LAST EDITED ON 03-17-04 AT 10:52 AM (EST)
In the beginning, NBC created Adam. (Actually, if you want to get technical about it, his parents created him. NBC just took all the credit.) And he was created with a receding hairline, large nose, big teeth, and an extremely wide smile which showed those teeth off as often as possible. And it was good.
Why was it good? Because Adam had been chosen to appear on a reality show with the title of Average Joe, and in the central casting department of the cosmos, Adam’s natural role was ‘dump victim.’
You see, NBC had chosen an exceptionally shallow woman named Melana to be the focus of the show. (How shallow? Take a glass bottle out of your fridge. Leave it on the kitchen counter until the first drops of moisture appear on the cap. Measure the height of those drops. You should now have in your possession a measurement approximately six hundred percent greater than the total depth of Melana’s personality. For those of you living in the Southwest, four hundred percent.) She would be presented with a field of men who could not be found on the charts of Classic Greek Male Beauty unless you glanced at the ‘what to do if your chisel repeatedly slips on the marble’ section, and asked to whittle the numbers down using her tool kit of elitism, stupidity, and total lack of concern for human emotion. Eventually, she would be down to one, whom she would ride off into the sunset with, thus blinding the camera to the moment when she pushed her chosen off a cliff.
At least, that was how it was supposed to go. But halfway through the show, the mandatory twist was introduced. What twist could this possibly be? Why, they brought in a group of men who did meet the classic Greek ideals of sculpted male beauty, as long as you ignored the obvious fact of the chisel having slipped in under their eye sockets and sliced into their brain a couple of dozen times each.
And so, Melana was asked to choose between the Cult Of Personality and the Black Eye Club. And everyone knew which one she would eventually pick. It was just a question of who was going to wind up wishing they had a chunk of stone in place of a heart.
But an amazing thing happened. As the Average Joes and Michelangelos went home in equal measure, Adam stayed. We got to learn things about Adam. We found out he had a warm personality, and a few women around the country smiled. We saw his quick sense of humor, and still more females found their hearts warming towards him. And finally, we learned that he was moderately rich, and every gold-digger in the world stamped their feet in unison and said a foul word. For, even as shallow as Melana was, there would still be one thing she would value over looks: money. A man like Adam, willing to give his heart to the first person who returned his careful efforts at romance with a smile? A man with money to lavish upon his beloved, who would never count the cost of adoration until the stock market crashed? And, most importantly, a man who would be glad to hire a personal trainer, massage therapist, plus the classic, near-mandatory tennis pro for her exclusive use, and never, ever allow himself to catch on?
Suddenly, Adam was the greatest prize a dating show could possibly offer a young woman with depth best measured in molecules and a personality that a Barbie doll would look down on. Suddenly, it seemed like Adam had a chance to win, for a given value of ‘win’. And we began to root for him – for that value of ‘root’ which can be defined as ‘maybe he’ll see through her after the first two weeks, break up, and move on to someone better.’
But in the end, Melana, who lacked the intellectual curiosity to attempt even the most basic math, sent Adam back onto the bus from whence he had come, and slithered off into her prospective Eden with the snake, where they were in time presented with a Bi-Polar Granny Smith and a note reading ‘You have nothing in common, so you are banished from the screen.’ And Adam went forth into the land of Nod, also known as Manhattan, to pick up the pieces of his life.
Which is, of course, when the second amazing thing happened.
Because throughout the many weeks of his torment, women had been observing Adam. They had seen he was warm. They had watched him being kind. They had smiled at his sense of humor. And as for his being moderately rich – well, that was certainly noted by a certain class of viewer. And, just as much to the point, they had a full name, a city of residence, and, as it turned out, a publicly listed phone number.
And so, before you could say ‘You’ve got three million new messages’, Adam found himself one of the most desirable bachelors on the East Coast, with women calling his apartment every five seconds, women approaching him on the street, and women tackling him in the supermarket while screaming ‘You want me! ME!’ Adam had, in fact, his free choice of several thousand new lifemate prospects. He had the chance to lead a very active social life until he managed to pare his much larger field down to one. Adam could find true happiness without any reality show producers throwing twists in his face.
So Adam, faced with the sort of joyously open, completely leveled field that romantics of both genders and all orientations can only dream of, listened to his heart.
Unfortunately, what his heart said was ‘Hast thou beheld my servant Job?’
And Adam returned to NBC, let the reality show producers back into his life, set himself up for a twist pummeling, and increased his chances of returning to a life of misery by roughly one hundred percent.
Either Adam was completely overwhelmed by the possibilities available to him and desperately wanted someone else to do the initial sorting work, or he just passed Toni in the all-time DAW ratings.
Will Adam find true happiness? Will the producers throw enough twists into his second chance to make him completely miserable? Is it possible that the great love of his life is waiting on the bus? Or will Melana realize the extent of her mistake and the emptiness of her bank account before shoehorning her way into the field?
Please let that be the ugliest thought I have for the entire episode… Roll opening sequence.
