The Reality TV Guru

Romance goes underground in the Venado Caves

This episode begins with the outcome of last week’s partner choices. There is some fallout from guys’ tongues loosened by a beer or two too many with talk about wishing they had different partners. Later that night, Steele and Erica dilly dally in bed as she piles the pillows on him and then… uh oh! (Infrared spy camera recording…) Smoochy coo and cuddles! Whether more happened than that is left to our imagination. The next morning Ben brings breakfast in bed to Brandee, who seems to appreciate his simple kindness, although she makes fun of him.

The first challenge is to race for some roped ladders hung up on tree branches, one for each team. After getting the ladders, they look for a map to the next challenge. Miles and Heather are literally hung up with trying to untie their ladder off the tree as some of the other teams race ahead of them. We’re introduced to the teams, starting from the leaders and in order down the pack. The map leads to another location with a map into a cave, where the ladder is needed. The cave looks like fairly easy trekking at first, but then the passageways get narrow and lower with a stream running along the underground path. Derek & Jessica D. are the first to make their way into the cave and find an idol-like object before climbing out on the ladder near a waterfall that goes into the cave. Steele and Erika are the last to complete the task.

Exiting the cave, teams mount horses to their next destination, but only one horse per team, one leading with a halter and one riding. The ride is not too difficult, although it crosses some streams. Nonetheless, Jason and Jessica S. lose their horse as she dismounts and he loses grip of the halter while they have trouble guiding the horse to the edge of the stream over a rough spot with a lot of boulders. It looks like the horse has more sense than they do! They finally round up the horse further down the path and neither are too happy. Jason says it’s not working out and Jessica looks exasperated, not a good sign for this couple. Count on these two to decide to split up. Meanwhile, Derek and Jessica D are the first to check in and there’s a car waiting for them outside. Woot!

That evening, Mike & Samantha ask themselves why didn’t they get first place. Hmmm… funny how people ask themselves rhetorical questions like that. Uh oh, again, Jason and Jessica S. don’t eat dinner together. He joins another couple while allowing Jessica S. to eat alone at a table. Shame on you, dude! You may not get along, but that’s no way to treat a lady! Meanwhile Derek and Jess enjoy a bath together — ummm, with swimsuits on, so don’t get any ideas! But then… they towel up and off goes her towel! He gives her a nice naked back massage, some clothing goes flying to the door and we’re in for another infrared shot, this time of a little lovey-dovey under the covers. Woot, woot!

The next morning, one Jessica (without Jason) is moping, while the other Jessica (with Derek) is having a great time with a drive to a fishing hole on a kayak. Looks like these two are here to stay. The other ladies see the abandoned Jessica S. and sense that she’s due to go home, particularly if they can keep their own partners. But the guys of these same gossiping ladies are pondering whether they want to stay with them, so these ladies are still vulnerable. There’s a bit of strategy in this game… keep a partner and you’re almost sure to stay in the game while any partnership breakup leaves the pair vulnerable to be the last one standing and thus sent home. Will there be a white knight to save Jessica S.?

Now comes crunch time at the selection ceremony. It’s ladies first night. After a suspenseful moment, the first couple decide to stick together. The second couple also stay together, but it seems they’re in it to “stick it out” and stay in the game rather than pursue a romance. The third and fourth couples also stick together. By now, it seems like there’s as much strategy as romance in play, as they’ve figured it out. Now, as the fifth couple, it’s up to Jessica S.! She wants to break up, “enough is enough”. She picks a guy and he rejects her! Off to the corner she goes! Now that leaves Jason to pick one of the two remaining gals. His pick also rejects him! Two couples remain and unless they swing, we’ll have all of the couples sticking together. The sixth couple stay together, leaving the last couple. They’d rather have each other than pick one of the leftovers who where the only ones to split themselves. As such, Jessica S. pretty much spelt her own doom, taking Jason with her.

Thus ends this week’s episode with a poignant moral in mind: The pair that stays together plays together!

Daniele and Dominic: A budding showmance?

Tonight’s episode begins with a recap leading up to the nomination of Adam & Dominic for eviction. The scheming begins as Adam and Dominic seek out allies in the house, as there is no telling who will win the PoV competition and if they would use it to save the duo. As HoH, Jordan promises Adam to save his back if he sabotages the PoV competition, a development that would worry Dominic if he knew about it. Dominic meanwhile continues conspire with Daniele, whispering while together on a bed. They’re looking pretty chummy and the body language and playfulness indicates mutual interest. Is theirs a budding shomance? Daniele then talks with Rachel and they’re of the mind that Cassi has to go. Rachel is still upset that Cassi & Shelly weren’t nominated by Jordan. We see a snippet of Lawon walking into a talk between Rachel and Porsche, but nothing yet so far from Kalia and the low-profile Shelly.

