LAST EDITED ON 10-24-02 AT 03:02 PM (EST)CELEBRITY BOOT CAMP (BOOT CAMP 2)
“SORRY, WRONG NUMBER”
Part One: “Let’s Boot Again Like We Did Last Summer”
After over a year, Boot Camp is finally getting its second chance. So how come I’m not more excited?
A little background. After Survivor became such a runaway hit in the summer of 2000, three new reality game shows were launched in January 2001 in an effort to capitalize on the success of the “reality TV genre.” OK, actually more than three shows were launched (anyone remember Chains of Love?), but three were relatively successful: The Mole … Temptation Island … and Boot Camp. Each of these shows got its own dedicated board on RealityTVWorld.com, as we expanded from our origin as SurvivorBlows.com. The Mole and Temptation Island were hits, and each of them was greenlighted for a second season. However, Boot Camp ran into all kinds of problems. Survivor sued Fox and the producers for theft of intellectual property. The ratings stunk. And, in a final blow to the show’s credibility, Recruit Wolf swept The Gauntlet (the final series of challenges) and would have won the championship if only ONE recruit had voted for him … but ALL of them voted for Recruit Whitlow instead, and she ended up as the winner.
Fans of the show were unhappy about the ending. Fox was unhappy about the low ratings and the lawsuit. I was unhappy because the show was a piece of partially-dried manure, still fragrant in the breeze. In fact, everyone was unhappy except for the show’s producers, who were quite happy with the money they were paid and wanted to do Boot Camp 2, but Fox said no. Over and over, Fox said no. Finally, though, Fox gave in. Fox says they approved the show in the wake of Celebrity Fear Factor (for my money, the only thing scary about “Fear” Factor is that some morons actually watch it), but I don’t buy it. I think some Fox exec carried out his S&M fetish with the wrong underage female, and one of Boot Camp’s producers got it on tape. The footage of a bubblegum-chewing 13-year-old in black leather with a whip probably wouldn’t have gathered much sympathy. Imagine the dialogue: “Have mercy, mistress!” “Whatever, but you’d better keep your promise to introduce me to N'Sync when this is all over.” *WHIP* “What’s that white stuff on your underpants, anyway?” Juries just wouldn’t understand.
Anyway, for whatever reason, Fox authorized a special Celebrity Boot Camp as Boot Camp 2. There are a lot of rule changes. Let’s look at a few.
Change #1: The recruits don’t get to vote anybody off. Instead, the DIs rank the recruits and boot the worst ones. THIS is an extremely POSITIVE change, since the voting was the phoniest aspect of Boot Camp. In fact, the “voting off” goes against everything the principal of boot camp stands for! The idea of boot camp is to build a coherent, disciplined, well-trained unit on which you can rely when your back is against the wall, and voting people out builds adversaries instead.
Of course, the real reason for the change has nothing to do with the theory that I’m blithering on about. Instead, it’s to stop Boot Camp from infringing on Survivor’s intellectual property, and it was probably a condition when the lawsuit was settled. It’s nice to see that something good can come from a lawsuit … something more positive than a new warning label on a lawnmower, “DO NOT LIFT IN AIR WHILE MOTOR IS RUNNING.” Uh, you mean someone couldn’t actually figure out without this label that it was a bad idea to try to lift a big, heavy, awkward machine with sharp, rapidly spinning, powerful blades on the bottom while it was turned on? Apparently not, because most of these idiotic warning labels come from people suing companies, claiming that the companies failed to warn about some “hidden” danger. “Hidden” if you had the brain power of a squirrel, perhaps, but pretty obvious otherwise. Oh well, if the person who sued the lawnmower manufacturer were male, let’s hope that cosmic justice won out and the result of that little experiment left him singing with the sopranos.
Change #2: The recruits don’t have to get the standard “boot camp buzz cut.” Huh? This is justified on the grounds that these “celebrities” have to “work”. And they can’t get many jobs with a shaved head. Well, excuuuuuuuse me! Haven’t they heard of wigs? I mean, when you have hair that looks like Coolio’s (also known as “The Human Pincushion”), I wouldn’t make such a big deal about this. Part of the fun (FUN? Only for the DIs) of boot camp is that you all suffer together, and part of the way you suffer is by looking like a bald-headed doofus. But then again, these are “celebrities,” so they deserve special treatment, right? They work all the time, right?
Well, let’s see about that. What big names do we have here? Tom Cruise, who might relish some time away from his mobs of fans? Jane Fonda and Alec Baldwin, training to go join Saddam in the trenches? Jennifer Love Hewitt, hoping to add some more bounce to her step? Rosie O’Donnell, hoping to shed a few dozen spare pounds?