Gee, look at all those things that are going to be happening in upcoming episodes. What are they trying to do, give everything away? Well, I’m not going to cooperate. I’ve only got the first episode. Most of those events will take place in Someone Else’s Summary. For the sake of presenting a coherent, linear summary –
-- okay, I’m just going to wait here quietly until you stop laughing –
-- thank you. A coherent, linear summary, we’re just going to pretend all those little precaps and recaps don’t exist. Moving on…
We’re outside the airplane hanger in Palm Springs, where a timeline bar informs us that 285 days, 11 hours, 44 minutes, and 19 seconds have passed since NBC began running that precap. The producers throw a tumbleweed across the screen to help get the point across, and Adam begins the journey towards the Big Empty Space Of Destiny, this time on foot. ‘The scene of the crime from the first show’, as he confessional-tells us. No, Adam, the place where you were released to enjoy your Declaration-given right to the pursuit of happiness, and we’re still trying to figure out why you chased it back here.
No carpet this time. No blue curtains hanging in the back, no professional TV lighting. Just a big, white empty space, waiting to be filled. In the symbolism department, this either represents the blank page of Adam’s social life waiting to be filled or NBC’s unwillingness to pay for an artificially-dusted red carpet and blue curtain set.
Like many veterans of traumatic experiences – war, hostage crises, being in the same room with Melana – Adam is prone to flashbacks, and being in the hangar triggers a nasty one: his cosmically-ordained dumping.
Adam, walking forward on the red carpet late at night, wearing a white sweater. Adam, walking forward on a dirty white floor in the middle of the day, wearing a black jacket. Adam, waking up in a Pennsylvania bed and breakfast at the same time every morning to do yet another remote shot on that (censored) groundhog, which is still a more attractive prospect than having to face Melana again.
Flashback: she smiles in his face. She opens with the word ‘friendship’, which is the rough equivalent of spitting in his face. And she reaches the word ‘however’, and – wait, didn’t someone else already write this summary?
‘It was one of those rare times when someone says something and you think they’ve said the exact opposite,’ Adam c-ts us. ‘Like in my head, she was saying ‘I love you’ and I’m like ‘Okay!’ So now it’s Mr. Danger and Melana radiating auras of TGIF Kryptonite…
Flashback: The rejection echoing through the hangar. Adam telling Melana she’d made good decisions throughout the show, as a few more points of his IQ slip away. Jason stepping off the plane, Adam stepping onto the bus – I’m sure someone else wrote this summary – and Adam watching them kiss before the bus mercifully pulled out of the hangar. He compares it to losing the World Series and forcing yourself to sit in the dugout and watch the celebration on the field, just so you’ll know what it’s like to come out on top. Actually, it’s more like watching a lightning bolt pass two feet over your head and electrocute the man standing next to you, followed by wasting five minutes shaking his charred corpse while yelling ‘Does it feel like you’re developing any superpowers?’
We then get a few shots of Melana and Jason together on their mini-vacation. (Being hit by lightning was actually the better fate…) Melana, in what I dearly hope is her final c-t of all time, tells us she never wants to kiss anyone other than Jason. Note: anyone wishing to date Melana from this point on must change their name to Jason. Or Ernest, which is spelled just like ‘Jason’ in Melana’s mind. They both have an ‘N’, after all.
Flashback, but this time to something we never saw: a Manhattan bar on the night of AJ1’s finale, with Adam surrounded by five hundred people: members of his family, friends, people who just happened to be in the bar, lawyers who like to hang out around traffic accidents, NBC executives on site to make sure Adam didn’t say the million-dollar word, more lawyers for the event that he did, someone with a mop waiting to clean up the blood…
There’s no sound, so everyone has to go by the visual: Jason coming out first (which has to mean he lost) and a kiss (which has to be a goodbye consolation peck) and still more kissing (which has to be epoxy on their lips) and they’re not coming up for air (which means I’m quickly remembering how traumatizing this was the first time around, and I’m heading for a flashback)…
Adam is rejected. Again. Only this time on the big screen.
We head into a montage of Adam’s next few days. His picture in the New York Post. (Big-Toothed Man Found In Pudding Bar!) His phone ringing off the hook -- will someone please explain to the under-fifteens what a ‘hook’ is? – and Caller ID showing area codes from everywhere. His setting up a website just to get his phone line free. (We are not treated to his learning the meaning of the term ‘bandwidth bill’, but don’t worry: he’s still moderately rich.) Network morning shows. Cable morning shows. Entertainment review programs. Radio. People coming up to greet him on the street. Little kids grabbing onto his arm. Woman grabbing onto his back. Men applying to Extreme Makeover in the hopes of becoming his body double and getting some of his action. Photos with well-wishers in the street. People telling him he should have won – well, we knew there were going to be a few who didn’t have his best interests at heart. And all the penalties that come from having a one-of-a-kind face and living in a city with absolutely no shame about approaching anyone, anywhere, any time. ‘Are you Adam? Really? Can you sign this for me? I’ll hold the paper: you just keep facing the urinal.’
And now, as Rocky theme music plays, Adam heads into – a training montage! Adam jogs! Adam lifts heavy logs! Adam jogs some more! Adam does one-armed pushups! Adam pulls a giant Oscar statue onto the stage with his teeth! After all, as he says, signing on to do another edition of the show is like signing up for a professional boxing match, and as such, he’s got to get in shape. He cannot, however, sign on with the reality show equivalent of Don King. That would be FOX.
