LAST EDITED ON 11-24-04 AT 08:39 PM (EST)Lions and Tigers and Bears!
I know how to be a billionaire. You have to drink lots of champagne. I swear, every episode of this show begins and ends with a bottle of bubbly. So here we are in a Virgin Airlines Jet, holding glasses full of tiny bubbles and waiting for Sir Richard Branson to tell us where to go.
“We’re going to the most beautiful game reserve in the world!” Branson says, “It's called Ulusaba, and I own the whole thing!”
“The animals all run free,” Gabe reports, “and the people ride around in open cars. It’s kinda like Jurassic Park.” I think ’Hooray!! Maybe that nasty lawyer Nichole will get eaten while she’s in the can!’ I turn the TV volume up and lean close as the Virgin jet zooms down to South Africa and Branson’s very own hilltop resort, Ulusaba.
Ulusaba’s mission, according to Branson, is to increase the amount of wild game in Africa and work to improve the local community. The GLCs (Good Looking Contestants) will soon be competing to win Branson’s favor—but first we have a special treat. Branson is taking 2 GLCs to meet Nelson Mandela. The actual, real, Nobel Peace Prize winning, international legend and former President of South Africa—Nelson Mandela! Why he is whoring himself by appearing on this show I have no idea, but I suspect large amounts of money are involved.
Anyway, Jermaine is all thrilled to meet one of his heroes. Sara gives Branson a big hug for selecting her to be the other lucky duck who got to meet Mandela.
The next morning, Sir Richard dumps the dummies in Dumfries, a poor village just outside of Ulusaba. The town people need help desperately and Sir Rich divides his dummies, I mean his GLCs, (oh heck let’s call them dummies because I like that better) into two teams. Each team has to come up with an innovative plan to help the village. Branson says that Virgin United will donate $20,000 to implement the winning plan.
Then he does that same old, lame old thing of dividing them into a boy team and a girl team. Does this guy have no imagination? I am sick of the whole boy-team vs. girl-team thing!
The boys pick Michael to be their leader. The guys all high-five each other, then start talking to the Town Elders to try and figure out a strategy. They learn the town needs water access badly. They run around hauling little carts of water, and pulling water from a primitive well as they try to find an angle.
The girls let Heather volunteer to lead them. Heather writes stuff down as the girls all spit out a bunch of random ideas. They decide the village needs water, yes, but also jobs and income from “the greater world”.
Then because they’ve had a hard morning thinking and stuff, the boys and girls all head back to Ulusaba for lunch and the most useless segment on a possible flirtation ever shown in Reality TV History. Steve has a crush on Jessica. Maybe. Probably. Who knows? Who cares? I mean—if they “do it,” then show us the tapes in night-vision and slo-mo. Otherwise forget it!
Sir Richard tells the two teams they can either stay at the Lodge to work on their presentations or they can return to the village and work on them there. The boys all elect to return to Dumfries. Heather says that the girls will stay at the Lodge where they can access the internet and take hot showers. So shortly after the boys head back three of the girls—Erica, Candida and Nichole—take off after them, evidently without even asking for permission from mother Heather! It looks like the Hong Kong fiasco all over again.
Back at Dumfries, they eat some traditional foods then have a party. It turns out that a village woman has just completed her Herbalist training and is being inducted as a Witch Doctor. I bristle at the anachronistic and paternalistic term “Witch Doctor”, but I guess a Dancing Witch Doctor is a better ratings spectacle than a Dancing Herbalist. The party lasts until about 3 a.m., leaving very little time for actual plan implementation stuff.
The next morning, all the dummies gather for breakfast at Ulusaba. At some point it appears that all the women leave with Heather to go work on their presentation. As soon as they are out the door the guys begin mocking them like a bunch of Junior High Jerk-offs. “They’re so disorganized” “They’re feuding” “They just can’t get along.” “They’ve formed cliques based on hair color!" "The blondes vs. the brunettes!” And on and on they guys rant, never noticing that little ol’ Nichole has never left the room!
Nichole is sitting on the floor, kind of behind a sofa, writing when the bitch session begins. As the boys rant on and on she holds up little hand scrawled signs for the camera. "I really love how the boys don’t even know I’m here " and "Steve is lame". It’s a really funny segment! Eventually Jermaine spots her and the guys’ gig is up. Nichole stretches to her full height, saunters over and leans on the table. “FYI,” she says, “We are going to win because we care.” (Or something like that—I can’t exactly remember. Her facial expression however? Definitely said ‘fvck you.’)
