Welcome back to Next Action Star! The show filled with adrenaline-pumping excitement! Except for tonight. That’s right, this week our contestants will have their acting abilities tested, with no bullets, bombs, or any other b-words--known to be a distraction--to help them out. I know, I know. It sucks. But . . . there’s a *special guest* this week! Ooh! Ahh! Bah, who am I kidding? That won’t save it.
This episode the contestants will participate in an intense drama screen test, “The Captives.” It involves a man, Eddie, who has been beaten up and tied to his treacherous ex-wife, Becca, by some mysterious thugs. Humiliating, isn’t it? As previously mentioned, there’s no flashy stuff to hide behind this time. They have 48 hours until the test.
Celebrity Neighbor Showdown
Most of the contestants seem to be doing their favorite thing this morning, working out. As the competition heats up, they tell us, they are putting on their game faces. So, as everyone is pumping iron, the doorbell rings. Who could that be? Mélisande opens the door, and who is standing there to greet her but Denise Richards! Sean stands mouth agape nearby for a moment, flabbergasted, and finally welcomes her inside.
The contestants flock to the living room to chat with Ms. Richards and get some advice on the acting biz. Harold (“House”) seems very nervous around Ms. Richards, but says she’s “fine as hell” in a confessional. I’m sorry; I’ve always thought she looked kind of like a fish. Plus, how is she an action star? Unless you count ruining The World Is Not Enough as action star qualification, the stellar performance that it was.
The contestants load up into the ever-handy white van and head off to another mystery destination. The van somehow gets onto a racetrack, and racecars whip around the van as though it’s standing still. Egads! What is this driver thinking!? Actually, he was supposed to do that, as this is the contestants’ first task: learn to drive a race car. Linda loves the setting with cars zooming by at impossibly fast speeds. As our official expert on all things sexual, she describes it as “orgasmic.” Whoa now! That’s not a word I generally hear thrown around like a bloody dollar bill! Aphrodisiac cars . . . what will they think of next?
Now it is time for the NetZero High-Speed challenge. Ha! Get it? The contestants must simply make a lap around the track, and whoever goes ‘round the quickest will receive the “re-take card.” This is a new reward, which allows a contestant one opportunity to re-film their screen test if they aren’t pleased with their first take. Mélisande is a bit nervous, but not as nervous as Mark, who doesn’t know how to drive a stick-shift. A ha! I learned to drive with a manual I’ll have you all know! Score one for Manny. *Ahem* Anyway, the others give him some helpful advice, such as “you release the clutch as you apply the gas;” John explains to him what the three floor pedals are for, and before you know it, it’s time to begin.
Everyone completes their runs without killing anything in the process, though some simply can’t park too well. Jared clocks the best time at 00:24:81 and receives the retake card, but not even he is a good parker. I think he may not be a good parker, but he’s probably good at parking, at least when Mélisande is around. Ba-dum-ching. Jared is happy to win the card; although, he believes the “card” premise is stupid—he simply wants to be the best at everything. Hmmph. Overachiever. Mark, happily, does not stall the car on the track and calls his mom on a banana to tell her all about his achievements of the day.
And You Have to Get Your Daily Helping of Explosions
The contestants are hard up for fun. Jared and Mark have taken to belly-bucking each other with kicking shields for entertainment. The Powers That Be decide to try to keep the contestants’ morale up, so they put together a thoughtful “Movie Night” basket for all of them, filled with popcorn, snacks, and a movie destined to be tonight’s entertainment. I wonder what it is . . . I could go rent it. Everyone enjoys the movie, which apparently has a French actress in it. Everyone except Linda, who knows that Italian actresses, such as herself, are much better. Um . . . I’ll try to make excuses for the plotline here: Hasn’t every recent Bond flick begun with a border dispute? Yes, this is action-packed, see?