He wants to feel like he did on the first show, like he did with Melana. (Okay, so he’s already taken a few blows to the head.) Like he had never dated before, was just about to ask someone out, and all he could see ahead was the possibilities of a life spent with the one he chose. He’d give anything to feel that way again. ‘A chance at real happiness away from the sabotaging pens of reality show scriptwriters’ is just the opening donation. Yes, Adam is a veteran. And like many veterans, he could really use just a little bit of assistance in the ‘returning to peacetime mental stability’ department.
Adam admits he doesn’t know how the process is going to work. But he’s been told the top experts in the field of relationships (shots of several of the original Average Joes appear here for no apparent reason) are sorting through the woman who’d contacted NBC in hopes of meeting him, and he has to trust their judgment. ‘Here we go,’ he says, and leaves the airport hanger for a few episodes as we reach the first commercial break.
That’s right. For the fourth time in four summaries, the first commercial break. And this time, nothing’s really even happened yet that would justify the delay…
We return to find Adam being driven up to his mansion, which looks suspiciously like Melana’s mansion – uh-oh. Wait. That is Melana’s mansion. I hope they fumigated for karma…
‘I feel like it’s my vacation home now,’ Adam c-t admits. ‘It’s a year later and I’m back in my house for a couple of months. King of the castle.’ Absolutely right, but only until you find yourself falling down the stairs, bleeding from a pen wound to the back.
(Side note: I, personally, don’t want Adam. I don’t particularly want the mansion, either. But I would be thrilled with spending a few hours in the land around the mansion grounds. It’s a beautiful setting: the sort of place you could just let your eyes get lost in for days. Just getting to spend time in that kind of natural wonder – that would almost be worth signing up for a reality sh --)
(the sound of extraordinarily cold water pelting forth at full, angry strength from an overpowered showerhead, occasionally overridden by brief yelps of pain)
Adam says he has a little more sense of control, because he knows he’s going to be here the whole time. (Apparently no one’s told him about the part where they bring another lobotomy victim in and offer Adam’s final twelve the chance to swap.) It also gives him the chance to go where no sane man would have gone before him: Melana’s bedroom – and he heads straight for it.
While the karma may not have been fumigated, the scent of shallow seems to have been removed from the room, as Adam enters it without gagging. Or perhaps it’s been overpowered by the smell of sweat, because waiting for him are a set of boxing gloves, which have been autographed with ‘To Adam: Keep punching, Sylvester Stallone.’ (Of course, that’s just the visible message. A quick peel through an ultraviolet filter found the postscript, which read ‘And if you happen to draw any exceptionally tall blondes with a slightly scary demeanor, don’t make the same mistake I did. Run, man! For the love of all that’s holy, RUN!’) Adam is thrilled with the gift, especially since he’s watched Stallone’s movies a hundred times each. (Okay, so he hasn’t taken a few blows to the head. Reaching the century mark on Stop, or my mom will shoot would produce the same effects.)
Adam enjoys the view from the bedroom, I take another cold shower, and our romantic, having settled in, notes that all he’s missing is the girls, and he hopes The One is in the group.
And who’s going to be picking out his group for him, you ask? Why, it’s this man, walking up to the NBC building in Burbank! And he’s – hula-hooping the whole way? He’s – he’s – very familiar…
Why, it’s Dennis Luciani, hula-hooper extraordinaire and founding member of the Cult Of Personality! And he’s made it his mission in life to help Adam in the renewed quest for true love. What could Dennis possibly do for Adam? Well, for starters, he can go through the tapes.
And what tapes are those? Well, once news got out that Adam was on the market, a particularly creative (or well-trained) type of suitor made a videotape and sent it in to NBC for inspection, in hopes that they would be found acceptable and sent a ticket to California as tribute to their moviemaking skills. All Dennis has to do is watch all the tapes, pick a few women, and then he’ll hand them their bus tickets and wish Adam the best.
Now, how many tapes could there possibly be? Well, remember that ‘You have three million new messages’ bit? There aren’t quite that many.
Actually… two hundred and eighty-five days, let’s say he got Christmas off, each video is an average of ten minutes long, he has to take bathroom breaks sometime unless they rig him up with the sort of workspace that NBC doesn’t want to pay for, presumably he’ll want food at some point…
This could take a while.
Dennis feels Melana made a huge mistake (why, why, why isn’t anyone treating Adam like a death row prisoner who got a crucially-timed phone call?) and he’s here to make sure Adam doesn’t make the same error: basing the final decision on looks. His lone criteria for the bus ticket distribution will be personality. The women he sends Adam will be those who make the best impression through words, humor, and creativity in their tapes. (Why the producers feel they have to make this distinction, no idea, but it’s nice to see Dennis getting involved.) We are then shown fragments of tape in which women say they were captivated by Adam at first glance, that they’re not cover models, but feel they’re attractive, and one brilliant moment with someone in a hotel room who’s already reviewed the fire safety codes and exit locations for the building, as the camera flashes back to Adam’s little Smokey The Bear episode.
Dennis slumps over his pile of tapes, paralyzed by the agony of filtering the group down and of spending two hundred and eighty-four days in the same room. But Fire Marshall Billie is definitely in.