After the break, Jordan stands over Jeff while he’s relaxing in bed and gives him an update of what she knows is going on. He says privately says he’s getting fed up with all the game talk with it only two weeks into the game. Jordan talks with Cassi and lets Cassi know that others are targeting her for ouster. It looks like Cassi will go with the flow for now, but she’s not as active as she should be, aware that others are conspiring against her! Rachel and Brendon talk and decide to try to rope Dominic into their camp and make a go of ousting Cassi.

So now it comes down the to PoV competition and Brendon & Rachel are the third duo (chosen with a randomly picked key), along with Jordan & Jeff and Adam & Dominic, with Daniele as the host. Jeff says privately that they want to win to oust Dominic, while Brendon wants to win so that he and Rachel can put Cassi on the block. The competition involves walking a balance beam, putting some bubble gum in the mouth, returning back to spit it out and tacking it up on a board patterned with the Veto symbol. The catch is that falling off the beam leads to 2 weeks of slop, so they have to be careful. Jeff moves quickly and tells Jordan to quit and sit tight and avoid the chance of going on 2 weeks of slop, something that would split them up. Meanwhile, dimwit Rachel does what Jeff had Jordan avoid doing and Rachel finds herself out of competition and on slop after falling off of the beam! It turns into a race between the two vet guys and Dominic. Ever focused on the task, Dominic wins it! In private, Dominic is totally thrilled! He’s now safe and plans to “enjoy the next week”. Rachel meanwhile is all antsy and vocally angry about it, more so because she’s going on slop the next two weeks. Heh-heh-heh, the others are gloating over Rachel’s downfall and subsequent meltdown as karma bites back after all of her previous trash talk.

Brendon tries to calm Rachel down as she falls apart in the garden while the others head into the House. Brendon gives us a clue that there might be a crack in the vet alliance as he tells Rachel that Jeff & Jordan could have put them on the block had they won PoV. Even Jordan says privately that Rachel thinks she has to win every competition. Jeff & Jordan now just want to ride out the storm for a couple of weeks as the fallout of Rachel’s downfall runs its course. Dominic, meanwhile, is reveling in his victory, saying it’s good for him and good for the House that Rachel has gotten a dose of humble pie. Then, the two vet duos meet up to patch things up and resolidify their alliance, but not too successfully as apologies seem forced and Jeff privately says that he and Jordan don’t like to be put down. They’re pragmatic enough to consider ousting Rachel if that’s what it takes for them to move forward. Loyalty in this game is like ice cream — in the summer heat, it melts away in a sticky puddle.

Finally we see Shelly in the same room with Cassi as Jordan invites them up to her HoH room and tells them that they’re the last ones she wants to put up on the block. Cassi is trying to convince Jordan to put Brendon & Rachel on the block now that they have a chance to break them up. Uh oh, now Jeff is talking about splitting up Rachel and Brendon while they have the opportunity, given that a lot of the House would support it. Jordan is now thinking whether to stick with the vet alliance or to “shake things up”. We soon find out.

During the PoV meeting, Dominic obviously chooses to take himself and Adam off the block and Jordan declares who the new duo is to be put on the block — Shelly and Cassi. Shelly knows now that she has to work to keep her relationship advantages intact to stay in the game. So far, no one has talked about taking Shelly out of the game, while Cassi is a clear target mentioned numerous times in the past. As things stand, Cassi is clearly the one in danger of leaving.

So, who will be voted out of the House? Results tomorrow night!

Ashley and Ames share a giddy picnic in the park.

What is it like to see a show for the first time? I’ve never watched The Bachelorette before, so what you’ll get here is a fresh pair of eyes and an unpolluted brain with no memories of this show, with a basic introduction coming only from the show’s official site.

So now we have the four guys hosting Ashley in their hometowns, with Ames in NYC, Ben in Sonoma, CA, Constantine in Atlanta and J.P. in Roslyn, NY. How many moms will approve of Ashley? It could be make or break with some of the potential future in-laws. We start with recappage. Wow, how can Ashley get into smoochy coo kisses with all four of these guys on consecutive dates? Now we can see where JP is coming from just imagining some other guy having recently kissed the gal he is kissing (and yet some other dude who’s going to be kissing her again!). This show is not for the squeamish or the jealous, at least not too openly expressed.