Anyway, Linda proceeds to rip this actresses’ performance into veritable ribbons, which annoys Jeanne and Corinne greatly. (But . . . why?) Sean enjoys watching the girls bickering because he’s weird like that, and Corinne and Jeanne storm off to go talk about Linda outside. Linda rejoins them, and the other two ladies essentially tell her “if you can’t bring it, shut up.” But, they pose it as though they’re merely speaking in general terms, because it’s all about the delivery, you know.
Thank You Sir, May I Have Another?
It is time for another Fine acting lesson, and by that, I’m implying another session with acting coach Howard Fine. Yes, I know . . . it was lame. To help them out with this intense screen test, Mr. Fine has paired up the contestants, tied them together back-to-back, and blindfolded them. Why, I ask, does anyone want to be an actor? They improvise a bit, mostly yelling at each other, Howard, and anyone else who will listen. Howard occasionally steps in to pantomime smacking them with a lead pipe so they can scream some more. Strange days, these.
Mr. Fine tells us in a confessional that there weren’t really any breakout performances, and the contestants were kind of “playing it safe.” Mr. Bondage, however, was pleasantly surprised with Mark, who seemed to open up more than ever, and accordingly wins the casting card. Along with the ability to choose his screen test partner, Mark and his partner will also receive a full hour of coaching with Mr. Fine, as opposed to the paltry fifteen minutes that everyone else will receive.
Later on, House, Corinne, and Jared discuss the day’s session. House found it difficult to portray “fear” in the class because, well . . . he doesn’t really fear anything. The others try to give him a little advice. House could always rely on clowns to give him that chilling touch of fear; we all know there is no purer form of evil found in nature.
Peace Sells, but Who’s Buying
The contestants meet again with Tina for role selection in the big glass room. This time, however, there is a slight twist. The contestants are instructed to write their name on a card, followed by the name of the person they would like to work with. Mark does not have to do this, because he’s cool like that (and he won the casting card, too). He simply chooses Corinne, as they had good chemistry in class and “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” There’s also an art-school nerd version of that phrase, which is “if it’s not Baroque, don’t fix it.” It’s a golden favorite with teachers everywhere, but doesn’t really apply here. Jared writes “?” for whom he would like to work with, because he doesn’t really have a preference, and Sean makes some snarky comment about it. Jared doesn’t take kindly to this. Everyone watching at home runs to their stereos to turn on Marilyn Manson’s “Fight Song” awaiting the ensuing rumble, but Tina breaks up the verbal sparring hoo-ha and assigns the roles instead:
Mark & Corinne
John & Mélisande (The only two that we know picked each other)
House & Mae
Jared & Linda
Jeanne & Sean
They disperse, but Jared clutches his fist into the air and cries into the night, “You haven’t seen the last of me, Sean!” Thunder crashes in the background as the evil laugh rings menacingly over the Hollywood Hills. That would have been cool, anyway.
If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Cheat ‘Em. Or, Just Beat Them Up.
I’m happy to announce that I passed my philosophy class earlier this year. It is now time for the coaching sessions, which take place at the Next Action Star Mansion. Mélisande’s room is conveniently located right above where the sessions are taking place, so she and John have decided to perch overhead and snatch up any stray pieces of advice that may be floating about, like will-o’-wisps-o’-wisdom. Normally, I would be agog and aghast at such sneaky tactics, but John and Mélisande are both just so darned likable! I’ll let it slide this time, guys. But don’t do it again. *crosses arms*
Mark and Corinne enjoy having extra time with Mr. Fine, even though Howard does that weird exercise with Corinne in which you put your arms through the other persons’ arms and they must talk in the manner of your arm movements. I hope you all know what I’m talking about. Meh . . . anyway, it seems strangely pervy when he does it.
Sean’s ego takes a good pummeling from Mr. Fine during his and Jeanne’s session, as Mr. Fine was least impressed with Sean’s effort out of the whole group and lets him know he’s as exciting to watch as paint drying. Jared smiles an evil smile as he watches the scene from his divining pool. “Excellent,” he purrs coolly.