It looks like Dennis decided to use some higher math to ease the process, because the next image is of equations dancing across a dry erase board – wait. That’s not Dennis. There’s no hula-hoop. In fact, that sort of looks like –
-- why, it is! The mortal enemy of George Bush Sr., Captain Broccoli, Tareq Kabir himself! Hi, Tareq! Are you here to give Dennis some relief and a chance to manufacture Vitamin D?
Well – no. He isn’t. Tareq feels – and I quote – ‘I’m a man of science, and I believe that love is tainted by humans.’
There is absolutely nothing I can do with that beyond staring in disbelief, so let’s move on to his next statement, fast: ‘We’ve spent so long trying to find matches on our own, and it hasn’t been as successful as it should be.’ That’s why Tareq is going to give Adam a little computer-focused help. He’s gone to a major Internet matchmaking service which will not be named here because they haven’t given me any money to appear in this summary, and their systems are going to check Adam’s compatibility profile against every single woman in their database. (This includes whether or not the prospects like broccoli, so the equations are flawed going in.) The ones with the highest degrees of compatibility will be given their bus tickets and sent to join Dennis’ group. Four million women to sort through, and Tareq hopes to get ‘a handful’ at best. Basically, it’ll be whoever pops up before the bluescreen hits.
And it looks like the first computer-chosen candidate is in Los Angeles, because the camera goes there and finds – the bus? They’re ready? And only a third of the way through the show? That’s much faster than the usual pace – wait. That’s the wrong bus! And there’s someone getting out of it – now who could this be?
Why, it’s Joe Fabiani! And he’s sharing the bus with Jay Greenberg and Craig Campbell! Now what are they doing here? Are they going to drive this new bus over to the airport to pick up the women Dennis and Tareq came up with?
Well – no. They aren’t. They’re going on a road trip to Las Vegas, and they’re going to pick out some women for Adam themselves. And they have one shared criteria. Their women must be hot.
That’s it. Personality and compatibility are not issues. Lack of brains does not matter. They want pretty faces, outstanding bodies, and enough of a functioning brainstem to breathe once in a while. In other words, they’re looking for Melana II: You Will Wake Up Screaming. So that’s why the producers felt they had to make the distinction…
On the other hand, this could work out. A beautiful woman with a sparkling personality, high IQ, and great sense of humor could walk in front of the Flab Three and be chosen before she has a chance to disqualify herself by opening her mouth. Outstanding looks do not automatically close off the possibility of possessing other qualities. But the FTs are heading to the Luxor, where their declared intent is to find Adam a great piece of All-Star Survivor, and when you’re in Vegas, the odds always favor the house…
Our rejected Are you hot? judges walk into the hotel (which has an open casting call advertised in glowing letters) carrying an oversized photo of Adam, which really does wonders for his teeth. Some of the casino occupants screech and applaud upon seeing the image, while others just lean up for a closer look at those pearly whites.
The following exchange takes place in the judging room.
Craig: ‘We’re not looking for personality, we’re looking for girls that are hot.’
Jay: ‘Well, we got cut, and we all know how we felt. And I just feel bad looking these girls up and down and saying ‘You know what, honey? You’re not pretty enough to come on TV.’’
Craig: ‘Yeah, well, life sucks.’
On the other other hand, there’s no way this is going to work out…
They come. They shake. They shimmy. No, not the Flab Three: the Vegas pool of contestants. They cause the judges to forget what they were going to say. They force the cleaning of glasses. They admit to owning bullwhips. If they try to say anything about where they’re from, why they like Adam, and what they believe they can mean to him, they’re generally told to stop talking and do another slow turn for the judges.
Well, now that we know who Melana should have taken home, if only for the ‘punishment of a lifetime’ aspect, let’s get back to Palm Springs. Quickly.
Adam, completely in the dark about the montage of sabotage taking place on both sides of his speech, expresses his wish for love at first sight, I start to root for Dennis like I’ve never rooted for anyone on a reality show before – it’s that or hope lightning strikes with the Flab Three, and Jason’s corpse is still smoking – and Adam explains why he decided to look for love on the show again. Namely:
‘I’m a big believer in density. It was density that brought me to the house full of characters in the first place. It was really sad that Melana and I developed the chemistry that we did. Looking back at it, I think it was incredibly lucky for me that it ended the way that it did. It’s a sense of density. The right girl for me is out there.’
Oh. Okay. That explains everything… wait. My VCR’s trouble light is flashing. This’ll just be a moment. The manual says the soundtrack connection needs tightening, and errors may have occurred in transmission. Nothing major. There, that did it. I’ll just listen to that last part again, just in case…
Oh. Okay. Please substitute the word ‘destiny’ for ‘density’, ‘really sad’, and ‘incredibly lucky’ two paragraphs preceding. (Shellshock. It’s got to be shellshock…)
Commercials, and then it’s finally time for the women to arrive. Adam steps outside to greet the bus and awaits the first opening of the doors, admitting ‘I have no idea what’s going to walk off the bus.’ Here’s a clue, Adam: they’re going to be female. Everything else is up for grabs.