Nikki reports the boys’ bitch session to the other women and they all resolve to really kick ass in their presentation.
After breakfast it’s off to Dumfries, where each team must present their plan to Branson and the assembled Village Elders. Branson is dressed in English Overlord Casual Khakis. The Village Elders are dressed in their best—the Chief is wearing a suit and tie, the only female Elder has on a suit and a bright red pillbox hat.
The boys go first. They have made a model of the village using marshmallows and pretzel sticks, with an empty take-out carton for a water tower. I know it is a water tower because somebody wrote H2O on the side. Anyway, the Village Elders are underwhelmed with the glory of the dumb Dumfries model. As if that wasn’t bad enough the guys then take turns trying to bore them to death with a jargon-laden, strategic planning clusterfvck of a presentation. The village Chief actually falls asleep. That can’t be good!
The girls keep their own presentation short and targeted. They make good eye contact and everyone seems interested. They plan to purchase a generator and pipe water from the distant well into the village. Good laying hens, along with chicken coops will be given as a source of food and income. It’s a short, sweet plan—and of course Branson declares the Girl’s Team to be the winner of the Dummies Contest. I mean Dumfries Contest.
Now Branson has to decide which one of the failing team to toss. As in previous episodes he does this by allowing the losing team captain to chose one of his team mates for a head-to-head challenge. (You know, just between you and me, I’m getting sick of this format. It seems pretty darn unfair. Why can’t the entire losing team compete as individuals? Also, in the Real World, a team leader would pick two scapegoats to duke it out while he, the Leader, got off scott free. I don’t get it, business-wise, but then I’m not a smart billionaire either.)
So, yada yada yada—Michael picks Jermaine. Their challenge is to stay awake all night. Actually, it’s to stay awake all night after being dumped in the middle of the bush without so much as a penknife to defend yourself with. It’s just them, a small campfire, and unknown Beasties in the Night. Thoughtfully, Branson gives them each a walkie-talkie so they can hear the other scream. Also? He gives them each a mini-video camera and a spotlight, with instructions to film their thoughts every hour as he, Sir Richard Branson, will be reviewing those thoughts as part of his decision process in deciding who gets the boot. Yeah, I know. It doesn’t make much sense, but I’m just reporting here. This baby was someone else’s dumb idea!
So we spend the next 10 minutes watching Michael and Jermaine in gritty, green night-vision while the TV editor splices in footage of gritty, green Elephant Herds! Wildebeast! Lions! Cheetah! Dingo dogs! Blood-thirsty Baboons! I swear, every animal species ever seen on Animal Planet runs by those campsites and bellows/moans/growls. And still? It’s a boring segment.
Michael talks to his camera. He waves a picture of Jesus and talks about his father’s funeral. He cries. I feel uninvolved. I’m trying here—but nothing.
Jermaine talks to his camera. He looks royally spooked every time we hear a (recorded) lion cough in the background. He says his family loves him and that he has no master plan to win the show. Then he falls asleep. The one thing he wasn’t supposed to do, he does. Snoozeville for a full hour.
The next day, Sir Richard rounds everybody up for the long drive to Ulusaba’s airstrip. Yes, boys and girls—it’s elimination time. Who will Richard chose? The pathetic, blubbering Michael or the well-rested Jermaine?
As they drive up to the little jet plane I spot two familiar faces standing on the tarmac. It’s Thing One and Thing Two!!! Oh, joy! I was afraid they had been left in London—but here they are, hair blowing in the wind, wearing casual sleeveless Virgin Red tshirts and blue jeans. I love me some Thing One and Thing Two fantasy time!
Richard, of course, picks Michael. “Sorry Jermaine” he says, but you fell asleep in the bush when I told you to stay awake. So ta-ta and sayonara, loser. Then he hops on the plane with the rest of the gang, including Thing One and Thing Two and they soar off into the Wild Blue.
“Next week,” Sir Richard says, “London!” He pops a bottle of champagne. We’re gonna party like it’s 1999! And somebody (or more than one somebody) gets naked and dances naked at a rock concert.
PagongRatEater? You lucky dog!!!