Later, Jared confronts Sean by the microwave, which is kind of ironic if you’ve ever seen Time Bandits. “Don’t touch it, it’s eeeevil!” Ok, sorry. Moving on. They trade some words. Sean makes some crack about Jared’s note-taking, and Jared lets loose with a tirade that he didn’t appreciate Sean’s attempts at making him look stupid and noncommittal on camera at the casting call. “I’ve already forgiven you, but you’re a *bleep*,” says Jared matter-of-factly. Sean looks around for help, but the cameraman is like Swiss, unfortunately for him. Not that he’s full of holes, but that he’s neutral. Sean finally gives up and goes back to making dinner.
The Tender Subplot
We segue via jazz-on-ice background music and a shot of the skyline to House and Corinne, exchanging some playful banter. House is quite certain that Corinne has the hots for him, while Corinne assures us that he’s merely a good friend to her. Even so, House is jokingly determined to help her out with her “inner inhibitions” towards him.
Meanwhile, Mae is not excited about working with House, now that they’re out of the whole “love-scene” mode. She thinks that he’s not serious enough for her to do her best. Corinne tells us in a separate confessional that House often relies on humor when he’s not comfortable dealing with certain situations.
The Drama Tank Runs Dry
Jared seems intent on proving that he’s eeevil to the rest of the house, so he goes around and wakes everybody up at 4:49 in the morning. On the other hand, they probably should be used to it by now, and the call time was 4:45, according to the refrigerator. And refrigerators never lie. Everyone takes their sweet time, while Jared tells the camera that he believes they should take this seriously, as though it’s a job. He has also apparently decided to save time by not shaving. The others continue to take their sweet time. Jared munches on an apple to pass the time. Mmm. I’m getting hungry.
They arrive on set for the screen test, where their lively director greets them. I am alluding, of course, to Mr. Gerry Lively, who reiterates that this scene is “one-hundred percent acting.” The scenes themselves play out smoothly, and no one seems to screw up egregiously. Jared, however, does not like his first go and uses the re-take card. The second time goes worse than the first, and this is not good because you must go with the second take if you’ve used the card. Oh snap, as the kids say! Jared is not at all pleased, and scowls darkly enough to win him more “evil” points. Linda is not pleased either, and says she wanted to punch Jared in the face for losing her good first take. Perhaps the previously overconfident Jared shouldn’t have wasted all his drama in the kitchen arguing with Sean.
You Can't Fight in Here! This is the War Room.
After all that excitement, [/sarcasm] it’s time to meet with our judges in the two clandestine towers of darkness, yet again. Victoria tells us that the stakes are higher this time, and the directors ultimately have the final say. I yawn. The usual rampant disagreements sprout legs and run around crazily, but some druthers are becoming clearer. Victoria is a big fan of Linda, while Mr. Producer and Mr. Director . . . not so much. They get totally hung up on the ladies, with Mr. Director (Louis) saying “it’s like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic” between Linda, Mae, and Mélisande, while Mr. Producer (Alan) says his top choices for elimination would be Jeanne and Corinne. Victoria is adamant that Linda should stay and proclaims that “she’ll do whatever it *bleep*’n takes” to keep her around. Louis sighs heavily as usual, and we are sent all higgledy-piggledy back to the mansion.
Back in the glass room of doom, Tina and the contestants gather for the callbacks. Jared is feeling very nervous and dreading this evening, while Mélisande has been going through self-doubt all day. Who shall be sent packing? The potential stars who live to fight another day are: Mark, Jeanne, Sean, Corinne, John, and Mae. Now there are two scripts left, for one man and one woman. Jared, House, Mélisande, and Linda remain on the couch. Receiving the scripts are . . . Jared and Mélisande. House and Linda shall be going home. Everyone gets a few minutes to say goodbye, and there you have it. Jared and Sean’s rivalry shall continue for at least another week, unless Jared gives it up. Yeah right! Who shall prevail . . . Jared the bartender or Sean the bouncer?
Next week, the contestants face an action-packed screen test, “Watery Grave” which climaxes in an intense underwater scene. Also, put your hands in the air (like you just don’t care) and do the Elimination Twist! See you then.
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