The door opens, and the first person off the bus is –
(sigh) Another prediction blown. They’re never going to let me do the Race…
Adam looks slightly stunned, but says seeing Dennis relaxed him a lot. However, the first bisexual dating show (Playing both sides of the street, November 2004, on FOX!) hasn’t made it to the air yet, as Dennis immediately tells Adam that he was involved in the casting process, and was working from the sent-in tapes. Adam feels much better about his chances with someone like Dennis on his side during the selection, and Luciani’s Choices start to come off the bus. They are:
Brittany Ducker, age 23, a substitute teacher, dark brunette, who feels Melana made a major mistake. Another one who can’t perceive the luckiest escape since Chicken Run. Maybe all those chanted variations on her name in homeroom have permanently affected her judgment.
Stephanie Chan, also 23, a junior account executive in the fashion industry, #2 in the brown run, and wearing one of the nicer dresses of the night. She has a fear of being the last one to get married. On Earth. The rest of the adult world will be married off, children will have been pre-matched by their parents, Tareq’s ideal has come to pass with the pairing up of unborn babies based on their genetic compatibility profiles, and she’ll still be single, with no one available except the Flab Three. Brrr…
Rachel Goetz, age 24, #3 in the brunette streak, who teaches second grade and taught her students most of the rhymes to yell at Brittany. She’s very confident and won’t try to be something she’s not. Since this has completely disqualified her for Survivor, Big Brother, and the future lesbian edition of Playing it straight (June 2004, on FOX!), she’s decided to try for Adam, and once they’re settled in, they can race around the world together.
Jennifer Bolkin, 28 years old, an office manager, and yet another brunette. (At this point, I start to wonder about Adam’s height as compared to the heights of everyone Dennis has picked out to date. So far, he’s spending a lot of time looking down.) She watched every single episode of the first series and fell in love with the show. Not Adam. The show. She’s here to see if she can get the artificial intelligence program which runs the mansion to go out with her. The front door opens smoothly for her arrival, so she may have a chance.
Summer Wesson, 26, a casting coordinator for a Rival Network (or stage show, or commercial producer, or anything that isn’t NBC, since no further identification is given), breaking up the streak of brunettes with her red hair and a special gift for Adam: his own comic book. Ten pages, hand-drawn, detailing all the reasons why Adam should keep her around, the first being that she can, if challenged, explain the plotline of Sluggy Freelance from Strip #1. (By the way, how old is Bun-Bun?)
Heather Caton, 27, a salon manager and the first blonde. She’s not intimidated by the competition in the house and thinks she can get enough time with Adam to make him see that she’s got a lot to offer, and that she’s more than just another pretty face. And since it’s been remarked upon by the contestant, I should say that A. Heather does have pleasant features and B. She’s probably going to take it very badly when the FT’s picks get off the bus.
Jennifer Lifshitz, 23, graduate student and social worker, honey blonde, possessing the most breathless voice getting off the bus, and if anyone runs a gene test on the spot, possessing the greatest sense of outrage while getting back on the bus. And I honestly don’t care. No matter how much she’s attracted to him, Adam should not be going out with his sister. She has his forehead, she has his nose, she definitely has his smile and that proves she’s got his teeth – if this apple isn’t directly off the Mesh family tree, it’s from the same orchard. (But on the bright side, we know exactly what their children are going to look like.) She feels that she and Adam need to be together because everyone around them won’t be able to avoid happiness in their presence. Just being near two people with such huge smiles would be enough to cheer up entire townships. Plus, in the event of a national emergency, they could blind enemy periscopes.
Tracilee Bennardello, 24, executive assistant and bartender – must have worked for Enron – dark auburn, who wants us all to know she can pull out the cat claws if anyone crosses her. And it was looking like such a peaceful household up until now.
Anna Merrill, 25, 8th grade teacher (hmmm), blonde, and wearing a ‘Wrong!’ dress. (The neckline is somewhere around her waist – in fact, it’s literally dangling off the front of the dress – and her torso is basically covered by a couple of moderately wide strips, giving NBC a free pass in the Janet department and giving males nowhere to look that wouldn’t be Wrong! during a normal encounter. Face? No, she very visibly wants you to look at her chest. Chest? Just because the chest is exposed doesn’t mean you’re supposed to look at it, peon. Legs? Why aren’t you looking at her face (or chest)? Eyes up! No, don’t meet her eyes: that makes it look like you’re ignoring the body which she’s so carefully displaying! Backside? Now how on Earth did you get there? And don’t try to tell me you were retreating, coward! Adam is completely safe, though, because she put on the dress specifically for him. However, every last male watching the show is in deep trouble when she catches up with them.) In her past relationships, she hasn’t met someone who’s as accomplished as she is, or who has the same loftiness to their goals. Of course, since she’s an 8th grade teacher and her primary goal is to get through a workday without dying, you have to wonder how her past relationships ended.
Elizabeth Griggs, 23, a law assistant, blonde, and the first person who can come close to looking Adam in the eye. She’s brought the gift of a Michigan (Ann Arbor, Wolverines, Big Yellow M, bring us your tired, your poor, your Frozen Four finals) t-shirt and would like to play some one-on-one basketball with Adam so she can school him. I think we’ve had enough schoolteachers for this group, thank you.
A pause in the parade of contestants so Adam can admit he’s nervous watching all the women getting off the bus, because he can’t wait to see what’s coming next – and what comes next is –
-- okay. That’s a man. I hope Adam can spot this, because what just got off the bus is one X chromosome short of qualifying for this show, and either Dennis needs to upgrade the prescription on his glasses, twist #1 just showed up, or Sylvester Stallone is even now running at full speed for the mansion, screaming ‘Adam! Wait! Don’t make the same mistake I made! Run, Adam, RUN!’
