold the editing power here. Bwahahaha.
As we are shown footage of our Schmos meeting the cast members for the first time, Ralph Garman (Derek Newcastle) reminisces about his time on the show. He tells us that he always felt cool in the scenes where the falcon landed on his arm but that invariably, the insane bird would kamikaze into the glass door or otherwise ruin the scene. Ralph goes on to say that “Joe” strove to be more absurd this season, particularly with the pearl necklace ceremonies.
Ingrid is shown at one of the early pearl necklace ceremonies, her face a cloud of suspicion. Jonathan Torrens (Gerald) notes that the only thing that they couldn’t account for was Ingrid’s ability to question everyone and figure things out. As we see subsequent scenes of Ingrid’s growing paranoia, I realize that Jonathan hasn’t given Cammy enough credit for her bad acting. She almost single-handedly brought down the show, in my opinion. If Tim hadn’t have been distracted by the enormous mounds of bliss protruding from Cammy's body, he would have caught on as well, I’m sure of it. Luckily, they provided enough distraction to keep Tim in the dark.
After we are reminded that Ingrid figured out the premise of the show and joined the cast, we are shown footage of the cast being introduced to the guileless Amanda. Rhett Reese tells us that her wide-eyed innocence was a relief after Ingrid the Inquisitor, and the cast was happy to be able to go with the original premise of having two Schmos. Rhett continues to take us down memory lane by reminding us of the actors that did double duty as both sets of parents. Then we get to relive Tim’s alarm at Bryce’s growing madness as well as re experiencing Eleanor’s hysterics over Austin’s dismissal of her.
Everything from Everett to Ingrid’s grandfather is covered in the flashbacks and we finally get to the part where they made the decision to kick Tim off his own show. We get to hear his goodbye speech again and they are shown the scene where Bryce is kicked off the show for killing Montecore. Tim tells us that the show has been a “rollercoaster ride from hell” and that he can’t believe he’s made it to the final four. He and Amanda both talk about not knowing what to expect next. The final flashback reminds us of the twist that revealed that Austin and Piper could choose to rekindle their own romance instead of choosing one of the suitors.
Three Word Limit, Please
As Tim and Amanda are locked in their respective rooms to record their daily thoughts, the actors are all in the morning production meeting. Rhett Reese explains to the cast that they are no longer leaving “breadcrumbs,” but that its time for the “dessert of the meal of deceit to be eaten”. He says that they don’t have far to go and encourages them to keep up the good work.
After the meeting, the four remaining competitors meet for breakfast. Tim is wearing a green shirt that someone should have snatched from his hand long before he made the unfortunate decision to wear it. Why? It has too many words on it, that’s why. I had to sit for five minutes trying to figure out what the daggone thing said. No one should be allowed to wear such a wordy shirt on TV. It’s distracting. I mean, you figure if someone wears a shirt with more than forty characters on it, that they must want to share a pretty important message with the world.
So, I sat up. I took notice. I tried desperately to pause it so I could read it a few words at a time. Sadly, if you were expecting the meaning of life, tips for shooting a basketball, or how to say, “What’s your sign?” in Latin, then you will be sorely disappointed. The shirt said simply: “Quit work. Get some stuff. Go somewhere. Have some fun.” I don’t think Shakespeare is worried about his day job. Of course, he probably isn’t worried about much, because he’s dead. Anyway, so all is not lost, the rough translation of “What’s your sign?” is: “Quo signo nata es?”
Go forth. Scare people at singles bars with your new found knowledge.
Anyway, Tim has decided that since he is competing against Austin, he needs to take off the gloves and start showing Piper the true colors of the man. Tim finds him pompous and arrogant and wants Piper to see it too. After Austin and Piper join the suitors at the breakfast table, Tim asks Austin why Piper should choose him. Austin avoids answering by saying that it will be Piper’s decision. Tim is frustrated with his response and says in confessional that he believes Austin is counting on the fact that he has a past with Piper and is “gorgeous”.