Naah. Instead we get 10 people who are at the margins of fame, hoping to keep from ending up working as extras in crowd scenes on TV movies. “Work”? Heck, these guys work less than the longshoremen on the West Coast docks. Let’s take an individual look at the “big names” they lined up:
· Coolio, the one-hit-wonder rapper (“Gangsta’s Rap”). Surprisingly, he’s probably the best known of these media hos in the reality TV world, since he “won” Celebrity Fear Factor.
· Tiffany, the onetime sensation who became “famous” by giving concerts in shopping malls when she was a teenager. She also managed to squeeze out one hit, a cover of Tommy James and the Shondells’ preteen-sex song “I Think We’re Alone Now.” The song embarrassed Tommy James so much that he refused to work with songwriter-producer Richie Cordell any longer, even though it was a #1 hit. Tiffany couldn’t care less. She’d probably cut an album of songs written by Satan (a sample:“Hot Hot Hot”?) if it resuscitated her career.
· Nikki Schieler Ziering, one of the “Price Is Right” models, whose #1 claim to fame is her “position” as one of Hugh Hefner’s pets (I presume it’s the missionary position).
· Traci Bingham, a “Baywatch babe” who has also taken it all off for Playboy and now wants to prove that she has more going for her than just looks. (Hey, is it just me, or is there really little more disgusting than that ugly old satyr Hef pawing all these attractive young bimbos? Why can’t we pair Hef up with some equally-disgusting woman? Anna Nicole Smith, come on down to the Playboy Mansion!)
· Lorenzo Lamas, probably the most famous of the bunch. His dad was the legendary Fernando Lamas (as parodied by Billy Crystal: “You look MAHvelous…. It is better to look good than to feel good.”). His mother is Arlene Dahl, a beautiful starlet of the 40s and 50s who started her own cosmetics line. He’s parlayed his own looks into four marriages (and is now working on his fourth divorce, and he’s only 44!), PLUS some scattered out-of-wedlock children. He’s almost a self-parody. So why does he want to go to boot camp? Wouldn’t he be better suited for Temptation Island? We also find out that Lamas has a black belt in karate and in tae kwon do … but you can only see the belt when he has his pants on.
· Kato Kaelin, America’s best-known freeloader. When he’s not busy helping O.J. look for the “real killer,” he … does what? Collects welfare? Mooches off others? No, he appears on celebrity TV shows! Best line about Kato, courtesy of Coolio: “I used to think he was an idiot. <Now> I think he’s a half-wit.”
· David Faustino, aka Bud Bundy from Married … with Children. He’s all grown up now. But he’s still only about 4’10”. Heck, he appears to be even shorter than Tom Cruise. That’s SHORT!
· Barry Williams, the perennially-desperate former Greg Brady. Now, had it been Marcia or Jan, it would have been OK with me. But this guy? Talk about desperate. He’s so desperate that two years ago, he headlined a non-union tour of “The Sound of Music,” which led to him getting fined $50K by Actor’s Equity, its largest fine ever. He’s so desperate that he fought in Celebrity Boxing, getting pummeled by radio talk-show host/Partridge Family clown/druggie Danny Bonaduce. He’s so desperate that I won’t even make a joke about him, because the stuff he’s actually done is funnier than anything I could make up. (So, instead, I’ll ask whether anyone here knew that the real-life father of Jan Brady (Eve Plumb) was RCA Records producer Neely Plumb, who worked on everything from “The Sound of Music” to Jefferson Airplane?)
· Fabrice Morvan, infamous as one-half of the lip-synching pop duo Milli Vanilli. Poor guy had to return his Grammy when they found out he couldn’t sing. What a travesty. Hey, if you couldn’t fake it, how many couples’ relationships would never have lasted past the first night in bed?
· Vitamin C. Yep, I guess OJ really does show up wherever Kato is. At least there will be SOMETHING healthy and nutritious on this show…. What? What do you mean this isn’t the REAL Vitamin C? It’s some singer? All I can say is that she’s kinda good-looking, but she can’t sing and there is nothing healthy and nutritious about her. She must have some redeeming virtue, but I can’t find it. She shouldn’t be allowed to name herself after a vitamin! Some things are just off-limits. It’d be like me calling myself “Pope John Paul II.” Oh, that’s right, I already tried that when I called the Boston Archdiocese and attempted to fire Cardinal Bernard “Out” Law and his gang of molester priests. Didn’t work for me; shouldn’t work for her. We’ve got to rename her after something that isn’t a vitamin. Anyway, C is for Cookie, as Cookie Monster told me over and over again, so we can’t call her Recruit C, can we? Hmm, let’s see … the real vitamins run down to Vitamin K, so let’s start after that. L. Vitamin L. “C is for Cookie, L is for Lookie.” Naah, we don’t want to look at her any more than we have to. M. Vitamin M. “C is for Cookie, M is for Mookie.” I remember Mookie Wilson. Vitamin C is no Mookie Wilson. Onward. N. Vitamin N. “C is for Cookie, N is for …” Yeah, that fits her. Vitamin N it is. We’re told that she likes to balance things on her head. When standing up or lying down? Or when kneeling?
