Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ben & Jordan Watch Bachelor Pad: Finale

The bonds of brotherhood between Ben Morse and Jordan Geary were forged during their time as students at Connecticut College, where they spent four years losing at intramural sports (except softball in 2004!), forming their own fraternity because the school wouldn’t let them, making student films one professor called “unfortunate” and regularly beating their friend Dan Hartnett in Goldeneye.

Today, they live 20 minutes apart in New Jersey with their respective lovely wives, sharing passions for miniature golf, diner cuisine and the music of Motley Crue. They also both watched and blogged about Games of Thrones this past season to the thrill of perhaps a dozen.

For years Jordan has been trying to sell Ben, who has never watched an episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, to watch Bachelor Pad. Despite their youthful enjoyment of reality romance classics like Temptation Island and Paradise Hotel, Ben was skeptical, but decided to go for it.

Bear wit to their wit, wisdom and frequent allusions to Mark L. Wahlberg as they try and bring some much needed dignity to these people’s search for love/money/fame/a place to crash for a few weeks.

Bachelor Pad Episode 8: Finale

Jordan: The thing I love about Bachelor Pad is they don’t even bother with playing out the final episode at the house. They just chuck everyone into a studio audience full of housewives…the reality show equivalent of throwing them to the wolves. Already housewives are shaking their head at the mere mention of Chris. I’m anticipating lots and lots of head shakes in this finale.

Ben: And what I love is how over the past eight weeks you have continually referred to the entire viewing audience of Bachelor Pad to “housewives."

And yeah, them being in a studio right off the bat rather than at the house caught me by surprise, but I dig it. I don’t need 20 minute packing montages set to Sarah McLaughlin and the three way “We’re awesome!” slow-mo high five between Chris, Nick and Sarah while Chris Harrison collected Rachel’s tears in a bloodstone-adorned goblet in the background to end episode 7 was an appropriate sendoff for the house anyhow.

Jordan: Chris Harrison introduces everyone in a smarmy way, making it seem like one happy family…in no way hinting at the pile of drama and sadness that will greet them in this final episode. While watching The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Bachelor Pad is fun, it’s this final episode that really does it for me every time. It’s just so, so fun to watch these people tear each other apart while Chris Harrison cackles maniacally in the background.

Ben: Thank you for coming clean about watching the other non-Bachelor Pad shows after swearing to me you didn’t before we started this. It only took two months, but I’m proud of you.

Jordan: I must mention that I love that they introduce the one guy as “SWAT”. He has no name.

Ben: To be fair, his name is Chris, and they’ve already got two of those, so since he’s not a soulless, vacuous soldier of evil with a knack for hosting or a half-asleep douche bag who can’t spell “heart,” he gets the short straw.

Jordan: The contestants watch the recaps. You can see form their wide grins and laughter that they don’t mind having their images dragged through the mud and have absolutely no shame for anything they have done. I love them.

Ben: They showed Ed through 75% of this sequence, which was absolutely the right call. It was interesting how they completely glossed over the early drama with the twins, and by “interesting” I mean they found out they were on Jersey Shore. I was surprised they were at this taping, but I guess not having them there would have just drawn more attention.

Actually, the real notable exclusion was Reid, since his weirdness and inept plotting fueled the first three or four episodes, and then they never got into his stuff with Ed later, but it’s a spoil of riches I suppose.

Jordan: We learn Kalon and Lindzi are still together. Lindzi calls Kalon “sweet”, and somehow Erica Rose is the wise one who tells Lindzi to “be careful.” Erica Rose then bravely calls Kalon out for being out on a date at a movie with another woman. My one regret this season was that we weren’t treated to more of the kooky craziness that is Erica Rose. But alas, this was such a spectacular season that even her antics were lost in the shuffle.

Ben: You have to figure Lindzi knew what she was getting with Kalon, no matter how nice he was in the week they spent together—yeah, I’m going there early and often, get ready—but who knows.

A little Erica Rose went a long way. She didn’t need to be on any longer than she was.

Jordan: Next Michael comes to speak with Chris Harrison. Michael does his likeable “I can’t believe I made it past the first or second week” shtick, and then we are treated to a montage of him ripping Rachel’s heart out of her chest. It’s like a Mortal Kombat-esque rip of the heart as he says he has no intention of dating her out of the house. Then, elsewhere in the montage he is exposed as a bit of a dark puppet master, with evil sounding music underscoring it. By the way, an angel gets its wings every time Michael says, “This is a little bit devilish,” which is very ironic.

Ben: This was a bit of a testament to how much of this show is shaped by editing, as obviously if that clip where Michael told Erica he had no intention of dating Rachel post-show had aired during the actual season, his image would have irrevocably altered, but they saved it for here.

Jordan: The montage ends and IMMEDIATELY Michael goes into damage control saying he apologizes for his actions to Erica Rose. Michael then says he didn’t want to be with Rachel and his eyebrows extend wayyyyyyyy above his head as he tries very hard to do the “Hey, guys! I’m just an honest guy over here” look. Jaclyn tears into him and the audience housewives react by shaking their head yet again, which is like getting the guillotine on this show. On a side note, “Housewife head shakes” is also the first single off of Ben and my new album.


Yeah…Michael looked pretty bad coming out of this, no two ways about it. I still think he was wonderfully entertaining and charismatic during his stint on the show, but his “nice guy” image is pretty well-shattered. I’m not saying he’s a monster, and again, there really is no telling how much editing played a role here, but at the end of the day, that clip at the wax museum where he point blank tells Rachel not to worry about falling in love with him is pretty damning. I would have had more respect for him if he had copped here to playing the game not unlike Kalon did at pretty much every opportunity, but that he tried to weasel his way out of it and still come off smelling like roses made him seem like a weasel.

That said I would still love his new album for Christmas. I will listen to it while I work out, both physically and emotionally.

Jordan: Jaclyn gets a montage, which signifies she has made it into the hallowed pantheon of popular Bachelor Pad contestants and will likely be on future seasons. After she watches, fiery Jaclyn and her ugly mug lash out at anything and everyone, especially Rachel. She is entertaining, but the sorest loser I have ever seen and there are MANY sore losers on reality shows. Thus, in conclusion, she has come a long way since her days at Ben’s sister’s high school, but “long way” probably means “less respected” now that I think about it.

Ben: We both went to that high school, mister, and I’m pretty sure she’s maintained an even keel as far as both self-respect and that she receives from her peers.

There was no more laughable bit this entire episode than Jaclyn making the absurd statement that she was the “true puppet master” of the house. Her most strategic move was continuing to sleep with Ed after he gave his masterful “For the good of our team” speech. I’m pretty sure she would be outsmarted by actual puppets. Or Muppets.

Jordan: Next is Blakeley’s montage o’ crying/freaking out. In the montage, Tony does the “what has two thumbs, an incredibly hot girl by his side, and feels like he just won Bachelor Pad? THIS GUY!” Anyone who knows me knows I have a soft spot for this incredibly stupid joke, so Tony just won me over big time. Way to go out on a high note, Tony.

Ben: As the person who introduced you to that joke, I could not be more ashamed and embarrassed. As the person who introduced me to that joke, Alex Verdaguer just had a vein in his head burst somewhere (don’t worry, he’s fine, he does CrossFit).

Jordan: Blakeley, Jaclyn, and Native American Pocahontas headdress-wearer Jamie start arguing. It’s very fun to watch, with Blakeley and Jaclyn coming off as cold bitches, while Jamie comes off as a social awkward mental patient. Chris Harrison watches them fight, rubs his hands together, and subsequently laughs over their smoldering corpses. Their hate gives him strength.

Ben: What impressed me about Jamie is the amount of effort she puts into looking terrible. She’s a very pretty girl, and an ugly dress or hideous earrings alone would not be enough to fight against nature, so she brings out the kind of gold chain head adornment the love child of Cleopatra and James Brown would say “too much” to and complements that with what appear to be rhinestone tear drop facial tattoos. That is effort.

