nudity involved in this show) in the elimination. All the contestants are willing to do whatever it takes to win. Nicole actually promises to eat Heather’s soul to get ahead – finally an interesting challenge since no one has seen any evidence that she has one, WHO will be the last one standing? WHO will get left on the tarmac? WHO is still watching this show?
We cut to London at night as the group drives the streets in a double-decker bus, for I guess no other reason than the kitsch value. The show with the record for highest champagne consumption per capita in the history of reality TV history continues its strong performance. Branson, who really should be more experienced with this kind of thing, almost kills someone with the cork but we are unfortunately disappointed as Sir Richard manages to MISS Steve with the cork. We also get some insight into the Branson lesson of the week which is, quite simply – have fun, be happy. Apparently having fun is the essence of being a Virgin employee, which was a big surprise to me.
As a small upstart Virgin, the idea is to get all the free attention you can without having to expend your own, ummm, resources. Here we get to see all sorts of fairly unflattering shots of Richard doing some pretty wacky stuff that really makes you wonder how this guy became head of a major company without some sort of bet or dare being involved. We DO get to see him in a Jason mask cutting a cardboard cut-out of a person in half, but the camera goes back to the bus to reveal that Michael is still very much alive. Branson explains that their task is to formulate and execute a publicity stunt in the next 36 hours with a high level of panache but also with some substance, a word that receives blank stares from several of our contestants. It’s girls/guys again (hurrah) and it starts..NOW.
We are then treated to about 5 different ways of saying that the team who gets the most publicity wins just in case we were 100% totally clear on the point of a PR stunt, what public relations are or how to listen the first 4 times it was explained. Sean quickly steps into the limelight to promote his own company, Love Sak - which isn’t as dirty as it sounds but much more expensive than the other kind (as a quick aside here, the darn things ARE pretty cook but if you think I’m paying $300 for a bean bag chair you’re nuttier than Branson). His first idea is to have a giant couch bonfire in the park – freeing us from the confines and restrictions of sitting so high up with back support.
The girls on the other hand deftly avoid Sarah’s efforts at self-promotion of her company and 60’s bra burning re-enactments. Instead, they wisely choose to go into the oldest profession. Heck, sex sells and here is supermodel (?!?) Ericacorp right in their laps. No one who actually looks at the posters would know she sounds like a man. Candida stirs up trouble by actually suggesting that Ericacorp (an LLC, all rights reserved, do not reproduce without the written consent of major league baseball) is NOT a company, but no one really cares. Ericacorp is selected as team leader, since if she can’t sell herself she certainly deserves to head to the chopping block. And the women are off and running.
The men decide that they need something with a bigger hook than burning ottomans and head over to the park to get some ideas. Gabe and Steve are simultaneously struck with the epiphany that a soccer (a.k.a. Euro football, but not to be confused with the NFL Europe) match is the way to go – between Jewish and Arabs teams! They could promote the Love Sac and peace in the Middle East all at the same time, because who can really fight wars when you’re stuck in a damm bean bag chair. Steve even thinks that he can get Beckham to come and referee (apparently a ‘football’ player of some note) to come, even thought the man's trips to the bathroom have corporate sponsorships, but since they can’t get any Spice Girls to show up the idea is quickly dropped.
The problem the guys have is very simple – they don’t actually have any PLAYERS and it is very difficult to get any press, celebrities or audience to show up to a game without any people to actually play. Evidently nobody told the men that Saturday is actually the Sabbath and calling Temple Beth El right now is just not a great idea. So, they have a very hard time selling this event to the press and apparently don’t even bother calling them to promote it until they have a celebrity all lined up. That’s OK though cause Steve knows just scads of people – he went to school with Barbara Bush! (we’ll assume that he isn’t talking about the former First Lady) Well, he doesn’t actually know her, but his mom has a friend who has a connection who might be able to get Barbara’s number for him. President Bush’s attendance is assured!
Meanwhile, the girls are at the Internet café
pimping their ho promoting Ericacorp and putting all their logistics in place. While Sarah starts getting weepy about the prospective nuptials of her good friend Ericacorp, Candida actually goes out and finds…a wedding dress – which incredibly the board of Ericacorp does not feel is necessary for pulling this stunt off (can anyone say showmanship?). After all, wouldn’t YOU be opposed to driving a whole hour in a car to get a free wedding dress? A quick jaunt over to Lloyd’s of Walmart and you are all set. While putting their solicitation on the internet, they run across the ad that the guys somehow inadvertently put under the Men Seeking Women category. The women are singularly unimpressed with both the idea and the lengths to which Steve will go to continue his love/hate relationship with Jessica.