We see a huge difference between the sexes when Amanda responds to the news that Austin and Piper are considering staying together. Instead of treating it as a new development like Tim, she says that since the two of them had been together for four years, she had always considered Piper competition. Amen sister. There’s no bigger competition than a skanky ex-girlfriend that doesn’t know when to move on. We girls all know about those psychos that call and hang up on us and page cutesy messages to our men folk. Those girls that come over when they know you’re in class or show up at parties where they know you’ll be. There’s nothing more dangerous than a girl that has your man’s phone number or email address. No, I’m not bitter. Why do you ask?
Soon Derek comes out and greets the competitors. He tells them that since Austin and Piper are making the big decision, they will each be given a limited amount of alone time with them to plead their case. He tells them to choose their words carefully because they might be telling their kids about it one day. Amanda laughs and says that she’ll be telling her kids about it whether anything happens with Austin or not. After Derek leaves, Ingrid takes the opportunity to present her resume to Austin, complete with cover letter. Amanda thinks for the first time that she and Ingrid really are competing. I think for the first time that a resume for a potential mate is actually not a bad idea. I would just be listing a whole different set of skills on that resume than I would on one for work.
Pleading Their Case
Later that day, the suitors meet for their private lunch dates with Austin and Piper. First up is Amanda. She tells us in confessional that she does believe that you can fall in love over a short period of time and that her parents are proof of it. She says that they knew they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together after knowing each other for less than a month. During her date, she tells Austin that she doesn’t have anything bad to say about the other girls and that she doesn’t want to influence him on anything but his decision about her. In a sweet moment, she says that it wouldn’t be fair to the friendships she’s made to try to dissuade him from choosing another girl. Austin asks her if she’s really there for him or for the good time. Amanda says that she does throw up barriers to protect herself but that she is interested in Austin. Tim is shown saying that he hopes Austin does not choose Amanda because he thinks Austin is a pompous prick and Amanda could do a lot better. Does anyone else think that Tim and Amanda are the ones with great chemistry? Or is it just me?
Regardless of my own ideas who he should be courting, Tim has his own private lunch date with Piper. He says in the beginning that he thought that she was hot and he wanted to get to know her. Fourteen days into it, he still thinks she’s hot and he wants to get to know her even better. Piper tells him that she regretted having Bryce come back but that she had been taken in by the romance of his actions. Tim cleverly says that he understands and that it’s great to have convictions as long as you don’t get convicted. He then stuns the poor actress playing Piper when he confesses to having had thoughts that the whole thing could be a joke. As she grows paler than her normal pale, he explains that he’s had a feeling that everyone has been in on something but him. Thinking quickly, Piper uses the old Jedi mind trick of asking Tim about his emotions. In his haste to escape the uncomfortable subject, Tim jettisons his practical joke suspicions.
The Limo Ride of Fate
Derek gathers the Schmos along with Ingrid and T.J. and tells them that Austin and Piper have already decided which two will move on to the next step. He explains that there are four limos waiting outside with their names on them. If Austin or Piper is in the limo they enter, they are moving on to the next step. If their limo is empty, they’ve been eliminated. Amanda and Tim both enter their respective limos separately and we are shown them sitting in them alone. They both assume that they have been eliminated and reflect back on their experiences. Tim says that he had the time of his life and would do nothing different and Amanda says she had a lot of fun and is ready to go home. Tim thanks the crew and sits back to enjoy a drink when the driver’s window comes down, revealing Piper. As he laughs in surprise, she crawls through the window announcing that she has to “pee like a racehorse”. Tim is overjoyed at the surprise. In the other Limo, Amanda is similarly surprised by Austin as she is saying that the worst part about him was that he wasn’t right for her. He also climbs through the window and comes back to hug Amanda. Back in Tim’s limo, he accuses the producers of trying to kill him with all of these surprises.
Ingrid and T.J. are, of course, still at the mansion. As there was no chance of them being picked, they didn’t even get in the limos. They celebrate the success of the show and joke around with Ralph, who slides in and out of his Derek persona. Ingrid says that the experience was great but that she was glad it was now drawing to a close.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?