What a bunch of losers. Do the producers realize that Richard Hatch is better known than most of these clowns? And they call this “Celebrity” Boot Camp? Save the drama for yo’ mama, this puppy is going down the tubes faster than you can give me 20.
Two of the three DIs on this show are ex-Marine DIs returning from the original Boot Camp: Tony Rosenbum and Dave Francisco. Apparently the other two DIs on the first show, McSweeney and Taylor, wanted no part of this fiasco-in-the-making, so the third is another ex-Marine DI, Juanita Moore. Guys and gal, you’ve got your work cut out for you.
Part Two: “We Won’t Let You Fail, but King Klueless Kan’t Kope”
We start out with the “celebrities” having a party. Considering how low on the “D” list most of these people are, it’s probably the first party that most of them have been invited to in months. However, just like at most Hollywood parties, the champagne and dumb comments flow like ---- through a goose. Faustino wants another drink. Well, generations of recruits have arrived at boot camp loaded … and found out the hard way that this was a bad idea. Coolio wants to know where the buffalo wings are. This guy looks like his idea of a buffalo wing is a chicken wing that was once in the same room with a chili pepper. The whole crew drinks a toast to “kicking the camp’s ass.” The two hundred people in America watching this show collectively scratch their heads in amazement. Apparently a minor amount of fame wasn’t the only prerequisite – equally important was a complete lack of sense. Don’t these cretins have any idea where they’re going? NOBODY “kicks” boot camp’s ass – as they will learn all too soon for their egos.
As the party ends (apparently about 1 AM), the celebs board a bus for a ride to an unknown destination. Since we know that Boot Camp 1 was shot at Camp Pendleton, which is a little over two hours south of L.A., we know that’s where they’re headed. They, however, seem to have no idea. Ziering fixes her make-up, but apparently her buxom buddy Bingham declines, leading Ziering to say that, if Bingham doesn’t fix herself up, maybe the women DIs will think she’s a lesbian and be nicer to her. Hold it. Stop right here. Let’s dissect this comment before we move on. Why would the women DIs be nicer to Bingham if they thought she was a lesbian? There’s only one reason that presents itself. Ziering apparently thinks any woman who would go into the military is a lesbian and would take it easy on another lesbian. No joke. Wow, do we REALLY have to protect this bimbo from al-Queda? Can’t we just give her to Osama as another concubine? Having to put up with her would probably be more toxic than two months of missile strikes.
I’m sure all of the women risking their lives for their country appreciate Ms. Ziering’s characterization of their patriotism and femininity. Of course, Ms. Ziering seems to believe that any REAL woman would be out golddigging with octogenarian multimillionaires, hoping to pick up a few mil of “pin money” before sugar daddy kicks the bucket. Hey, it’s degrading, but you only have to fake it a couple of times a week (unless he gets his Viagra prescription refilled more often)… and marriage is just a minor inconvenience. Let’s just call Ms. Ziering “Recruit Zero” from now on, to reflect her zero IQ and zero morals.
The bus arrives at Camp Pendleton at 3:30 AM, and the celebrities are in for a shock, because DI Rosenbum starts right in on them, with DI Francisco in close support. I’m told that DIs always start out rough, because you can always make things easier, but you might lose the recruits if you try to make things harder. If this theory is true, then Rosenbum has gotten off to a flying start, because he’s reduced most of these media whores to quivering blobs of protoplasm. They probably haven’t cried so much since their agents told them that this was the best gig they could get right now.
After a couple hours of screaming, the celebs are ready to be “processed.” First comes the traditional head-shaving – but, as noted above, the celebs are not required to have their heads shaved. All they have to do is sit in the barber chair, claim they need their hair for work (ha, like any of these clowns have any “work” coming up in less time than it would take their hair to grow back), and take abuse from the DIs before being dismissed from the chair. The only one who allows his head to be shaved is Faustino. Coolio allows his mustache to be shaved. I’m hoping that the prices have been shaved down at the corner liquor store, because I’m gonna need some more fortification to make it through this unless the pace picks up.
Next comes the unpacking … well, really, it’s a form of hazing/humiliation. However, no one is required to thaw a frozen hot dog by sticking it in … ahh, you know. Instead, the DIs go through everyone’s luggage while harassing them about their packing, their lives, etc.