Candida, not to be denied, actually convinces this poor wedding shoppe (it’s the law, you have to call them that in London) owner to bring the dresses over herself and finally gets some props from Ericacorp. After trying on a few dresses, Ericacorp begins getting nervous about the next day. Gosh, will she really go through with this fake wedding?!? Afterwards, the women hit the street Las Vegas style to hand our flyers of the “goods” that are available if only they show up at the Love Pagoda tomorrow at 12:30. There are lots of interested guys, but even in England “ye olde commitment” is not something guys are fond of.
Fortunately for the men, the owner of the internet café happens to know a couple of Arab guys who might be free on Sunday and may be interested in a ‘football’ match. So, the requirement for an Arab team is all sewn up. They finally begin to contact the press to pump up the “great event” that they have “planned”. All of Steve’s so-called connections (read as his mom) come up dry, so they have no celebrity to bail out their lame idea; they have no Jews to play on their team; they have no press excited about this half-assed attempt at an event. The time has come for leadership, the time has come for decisive action…but first a quick re-enactment of the picture from the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. Alright, NOW the time has come for action. So after cruising a few bagel stores, the garment district, and any other insulting Jewish stereotype related businesses, the guys find a couple of good Jewish boys who will play along with their stunt and with two Jews, some potential friends of the internet café owner and no committed press or celebrity the guys go to bed confident that “nothing can go wrong.” (alright, I have to step in for another aside here – first of all nothing has gone right for the guys on this task, it is obvious to the entire free world except for these four gents that they are about to get smoked. Secondly, eh – just cue the hubris music).
Morning dawns rainy and miserable and the men begin to get the first inkling that they might not win this task. Their fears are confirmed when no one shows up for their game. No.One. They have exactly one Arab, three Jews and one wet dog. Even President Bush backed out at the last minute. Oh yeah, and there is no press there. But the men do decide to carry on with the event anyway. They came there to have fun dammit and that’s what they are going to do. And it IS fun to watch the guys have to rebuild the goals after every single goal scored. I really wasn’t sure that you could string butterfly nets into a goal, but the guys are able to pull it off. Just for the invention of the collapsible ‘football’ goal the guys deserve an A for effort. Even in ‘football’ happy England, they are spared just a few momentary glances from the people as they pass in disgust. Only three fights break out among the Scotsmen in the park during the whole match, which is an accomplishment as well and we move just one tiny step closer to world peace.
In the meantime, the
pimpswomen are preparing Ericacorp for the grand unveiling but have one small problem themselves. The press is swarming, the bride is beautiful (just let it go, OK?) but they have no groom. All of the thousands of men who told her she was great last night, were nowhere to be seen come morning…just like a man! The women are roaming the park in a pack stopping every man who has made it through puberty, or at least started, to see if they want to take on the Ericacorp challenge. In a sign that the end is NOT actually upon us, men aren’t falling over each other in an effort to marry a complete stranger. Even sweaty joggers and obviously gay men are candidates. As Ericacorp is walking down the aisle to the empty altar, the women finally find ONE willing candidate – and Sarah actually has the gall this late in the game to be coy with the guy and say that MAYBE they’ll pick him. At this point the choices are between him and the corpse that Candida dug up just in case (dang, she seems to be the only one working in this challenge). He agrees just because he has nothing better to do and is hoping for a quick scrog before filling for divorce. She IS a supermodel, right?
The press has shown up in droves but apparently only because they are outraged by the mockery that Ericacorp is “making of marriage” (as if it needs help). Ericacorp actually spews some semi-intelligible carp about marriage being an involving concept that each person has to define for themselves. As one very eloquent reporter opined…riiiight. (but you get an A in blowing smoke up peoples’ arses). The women, flush with the anticipation of victory traipse into the men’s bedrooms while they are sleeping to share their success stories with the sleepy and apathetic men. Aside from being tired, they are less than impressed by the women’s poor sportsmanship and apparent success at pimping our Ericacorp.
The challenge is over and it is time for Sir Richard to offer his frank evaluation on the underperformance of the two teams. But there really is no question in anybody’s mind, right? I mean, the point was to get your company the most press – not to have the best idea. If the girl were being judged against Yassar Arafat coming back from the dead and playing a world peace match against Ariel Sharon with George Bush as the ref then obviously the men would have won hands down, but ideas are worth crap if you can’t do anything with them…and yet the producers are going to try to make us believe that this was anything other than a total annihilation of the men’s team. Branson shares his own personal cintillating insight that the men really had a good idea (hell, *I* had a great idea but someone else marketed the pet rock first), but the women actually had human press show up to their event and even thought the guys edged them out in the canine category..insert dramatic pause here…the women actually won the challenge by virtue of anyone other than the guys team giving a Shiite about the men’s event. The girls are ecstatic that they have I future in pimping while the guys are surprisingly crushed that Sir Richard wasn’t impressed by their vision and hopes of putting together a decent event. So the girls head off and it is left to Sean to decide which player will come to him to the final challenge.