After driving around for a bit, the limos return to the mansion. Derek cheerily greets the two couples and congratulates Tim and Amanda for making it to the end. He tells the four of them since the two suitors had the opportunity to meet Austin and Piper’s families, they thought it was only fair that Austin and Piper meet the families of Tim and Amanda. However, he says that to make it more interesting, they’ve decided that Tim and Amanda will not be joining their families for these little get-togethers. Tim gallantly gives Piper a hug and assures her that she has nothing to be nervous about as she and Austin are whisked away. At this point, Derek reveals that Tim and Amanda actually will be joining their families, but they will be disguised by makeup artists so that they can see how Austin and Piper interact with their families when they aren’t around. Amanda and Tim laugh and are excited and nervous about the prospect.
In the makeup chairs, the team of artists goes about making Amanda into cousin “Amy” and Tim into his cousin, “Tom”. Amanda gets the prerequisite fat suit with wig and Tim gets a new nose and a goatee. He seems as creeped out as I am that they were gluing real human hair to his face, but he with along with it anyway. When they were finished, the thought they looked like Fat Monica from “Friends” and Spicoli from “Fast Times at Ridgemont High”. Tim is amazed by Amanda’s melon boobs and insists that they don’t look real enough to convince anyone.
After he is in full makeup, Tim goes to the dining room where his brother David and best friend Michael are waiting. Since his transparent costume just looks like Tim in a wig, they immediately burst into laughter. David says that he looked like Owen Wilson’s stunt double. They sit and have some idle small talk where Tim tells them the story of Bryce and the falcon. His brother and friend are duly amused and shocked by the story and Tim goes on to say he’s had the time of his life. Just then, Piper walks in with Derek, and judging from the look on Michael’s face, he thinks Tim has hit the jackpot. Piper feigns ignorance about Tom’s true identity and asks him questions about himself. We see David and Michael in confessional later saying that Tim was the worst Jeff Spicoli impersonator of all time and that his voice was just awful. They continue to chitchat about Tim and Piper asks them all several questions as they eat. Michael and David can barely keep straight faces as Tim offers up several “Right ons” and “Totallys”. Soon, Derek arrives to tell them that dinner is over.
Amanda arrives at her dinner and finds her mother and friend Stephanie waiting. Her makeup job is much better and it takes her own mother a moment to recognize her. She starts to tell them about her experience when Austin arrives. Austin greets all of the ladies and Amanda’s friend Stephanie is immediately smitten by the sexy Austin vibes. She makes moon-eyes at him through dinner as he asks them questions about Amanda. I’m impressed with Amanda, who was much more prepared to give answers than Tim had been. Then Austin tells the three ladies that he is there for love. He asks them how long they think it would take Amanda to give him an answer if he were to propose to her. A stunned silence overtakes the table and Amanda’s mom sucks down a glass of wine in record time. As Stephanie and “Amy” tell him it would be something Amanda would have to put a lot of thought into, Amanda’s mom continues to slurp down the wine like it was water. We are shown in confessional that Austin started to feel a bit guilty at that point for leading Amanda to believe he was someone else. We also see that Amanda’s family liked Austin a lot but were a little concerned with his occupation (model) and the fact he wanted to settle down right away. Derek soon arrives and whisks Austin away.
Soon the families, friends, and disguised Schmos are reunited with Austin and Piper out in the courtyard. When Austin introduces himself to Tim’s family, they immediately decide he’s arrogant because he introduces himself using his first, middle, and last name. Now, I know that Austin’s character is supposed to be an arrogant pretty boy, but all the man did was introduce himself and smile. I’m sensing a little bitterness in Tim’s brother and friend over Austin’s looks.
Derek arrives carrying badminton rackets and shuttlecocks (yes, I’m juvenile enough to make a point of saying that word). He tells them that they will be playing a round of badminton but oddly enough, doesn’t explain why. What follows is the most pathetic display of badminton I’ve ever seen. I’m not even sure one of them ever made contact with the shuttlecock (yes, I did it again, my apologies). They wouldn’t have lasted a minute in the full-contact badminton matches I used to have with my sister. Why full-contact? Well, because every match we played disintegrated into a hair pulling, racket-swinging wrestling match over a disputed out-of-bounds call.
