Hi everyone, long time no see. I’m DarkLotus, filling in for Draco Malfoy who had to cancel at the last minute. So he asked me to fill in, and I figured, what the hell, I haven’t shown up at Blows in a long time. So you’re stuck with me. Deal with it. Right now, I can see question marks forming over all your heads. I love creating confusion.
So we all know the Mark Cuban story. And if you don’t, ABC helpfully recaps it all in a glowing montage, starting from his pre-pubescent days as a nerdy little kid with thick glasses to his college days as a nerdy young man with a semi-mullet and shark teeth. Time hasn’t really changed him much since, except he’s dumped the semi-mullet for a Moe Howard haircut. After living in a house with a bunch of other guys, in what sounds like a Queer Eye meets Real World meets Animal House situation, he decided that he wasn’t gonna get any chicks without any money. So at a party, he meets a guy who gives him one word of advice. Plastics.
Oh, I’m sorry, that was The Graduate, not The Benefactor. My bad.
He got into computers, actually, and started a company called MicroSolutions, which he sold to CompuServe (whatever happened to THEM!) and retired to travel the world with a lot of cash in his pocket. He soon realized, however, that with his striking resemblance to Frankenstein’s monster, he still wasn’t gonna get the chicks. He needed more. He finally started AudioNet, which later became Broadcast.com. God, his resume reads like a “Where are they now” edition of TechTV. He eventually sold THAT to Yahoo.com for $6 BILLION DOLLARS. So yeah, he’s rich. And he did eventually get a girl.
Currently, you might know him as the man who is running the Mavericks like his own personal fantasy hoops team. And to give him credit, he’s a very enthusiastic owner, sitting down with the fans and taunting the refs like any other fan. Except this fan can buy and sell the refs 20 times over. On the down side, he signed Shawn Bradley, the world’s largest Mormon and the only person in Dallas whiter than Cuban himself.
So with the recrap out of the way, let’s get to the point of the show. Cuban wants to give ONE MILLION DOLLARS to the person who he thinks has what it takes to be successful. To do this, he scoured the country far and wide at what appears to be the American Idol auditions, as well as looking at billions of videotapes, to narrow the field down to 16 “lucky” Desperate Attention Whores. 3 of which will not be here by the end of tonight. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Cue Cheesy Intro, where in a tone of supreme overconfidence, he announces “I AM THE BENEFACTOR!”
We kick the real show off with the MONTAGE OF PAIN! Quick MTV-style editing gives me a headache but gives the impression that we’re seeing a LOT of information. We do however, stop down for a scene of Cuban watching Asian porn. Oh, wait, sorry, my bad, it’s just Laurel, who is running around nekkid for her shot at ONE MILLION DOLLARS! Well, she’s obviously willing to do anything to win. Then we see Cuban PERSONALLY calling all the finalists to tell them they’re going to be on the show. Personally, if someone claiming to be Mark Cuban called me, I’d probably laugh and hang up. Anyways, quick shots of several of the contestants, including Mario (no sign of his brother Luigi), Kevin (who claims that he is going to scream and yell like a white woman), Spencer, Chris, and TiffanEy. The E is for ENTHUSIASM. Or something. Cuban reminds them that the game starts the minute they walk in the door. Cue the SLEDGEHAMMER OF PLOT!
We get our establishing shots of Dallas. Hey! I’ve been there! Then we swiftly head to The Mansion, where Cuban is holed up like Ed Harris in The Truman Show, in a room FILLED with TV monitors. I’d kill for that room, only with porn on every screen. He’s going to be watching all the time. Except of course, when he’s sleeping. Or pooping. Or anything that involves him NOT being in the room.
Cuban breaks out the SLEDGEHAMMER OF PLOT to remind us what he’s looking for tonight.
1. You never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression. (Hm. I just noticed that Word superscripted those automatically. OH MY GOD THE DOCUMENTS ARE FORGED!)
2.When you set expectations of yourself, you’d better deliver. In other words, the Asian chick better get nekkid again.
3. How you deal with pressure.
FINALLY. All the exposition is out of the way. Now we can get to the actual substance of the show. Or not.
The contestants arrive, and Cuban watches them on the High Definition Cuban Vision.