Jordan: Blakeley starts crying about how in love with Tony she is. Chris Harrison keeps hinting at something, which makes it sound like a Tony proposal is waiting in the wings.

Ben: I liked how when Blakeley questioned why she didn’t notice Tony during the first half of the season, he did this pantomime of how he was watching her from behind fences and around corners, like the creepiest stalker who ever stalked. Superfan Donna took a break from not saying anything to think he’s a weirdo.

Jordan: They even continue talking to Blakeley after the commercial break. My wife observes, “Tony looks a lot better when he is not beet red and sweating all over himself.” This lack of sweat leads me to believe they are going to announce they are engaged even more. Tony then…pulls the rug under me by saying, “We are moving in together!” Typical Tony…underperforming at every turn.

Ben: Tony’s son breathes a sigh of relief.

Jordan: Wait…he may be proposing as I write this. Tony is once again sweating and stammering. Blakeley is wigging out. Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit. HE’S DOING IT! HE PROPOSED! HE DID IT! HE DID IT! DOWN GOES FRAZIER! DOWN GOES FRAZIER! DOWN GOES FRAZIER! (sorry I default to Howard Cosell calling that famous Muhammad Ali fight whenever I get excited).

Ben: Tony’s son watches whatever was left of his childhood innocence burn on a pyre ignited by Chris Harrison.

Seriously, how lucky is this kid to not only get to watch his dad come off as a pervy loser on national television, but as bonus get a stepmom who spent the four days before her and his old man’s three day courtship pining over another guy and threatening to donkey punch multiple people in the throat? At age 13, Chris Harrison shows up to collect this kid to “fulfill his dark destiny,” just you wait.

And c’mon, man, at least Google how to spell Muhammad Ali’s name correctly!

Jordan: Now that is over with, let’s see the four remaining contestants! Nick enters, tan as Djimon Hounsou.


Jordan: Rachel enters looking as gaunt and weathered as the tree that threw apples at Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. Chris enters sneering with that familiar “I’m hot shit” expression. Sarah enters with a grin and hyper, hyper, crazy eyes. Aw, the gang hasn’t changed one bit.

Ben: You know how when they do the finales of Survivor—or at least did the two seasons I watched—it’s crazy because you get to see how all the contestants look when they’re not malnourished and living in the sun 24/7? Obviously for the most part that wasn’t the case here since Bachelor Pad lasted two weeks and they were all living in a mansion, but I swear, Chris looks like he somehow got access to a razor for the first time since the show started and ate enough to put on about five pounds of weight in his face between last week’s episode and this one.

Jordan: Rachel starts by looking at Michael, saying “there is some relationship stuff that needs to be discussed.” Chris Harrison jumps right in and says, “SAY IT!” Mark L. Wahlberg would be proud of Chris Harrison’s Satanic eagerness to create conflict. He has learned from the master.

Rachel says directly to Michael that he essentially is a cockface who slept with her and abandoned her. Michael’s eyebrows raise to the height of the Empire State Building with mock eagerness and says he is sorry but he just wasn’t in love. Nick sits there awkwardly, staring at the floor. I feel bad for him, not even getting two seconds of screen time on his own damn final episode. I want him to just team up with Chris Harrison and just take the money on an epic buddy trip to Vegas while these people argue over their petty romances.

Ben: I’d rather he team up with one of the other contestants who hasn’t gotten to say a word this entire reunion, like maybe Ryan, whose sole moment on the episode came from Jamie sneeringly noting how she didn’t want to partner with him and everybody else laughing like he wasn’t in the room.

Jordan: Rachel continues to drag Michael down, housewives in the audience shaking their heads so much their heads are just spinning like The Exorcist. Rachel breaks into tears. Nick stares his only friends in the studio, his shoelaces.

Nick then speaks! He speaks! He says he wanted to fly under the radar, and he actually needs the money so he didn’t want to get involved with any drama or anything stupid. The obvious segue way buzzwords of “drama” and “stupid” brings the attention on to Chris. Chris then uses the opportunity to apologize for all of his bad behavior on the show, the same thing chipmunk-voiced Casey did last season of Bachelor Pad (right down to the same “my father said that’s not how he raised me” line). Ugh, I can’t stand this guy…even his apologies are strategic and contrived.

Ben: Yeah, again, he could take a cue from Kalon, who lied as much as he ever did, but would admit it as soon as it was strategically safe to do so, and not apologize because it’s part of the fucking game. I get that Chris wants to win the quarter million here, but dude, even though you’re dealing with a group that would likely lose a spelling bee to a studio audience at a Barney taping, they’re not going to forget you were an utter turdbag like three weeks ago just because your dad took you out behind the woodshed.

Incidentally, there was a small part of me that hoped at this point Chris would win and then smarmily reveal his parents had been dead for years.

Jordan: It’s question time! Time to have everyone shred each other! Rachel apologizes to Jaclyn, causing one more disgusting bitter beer face out of Jaclyn (we knew there would be one). Chris then says he regrets nothing in regards to Blakeley, obviously showing his regretful speech earlier was fake. He then starts shouting at Jamie that he is sorry, getting visibly angry at her. Lastly, Chris says, “don’t vote for me…vote for Sarah” in one last horrendously pathetic attempt for votes. Rachel and Nick should kiss Chris right now for the grave he is digging himself.

Ben: I loved how superfan Paige, who got voted out the first week, tried to interject herself into the argument at one point only for Jamie and Jaclyn to shoot daggers from their eyes at her. I also liked how Bing Crosby made a cameo to compliment Chris on playing the game because he’s a deranged lunatic who sees people as chess pieces and has never experienced true emotion.

Jordan: Time to vote!

Ben: How excited was Chris Harrison to bust out that “Remember twins, as always, your vote counts as one” line? How long did it take for the twins to realize where they were?

Jordan: The final tally? 50,000 votes for Nick and Rachel, and 3 votes for Chris and Sarah from the crazy/game obsessed people in the house (Kalon, Erica Rose, and Bing Crosby). Jaclyn casts the winning vote to Rachel and Nick, and all is happy in the world. Yay! Rainbows and sunshine!

...I can’t believe it will end this way. Every season of The Bachelor, The Bachelorette end in some sort of awkwardly entertaining heartbreak or anger, and Bachelor Pad was way too atypically happy an ending last year. Nay, on the hell on earth that is Bachelor Pad, where only sadness and despair prosper, there is still hope for an entertainingly devastating ending! BWAHAHAHAH! I now realize I may have painted myself into a corner with that last sentence, setting up for a letdown if this ends happily. Shit.

The awesomely evil twist from last season comes with the “relationship test,” with the winning duo electing to either keep or share the money with each other. I am so, so hoping Nick fucks over Rachel here as it would be the coolest thing in history. I can’t imagine Rachel saying “Keep”…so I’m depending on Nick to go berserk and just swing his tan dong in the faces of everything television holds sacred. Do it, Nick. Do it. Do it!!

Ben: One, I think you’re elevating Bachelor Pad waaaaaay above its place in the annals of pop culture with that “everything television holds sacred” line. Two, how much time do you think they spent filming those cutaways of Nick and Rachel doing Thinker poses in their deliberation rooms? Three, could Jaclyn and company have been any bitchier to SWAT when he suggested Nick should keep the money and they tore into how he “doesn’t understand” because he wasn’t there long enough to form “real” relationships like they were over their two weeks?

Jordan: While the duo vote in their sound-proof booths, everyone in the cast bashes Nick, saying he has to realize he rode everyone’s coattails to get where he got. Absolutely no credit to him for actually staying drama-free and off of the cameras for his own benefit. DON’T LISTEN TO THE HEATHENS, NICK! KEEP THE MONEY! TURN TO THE DARKSIDE!

Ben: Again, Jaclyn was the loudest voice here, proving herself an even bigger sore loser and also smart as hell because she is going to be on this show for the next ten seasons if she so desires.

Jordan: Here we go. Chris Harrison, stoke the flames of evil with your mind.

Rachel reveals her card first: She chooses…SHARE! Big whoop. She smiles, pleased and smelling that sweet money coming to her. Chris Harrison is visibly displeased at the show ending this way again.