Bingham is required to put on a pair of hot pink go-go dancer boots that she brought along. Amazing – Bingham actually believed that she needed to bring boots to boot camp! How she failed to get the lead role in Clueless, I’ll never know. Since Vitamin N can’t display her #1 talent on any network other than Sin-emax, she is required to balance her makeup bag on her head instead. Surprisingly, she does it very well. Barry Williams says that he wants to develop “good posture” in the camp and calls one of the DIs “Ma’am” – except it’s not Moore, it’s Francisco. Nothing like impressing the DIs with your seriousness. As a result, they demand that he sing lyrics from his CD, which the DIs dub the “Real Stinkin’ Greg Brady” CD. But he claims he can’t sing. Hey, then why’d you record a CD of singing? Anyway, he ends up reciting the lyrics, while the DIs and the viewers look pained.
Tiffany is asked to sing her hit; she starts with the chorus (“I think we’re alone now/there doesn’t seem to be anyone around”) – and the DIs interrupt at once, demanding that she start from the beginning (“‘Children behave’/that’s what they say when we’re together”) and screech her way through the whole thing. Yep, I always believed that DIs acted the way they do not because they are sadists and like to torture others, but because they’re masochists and like to be tortured themselves. Either that, or they’ve got really strong stomachs, because listening to Tiffany’s whining is enough to make normal people toss their cookies. Then they ask Morvan to lip sync Tiffany’s song, but he can’t because he doesn’t know the words. Never stopped him in Milli Vanilli, so I don’t know why it stopped him now.
Coolio is asked to rap; after he starts, he’s asked to rap about boot camp … and he draws a complete blank. He's a real unscripted rapper, all right. Sure he is. Coolio whines about how much he wants to leave. Yeah, being revealed on national TV as talentless usually makes someone feel like a loser.
Speaking of losers, Recruit Zero has to pretend to use her cellphone. I guess Hef told the producers how good she was at faking it.
Now the recruits get their utility uniforms and have to put them on. Vitamin N gets it wrong and starts crying when she gets bawled out. Francisco demands to know what she’s afraid of. “Failing, sir.” Francisco replies, “We won’t let you fail.” Great line. But it doesn’t impress N, who says it feels like she's been in boot camp for 10 years instead of 3 hours. Clearly, N and Coolio are going to fight it out for the Tim Couch Award, given to the person with the most inappropriate reaction to criticism.
On the March
Time to fly and then march to barracks. Vitamin N whines about how much she hates to fly, but Francisco intimidates her onto the plane. As they march, Bingham can’t get on the correct foot. Williams tries to lead a cadence, but he’s so lame that everyone ignores him. Coolio compares boot camp to jail. Really? In jail, the inmates are afraid of each other and focus on “doing their own time”; in boot camp, you suffer together – if your squad screws up, everyone loses out. Boot camp is about teamwork; jail is about solitude. Oh, and there is one other difference, just one teensy syllable: people who go to boot camp learn how to succeed; people who go to jail learn how to suck. Yeah, Coolio, they’re a lot alike.
At the barracks, the recruits get divided into two teams, Alpha (Bingham, Coolio, Kaelin, N and Williams) and Beta (Faustino, Lamas, Morvan, Tiffany and Zero). The first alphabetically on each team (Bingham, Faustino) is named team leader. Then they do a strength test, beginning with pull-ups (Coolio leads with 10), running (Faustino wins, albeit not very fast), and crunches. They learn how to make their beds ... and the rest of the camp rules, including the one-minute bathroom time. Kato says that he can’t possibly go to the bathroom in one minute because the buttons on his pants take 15 minutes to undo. Right, Kato, they make these clothes for people of average (or even slightly below average) intelligence, so it makes sense that they’d be too complicated for you. The recruits get some food and crawl into bed at 11, while Coolio whines about having “booty face” because of his big lips (which is why he wears the mustache that was just shaved off). Geez, he’s not only talentless, but he’s also gross. What a great combo.
After a loooooooong day for these softies, they need a nice long nap. They don’t get it. At 5 AM, the DIs get to play human alarm clock and wake ‘em all up. Zero whines. Faustino whines. Coolio whines. Tiffany whines. See the celebs whine. Whine, celebs, whine. Whine, whine, whine. Best of all, nobody cares.
Breakfast … and after breakfast, Coolio is caught with a muffin in his pocket. Hey, Coolio, wanna sleep with a few rats? … because that’s what you’d have in barracks if you took that muffin back and got crumbs all over … well, actually, Coolio seems like the kind of guy who hangs out with rats on a regular basis, so this might not bother him. Anyway, the DIs have a different punishment in mind and make him do 20 push-ups with the muffin under his nose, so that he gets a faceful each repetition. Coolio whines. He’d whine even more if the DIs did what they’d REALLY do – punish his entire squad for his misbehavior, thus ticking his squad off at him for the next day or two. But Coolio doesn’t think he got any breaks. Waaaah. Looks like Coolio has taken oven the whining lead from Vitamin N.