Alas, the only one who hits the ground is Amanda, who was taken off guard by the unwieldy fat suit. She struggles, turtle-like, to get to her feet and Austin hurries over to help her up. He starts to wipe a smudge of dirt from her face and “happens’ to notice that it’s peeling off. He starts to peel back the makeup and pretends to be dumbfounded when Amanda is revealed. I have to admit that they picked a pretty good pair of actors for Austin and Piper because their reactions always seem completely sincere. Tim is soon revealed as well, and everyone shares a laugh over the deception.
The Falcon-less Twist
The next day, Tim and Amanda have a seat in the courtyard to await the final Falcon Twist. He has his arm over Amanda and the two appear to be quite cozy until Piper and Austin arrive. They both leap to their feet and greet their potential mates. When Tim and Amanda are again seated, he begins to put his arm around her again, remembers Piper, and removes it. I wouldn’t be surprised it this show did indeed sow the seeds of romance. Only between it’s Schmos instead of the Bachleor/ette. When Derek arrives, a stagehand rushes in and wires a stuffed falcon to his gauntlet. Tim and Amanda snicker as he explains that for special effects purposes, they needed to have something to look at. Tim merely expresses that he hopes it isn’t the real Montecore. Derek assures him it isn’t and they all play along with the ruse that the bird is real. The “twist” reveals to Piper and Austin that Tim and Amanda are not only playing for their affections, but also for $100,000. Austin asks why the two didn’t tell them before and Amanda explains that they were told not to. Before any further explanations can be given, Derek escorts Austin and Piper out of the courtyard and tells them they will be having private lunches with Tim and Amanda.
Their idea of lunch must be different from mine because Tim later meets up with Piper in the hot tub, while Austin and Amanda meet in a harem tent. Piper and Austin both express concerns about the money which our Schmos try to lay to rest. Amanda says that she could really use the money so that she could stop working two jobs, but that it wasn’t worth it if she had to hurt Austin’s feelings over it. It seemed more like it was the real guy that responded rather than “Austin” when he replied, “That’s really nice.” Tim also says he would turn down the money because he is just in it for the experience. He tells Piper he’d give it to charity.
The Schmos Learn the Truth
In the final production meeting, Rhett welcomes back all of the actors that have been with the show. He says that he is pleased that they are now in the sprint to the end. Ralph tells us in confessional that he is very nervous about the reveal. He says that with all of the buildup, no one wants to be the person to screw that up. Ingrid tells us that she is excited that the two Schmos will soon get to feel special like she felt when she realized that everything had been scripted around her and her reactions. Rhett reminds everyone that after Tim and Amanda find out, they will all be out of character and could do what comes naturally. He said if they take it well, then great, otherwise be prepared to console them or duck.
The other actors comment on their own feelings about the reveal as we see Amanda and Tim contemplating what the final twist might be. The actors and Rhett explain that one of their paramount concerns was to make sure that Tim and Amanda didn’t fall in love with Austin or Piper. They tried to keep everything very shallow on the emotional level so as not to hurt anyone. Piper says that it was always hard to decide where the edge was in dealing with Tim. She is a little nervous about where Tim thinks his relationship might be with Piper.
Soon we join Amanda and Tim as they descend a large stone staircase outside of the mansion. Tim is in a tux and Amanda is in a lavender bridesmaid-style dress. They meet Piper and Austin, who are similarly dressed, at the bottom of the stairs. As they all exchange greetings, they look to the top of the stairs and see all of their former housemates (with the exception of Bryce) coming to join them in their own hideous purple dresses and vests. As they file past, Amanda’s eyes widen. She wasn’t there at the beginning of the show and it turns out to be a very good thing that she wasn’t. She recognizes the girl playing Rita as a comedienne from L.A. As she tries to wrap her mind around this puzzler, the actors begin to panic, thinking that the jig is up. Austin even forgets his speech and has to take a moment to collect himself. They all wait for Tim to comment, but he doesn’t seem to notice the hubbub.
Derek stands at the front of the group in the preacher position in the traditional wedding configuration. Piper and Austin are in the bride and groom position with the women and men lined up behind them in their matching outfits. Derek explains once again that the decision is now up to Piper and Austin and steps back to allow them to make those decisions.