Ben: She could not have been more condescending with her “I suffered so much to get here…oh yeah, and I had a partner too” speech. She may as well have patted Nick on the head and given him a biscuit.

Jordan: Nick, take this home. TAKE IT!!!

Nick’s turn to reveal his card. Here we go.

Wait. Waitwaitwait. Something is happening. What I am seeing as I write this may stand as one of the greatest speeches in the history of television. Nick is detailing how no one in the entire game wanted to be with him. No one believed in him. They all mocked him, behind his back and to his face. Rachel, above all, didn’t ever want to be on a team with him. She kept saying she wanted be with Michael instead of him, right down to the final competition. Nick says he did this, from day one, by himself. And then….oh my GODDDDDDDDD!!!!!!!!!! NICK KEEPS THE MONEY! HE KEEPS THE MOTHERFUCKING MONEY! AAAAAAAIIIIIEEEEEEE!!!!! Nick says to all of the contestants that they all wanted all of the money, he just stood up and took it. GENIUS! SHEER GENIUS! Kalon and Chris even applaud and congratulate Nick, saying he deserved it. I am FLOORED. I am completely and utterly floored. The audience loves it, I love it, I am SURE Ben loves it. BEST ENDING EVER!

Ben: Indeed, this was perhaps the greatest ending to a reality TV show I have ever witnessed.

You may remember early on in this blog, I talked about how on shows like these I either pull for the nicest possible people or the worst. Once upon a time I loved the ending of Survivor season two where nice guy Colby sacrificed his chance at winning to do the right thing. This was leagues better because Nick basically gave a full-on super villain speech, but he was also 100% right about each and every point and was completely justified in his behavior and decision. The traditional paradigm would say he’s a gigantic cock for doing this to poor Rachel, but you can see how the audience fucking LOVED him for it. He basically shattered reality TV, and again, his speech was AMAZING.

Two quick non-Nick points:

First, that almost immediately after Nick announced his decision, SWAT fucking ran up to give him a hug. After the shit that Jaclyn and friends had given that dude a few minutes earlier, I felt GREAT about that.

Second, as much as Nick deserves credit for being the greatest man alive here, my absolute favorite moment of the entire season and perhaps in reality TV history came when after his spiel Jaclyn and Rachel were bitching about how he didn’t “deserve” this and fucking Kalon shot them right the hell down with the classic “None of us DESERVE anything! Do you understand what that word means? We’re lucky to have the privilege of being on this show!” PREACH ON, BROTHER KALON.

I now revise my earlier request for a Nick-Ryan buddy movie to a Nick-Kalon bad cop-worse cop show with SWAT as the rookie on the force and Ed as the drunken commish.

Jordan: Weirdly, after many Rachel tears and Chris Harrison smiling wider than any human possibly can smile, Nick just stands up and walks off of the stage before Chris Harrison is even done talking. The cast is floored, not believing what they are seeing. Rachel chases after Nick and starts screaming at him. Nick calmly stands up for himself, saying he did what any rational person in a house full of people who didn’t care if he lived or died would do…all amidst Rachel calling him pathetic. Nick then leaves, gets in a limo, and the show closes with the best line possible. Nick, smiling to the camera: “B.P.3…ANYTHING GOES!!” WOOO HOOOO! I am still FLOORED! It is 1am as I write this and I KNOW I won’t be able to sleep tonight. My adrenaline is off the charts!!!! NICK!!!! YOU MAGNIFICENT BASTARD!!! WE LOVE YOU!!!!!

Ben: I like to imagine the police finding the park across the street from you transformed into a hot sludge fundae and being baffled as to why.

I do feel bad for Rachel. Her life is awful. She got dumped, she lost a friend, she got dumped again (more or less), she regained that friend (who is awful) then she lost a quarter (or I guess an eighth) of a million dollars. She had every right to be upset and manic. On the bright side, I would hazard she will definitely be an upcoming Bachelorette if ABC likes money.

But everything Nick did was so very right. The foundation of reality television has always been people lying, whether it’s to form alliances during the show, or to come off as characters afterward. Near as I can tell, Nick was himself all through the show, then gave convention the finger in the end, not caring how he’ll be perceived by the fans because he “turned” on these jerks he spent a couple weeks with and taking the money.

The beautiful, beautiful irony was that the fans loved him more than they ever would have had he shared the money. It brought a tear to my eye.

Jordan: The show ends in the most magnificent way possible, with a montage of people throughout the course of the show saying bad stuff behind Nick’s back, making fun of him. He showed them all. And now he is $250,000 richer. God bless him. I am so, so happy right now. Every time I watched a reality show, I would always be confused by the people on the show who felt so “connected to each other” even after only knowing each other for a week or less. Nick just showed me that if you need the money enough, you can stay focused enough to put aside public expectations for what you privately think is right. He is a strong man. A strong, sun burnt, “dying of skin cancer as I write this” man.

Ben: If I can maintain the enthusiasm, I’m going to try and put together my own “montage” of all the insults we levied Nick’s way while we were writing these.

Jordan: And thus we come to the close another chapter of Bachelor Pad, and I have to say it has been an immense pleasure writing with my best bud Mr. Benjamin Morse. The list of lessons we learned from this season are long, but the chief one I learned was this: The next time you see someone pass you on the street with an immense, painful sunburn…do not laugh at them. With the help of one Chris Harrison, that same sunburned person could one day gain the power to ensnare your soul and steal all of your money. Laugh at their sunburn and THEN push them down a manhole. Protect yourselves, people.

Ben: Only the strong survive.

This was an unexpected delight and I am forever grateful you basically forced me to watch and blog about it with you. I feel enriched. I also feel we are far more suited to writing about reality dating shows than stuff than epic drama that gets nominated for Emmys, so there’s one more lesson learned. And I would not have wanted to learn it with anybody else, pal.

Jordan: Goodnight, one and all, and see you for B.P.4!!!!

Paragraph Movie Reviews: The Five-Year Engagement

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

The first half hour of this movie is quite funny and charming, as are the final 15 minutes and various points in between, but unfortunately, there are a solid 75 additional minutes to account for, and they're not so good. All the funniest parts were in the trailer (aside from some great seemingly spontaneous bits from Brian Posehn, Dakota Johnson and Chris Pratt), which gave the impression there would be plenty of laughs here, but three quarters of the film are the monotonous unraveling of the relationship between the two main characters, and not only is there little fun to be had, no truly profound statements on them or the nature of love, marriage, etc. really pop in to fill the void, at least not to the degree I think Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller were hoping they would when putting this story together. The premise is that Segel and Emily Blunt play a happy couple who get engaged in the opening moments then struggle through moving across country for the sake of her career, him being initially supportive then miserable, the problems they experience, and whether or not they can overcome them; I know it seems like I'm spoiling a lot here, but every turn is so predictable that I don't feel I am. You've got some talented actors involved and the script is serviceable, but this is a story so mundane that it's not something I really want to explore through a movie, particularly one that still zigs toward the occasional comedic bit as almost a safety net, in the process killing any dramatic flow it hoped to have. I don't want to see Segel playing a sad sack; it's not that he's not capable of it, but I'm just not interested in that. Blunt is more winning, but she can't carry the movie. Pratt and Alison Brie are the movie's best weapons as his best friend and her little sister who also get together, but they're kept away for most of it. Rhys Ifans is so spot on as a lecherous professor that it makes me uncomfortable. Mindy Kaling, Kevin Hart, Chris Parnell and Posehn are all underutilized. The central conceit, that there's this wedding they keep putting off and it has more to do with Blunt's commitment issues than anything else (she's a psych professor and there's a whole subplot as well about how her experiments shape her view of people that fell flat for me), seems just jammed in when they remember it. This movie had loads of potential and a really great cast, but ultimately, it just wasn't something I wanted to see.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Ben & Jordan Watch Bachelor Pad: Episode 7

The bonds of brotherhood between Ben Morse and Jordan Geary were forged during their time as students at Connecticut College, where they spent four years losing at intramural sports (except softball in 2004!), forming their own fraternity because the school wouldn’t let them, making student films one professor called “unfortunate” and regularly beating their friend Dan Hartnett in Goldeneye.