After a short self-serving speech meant more to cover his own rear and kiss Branson’s than to offer us any insight into his “thinking” process, Sean picks Michael because he believes pretty strongly that the whole point is the “adventure” and he wants his good buddy Michael to enjoy the risk, fun and challenge of participating in the final head-to-head. That and he thinks Michael is a total automaton with ZERO leadership skills. Steve shares his opinion in the confessional that Sean is picking the weakest competitor and we are left to wonder how he continues to avoid the radar while being a blatant idiot at the same time.
In yet another incredible insight into what a cool, fun guy Branson is, he had Jeeves bring around Sir Richard’s hot date(s) mobile – which allows him to sit in the middle completely surrounded by his two man-crush pawns. Sean continues to talk Richards ear off while Michael apparently spends most of the ride contemplating daisies and most definitely NOT doing anything to make an impression on Branson. Sean is able to find out that Richard is an awful driver and has flipped either one car three times or had three different flip involved accidents, we’re not entirely clear which, but as evidenced by hi, driving in the middle of a two lane road the whole way we have no problem believing him. Richard wants to “shake up” the boys a little bit before their task and drives the car right into the Thames (all rivers in London are the Thames, if not – don’t correct me cause I really don’t care all that much). It turns out that Richard’s car is good for more than just manage-a-trois and center lane driving – it is also a boat. Meet the Aquatacar! It can go ANYWHERE…as long as it is either a road or river. Once on the river, Richard gives the gents one last chance to impress him and explain themselves before heading off to the challenge. Sean explains that he is much more of a leader than Michael, although he never goes so far as to claim to be a good leader so we have to give him points for honesty. But enough chit-chat, it is time for yet another death-defying stunt that will determine who will stay in the game…unless it’s going over a waterfalls in a barrel in which case, it’s a cruel hoax that violates the entire spirit of the game.
Our challenge today involves the 50 story tall, almost 700 foot tall at 1 Canada Square, the tallest building in England. Now this raises two very interesting questions: One - why is the tallest building in London, biggest one in the vast (formerly) British empire, named after Canada? I mean, did we consider naming the Sears Tower after Samoa or Guam? Two – why is the tallest building in England 50 stories tall? If you ever wondered about how Britian became a second rate power, you might want to start by looking at their questionable building skills and the Fruedian insight that these “small” buildings offers into the English psyche.
Sean and Michael are going to have to rappel down the side of this 700 foot building on a windy day and they will have 90 seconds to come up with one more promotion for the Love Sac. They can only use letters once (apparently the bulk of the budget for the show is sunk into champagne and can only afford to provide the alphabet one time through for each), and they have to use little flags to spell out their message in letter so tiny that it couldn’t POSSIBLY promote anything. It is then pointed out about 15 other times using almost exactly the same words that it is “a long way down”, “700 feet”, “the wind is really picking up” and “they have 90 seconds”. So, in an effort to save time, please just remember this or scroll back up if you need a refresher.
Sean decides to go out of a limb with his slogan, while Michael keeps referring to the dictionary for spelling tips. It’s going to be hard to put together the slogan, do the rappel and hang those flags – especially at (see above). Richard completes his rappel first, which looks curiously like sliding down a rope to me and tells us how hard this is going to be for the guys while (see above). Then it is the guys turn and they begin down the rope with letters in tow. Both Sean and Michael seem to be struggling with getting the letters to stay and as the clock runs down letters rain down on both men like insults on Recruit Yaney (remember balloon boy?).
OK – it’s late, I’m hammered and exhausted and no one is going to read this dam thing anyway. Sean wins the head to head because…well because Richard likes him more. Both gents are able to complete the rappel down the "tallest building in England" (snort!) and althought they fail to spell out their last chance to get Branson’s attention, it nevertheless becomes the main elimination criteria. is apparently infinitely more appealing than Michael’s lame attempt at being a hipster and bad grammatician at the same time offering the observation that you should “Buy D Love Sac.”
Branson sends Michael home, Sean gets to stay in the game and I get to go to sleep. It is now cq’s turn. I’ll probably come back and edit the final portion…but maybe not (I did it – ha!). I’m thinking Vols, cq and Swami already watched the dang show – but here is the summary. I hope you enjoy most of it (until I ran out of steam) and I’m betting that cg, who is now in deck, does a superb job.
Take it away cq. Enjoy!