Now it’s time to get ready for the first mission. Some teammates have to pretend to be dead. Oooh, that’s easy: Kaelin, N, Zero and Williams are already brain dead. But that’s not good enough. They have to pretend to be body dead, so one of the others can carry them off. Tiffany carries Williams, just the way that Marsha and Jan had to carry him in The Brady Bunch. Bingham carries Faustino and wants to get naked. No, not so they can do it, but so she can see how her butt is shaping up from the exercise. Like one day would make a difference.
Coolio wants to run off with DI Moore. She's probably the first woman he's ever met who hasn't done time. But he needs to ask himself this question: why would she want anything to do with me? I know introspection comes hard to some people, but constant whining doesn't generally make you seem like a desirable partner, Coolio.
EPIC and the Reward
Finally, it’s time for mission one, which is given the code acronym EPIC, either for “Extract Pilots, Indemnify Cargo” or for “Endure Phonies, Imbeciles and Crazies.” The teams are required to find and retrieve two pilots and a missile. They have to get to the first checkpoint, where they will receive intelligence about their mission objectives – then bring the downed pilots and a missile back in 25 minutes. If they complete it, they get a one-minute phone call as a reward. Classic boot camp stuff, right down to the one-minute call.
Everyone will work as one platoon. Hey, then why did they subdivide in the first place?
Well, perhaps they did it for this reason: Alpha gets the intelligence first and takes off without waiting for Bravo. Faustino, the leader of Bravo, says that it immediately became a competition when Alpha did that. Coolio whines about Bingham as a leader, saying that the only place she could lead the squad is to the beauty parlor. No, she probably knows the way to the gym, too – you can’t have a body like hers from just diet. Meanwhile, in Bravo, Lamas immediately starts acting as leader, even though he isn’t. Faustino, knowing that the surest way to fail in the mission is to cause dissent, wisely doesn't raise a stink.
The squads meet at the crash site and trash talk, which doesn't help their cause much. At the site, they find two pilots and a box. They have to find a code to figure out how to connect the wires to open the box; the intel says one part of the code is on a pilot and the other part is marked with an X. Coolio finds the code on the pilot. Who said that Coolio couldn't find his ass with both hands?
Several of them find the other code. Bingham and self-appointed leader Lamas then attach the wires ... and the box blows open, revealing a 10-ft, 500-lb missile on wheels. Coolio argues for putting a pilot on the missile and wheeling him back. Bingham and Lamas get ticked at him and decide to carry the pilots. Coolio gets ticked at Lamas. Ticked, ticked, ticked. What fun, watching these guys bicker. Uh, Mark Burnett knows that we'd rather see naked bodies than bickering, guys -- oops, maybe he'd sue you again if you started doing swimsuit boot camp?
Nevertheless, the recruit do it! They return with the pilots and the missile with just 42 seconds remaining in their 25 minutes, but that's within the time limit. Amazing that they made it, since Zero does absolutely nothing. She does so little that she reminds me of Randy Moss, the Minnesota Vikings wide receiver who brags about not trying sometimes. Heck, she and Randy Moss might be a good pair. Of course, I'm not sure if he has enough money for her tastes -- he's only making $5 mil per year.
The celebration ends, because it's time for debriefing. The DIs immediately point out the squad’s #1 mistake: not putting a pilot on the missile to wheel back. Surprise, Coolio was right! This helps him overcome some of the bad vibes from his whining, and he’s starting to get into it.
Lamas and Coolio snipe at each other some more in confessionals. Snipe, snipe, snipe. Hey, take it to the gossip columns, guys. Bingham chews out Coolio for having been out of line (even though he was right), and Coolio promises to do his part for the squad. In another confessional (what is this, the Coolio Show?), Coolio says that Bingham would be OK if she wasn’t clueless. Hey, didn’t I already say that? Write your own material, Coolio.
Everyone gets to make their phone calls. Now, with real people, this is a BIG event. After getting your hump busted for a couple of days, you’ve earned a reward! But a one-minute call doesn’t seem like much of a reward to these telephone addicts. Tiffany doesn’t want to call her son because, she says, he wouldn’t understand that she only had a minute to talk. Tiffany, he’s not five any longer, he’s NINE years old. I think he’d understand. Instead, Tiffy calls her mommy, the woman who booked her into all those shopping malls, to tell her that she finally did something in her life different than your average mall rat.
Zero calls her … voice mail! Yep, she doesn’t feel any sense of accomplishment; she just wants to plan her weekend bed-hopping.
In the show’s true classic moment, though, Kato wants to call his daughter. But he doesn’t know her area code, and calls … a complete stranger’s answering machine. Does he redial? NO. Instead, he leaves a message on this complete stranger’s machine: “Hi, you don’t know me because I thought I dialed my daughter’s phone number. I’m having a really tough time in boot camp, but it’s starting to get better….” Oh, Kato, Kato, Kato. NOW I truly understand why O.J. was acquitted, if YOU were giving key evidence. Johnny Cochran had to be licking his lips in anticipation when you got on the stand. Sorry, Bingham, but the “clueless” title has been retired. Kato is King Klueless. DI Rosenbum asks Kato why he didn’t just hang up and try again. But, knowing Kato, is there any guarantee that two tries would have been enough? Or three?