Today, they live 20 minutes apart in New Jersey with their respective lovely wives, sharing passions for miniature golf, diner cuisine and the music of Motley Crue. They also both watched and blogged about Games of Thrones this past season to the thrill of perhaps a dozen.

For years Jordan has been trying to sell Ben, who has never watched an episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, to watch Bachelor Pad. Despite their youthful enjoyment of reality romance classics like Temptation Island and Paradise Hotel, Ben was skeptical, but decided to go for it.

Bear wit to their wit, wisdom and frequent allusions to Mark L. Wahlberg as they try and bring some much needed dignity to these people’s search for love/money/fame/a place to crash for a few weeks.

Bachelor Pad Episode 7: “Mighty Morphin’ Power Night Ranger”

A camera slowly descends upon a large hamlet, nestled in the California hills. It is here, that our fateful tale continues. Was it love that brought the six inside the manse together? Perhaps a lust for adventure. Or maybe…just maybe…it was the Chlamydia. Either way, the Bachelor Pad cometh once again.

Ben: I don’t think the market for an Edgar Allen Poe-themed reality dating show has ever really been tapped into. John Cusack could host and it would be a financial and critical flop.

Jordan: The show opens with Rachel whining about missing Michael and Nick’s red face causing the Mars lander to crash upon it. Thus, right where we left off.

Chris Harrison pops onscreen with a pretty blue shirt that really brings out the shine in his forehead horns. He then surprises the guests by saying ONE COUPLE WILL BE LEAVING AT THE END OF THIS COMPETITION! If I am on a reality show and want screen time, I will just have wide eyes and mouth agape at every asinine announcement...even the "welcome to bachelor pad" one.

Ben: See I would go the other direction and just yawn or roll my eyes every time a twist was announced. Even if the producers hated me, I’d still make it further than Ryan.

Jordan: Tony says he is doing this for his son, with absolutely no context or point. The stakes are bringing the best out of these one-note characters.

Ben: Wouldn’t it be great if Tony is actually child-less and “my son” is his nickname for his penis?

I obviously have very little left to say about Tony.

Competition: Hanging from a Trapeze!

Jordan: The competition starts with Ed saying, “What IS this?!” no less than 70 times, evoking virtually every scene from Lost.

Ben: Holy crap, you’re totally right! Man, the more I think about it, Bachelor Pad may hold all the answers we never got from Lost given all the parallels—think about it! Much like Kate, Chris hops from one romance to the other but really wants to blow up his house. Much like Michael, Tony is doing everything for his son and will not win anything. Much like Sun, Rachel is separated from her true love and will probably become a ruthless corporate raider. Much like Jack, Ed has a drinking problem. Much like the smoke monster, Chris Harrison is the devil.

IT ALL FINALLY MAKES SENSE! The island really was purgatory—and Bachelor Pad is hell!

Jordan: Chris Harrison says this competition is a trapeze thingy, which is equal parts brains and brawn. Unfortunately it just so happens that these two traits are Blakeley’s only weaknesses. The shocker? The winner who wins gets to pick the couple that who goes home. I am pumped.

Ben: To further explain for those of you who inexplicably don’t watch the show but read our blog—thanks!—one partner had to hang on a trapeze while the other answered questions about the show. Every time anybody got a question wrong, their partner’s trapeze lost a support, until eventually they were just hanging by a bar.

Much was made of the fact that three of the guys went on the trapeze but Rachel insisted Nick answer questions, which led to him showing off his guns and wondering why she wanted to utilized his smarts over his muscles. However, as a little dude who has observed plenty of larger fellows trying to do pull-ups over the years, I’d argue that Nick’s muscle mass would work against him in trying to hang on. I’m no scientist, people, but I know how physics works!

Jordan: First question...Who is the first girl in a bikini this season? Donna the slut! Woo, this game is going to be fun.

Which person is from the earliest season?...Aka, who is the oldest, crustiest, saddest person…Erica Rose, of course! Haha, I am very much enjoying myself watching this.

Which woman did not compete in the Falling for Love competition? Erica, the twin! Wow, I didn’t even know they had names.

Ben: Megan got this one before me. I was just flashing back to Nick immediately falling out of that heart-shaped container and congratulating myself on the physics observation I knew I’d make over a week later in this blog.

Jordan: Who was David’s partner before the switch? It's Jamie, an answer I actually remembered and yelled at the screen. I am ashamed I remembered this, much less shouted it proudly. Blakeley guesses wrong and Tony hangs for dear life…FOR HIS DEAR SON!

Ben: Remember that joke I made about Tony’s son earlier? How funny is it now! You’re all welcome.

Jordan: Who took their top off in the pool first on Bachelor Pad? Hmmm...I ask my wife “who was that blonde slut girl on the first season? Natalie?” This, of course, is the answer. Gotta love them sluts.

Anyhoo, long story short Sarah and Chris win. Sarah appears on brain-centric competitions to be
VERY smart…despite sleeping with Ed…and she carries Chris along.

Ben: Knowing the answers to Bachelor Pad trivia equals VERY smart for you? Our alma mater would be ashamed.

Jordan: Oh, by the way, this competition is NO parts brawn because it’s IMPOSSIBLE for these hung-over contestants to hang while the cameramen reset the tapes in their cameras and Chris Harrison asks when he can leave to return to fly his collection of zeppelins.

Someone Going Home! Part One!

Jordan: Chris and Sarah contemplate who to send home. Blakeley melts down hardcore. It’s hilarious and over the top, just the way it was meant to be. Tony says he is doing all of this for the betterment of mankind and will donate the money to charity if he wins. JUST KIDDING, he says he is doing it all for his good-for-nothing son. Hey, message to Tony’s son: Compete in your OWN damn competition if you want any money. I don’t care if you are 3 years old. Quit being such a freeloader. Your dad sells lumber, so he has enough to worry about without making money for your sorry ass.

Ben: This is my favorite of your rants this season to date. It also comes close to asking the relevant question of what a generation of children raised by the contestants on reality shows will perceive in regards to “real” jobs.

We don’t shy away from the heavy stuff here.

Jordan: It must be mentioned that during all of this tension Rachel reveals quite shockingly what appears to be a rockin’ bod.

Ben: Never mind my previous attempt to elevate us.

Jordan: Like, it's eye opening and head scratching. Michael was onto something that none of us saw. None of us in the world. I feel quite comfortable saying that not one person in the entire solar system could have seen this coming. Michael, kudos to you. It’s sad you had to die. By the way, I assume all of the people voted off are swiftly killed and ground into roses for next season. It’s what gives those roses such power.

Ben: I know you’re joking, but the fact that you used last season’s winner to fuel said joke and thus reminded me of the existence of Erica Rose, another season two vet, really kills its internal continuity out of the gate.

Jordan: Chris votes off Blakeley, Tony, and Tony’s son. Blakeley freaks out and cries as if her world is crashing down. I suspect that this show was all she had in the world.

On a rare serious note, it is quite sad to see people like David (Bing Crosby) and Blakeley so broken up when they leave because their actual lives are such garbage. I hope their lives improve. I really do. (Sees Blakeley kiss Tony and say she is happy to continue a relationship with him off of the show) Well, there goes that whole ‘life improving’ thing.

Ben: That limo ride was super awkward to watch as Tony sunk his hand into Blakeley’s leg like she was the prize gazelle he took home from a hunting trip where he hit nothing and Chris wounded dozens of defenseless animals to be snatched up by lesser men. There was totally a moment of realization that you could see in Blakeley’s eyes that the cameras would shut off soon and she would still be in a car with this dweeb.

Jordan: Chris Harrison shows up in a spectacular blue blazer, made out of the souls of a hundred kittens, and says it's time for the next competition. They have to all get into a car to get there. In my mind’s eye, at each step…from getting to the door, to leaving, to seeing the car, to getting into the car, to traveling…Ed stops and says dramatically, “What IS this?!”