But we’ve been saved – for a given value of ‘saved’ – because it’s not Bridgette Nielsen, and Adam identifies the culprit before he crosses the full distance by hailing the imposter with ‘Hey, Jason’ – and so it is. It’s Jason, the so-called ‘winner’ of the first series, and apparently Melana has officially spoiled him for all other women, or spoiled all other women for him, whichever makes more sense for getting him in drag. Either that or he developed the superpower to turn into a really unconvincing female.
Sadly, Jason has not discovered a new lifestyle (that he’s willing to tell us about at this time). He simply let the producers dress him up as a female so he could infiltrate the bus and find out if the women were interested in Adam for himself, or because he’s moderately rich and famous. As it turns out, the women spotted him immediately (as would anyone with any one out of five working senses) and didn’t let on, so Jason feels that they’re all sincere and passes the good news on to Adam, who seems to be considering the source. Of course, Jason feels distinctly stupid, and he wouldn’t have done this for anyone but Adam or the next cute guy who asks politely, and he’s only doing this because he feels really, really bad about the way the first show ended. So here we finally have the first person to admit Adam made the best escape since Houdini. Or in other words, ‘I took the bullet, partner: your turn to get shot.’ Hmmm. Maybe Melana was just looking for someone to go shopping with…
Back to the actual females with Amy Worth, 22, human resource manager, blonde. She goes after what she wants and Adam is what she wants, so she’s not going to be shy about trying to get him. No wallflower tactics for this one. Playing under the radar does not work on the dating shows. She’s going to be in his face, on his arm, and in front of the camera at every possible moment. In other words, she’s Jon Dalton with curves. Run, Adam, RUN!
Sara Stone, 26, broker’s assistant, and the blonde run is underway (not counting Jason). She feels love is the only thing missing from her life, and she’s not sure she’s ever been in love. This is the sort of situation where you’re really better off starting small, just to make sure you’ve got the hang of things. Say, sea monkeys.
Courtney Butler, 21, events coordinator, brunette, and the first to notice that Adam’s been working out. Her c-t is about Adam being the kind of man she’d meet on the street. In fact, that’s how she wants to meet her future husband: jog through Central Park, trip, and the person who comes to her assistance is the man she winds up marrying. No problem, Courtney. So exactly what are you doing here?
Christine Morrell, 25, culinary instructor, blonde. Her c-t, on the other hand, lets us know that she’s lived with five other women in the past – presumably at the same time – no, wrong, remember, that’s FOX, June 2004 – and they called her the Wicked Witch. And that’s all the producers feel we need to know. She will not win. But she will spend a lot of time debating with Tracilee.
Jennifer Abrams, 24, software development manager, dark blonde. This is Fire Marshall Billie, and that’s all anyone needs to know. There is no possible way she’s going home tonight. None whatsoever. Not even if Fabio sends an express messenger up to the mansion to ask her out by remote.
Elizabeth Wood, 35, attorney and entrepreneur, dark brunette. She comes off the bus more aggressively than any other contestant, telling Adam she’s going to get to know him and won’t be shy about it. Adam’s a little taken aback by the forceful approach, which continues right into c-t: her message to the world is that she wouldn’t have come onto the show if she didn’t feel she wouldn’t win in the end. Elizabeth is probably going home tonight.
Samantha Trenk, 24, fashion sales, dark chestnut. She says everything that’s on her mind and could never, ever be one of those people who actually have to think before they talk. Samantha, you got on the wrong bus. The one for Big Brother was two blocks down.
And now – Tareq gets off the bus. Wearing normal male clothes, thank you (and, for a rare once, the producers) very much. He explains the unnamed-Internet site solution, and tells Adam that the sophisticated computer algorhythm produced two results: Adam’s perfect matches. Adam’s not sure that’s possible and wonders how much broccoli enters into this, but Tareq assures him that if it doesn’t work, he’ll eat the hat which he isn’t wearing. (I’ll take one Stetson to go, please. Extra buckle.) And so we meet:
Rebecca Butler, 28, 3rd grade teacher, raven, and one of Adam’s perfect matches (out of a pool of four million. Not three billion. Four million. That raised the odds a little). She’s very curious to see how the whole thing unfolds and if the computer match works out. Let me think about this. Tareq had a hand in the selection process. No.
Rochelle Hannah Finkelstein, 29, accessory designer, brunette, who just wants a man with a great sense of humor. Someone funny. Someone who can make her laugh. Some who, in the event that she ever has a phobic reaction to going up in a glider, can completely distract her from her fears with a few well-chosen words. Rochelle knows exactly what she’s looking for. It’s Tareq that may be the problem.
Commercials, and it looks like the Flab Three’s women are going to be held back for the twist bus. The initial pool has been filled –so let’s head out to the party!
The women are socializing as they wait for Adam – with the subject naturally being Adam and how each one of them approached him. Fire Marshall Billie thinks Jennifer B. leans a little too close to the stalker side in her pursuit of Adam (or the mansion, whichever comes first). No, you just want to start thinning out the Jennifer pool a little, and frankly, the future summary writers will thank you.