TiffanEy (the E is for Early) arrives first. She’s an unemployed former Watermelon queen. Insert your own jokes here. Mario is the 40 something, balding, wants to adopt a kid Mexican guy. He really seems nice, which is going to make it all the sadder when the plug is pulled on him. Grayson, our student/professional poker player arrives next. I fall asleep just listening to her, and she gets the award for worst reality TV name ever. Rich joins the fray. Get a good look at him. He says his wife told him to “Keep his mouth shut and he’d do fine.” CUE SLEDGEHAMMER OF PLOT!!!
Laurel comes in next, fully clothed, sadly. She says she and Cuban are kindred spirits. Um, OK. Spencer, the Fake Harry Connick Jr arrives next and bores me even more.
We now pause the introductions for more PLOT! While conversing with Laurel about what they’re going to have them do, he mentions that “It’ll probably be stupid.” Which Cuban does NOT like. “Did he just call my game stupid?” Yep, he sure did. Don’t worry, he won’t be the only one by the end of the hour.
Kathy arrives next, and Cuban notes, rather loudly that Spencer does not rise to meet her. Or stand up. Kevin, a NANNY from Dallas and confirmed Opraholic arrives next, followed by Shawn the Troll, a 2nd grade teacher who has already been cast as this year’s villain. Accept your award from Johnny Fairplay at the door. Dominic arrives next, and I’m very impressed. Cuban has found the one person in the world with worse hair than him. Cuban naturally loves him for this. Next to appear is William, our token annoying fat guy, followed by Christine, who will never be seen again this episode. Then Lynda, the Ninth Wonder of the World arrives. She’s a football player from Jersey whose accent is GUARANTEED to piss me off by the end of this crap. She’s followed by LaTane, who grabs Grayson’s “Worst Reality TV name Ever” Award from her and promptly claims it as his own. Well played, LaTane. Next up is Femia, a disease interventionist whose name actually sounds like a disease. Finally, thank God, contestant #16 arrives, Chris, and is promptly never heard from again either.
General mingling ensues, with Mario getting refreshments, much to the apparent dismay of Cuban (“Who told him he could do that?”) and Dominic getting political asking about the Iraq war. Finally, having surveyed his subjects long enough, Cuban enters to a round of applause and announces “Welcome to the Benefactor! CHAH!!!!” After hitting them with the SLEDGEHAMMER OF PLOT (brak brak brak minute you walk in brak brak brak first impressions), he announces that the first elimination happens RIGHT NOW!
Dun dun dun!
(Insert Commercials Here)
Cuban immediately enters f*ck with the contestants mode, giving his first impressions of some of the contestants. He calls out Mario first, making him wet himself as Cuban asks, “Who gave you permission to get drinks?” Cuban finally lets him down though, saying it was a risk, and he liked that. Mario passes out from fright. He then calls Dominic on the carpet for talking politics right away, which causes Dominic’s hair to stand even MORE on end than anyone thought possible. But he likes it, and he likes Dominic, so he's not gone.
And now, Rich. “You called my game stupid. Never call my game stupid. You’re outta here.” Rich has to take his bags and go home, the whole time never understanding why he got kicked off already. Because guess what Rich, YOU’RE STUPID. Congratulations, you didn’t even get your 15 minutes.
Mark then announces that it’s time for the one-on-one interviews, and asks for volunteers. Surprisingly, and perhaps out of fear, several hands go up right away. He takes LaTane into his private study as we go to MORE COMMERCIALS! YAY!
I just realized that I spent 2 pages on the first segment and 3 paragraphs on the 2nd. Shows you how much there is to this show once you get past exposition.
We’re back and just in time for the interviews.This is one of the most excruciating parts of the show. So I’ll just give you highlights. LaTane blah blah blah, he stands up to go, only to see Cuban enter mindf*ck mode again. “Did I tell you that you could get up and leave?” LaTane makes a LaStane in his trousers. Then Cuban lets him off. He continues in this mode for a while, as the show becomes a talking head fest. Which is VERY hard to summarize. Dominic and Cuban discuss hair for a while and Cuban gushes over Dominic. I’m sensing a man crush here. Next is Shawn the Troll, who promptly plays the pity card by saying that if she wins the million, she’s going to buy things for the kids in her 2nd grade class. How sweet. She then ruins that sweet image by saying that she’ll do whatever she has to to win. We then get TiffanEy (the E is for Easy) blathering on about her melons and religion or something like that. Spencer is our next victim, and he tells Cuban how much of a risk taker he is, only to turn around and tell him about a risk he DIDN’T take. Good job Spenny. Laurel comes in for her alone time with Cuban, and they discuss her nekkidness as well as her electric guitar playing ability. Cuban tries to get her to play a little air guitar for him, and suddenly our Asian porn star turns all shy and stuff and can’t do it. NO STAIRWAY! DENIED!