Second Competition: Awful, Awful Singing

Jordan: Chris Harrison brings the contestants to see Night Ranger…and Ed solidifies himself as my choice to win by calling it “a dream come true.” Chris acts bored and the others stare blankly, but Ed is grinning ear to ear and seems ready to jump onstage and crowd surf. Chris Harrison tells the contestants they will all be singing “Sister Christian” and Night Ranger will be judging. I feel like if this competition doesn’t make Ben a lifelong Bachelor Pad fan, nothing will.

Ben: It was a roller coaster ride of being super excited to see Night Ranger on Bachelor Pad, feeling sad that Night Ranger was on Bachelor Pad, remembering that Night Ranger really only had one hit and haven’t been relevant since 1984 aside from on my Monster Ballads comp and thus hitting a nice plateau of contentment.

Jaclyn pretending to have any idea who the fuck Night Ranger is was an affront to all that is good.

Jordan: Chris Harrison has a comical aside where he tells Night Ranger the contestants will be terrible. I wish we saw more of these Chris Harrison moments, because between this and how evil he acts on the “After the final rose ceremonies,” you KNOW he hates each and every one of the people on this show.

Ben: Oh Jordan, it doesn’t end there, Chris Harrison hates all of humanity; he is all our negative energy given form and tasked with bringing forth Armageddon through reality TV.

Jordan: The contestants all work with voice coaches and it is obvious immediately this is going to be a train wreck. Ed and Jaclyn appear to be especially awful, which is saying something. Chris and Sarah sound like Coldplay to me, which is to say they sound whiny, off-tune, and like horseshit. They aren’t showing Nick practicing at all, which leads me to believe he is actually good and they are saving it. Rachel sounds like Tom Waits, who I guess is a singer, so they are my picks.

Ben: Megan had a similar “They’re not showing Nick, he’s going to be amazing” theory going.

When they introduced all the coaches as being from Glee, I shook my fist at the air at that show’s ability to continue ruining hair metal songs for me long after I vowed never to watch it again.

Jordan: Before the competition, the show does a funny montage of animals fleeing while everyone sings the “Sister Christian” song. At this exact moment my wife Chloe stands up and leaves the room without a sound. I am amazed the singing actually made her leave. She later informs me she left because had to use the restroom. This makes more sense, as the sound of Ed singing makes me have to pee too.

Ben: I chuckled when you called it “the Sister Christian song” like a confused old man.

Also, Chloe just got up without informing you why she was interrupting the show? The nerve!

Jordan: It’s competition time! At this point I am rooting for anyone but Chris. Last season a jackass won in that bearded guy whose name I forget, so I want someone I like to win this time around. Here we go!

Ben: Who do you still like?! Oh wait, I’m writing this thing three days after you sent me this e-mail, you can’t respond. Also, I know the answer is Ed, I’m just having fun while hoping Kalon somehow gets thrown in last minute singing “Rock You Like a Hurricane.”

Jordan: First up are Nick and Rachel. Rachel starts out the song and sounds like a balloon that is slowly having air wheeze out of it, squeaking wildly…but she's on key at least. Nick actually sounds quite good and struts about the stage like a rock star. I greatly enjoy their performance, especially since they don’t show much of Rachel’s singing. I’m guessing in that shrieking mass of fans, Michael is watching in disguise and is quietly rooting on his girl while wearing a blonde wig and lipstick.

Ben: I thought Rachel was going to be way better than she was. She did LOOK like a rock star from the 80’s though, more so than any of the others, for whatever that’s worth (nothing). I can’t even remember Nick’s voice, but he definitely ran around with the manic energy only a guy who didn’t realize he was on the show until six weeks in and now stands to win a quarter of a million dollars can.

Jordan: Ed and Jaclyn are next and in zero seconds flat forget the lyrics. Jaclyn then starts stripping and grinding like a showgirl, which marks the 500th time I wonder what her parents are thinking while watching this.

Ben: “That’s our girl!”

Jordan: Seeing Ed and Jaclyn sing is extremely stressful to watch. How the hell can Ed claim to be a fan of this song? Ed ends the song by dry humping Jaclyn then moaning loudly…perhaps for the first time this happens not in a good way with actual consequences. I never thought his go-to hump then comical moan move would ever fail to work out, assuming it always worked in situations like job interviews and best man speeches at weddings.

Ben: I was fucking LIVID that Ed claimed to be a fan and didn’t know the words. There are only a few things in this world I take seriously, and hair metal is one of them. Another is Ultimate Frisbee, if you were wondering. Between that and Jaclyn pathetically asking if they could start over then scoffing when the music didn’t stop had me booing out loud for these two to get the heave ho.

And yes, “Sister Christian” is a song one of the guys in Night Ranger wrote about his little sister growing up too fast, so I’m sure he was thrilled by this performance.

Jordan: Chris and Sarah go next and appear off tune, and forget only HALF of the lyrics, which is somehow a success. Sarah tries to rev up the crowd and just comes across as annoying while Chris calmly sings in a high-pitched voice. They strip down…copying Jaclyn’s only trademark move…and run around like little kids at Chucky Cheese. As horrific as this all is, they at least played to the audience instead of making love on stage, which gives them a leg up on Ed and Jaclyn.

Ben: Sarah never seemed less cool and together than she did here leaping around the stage like a rabid go go dancer in her hideous green spandex pants, and this is a girl whose jaw drops when Chris Harrison announces that there are sandwiches available on the patio. Chris’ nervousness and little soprano voice while trying to maintain his douchey cool guy grin was fantastic, as was the fact that the Night Ranger guys caught him reading lyrics off his hand.

Ed and Chris have both earned my wrath with their disrespect of the greatest music of all-time. Welcome to the top of my list, Nick!

Jordan: The judges give praise to Nick and Rachel. They slam Ed and Jaclyn. Lastly, they meet somewhere in the middle on Chris and Sarah, saying they were entertaining yet acted like complete idiots. Yes, folks, I can now safely realize one of my dreams and use the following sentence: “I agree on all accounts with what Night Ranger said.”

Ben: You actually have very copacetic fiscal policies as well.

Jordan: Rachel and Nick win, unsurprisingly, and now comes the hard part: Acting sad and fake crying while voting someone off.

A meteor falls from the sky, lands on a patch of dirt, and from the smoldering pile a Decepticon dramatically stands and transforms into shape of Chris Harrison. He tells the group that Nick and Rachel need to chuck out a couple. Everyone that was voted off hates Chris and Sarah, which would help Nick and Rachel win. They are the obvious choice. Nick sells Rachel with this conversation:

NICK: “What are you here for, friendships or money?”
RACHEL: (sobs hysterically)
NICK: “The money? Me too.”

Nick, you are the best. This is your finest hour. And yes, this is the only hour in the entire season you have actually been on this show.

Ben: Seriously though, Nick rocks for just being honest and saying exactly what every contestant on every reality show is thinking, rather than trying to put on a display of faux hysterics like Jaclyn or smarmily gaming like Chris. Good on you Background Guy #2.

Rose Ceremony Madness!

Jordan: The tense music swells and everyone at home is holding their breath for what is the most important moment in the entire game…factors that combine to cause Chris to cock his head and look bored. Ugh, I can’t believe this guy is going to the final two.

Ben: Really? Because you just described the consummate reality show competitor.

Jordan: Nick delivers the death blow to Ed and Jaclyn…meaning Chris and Sarah stay. Jaclyn gives the audience one final brutal bitter beer face. She crumbles even worse than Blakeley, tears and snot spewing from her face like a log flume. Jaclyn, the consummate good sport, then shoves Rachel away from her when Rachel tries to give her a hug. Next, Jaclyn continues to bash her in the limo ride home. Sigh. The limo ride is where final impressions are made, Jaclyn. You would have been wise to takes notes from Kalon. Then again, running into Ed’s limo would have only resulted in getting pregnant with Ed’s baby…and the only thing worse than sad bitter beer face is pregnant sad bitter beer face.