We cut to Adam, who’s heading down the steps. He realizes there’s going to be a race for him as soon as he reaches the bottom (since this show isn’t on FOX, he hasn’t hit bottom yet) and he needs to use the time to gather as much information as he can so he can make informed decisions. To Adam, the hardest cutdowns are going to be the first night and the last night. Adam, we’ve established that you’re very probably staying. After all, the first Jason Storm has been weathered: who can they send that’s worse?
A burst of applause heralds Adam’s arrival among the women, which he responds to with a blush and ‘I’m very glad none of you decided to get back on the bus.’ (Somewhere in the world, three people named Osten, Jenna, and Sue kick themselves, hard, and don’t know why.) He’s clearly overwhelmed by the experience, and he’s not the only one: Sara finds herself lost in the crowd despite her attempts to ‘get up in his grill’ (okay, people, stop picking on the man’s teeth), and Jennifer L. gets off the c-t of the night, reproduced word for word: ‘When I like first saw Adam, I couldn’t breathe! I felt like he was like a cardboard cutout, that talked! Like I didn’t think that he was like a real person!’
…stick around for a while, Lifshitz. The other summary writers are going to need you, at least until the blood tests come back.
Adam announces that he wants to speak to each person one-on-one for at least five minutes, and that, in anticipation of Jennifer L, he’d like to get a, like, drink first.
Jennifer B. is the first woman Adam approaches. She gets bubbly about his qualities, becomes only slightly less bubbly about her own, and then c-ts about how much she wants to get a one-on-one date with him and get to know him even better, because she didn’t get as much time as she really would have liked. Jennifer B. is probably not long for this group, but at least she’ll have some interesting new photos to paste on her wall.
Christine lets Adam know all her friends call her the Gamer, at least whenever they’re not calling her the Wicked Witch. (So she’s a Gamer and she wore a black dress to the party. Great. Another one to talk off the ledge on May 14th.) She doesn’t c-t care if she creates friction in the household, because she’s not here to make girlfriends: she’s here to win Adam. And she seems to have gotten past Stage One, because Adam notes that she’s game for anything, and that makes her a keeper. (Well, anything involving free creation of friction and pursuit of goals without caring about offending others. I don’t know much about her as a person, but I’m betting I can pin her branch.)
Jennifer A. tells Adam she’s always wanted to try the trapeze. And you thought Christine was game for anything… A c-t addition notes that she can be the sweet girl or she can be the Jerri, and she hasn’t decided which one she’s going to be yet. Of course, Jerris don’t exactly have the best track record, unless you count ‘number of people standing in line to run over your face’.
Tracilee responds to a question about how long she packed for with ‘I packed for – ever’, and c-t feels she’s going to be around until the end, no worries. Not sure, Tracilee, but I do know it’s going to take a while and six porters to get you out of the mansion.
Anna and Adam get off to an enamel-based start as Adam, not realizing he’s allowed to look at any area of the Wrong! dress he chooses, tries to get out of the expected problem by complimenting her teeth. The raw power of disbelief carried by this dodge attempt carries both trains of thought directly off the track, leaving Adam with absolutely no idea what to say next beyond a report of the multi-car jump, followed by his best imitation of a cardboard cutout. The kind that doesn’t talk.
Anna feels Adam was having trouble concentrating because he was just overwhelmed. Uh-huh. And that’s exactly what you were thinking when you picked that dress out, isn’t it? <He’s not going to get rid of me on the first night. He’s not going to be able to think about anything long enough to focus on my name…>
Adam takes a c-t moment to recover before saying something which helps the viewers understand why he’s in this position: his other reason for talking to all of the women is because he wants to make sure to try and make all of them feel as special as they’re making him feel. This is a completely unbashable statement and I feel awkward just for having reported it, so let’s move on.
Rebecca tells Adam about being picked by the computer process – no real application, apparently, just ‘Can you clear a few weeks?’ -- and hopes she’s being herself. It’s not being yourself that’s the problem, Rebecca, it’s being connected to Tareq’s matchmaking skills.
Rochelle curiously verifies Adam’s height (6’2”) as Adam notes that the hot tub is sending steam into the air, visible in the camera shot. Rochelle counter-notes that he must be looking forward to getting in the tub with the contestant pool, which makes for a very awkward-looking sentence. Adam’s denial is immediately followed by Elizabeth trying to lure him into the hot tub on the first night. (Y’know, the men moved a lot slower than this.) While Adam did just have his back waxed, he’s not quite ready to jump into the water at this stage of their non-relationship.
Elizabeth talks business for a minute – her entrepreneurial enterprise is ‘corporate concierge’ – and the camera gives her a moment of slo-mo at the end of her statement. Uh-oh.
Ms. Lifshitz comes up for her five minutes, and immediately tries to distinguish herself from the other Jennifers by repeatedly making the sign of an L, coming perilously close to her forehead. (Remember, Adam, she’s the one who was separated from you at birth.) The Lost Mesh feels like a, like, sinking ship with Adam, but she may have been doing better than she realized. Once the L issue is straightened out, Adam notices that his possible sister is a little cold, and warms her up with a close embrace that looks gentle, comforting, and completely creepy at the same time. ‘Yay!’ exclaims Jennifer LittleOverExcited, not disengaging until Adam does, not wanting to let go at all, thrilled about getting the first hug, and wriggling with excitement like a four-year old on a sugar rush. And Jennifer B. is the one whom the others think has stalker potential?