The First Dismissal
Next day – and it’s already Day 4, if we count the night of partying as Day 1, which the producers do. Time to elect new squad leaders. Bravo chooses Lamas. Alpha chooses … Bingham? Uh, does the word “new” not mean anything to you celebrity twerps? DI Moore orders them to pick someone new. Bingham argues that she’s the best choice. They finally pick Williams. Bingham cries. Traci, repeat after me: there’s ... no ... crying ... in ... boot ... camp.
Five mile walk in step. Suddenly, at around 11 AM, the DIs stop the march and say that two recruits will be dismissed on the spot. Guess who? First out is Vitamin N, who tried hard but just couldn’t keep up physically. Unfortunately for her, sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll is not a recipe for boot camp success. The DIs ask Bingham who she thinks will be the second choice, because it’s obviously going to be her Playboy-centerfold buddy Recruit Zero, who put out zero effort in camp to go with her zero IQ and zero morals. Bingham refuses to answer – I don’t know if the code of the bimbo means never speak ill of another member of the sorority – and the DIs let her off the hook, dismissing Zero without her help. Probably the happiest day of Zero’s life; now she can pick up the rest of her messages!
Time for mission two, code-named VIRUS (Vital Information Recall Under Stress … or maybe just a description of where these celebs fit into the body of boot camp). This is a competition between squads. The squads will be blindfolded, handcuffed and questioned by enemy troops. Their mission is to pick up info without giving away anything. This is a tough challenge for people as used to gabbing as these celebs are. Under enough duress, virtually everyone breaks (OK, not John McCain, but almost everyone else), so it becomes a question of how much pressure is put on the teams. However, the recruits are told that there will be no torture. Ah, rats. I thought they might play Barry (“I can’t sing”) Williams’ CD.
Winning team gets a hot dinner; losing team has to eat MREs (Meals Rejected by Everyone … OK, it’s really Meals Ready to Eat, but if you’ve ever tasted one, you’d know that I was more correct the first time).
Two hours of blindfolded truck travel through the hills of San Diego County. Then into a steaming-hot tent (96 degrees in the shade). Two more hours pass. The enemy finally shows up to badger them. They only get brief breaks without the blindfolds on. Another hour. Faustino says they’re with the Red Cross. Not hardly; even Red Cross volunteers who work for free are more competent than these clowns. Three more hours ... and then, after eight hours, Bingham breaks. Breaks completely. Tells the enemy about the mission from yesterday. Tells the number of recruits. Tells the names of the DIs. Coolio tries to cover for her, but it’s no use. End of mission.
The squads are brought outside for a quiz about what intelligence they learned. First question: what did the sign on the wall say? Alpha has no clue, but Lamas knows: “Elvis has left the building.” Lamas gets the next two right as well, while Alpha misses both. Ultimately, Bingham proves that her low tolerance to pressure is matched by an equally low recall, and her squad gets 3 out of 10. Bravo, led by Lamas, wins easily with 7 right.
The DIs, naturally, are furious with Bingham for giving up ALL the info, especially the names of the DIs, in this low-pressure setting. In a confessional, Bingham blames Williams for a lack of leadership. Huh? Do you need a leader to tell you "loose lips sink ships," Traci?
Bravo gets dinner. Alpha gets MREs. At least it’s not raining, because MREs in the rain are even worse -- imagine eating wet plastic.
The Second Dismissal
Day 5 … or Day 6 … how difficult to know what day it is when the show is heavily edited. Time for another obstacle course. But we all know a boot is approaching. Will Bingham’s blabbing outweigh her performance as leader? Will Kato survive despite being clueless? Is Morvan even on the show any longer? In confessionals, Tiffany picks Lamas to win, Coolio picks Williams, Kato picks himself (boy, he really is clueless, isn’t he?), Williams picks Faustino and Morvan, and Bingham obsesses about how mad the DIs are at her just because she completely blew the last mission. Morvan expresses surprise that Coolio’s still there. The rest of us are shocked that Morvan’s still there, because we haven’t seen him since the botched lip syncing.
Rosenbum calls the troops together for the final dismissal and wanders among them. He asks King Kato Kaelin the Klueless whether he will stay or go. KKKK says he should stay based on his actions. Right, like the action of telling a wrong number how he's doing at boot camp. Rosenbum asks Coolio the same question. Coolio says that he’s a killer, but he has a serious problem with incompetent people. Is that his new excuse for all the whining? Bingham, same question. She says she’s staying (she hopes). Well, unlike Kato, at least she realizes that she's in trouble here. Rosenbum says to Williams – dismissed! So much for Coolio’s pick. Hey, Barry, did your posture improve?