Ben: Also, Ed shot away from her and into his own limo faster than it took me to forget there were twins on this show.

Ned Morse, your final thoughts on Jaclyn?

“Good riddance. What an embarrassment.” –Ned Morse, Caregiver

Jordan: I just saw the preview for the finale. Holy. Shit. I can’t wait. Till next time!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Paragraph Movie Reviews: The Expendables 2

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

This movie gave me exactly what I wanted from it and I left the theater a happy man having gotten my money's worth and then some. I enjoyed this sequel more than the original, but I do have to chock a lot of that up to the environment in and circumstances under which I experienced it; I saw the first Expendables on DVD at my apartment more or less by myself (Megan was in the room, but not paying attention), whereas I went to the theater with friends (and a more attentive Megan) to see this one alongside a raucous crowd. Expendables 2 is absolutely the kind of movie you have to see on the big screen and with people cheering, laughing and cringing around you to truly appreciate. As to why I dug it, if these actors took the script or the movie too seriously, it would be a train wreck, but they're completely self aware as they rifle off the corniest cliches ever and barrel through absurd action scenes, having a ball and also working their asses off physically. The humor shines through whether it's because the guy delivering the line has serious comedic chops (Jason Statham, Terry Crews) or is willing to have fun with their own image (Dolph Lundgren, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sly Stallone himself). The action scenes and production elements are poetry, choreographed and executed better than just about any modern shoot 'em up or fight flick I can think of because everybody behind and front of the camera knows exactly what they're doing. Jean-Claude Van Damme plays the douchiest villain of all-time and makes you wonder how he didn't get cast as the bad guy his whole career. Liam Hemsworth, who everybody (myself included) figured wouldn't fit in at all has a very specific role to play and does it to perfection. I'm seriously just in respectful awe at the ability of Stallone and his crew to design a script and film so perfectly constructed to excite and entertain in a perfect rhythm so that every time you catch your breath, Chuck Norris shows up or Arnold busts through a wall. My only complain: needed more Jet Li! Can't wait for the third installment.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Ben & Jordan Watch Bachelor Pad: Episode 6

The bonds of brotherhood between Ben Morse and Jordan Geary were forged during their time as students at Connecticut College, where they spent four years losing at intramural sports (except softball in 2004!), forming their own fraternity because the school wouldn’t let them, making student films one professor called “unfortunate” and regularly beating their friend Dan Hartnett in Goldeneye.

Today, they live 20 minutes apart in New Jersey with their respective lovely wives, sharing passions for miniature golf, diner cuisine and the music of Motley Crue. They also both watched and blogged about Games of Thrones this past season to the thrill of perhaps a dozen.

For years Jordan has been trying to sell Ben, who has never watched an episode of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette, to watch Bachelor Pad. Despite their youthful enjoyment of reality romance classics like Temptation Island and Paradise Hotel, Ben was skeptical, but decided to go for it.

Bear wit to their wit, wisdom and frequent allusions to Mark L. Wahlberg as they try and bring some much needed dignity to these people’s search for love/money/fame/a place to crash for a few weeks.

Bachelor Pad Episode 6: “Nick’s Face is Melting”

Jordan: Greetings kids. 6 weeks in and the two hours a week length of this show is starting to wear me down. But it’s a marathon, not a sprint. I do not even know what I meant to really say here when I used this clichĂ©.

Ben: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.

Interestingly, as you have been worn down, I have become more comfortable with the amount of time I’m devoting a week to these monsters, possibly because since the Olympics ended I’ve been able to watch the episodes via DVR rather than OnDemand, thus granting me the ability to fast forward and lose a solid 40 minutes of commercials for Timothy Green. That or your power has become my own!

Jordan: Episode opens with Rachel hacking up cigarette butts into her hands as she cries over Michael going home. Emotions are running high. UNLEASH THE CHRIS HARRISON! C.H. slaps everyone across the face with his dong, saying, “You will be playing as couples…including being voted off as couples.” Then a hole opens and swallows Chris Harrison, returning him back to his underworld of flames.

Ben: Wow, way to swipe my material.

I thought this swerve was lame. A week after the awesome game of Stratego that was Chris getting Michael booted, they cut down on the intrigue big time. They should have to play as couples but still be able to be voted out as singles through to the end.

Jordan: Nick and Rachel are partnered up by default, even making the other lowlifes make fun of them. Everyone scrambles to come up with a plan with this new game twist, leading to many, many violins strumming tense staccato notes. This is the only way producers can combat Chris’ constant “I am so bored by all of this” look.

Ben: Ah the final episodes of a reality show, where the realization that your entire alliance can’t win sets in as the booze dries out.

Competition: Spelling Beie

Jordan: Everyone gets on a school bus (cue short bus joke)…

Ben: Short bus joke.

Jordan: …and upon arriving Chris Harrison informs them they are competing in a spelling bee. Tony says aloud that spelling is the one thing he sucks at…which one or more wax museum attendees may disagree with. Nick sits uncomfortably in his flannel shirt and sunburn, head looking as unnaturally shiny has ever.

Ben: I was sure this was Kalon’s time to shine, as you would figure something like spelling was a skill he had tutored to him by Tibetan monks whilst dangling headfirst over a bed of nails as his master criminal parents watched on, but then I realized that being named “Kalon” was probably the result of nobody in his family knowing the proper spelling for “Colin.”

Jordan: Ed and Jaclyn spell “love”, which reminds me of Ed’s misdeeds with his teammate last week. Kalon spells “heart,” which now leads me to believe the producers have made this all one intentional joke. Blakeley spelling the one thing she will never possess, “engagement ring,” confirms this.

Ben: For more on this topic, tune into this blog next time for exclusive news…IT’S A TEASER, GANG!

Jordan: After a lot of spelling and mistakes, it comes down to Ed and Jaclyn and Chris and Sarah. After Ed and Jaclyn mess up the word “Flabbergasted”, I come to the conclusion that this is easily the least interesting competition I have ever seen on Bachelor Pad. It lacks any sort of opportunity for meanness. Chris and Sarah mess up “Entrepreneur”, which then made me laugh as the camera cuts to Kalon’s smug disapproval. That and “lobotomy” are the two largest words in Kalon’s vocabulary.

Ben: This is the perfect irony-laced time to note that Jordan is finally spelling Sarah’s name correctly after over a month and a half, saving me a solid five minutes of making corrections.

Jordan: I love the fact that Ed thought “cockamamie” was “cockamay” and proudly ended his spelling with “Y- Cockamay.” With the competition dragging on, the cameramen give the signal that they are running out of available tapes to film with and they mercifully give Chris and Sarah the lowball “Serendipity” word. This still proves to be a challenge for Chris, whose strategy is pausing for 10 minutes between letters and then forgetting where he is. Regardless, Chris and Sarah win. Cameras then all simultaneously point at Blakeley crying. Approximately 9/10 of the footage on Bachelor Pad is Blakeley crying or staring at someone with the intention of ripping out their innards.

Ben: Bachelor Pad was never more obviously scripted/edited than this segment. It was clear Chris and Sarah needed to win since there would be no drama if they took off and the final six all liked each other, so they got all the easiest words and you could practically see the times where Chris Harrison yelled “cut” and ran over to hand Chris not Harrison a cue card with the proper spelling of “Hi.” This was the natural outgrowth of the “eliminated girl picks the eliminated guy” swerve they used to save Chris and Sarah last week.

At least my dad can’t take the hit for Jaclyn losing this one, that’s on the Newton public school system.

Winners Date

Jordan: Chris and Sarah go on a date. They laugh, they swim, I bang my head against a wall. I want to write anything interesting about this date and I just can’t. They bore the living hell out of me.

Ben: I’m right there with you, tall friend. This date felt like it last for beyond the full two hour length of the show. Sarah’s wide-eyed proclamations of how amazing everything around them was as they were shuttled by a train to a barn where they got to sleep (with real hay!) reminded me of every dating show parody ever, most notably Burning Love.

Jordan: Back at the house, Rachel breaks down and looks to Jaclyn for compassion. Smart move, idiot.