Austin is first to make his decision and addresses Amanda and Piper. He goes back and forth between the two, making it appear that he’s chosen one and then the other. He tells Piper that he loved the memories they’ve built together and then tells Amanda he’s looking forward to building memories with her as well. He ends his speech so ambiguously, that Derek is forced to ask him to clarify his choice. Ultimately, Austin chooses Piper. Derek reminds them that Piper still has to make her decision and turns the Promise Ceremony over to her.
Piper begins by saying that Austin has awakened old feelings in her than she believed to be dead. Tim immediately gets an “oh crap” look on his face and I can tell he knows it’s over at that point. She ping-pongs the same way that Austin did, but far less convincingly. She finally tells Tim that he has been her “lighthouse”, showing her the way to Austin. Tim smiles graciously and tells her to smile, that he harbors no hard feelings.
Next, Derek asks the couple if they would like to get married in front of the entire gathered crowd. He firsts asks Austin, who at first waffles, prompting Tim to say that the “lighthouse is closed”. Austin agrees and the decision is up to Piper. She also seems uncertain until Derek says that the show is happy to give them a dowry of $100,000. They both finally agree wholeheartedly and Derek calls for the “parents” to join them. The actors that played both sets of parents are, of course, the only two to come down the stairs and Tim and Amanda look slightly confused. They say nothing, however and the ceremony begins with Derek handing them each a ring and beginning their vows. They finish saying, “I do” and Derek asks if there are any objections.
Suddenly a wail of “Waiiit!” is heard from behind them. Piper looks up and says, “Holy S**t!” The guests turn quickly to see the crazed Bryce popping out of the bushes. Tim immediately takes a step toward him, asking if he can punch him. The other men hold him back and Bryce begins to rant. He screams that their love is fake and so is Austin. He claims that Austin is an actor pretending to be in love with Piper just like Piper is an actress pretending to be in love with Austin. Then he says, “just like I’m an actor pretending to be in love with you.”
At these words, the beginnings of realization start to move across Tim’s face. Derek shushes Bryce and says that its time to lay the question to rest. He says that if there are any actors there, they should raise their hands. Bryce quickly raises his and Tim’s face lights up. He thinks that he’s got the whole thing figured out and says, “Hell of a job, pal.”
Then, Tim looks up and sees other hands start to go up. He looks on in bewilderment as all of the suitors raise their hands except Amanda, who is looking equally confused. Their stunned silence continues as Austin, Piper, and Derek also raise their hands. A tense moment follows where no one makes a sound. Suddenly, Tim bursts out in laughter along with Amanda and says, “Jackpot.” Back in the studio, the production team lets out a sigh of relief and begins to applaud.
Derek pulls Tim and Amanda to the front of the group and begins to explain the ruse. He slips out of his English accent and becomes Ralph as he tells them that they were looking all over America for two very special people to base the show around. Amanda seems slightly upset that she was so, “gullible”, but both seem mostly amused. Ralph tells them how everyone around them has been an actor from day one and that Bryce wasn’t insane after all He also tells them that all of the trips they thought they had lost, they had actually won. He showed them that the parents had played both sets of parents. He also answered an early question of mine when he explained that the underprivileged child that Ernie had adopted was real as well. Then, Ralph presented them both with a check for $100,000. To answer all the legions of fans who were concerned, Ralph then showed them that Montecore and Everett were alive and well.
Ralph has Montecore (Ace, now that he’s out of character) brought to the front and pulled the Falcon Twist paper from his leg. He says that there is one final twist which leads Tim to deadpan, “I’m gay.” Everyone laughs and Ralph tells him that it is actually that the show had one more “contestant”. He asks them to guess who it was and Amanda correctly identifies Ingrid. Ralph reminds Ingrid that she has also won $100, 000 for not blowing the conspiracy as well as one of the trips. After everyone has received their checks, Ralph leads them back to the house to meet the production staff.