Adam asks Amy what brought her here, which gets a reply of ‘You, actually.’ Adam’s self-confidence issues are still being resolved, as further indicated by his turning to a camera operator after his talk with Brittany to say ‘Did I sound like an idiot this whole time, or did I sound normal?’ Well – both.
The action moves to a very narrow automatic photo booth supplied by another company which hasn’t given me any money to mention their name in this summary for an audience of half-dozens, and everyone squeezes in with Adam for their memorial shots – literally: some of the women are getting squashed in a less-than-pleasant area for squashing. (Framing for Jennifer B. is available in the lobby.) Fire Marshall Billie continues to get off the good lines by asking if these will be the first shots their grandchildren see, while La Lifshitz notes the similarity of their smiles and tells Adam he’s the one. (Shhh! You don’t want him to think about the resemblance this early!)
Adam asks Heather if she’s ever been to New York. (She hasn’t.) Would she like to go some day? (She would.) How about right now? (She never gets to find out, as the producers shoot calming darts into Adam’s neck.)
Samantha glances into the photo booth and asks ‘Is that all we get to do in here? Take a picture?’ Samantha is going nowhere.
Back in c-t, Adam lets us know that he travels months down the road when he sees a girl, and that there were bright lights around some of the ones at the mansion, making for colorful pictures. Adam has been hit by too many darts.
A toast to ‘Not knowing what’s going to happen next’ – other than at least six twists, but that can wait for another episode (think they’ll dress Adam up as his own father?), and commercials.
We return to find ourselves in the elimination room, with all of the women present and looking nervous. No Adam. That’s because he’s up in his room, sitting in front of the fire and burning the last remnants of Melana out of the air while trying to make a decision – or four: the number of contestants going home on the first night. He hates this part. Hates it. After all, as he says, what did these girls do? They packed their bags and flew out to California to be with him, and now he’s going to tell four of them that he doesn’t like them. It stinks. What did they do to deserve this? Easy. Adam, do the letters DAW mean anything to you?
But he decides to be a man and face the proceedings – thus beating out Melana and Larissa both, who had to be talked into it by the producers – and heads down to Endsville, the place where all prospects of romance terminate.
He begins by telling the assembled group that he’s been where they were, and he hated it, he knows how they feel – but he still has to send four of them home. Nothing personal. It’s just business. (Somewhere in the world, a businessman named Donald looks to track down the summary writer and sue for perceived copyright infringement, knowing exactly why.) And then he gets right to it, with the only hesitations being carefully provided by the editing crew. Elimination #1 is –
-- Elizabeth Wood(s, according to Adam’s slip of the tongue). In her exit c-t, she feels she never got any vibes from him, and Adam just may not be looking for a strong, confident woman. That’s quite possible, Elizabeth, but right now, I’m a little more worried that he is looking for his sister.
After a very brief pause in which Adam admits he doesn’t have everyone’s last name down yet, the next elimination is up – too fast for the producers to create more than the most momentary illusionary delay. It’s Sara Stone, who also c-t says there was no instant spark and heads off for the bus.
And now a real pause, as Adam starts to feel sincerely dejected about the whole process. As he said, he’s been there. He wanted to do it like pulling off a bandage: one quick moment of agony and done. The thought of going through the elimination ceremonies from the cutting end almost kept him off the show.
Which means Adam is starting to turn unbashable again. Moving on, quickly…
Rebecca Butler goes next, and Tareq only has to eat half the hat right now, but he’s got to start with the brim. Rebecca’s a little c-t confused about what happened, first saying that there wasn’t the necessary chemistry between them, then saying that there should have been more chemistry because Adam is her perfect match, and then leaving in a huff because if she was told that someone was definitely compatible with her, she would hope to give him a chance. Rebecca, you got onto this show because Tareq picked you. We’re still trying to figure out what’s going through Tareq’s head, other than an image of a giant heart surrounding Dexter’s computer. Be glad you made it as far as the elimination ceremony.
Adam announces ‘The next person was a very big fan of the show’ (lots of tension in the room) ‘and a very big fan of mine’ (shots of almost everybody) ‘but, umm… Jennifer Bolkin.’ She’s the most upset of the first group, because she really thought Adam would choose her and that she’d move to New York. Maybe she came on too strong. Maybe she should have backed down a little. Or maybe she’s going to head home and find out if those picture frames are as flammable as they look. But she still has a chance with the mansion.
‘This is when reality television is real’, Adam c-ts. ‘The knots in my stomach tonight were real.’ Who is he to tell people to go home? What right does he have to play with people’s lives?
‘You have three-point-five million new messages. Eighty-four percent of them contain the word ‘sensitive’.’
He’s not excited about the dates he’s going on with the remaining women, he’s excited about the people he’s going with. He honestly cares about the feelings of those around him. He is looking, really and truly, for the person he can spend his life with.
And you know – looking at Adam right now, frozen on the screen, thinking about all the things he’s said tonight – if going on a reality show would offer the opportunity, even a small one, to meet a person with that kind of personality, to find a prospective soulmate, then maybe it would be worth…
…(sigh) I know I’ve still got cold water left. Peace, over and out.