Ben: DAMN! Kalon just texted me to tell you that was cold.

Kidding! I’d change my number if Kalon had it…

Jordan: Jaclyn then goes to Tony and Blakeley and says Rachel should go home because she misses Michael so much. Rachel then parades around the house in black, her voice sounding more like nails on a chalkboard than ever, her face thrice as haggard as George Harrison (and he is dead). Nick pleads with her to stay in the game because he needs more time in the sun to fry his face like an ant under a magnifying glass.

Ben: Did Jaclyn, Blakeley and Rachel have their girl power “we should all be here until the end” pow wow in the midst of this? I honestly can’t remember. The Chris/Sarah date drove me to fill out insurance forms or something.

Jordan: Back on the shitty date, Chris and Sarah talk about their relationship and the revelation comes out that Chris has not had a serious relationship since he was a sophomore in high school. This is no small thing. It either means he 1) hates humanity, 2) is gay, 3) just wants to sleep with women with no emotional connection, 4) is gay. There must be some reason he kept refusing to sleep with Jamie and Blakeley and then would always “accidentally” pull his pants down and fall on a broom handle.

Ben: Jordan Geary’s opinions are his own and do not represent those of anybody involved with this blog or anybody we know or may have ever met in passing.

Jordan: Back at the house, Jaclyn tells Rachel and Blakeley she will try to vote out Kalon and Lindzi. They certainly are the most “annoyingly named” pair. I am really, really tired of correcting my spelling whenever I write Lindzi’s name.

Ben: I was tired three weeks ago of correcting your spelling, but I’m still here. Hi-yooooo!

And this was the aforementioned pow wow.

Runner Up Date

Jordan: Next, Ed and Jaclyn get to go on a date because they lost the competition. Yes, you read that right. This show makes its own rules.

Ben: They really thought that “competing as couples” thing through long and hard.

Jordan: Ed and Jaclyn fly in a plane. Jaclyn reveals she is afraid of flying, but says she is comforted by the fact Ed is with her. She fails to realize that in the event of a crash Ed would use her body to soften his fall, then use her corpse as a flotation device back to shore.

Ben: The whole time they’re flying, all I’m thinking is “That plane is way too small to have a bathroom. What if one of them needs to pee?”

What is wrong with me.

Jordan: When they land and sit to talk, Ed looks into her ugly mug with sober eyes and tells her he doesn’t want to fall in love, has feelings for someone home, and generally wants to be anywhere else in the world than where she is. Jaclyn makes her bitter beer face and is crushed she can’t spend the rest of her days with the guy who communicates with oven mitts.

Ben: “Ed is a class act. He’s the most real, genuine nice guy of anybody on the show. He would never sleep with a bunch of girls despite having a relationship back home. Or cheat on his fiancĂ©e.” – Jordan Geary up to this week (approximate translation)

Jordan: Tony and Blakeley walk and he takes her on a little impromptu date. She kisses him and he promptly sweats buckets his face gets purple with excitement. I would think he had never slept with a woman before except I believe he said he had a son. Maybe he found the child on the side of the road, or in a basket at the base of a river (like the opening sequence in Willow)?

Ben: If we were doing a Bachelor Pad drinking game, “Drink every time Tony mentions he is doing this for his son” would be the first rule I would make.

Jordan: Ed and Jaclyn continue their date. Jaclyn continues to mope about Ed not being in love with her, not quite understanding that there were no feelings behind his drunk yodeling while giving her his pickle and then forgetting her name. Yes, this is how Cinderella and Prince Charming got together, but that’s a FAIRY TALE. This is REAL LIFE.

Ben: That’s right, people, for Jordan Geary, Bachelor Pad is his basis for reality. He ends every day by giving his wife a rose and telling her she can remain in their home.

Jordan: Jaclyn snaps and says to Ed “I don’t want to look like a whore.” He snaps back “I don’t want to look like a shithead.” To win her back, Ed embarks on THE BEST SPEECH EVER. He says he wants to sleep together to “build teamwork” and that the chemistry is “very comforting.” He goes on to say “By us sleeping in the same bed, yes we are a couple,” which is enough to have Jaclyn smile and kiss him. They then walk to again have sex as Jaclyn says “We’ve bonded in more ways than one…it is what it is.” Somewhere Jaclyn’s family is watching this and wondering who the hell could have coached this sort of behavior in their little angel.

Ben: How dare you. If Ned Morse couldn’t coach this girl to block a penalty kick, he wasn’t about to try and teach her to respect herself as a woman (that’s part of the advanced Ned Morse Coaching package, not the beginners set).

Jordan: Ed and Jaclyn come back from doing it and reveal they have to give out roses. This has people groveling at their feet with a silly Godfather-esque soundtrack behind them. Long story short, they give the roses to Blakeley and Tony. This means in the shooting range Nick and Rachel are everyone’s bullseye. By this I mean Nick is as red as a bullseye. Seriously, his nose is about to fall off on my television as I write this.

Ben: Remember the good old days when we thought Nick was a sound tech who kept wandering into the shot?

Jordan: Kalon and Lindzi try to campaign to Blakeley and Tony stay, knowing they are the other couple in jeopardy of going home. Nick then swoops in to talk to them, leading a sleigh of eight reindeer behind him as he does so. Nick decides to then come to life and actually speak at the WORST MOMENT POSSIBLE, self destructing and yelling at Blakeley and Tony to keep them. In the shadows, Kalon laughs maniacally and watches Wealth TV on a hidden portable television.

Ben: And thus Nick became the insane wildcard I was hoping Rachel would become after losing Michael, making him perhaps my favorite contestant remaining.

Jordan: Rachel weeps about missing Michael, and between that and Nick sticking his foot in his mouth, I suddenly find it very hard to root for these two. Plus, someone needs to take down the Chris-Sarah juggernaut, and I think Kalon and Lindzi represent the best shot.

Ben: I had the exact opposite response! If this train wreck team can somehow pull it off, it truly spits in the face of everybody on this show who actually put any effort toward winning by conventional means, and that puts a huge smile on my face. If Kalon can’t win it by scheming, I’m cool with Nick and Rachel trying to win by being a living blooper reel.

Oh, also, my dad spoiled a moment here like three days before I saw the episode by saying “Michael is back in some fashion” and then it’s just his voice saying “Hello?” when Rachel call him. Well played, father…

Rose Ceremony

Jordan: Quick ceremony (no one is left), aaaaaandddddd…..

RACHEL AND NICK ARE STAYING! The ghost of Michael looks down upon them like Obi Wan Kenobi, smiles, and then looks out at the clouds as a single tear rolls down his cheek.

Ben: Oh man, I don’t even really like Star Wars—guess how well that goes over working in the comic book industry—and your analogy just made me laugh out loud. Good show!

Jordan: Kalon and Lindzi leave. As their limos leave, Kalon stops his limo, runs, and gets into Lindzi’s limo with her. This makes every woman simultaneously forget he is a cold-blooded killer and squeal, “Awwwwww.” He thusly sets up a brilliant spider web for any unsuspecting female to walk into for the rest of his life. Jack the Ripper stands up and does a slow clap.

Ben: Whether you have an alternative lifestyle or are merely a woman, Jordan Geary is here to offend you.

Special report from our Senior Fact-Checker Megan Morse, who immediately jumped on Google Gossip (no such site, just made it up) after this episode: Kalon and Lindzi are still together! They have been regularly sighted and photographed together around Texas and L.A. TRUE LOVE WINS OUT…or she’ll go missing within a few weeks.

Jordan: The show ends with Ed and Sarah imitating Tony and Blakeley. If Ed doesn’t get his own show after this, I will be sad and disappointed. My “Ed as the next Bachelor” campaign begins NOW!!!

And ends now, as I am too lazy to do anything.


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Paragraph Movie Reviews: Bachelorette

If you don't have plans to see this movie, you can check the spoilers here and then come back.