Two Embarrassed But Rich Schmos
Tim and Amanda go inside the control booth to meet the crew and are both very nice and express gratitude for the great time that they’ve had. Tim toasts them all and says that he can’t believe that this happened to him. Amanda is still a little embarrassed and says she feels “like an idiot”. As they head into the living room with the other actors, we are shown in confessional that Tim does feel a little betrayed. He says that he invested his feelings in the characters and hopes that they were chosen because they are somewhat similar to that in their real lives.
As the Schmos and actors settle in to chat in the living room, T.J. assures Tim that they do share some fundamental qualities with their characters but stresses that the “playah” persona was an act. Ralph explains to them that he hosted a show last season called, “Joe Schmo” and that they were actually in “Joe Schmo 2”. He asks the two of them what they will do with their cash. Tim reiterates that he will give part of his to charity and part to his niece and nephew. Amanda says that she will use hers to try to stop working two jobs. Tim actually seems a little angry at Piper (Valerie) when she apologizes and tells him how hard it’s been. He wishes her good luck with her career in a huffy manner and then immediately seems to regret it and tells her he doesn’t stay angry for long.
Ralph asks them all to watch a tape that has been prepared in advance. It has the actors out of character, saying how they really feel about Tim and Amanda.
Austin (Tim Herzog)-Says that he’s had fun, thinks Amanda is really beautiful and wants them to know he’s really a nice guy.
Ernie (Steve Mallory)- Tells Tim that he truly was the best roommate he’d ever had and that he’d really had a blast.
Eleanor (Jessica Makinson)- Reminds Amanda that they’ve all been through a crazy couple of days and hopes that she can forgive her.
Rita (Natasha Leggero)-Tells Tim he’s really nice and really cool.
Cammy (Jana Speaker)- Thanks Amanda for being such a good sport and for defending her time and time again.
Bryce ( Kevin Kirkpatrick)-Tells them that they are great and he had a good time. Promises that he’s not really crazy and weird in real life and says he’s sorry for being psycho.
Piper (Valerie Azlynn)- Apologizes for shutting Tim down on his birthday and reminds him that its all fun and games. She thinks he’s a great guy and is sure he’ll have his bar and meet a great girl after the show.
Derek Newcastle (Ralph Garman)-Removes his glasses and false teeth. He invites Tim to have a cold one with him after the show. He then tells Amanda that her smile lit up the screen and that she’s charming and adorable.
Gerald (Jonathan Torrens)- Congratulates Amanda for jumping right in and fitting in with the group. He also says, “and because I’m not gay, I’ll let you pound me anytime you want” which elicits lots of laughs from Tim and Amanda.
T.J. (Jon Huertas)-Jokingly said he was sorry if they had any hard feelings but that they got a lot of money so they should shut up and quit their crying.
Ambrosia (Gretchen Palmer)- Tells Tim he has a wonderful soul and a zest for life.
Ingrid Wiese- She tells the Schmos that she felt really guilty at times but that it was fun being on both sides of it. She teases that she’s glad that it’s them and not her. She says that she hopes they can put it all behind them since they all live in the same city because she didn’t’ want them to hunt her down. She says she feels lucky to have experienced it with the two of them.
Valerie (Piper) has been shown crying throughout the tape and asks to be able to say a few words after it ends. She tells Tim that she’s struggling as a person because she feels really bad about misleading him. Tim tries to comfort her by saying that he will still call her beautiful no matter what. She continues to cry and explains that she was just an actor that had signed on to do a job and that she never meant to hurt anyone. She apologized to him if she had done so. Tim quickly reassures her that she’s a great person and raises his glass in a toast to the cast. He thanks everyone for the best time of his life and says that they all deserve a raise. He says that at first he was angry because he thought that everything about them had been fake. However, after watching the tape, he realized that they were all warm, caring people that he would be friends with anyway. He then tells Valerie that if she is anything like the character she portrayed, she’s a hell of a person. Amanda also thanks everyone and tells them she’s had a blast. Steve hands Tim a gift of Tee-Dubs Pub T-shirts that he had made up and Tim starts to cry. He tells them all again that he had the time of his life.
In his final words, Tim says that even knowing the outcome, he would do it again in a heartbeat. So would we, Tim. So would we.
If you’ll miss Schmo as much as I will, email me at Stargazer@fansofrealitytv.com