Lynda, the Ninth Wonder of the World is next, and promptly trumps Shawn the Troll’s sob story by saying that she’ll buy her mom new legs with the million. Which is only fair, since Lynda probably ripped them off herself in a fit of rage. William comes in for his chit chat, and he tells Cuban that he almost turned him down because he doesn’t need to be given a million, he can get it on his own. Thus proving that he is officially the DUMBEST. PERSON. EVER. Even Bill Gates would take an extra million if he didn’t have to do anything, ok? We wrap it up with Grayson, and my eyes promptly glaze over. I wake up and Cuban is staring at polaroids on his desk, deciding who will be eliminated… NEXT.
Buy buy buy buy sell sell sell
Well, Cuban has made his decision, and he blathers on for several minutes about what it takes to win the game, and what he was looking for in the interviews. God this is hard to summarize, there is just NOTHING HAPPENING. He finally announces that he’s made his choice. Fortunately for everyone, he doesn’t enter mindf*ck mode again. He just cuts to the chase and tells Laurel that she just lost her chance at a million because she didn’t live up to expectations and get nekkid. Or something like that. The point is, she pussed out and is gone. Now for the hard part. Another contestant has to go, but Cuban hasn’t made up his mind. So it’s time to STRETCH OUT THE TENSION!!! Cuban retires to his batcave with his Polaroids. Laurel’s has a hole in it for some reason. We go through his thought process, tease Spencer and Shawn being cut before he decides that it’s between William and Grayson. He returns to the living room, where the contestants are literally on the edge of their seats. He singles out William and Grayson, making them feel even more uncomfortable before telling them that their fate will be decided, not by a purple rock, or a coin toss, or even a viewer poll, but by a riveting game of….
Wait a minute. Let me rewind that. Did he just say…? Yeah, he did. Jenga. WORST. IMMUNITY CHALLENGE. EVER. And because this is the climax of the show, we have to go through more…
We’re back. And I’m sorry. It is physically impossible to make a Jenga game really exciting in print. Or on TV for that matter. William makes a game effort, regaling us with his Mr. Burns impression and dancing around like an idiot in an attempt to throw Grayson off her game, but she’s the Great Stone Face, and will not be moved. We get lots of confessionals during this, in an attempt to STRRRRRRRREEEEEEEEEETCH out the moment. Oddly enough, we get plenty of reaction from William, but NONE from Grayson. Hmmmm. I wonder what that could mean? Grayson finally succumbs to the pressure and topples the tower, but for a moment, viewers across America hope that, even though Grayson lost, William’s sheer annoyance factor will make Cuban drop him instead. No such luck. Billy Boy stays, and the Gray Lady leaves. Our final day ends with everyone getting beer as we go to more…
COMMERCIALS! Jeebus, was there that little to this show?
Apparently there was, because we come back and have about 10 minutes left. But there is nothing else left to do, so instead we get seemingly random confessionals and previews of upcoming winks. Don’t blink or you’ll miss Chris’s second appearance of the show. NEXT WEEK! The contestants play HORSE for a million. Anyone who can make a free throw is automatically signed to the Mavericks for next season. PLUS! The contestant’s fate lies in the hands of 3 2nd graders. Hopefully, the gods have a sense of humor and the 2nd graders will vote out Shawn the Troll. We also get some shots of TiffanEy (the E is for EDGY!) in her watermelon boxers, Mario claiming that as long as he’s on the show he is “good looking by association”. The contestants play hockey in Stars jerseys (which is the closest we’re gonna get to hockey here this year), Femia calls home, they go to Chili’s (is it just me or do all Chili’s look identical?) and more Shawn and Mario. Matt Kennedy Gould appears briefly to say “WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?” and Cuban dresses down his playmate Dominic for allowing the others to take advantage of him. And we end the show… about 3 minutes early?! WTF? That’s it? Well there’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.
I really wanted to like this show. I really did. As much as I kid about Cuban, I do enjoy watching him, if only to see what he’s going to do next. But this? Didn’t do much for me. An hour of talking heads doesn’t make for good television. So I’m out. I gave it an episode, and I won’t be back. Thanks Draco for giving me a shot at doing this one, it’s been a long time. But for now? It’s back to the Lotus Pod.
Out. Rack it.