Now Rosenbum turns to Lamas, who says he’s the best recruit, even better than Faustino. In all honesty, he’s right. He may be a failure as a husband, an actor and a person, but he’d make a good soldier. Next comes Morvan – dismissed! The fascinating thing is that Williams and Morvan are in great shape, which is why a couple of people looked at them as possible winners, but they didn’t try at all. It's not just physical. If it were, Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a real hero, not just a pretend one. Interesting, though that King Klueless is still there – oops, no, he isn’t – dismissed! But he doesn’t get it; when Rosenbum says it’s his time, Kato says that it’s his time to stay! Nothing like leaving just the way you came in, King Klueless – completely lost in the ozone.
Five left. One more will be dismissed right now. Coolio, Faustino and Lamas are locks to stay. So who’s the last one to go: Bingham or Tiffany? Rosenbum asks Coolio who he thinks will go next. Coolio thinks Tiffany. Rosenbum asks Tiffany. She agrees. Uh, Tiffany, you might want to point out that, although you're a singer, you weren’t the songbird in VIRUS -- Bingham was, so maybe you should stick around … but she doesn’t, and Rosenbum indeed dismisses her.
Four left. In confessionals, we see Moore praise Lamas as a leader. Rosenbum says that Bingham’s improvement outweighed her failure in VIRUS and that Faustino is learning a lot from them. Francisco says that Coolio is strong both physically and mentally. So that’s the breakdown. But Tiffany still should have fought to stay.
The final two will be chosen by a challenge, a dead hang on a pull-up bar. Hmm, we already know that Coolio is the best at pull-ups, so he should be the best at this challenge, which virtually guarantees him a spot in the Gauntlet. Who gets the other slot? Lamas, the most skilled? Faustino, the most improved? Or Bingham, the most attractive? Just before 90 seconds are up, Faustino tries to adjust his grip (a sure sign of weakening) and falls. Too bad – even though he’s a pipsqueak, you had to like this kid; he certainly gave the game everything he had, including his hair.
Just three left now. As the clock ticks toward two minutes, Lamas drops like a rock. Frankly, considering that he was the largest of the four finalists, this was probably the worst challenge they could have picked for him. It leads you to believe that the producers wanted him out. Maybe he tried to seduce one of the female production assistants. It's hard to believe that a guy this oversexed could be celebate for a week, but his two most likely targets among the recruits (N and Zero) were long gone. Anyway, we’ll never know. All we know is that he's out.
The final two will be Coolio and “Songbird” Bingham. They’ve been awake for 19 hours and will have to keep going for the next 24 to win. The Gauntlet consists of 8 events, named for the other recruits (in a pale imitation of Survivor’s walk past the tokens of the fallen comrades). The only cute name is “Kaelin’s Code.” Each event counts for one point, as does each vote from each of the fallen. Thus, 16 total points – first to 9 wins.
Event 1: standing in 40-degree water while being sprayed by more cold water. Bingham quits after 98 seconds. This, by the way, is the only result that the participants are given during the Gauntlet. Event 2: moving pipes in a color code, fastest wins. Coolio needs just under 7 minutes, Bingham just over 9. Event 3: crawling through an obstacle course with wires and trenches while under fire. Bingham gets stuck in the trench and needs just under 8 minutes; Coolio does it in about 5.5. So far it’s a clean sweep: Coolio 3, Bingham 0.
Time for a breakfast break, but they just get more MREs. Hint: use the Tabasco sauce. All of it. Event 4: rappel down a tower and remember info written on it, then take a quiz. Coolio gets 3 of 4, Bingham 1 of 4. Event 5 is Kaelin’s Code, but it has nothing to do with remebering telephone numbers: instead, they have to match colored bombs to a grid and spell out the coded message (which is the Marines symbol, in a little patriotic moment). Coolio edges Bingham by just under a minute, 5:09 to 6:01. It’s Bingham’s best performance so far, but she loses again. Event 6: paintball shooting. Bingham is a lousy shot and only hits 3; Coolio hits 10. Coolio 6, Bingham 0. Could we have a repeat of Wolf’s 8-0 sweep of the Gauntlet against Whitlow in Boot Camp 1?
Before Event 7, the last two are sent to clean the barracks but given orders not to sleep. Naturally, Coolio goes right to sleep. Naturally, the DIs show up and awaken him by banging on trashcan lids and everything else they can find … then they harangue him for sleeping. Is he off his game after his snooze?