Ok movie, some really fun bits, some standout performances, but ultimately too uneven to be the classic it could have and should have been. The first half hour or so is fantastic with Kirsten Dunst, Isla Fisher and Lizzy Caplan doing the female version of The Hangover, having fun playing uniquely flawed characters (Rebel Wilson is a bit underutilized as the bride, but that's the nature of the plot). Fisher is hysterical as a comically exaggerated ditz, Kaplan holds the flow of the story together with her seamless handling of the dialogue and while Dunst was a bit bland for me to start, she comes on strong later as the alpha bitch with a heart. On the dude side of the equation, James Marsden similar to Dunst starts slow but amps it up as a choice sleazebag, Adam Scott scores on his Party Down-established chemistry with Kaplan, and Kurt Bornheimer is charming enough as the high school loser in love with Fisher. My problem arises when about halfway through the film, the fun screwball caper gets hijacked by three separate and inferior romantic comedies. Things are never as fun during the long sequence where the girls are separated and tons of plot holes and dangling threads arise seemingly because the movie is trying to pack in emotional layers it doesn't need. Ultimately, like I said, it's fun, there are a lot of laugh out loud moments and nobody phones in their performance, but I wish this movie had gone for it all out on the comedy and not worried about trying to tack on depth.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Underrated/Overlooked: X-Factor: The Longest Day

I’ve long wanted to (and really should) ask Peter David how he landed on Havok, Polaris, Wolfsbane, Multiple Man, Strong Guy and Quicksilver as the at-first-glance (and really any glance) eclectic line-up for his wonderful and legendary original run on X-Factor. Was this the group he personally wanted to work with? Was it the leftover mutants who weren’t already on one of the X-Men teams or X-Force? Did an editor or pitch from another writer hand it to him?

Reading the Muir Island Saga, they were obviously setting something up (Polaris, Strong Guy and Multiple Man all figure into the story), but I’d be interested to know who came up with the team and why.

Regardless, it worked, as that mesh of personalities, temperaments and powers made for an entertaining, intelligent and unique era of X-Men stories that were as funny as anything to ever creep out of the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe but also powerful and emotional. So much of that came from the relationships between the characters, whether it was Havok and Polaris trying to make their romance work (and Wolfsbane getting in the midst against her will), Strong Guy and Madrox’s great friendship, Val Cooper trying to get a handle on this rowdy bunch, or everybody hating Quicksilver.

This group dynamic made for one of my favorite stories of the time, which featured little in the way of action and much more in the way of character development. Interestingly, it was also not written by Peter David, though it utilized much of what he had set up during his tenure on the book. The story was “The Longest Day,” a two-parter by Scott Lobdell that ran in issues #93 and #94, putting some bows on things PAD had done and setting up the status quo for incoming writer J.M. DeMatteis, with veteran artists Paul Smith and Paul Ryan switch hitting.

Issue #93 kicks off with Havok and Wolfsbane visiting the familiar setting of Xavier’s School for the Gifted to pay their respects following Illyana Rasputin’s death from the Legacy Virus. There’s a chilling moment where Rahne goes to hug Illyana’s despondent brother, Colossus, and he stands expressionless and motionless (perfectly portrayed by Paul Smith’s simple but pronounced line work) to the gesture. Wolfsbane also has a nice sequence with Professor X demonstrating how far she’s come from being the wallflower of the original New Mutants while also highlighting some of the tragedy in her life that will be explored a bit more next issue.

The highlight of the Xavier School sequence for me though is the “bonding” time between Havok and his older brother Cyclops. I wrote last week about how interesting I find this dynamic and this issue is a good example of its potential in action. While Rahne does her thing, Scott and Alex have a “friendly” game of handball in the Danger Room that, like everything with them, quickly becomes an intense competition with Cyclops having the natural advantage and Havok doing his best to keep up. As they play, they discuss their differences in everything from their love lives to their leadership styles and Scott plays archetypal older brother, “helpfully” chiding Alex on needing to lock things down with Lorna and rein in control over his team. In a nice twist, rather than have a tantrum, Havok stands his ground, justifying solidly why he does things the way he does, and in the process starts winning the game—then things get heated enough that Cyclops pulverizes the ball with an optic blast (of course). They part with a smile and handshake, but you can still see the tension, and I personally applauded Alex’s little pyrrhic victory.

Meanwhile, across the universe—literally—Strong Guy has been abducted by his old boss Lila Cheney, intergalactic rock star and mutant teleporter, who wants Guido to come back to work as her bodyguard. Lila pulls Guido straight out of bed, and since the man sleeps in the nude, it gives Smith some fun sight gags to play with as a giant, naked man finds himself in the midst of an alien rock concert. The long and short of it is that Guido has matured—slightly—from being a purely comedic character thanks to the work of Peter David, and he makes that case here to Lila, who reluctantly kicks him back to Earth; it’s another bit that will be picked up more next issue, but it’s a cute sequence with fun art.

Lastly, there’s a smaller side plot where Quicksilver has been ordered to start wearing a uniform more in line with the rest of the team—Polaris has also been asked to swap her provocative Joe Quesada-designed number for something more wholesome—and he’s not happy about it. After putting on his new costume—which is a pretty funny send-up of 90’s gear with a million pieces of tech, a dozen pouches, a visor and more—he complains about not liking it and not wanting to be part of any team anyhow, in the process using his super speed to discard all the extraneous junk and come out with a sleek look he reluctantly admits is cool, thus also reluctantly admitting he’s part of the team (unfortunately he was gone literally the next issue, shunted over to Avengers, a shame because this was a development that could have led to some neat stuff).

Issue #93 ends with Val Cooper revealing Forge as the new government liaison for X-Factor (to the audience, the team doesn’t find out until #95), then #94 picks up with a framing sequence of her briefing her successor as we get parallel narratives featuring Havok and Polaris as well as Wolfsbane and Strong Guy.

The Havok/Polaris stuff is basically them out to dinner discussing life and their relationship, which may sound a bit mundane, but considering this is a couple that has been fighting for years to have a nice, quiet life together that’s been interrupted by aliens, possession, amnesia and more, it’s a refreshing breather and plenty interesting to boot; it also segues nicely from Alex’s chat with Cyclops about why he and Lorna are different than Scott and Jean. There’s also a recurring bit where they’re seated near an anti-mutant bigot who keeps offending Alex, but Lorna tells her man to relax…until the guy goes too far and she uses her magnetic powers to have his silverware attack him; fun stuff.

Probably the most deeply emotional sequence of the entire two-part story is the stuff with Wolfsbane and Strong Guy. Rahne is headed to Genosha where they’re going to try and undo the previous corrupt government there made of her mind and body—bonding her to Havok in a way that makes him more or less her master and her seem like a bit of a crazy stalker in the process—though there is a good chance it could end up making her worse. Guido assumes he was asked along because he’s funny and can lighten the mood, but he learns that’s not the case.

Rahne tells a story about how when Guido had the team up to his childhood home (I think—it wasn’t a story that actually occurred, just a flashback) she was up early and saw him outside meditating, looking like the saddest guy in the world; she asked him along because she thought he was the only one who could understand the pain she was in. This calls back to the famous Doc Samson “X-Aminations” issue of X-Factor by David and Quesada wherein Guido confesses that his powers leave him in constant physical agony and being the class clown is one of the ways he distracts himself.

Guido doesn’t out and out admit any of this to Rahne, but lets her know that he does indeed understand, leading to a tender moment where she resumes her human form for the first time in years and falls unconscious into his arms.

And that’s it (well, a cliffhanger of Random saying he’s going to kill Polaris is “it,” but still): two issues, no fights, no real action of any kind to speak of, just a lot of talking and unburdening of emotions.

And it’s awesome.

These two issues have never fit nicely into a collection (that I’m aware of), but if you happen upon them at a store or convention, I’m sure they’re cheap and you’ll be getting more than your money’s worth, whether you’re an X-Factor fan or just looking for some touching writing and quality art. And to come full circle, it’s a testament to this line-up and what Peter David laid down with them that another writer can come in for a two-part quickie like this and do such impressive stuff.

Would still love to know where this grouping came from…