Event 7: another obstacle course, without gunfire. They run it together. Coolio beats Bingham by 2 minutes. Ah, but this is an IMPROVEMENT game, just like in Boot Camp 1. Coolio improves by 49 seconds; Bingham by 93. Finally, the sweep is over. Event 8: a dead hang, just like in the challenge to determine the finalists. Amazingly, pull-up champ Coolio drops first, at almost 3 minutes. Final score from the Gauntlet: Coolio 6, Bingham 2. Maybe the snooze did Coolio in. Or maybe not.
Coolio needs 3 votes from the 8 other contestants. Note that the other contestants have already had to write their choice in a book, so the producers know who is voting for whom. Who wants to bet that, in true Mark Burnett style, the 8 votes are arranged to hide the final outcome? Do you think Mark Burnett can sue them for stealing that, too?
First voter: Morvan. He’s still surprised that Coolio’s there and votes for Bingham. Next voter: Zero. In confessionals, both finalists think Zero will vote for her buddy Bingham. They’re right. Next voter: Faustino. Each finalist expects to get Faustino’s vote. He says that Coolio was always strong but Bingham has transformed herself and votes for her. Next voter: Lamas. Coolio thinks Lamas is a “man’s man” and won’t vote for a woman. He’s wrong, because Lamas clearly hasn’t forgotten the tension with Coolio in EPIC and votes for Bingham. Four voters, all for Bingham, and it’s now 6-6. Could this be a repeat of Whitlow’s sweep of the votes from the other recruits in Boot Camp 1, giving her the victory even though Wolf hammered her on the Gauntlet?
Next voter: King Kato the Klueless. Again, each finalist expects Kato’s vote. He says that he bonded with Coolio over wanting to leave and votes for him. Coolio 7, Bingham 6. Next: Vitamin N. Bingham thinks she’ll vote for Coolio because she wanted to be the leader; Coolio thinks she’ll vote for Bingham because it’s a “ya-ya sisterhood” thing. Amazing – neither of them think they’ve bonded with N. N says she flipped a coin, so it looks like they’re right. The coin came up … Bingham. 7-7.
Only two votes left. Williams is next. As he drones on, boredom overcomes the tension and even the finalists stifle yawns. No one understands what the heck he's talking about. No wonder he's so desperate, if this is all the better that he can form coherent thoughts. Eventually he votes for Coolio. Who knows why. Coolio leads, 8-7.
It all comes down to Tiffany. Both finalists think she’ll vote for Bingham and create a tie. Note that, to this point, all of the women have voted for Bingham. Tiffany says that she’s proud of Bingham as a female ... but that she thinks Coolio was an incredible leader and pledges her dogtags to him, giving Coolio a 9-7 triumph.
So Coolio reigns as the king of celebrity reality TV, adding a victory in Celebrity Boot Camp to a victory in Celebrity Fear Factor. What’s next, Celebrity Mole? Celebrity Real World? Celebrity Chains of Love?
Coolio gets to make a final speech. In a nice gesture, he invites Bingham up to the podium and credits her for helping him get through the camp. In a stunning gesture, he says that the DIs motivated him more than his own parents and that he owes them more and respects them more than his mother or father. Huh? I guess I don’t know much about Coolio’s life growing up, but that’s one hell of an indictment of his parents. No wonder he became a gangsta rapper. Yeah, I know the drill about boot camp being a defining moment, but this camp lasted one week. Got that? One week.
DI Francisco says that he’s glad he was standing at attention, because he would’ve cried during Coolio’s speech if he weren’t, and he thinks it’s awesome that Coolio respects them so much. The rest of us may be just a touch more cynical about the depth of Coolio’s respect than DI Francisco is.
Then Rosenbum orders everyone who didn’t win off his hill, and Coolio, left alone, talks about how he’ll tell his children (if he finds out about them all) and grandchildren (if he lives long enough) about this adventure.
Unfortunately for Coolio and for Fox, not too many viewers took this adventure with Coolio. The ratings were so abysmal that the show will probably never come back. However, it was a lot of fun as a two-hour special, and the elimination of the voting to dump recruits was a VERY nice touch.
So why did this show fail? I can only think of one reason: no sex. Hey, put Lamas and N … or Zero and any man … on an isolated island and see what happens. (Make sure to send along some birth control, though -- the world doesn't need any more little Lamases, but, depending on the time of the month, the contestants aren't going to be the only ones swimming toward a target.) But in Boot Camp, you can’t even get an at-bat, let alone get to first base. Plus, utility uniforms may be good for basic training, but swimsuits are better for showing off your plastic surgeries.
Fox may have thought that they had the problems in Boot Camp licked. As far as the game play, they do. But, for most of America, this show was as much of a wrong number as King Kato the Klueless's call to his daughter.
Oh well, thanks for joining us for this review of the probable end of the Boot Camp series. As the DIs would probably say, Semper Fi.
No animals were harmed in the writing of this review, except for the hamsters that power my computer.