The first hometown visit is with Constantine at his Georgio’s pizza parlor in Atlanta. They start by making a pizza together and having a chat – and yet another one of Ashley’s million kisses – under the watchful eyes of friends and employees who applaud their show of affection. They seem to like each other, but there don’t seem to be any real sparks flying. Next they walk, Ashley with a bottle of wine from the restaurant in hand, up to the family house with ‘Welcome Home Constantine’. They gather for a meal with red wine. Both his sister and especially his mom go for Ashley. Mom asks Ashley, “are you willing to become a part of this?” Not making any kind of commitments or revealing herself too much, Ashley says she can be happy a lot of places. Then the father and son talk, and Constantine asks for and gets pop’s opinion, support and blessings. Theirs is a huggy, back-slapping family. Which leads into the rest of the family showing up, a whole big gang of them including grandma. It turns into a Greek dancing party followed by another hugfest with papa tossing cash around like confetti. Ashley and Constantine then walk out the door with his folks watching them from the open front door. By the time they kiss, everyone is watching and cheering them on. Ashley would clearly be welcome in this house.

The next stop is in New York, NY at Ames’ family house, which is clearly a long way from NYC with fields around. His mom seems to like Ashley a lot. His sister, too. Mom tells Ashley that she can tell Ames has feelings for Ashley. Ashley says she definitely “definitely feels” something for Ames but she’s not ready to make any commitments. Whoops, Sis tells her that Ames has had different girlfriends before, but Ashley is different. (Sis, please never ever mention past girlfriends!) Mom’s next, and says it’d be fun for Ashley and Ames to do things together, like travel. It’s clear the family is selling themselves to Ashley with all of the right things said. Ashley privately says that she feels things are moving rather quickly for her, and while she mentions feeling passion, I’m not sensing it on screen. Like? Yes. Love? A bit, maybe. But passion? Not quite. Mom has a talk with her boy and then off to a picnic the lovebirds go. Ashley tells Ames they think the same, but we have to wonder if they feel the same with Ashley reciprocating what he feels for her. Then kissy-poo again, with Ames saying it’s the best kiss yet ever, and they go for an enchanting countryside drive on a horsed carriage. Looks like a fine place to live!

Then we visit Ben’s vineyard in Sonoma, California. Wow, look at all those caskets of wine – enough to supply a whole season’s worth of “how many times does she say Bentley?” type of drinking games for this show! They go for a picnic to an apparently empty rustic, wooden house and sit on the floor of the porch as the wet weather does not cooperate. Ashley asks Ben about his late father and it goes into family talk, along with his grandfather and hard times for his mom. Ben seems a bit hesitant, both about their mutual feelings and how his mom will accept her, which is important to him. He is worried that “if things don’t go well, it will be the end of Ashley and I”. Whoops again, another sis mentions that her bro has dated girls (eek, those tattletale sisters!). He and his sister Julia talk about his experiences and feelings for Ashley, which seems to boil down to respect, but there’s no mention of being madly in love with her. He says if things continue to progress like they have been, he’d have no problem proposing. Then there’s the mom and boy talk. What is that she’s drinking in the wine glass (which contents are discreetly edited out)? Mom seems fairly sharp, but she hardly smiles, as if she’s still feeling hard times. She’s glad to see Ben, but we don’t see much interaction between Ashley and his mom. On her way out by car, they kiss briefly (no spectators this time) and Ben privately says he’s glad he’s starting to fall in love. He looks and sounds a bit tentative, as if afraid to invest too much emotional energy into a relationship that may never happen.

The last stop is with JP in Roslyn, NY. They start off with a kiss and Ashley seems to sparkle more being here. It seems he reserved an indoor roller skating rink all for themselves. With a disco ball hanging overhead, they skate, fall, kiss, skate, fall, kiss. Ashley says privately how lucky she is to be with him. It looks like she shares a chemistry with JP that she doesn’t with the other guys. He talks about his previous relationship and “things she did that would cause him to question their relationship”. Ashley asks about how he feels about the two of them, and he says feels 100% and he doesn’t want to be without her. There is a lot of negative talk about getting crushed or heartbroken and moving on, which should raise some red flags to Ashley. He’s thinking too much about what might or might not happen instead of confidently expressing his feelings for her. Then they head off to the family house for a round of family huggy-huggy followed by what appears to be a lasagne dinner. Mom and JP have a talk, and mom thinks Ashley is terrific but she doesn’t want to see his heart broken like before. JP tells his mom that he’s confident that he and Ashley will have a relationship and the family should be prepared for him to propose to Ashley. Mom then talks with Ashley and expresses her fears about JP’s heart being broken. Mom asks more penetrating questions like how Ashley picks her guys! Mom wants to know if Ashley is serious about JP or just playing the field. Now JP talks with his bro and says nothing is 100%, and he is prepared for whatever happens including getting hurt. Mom says privately that she sees a spark in Ashley’s face as well as JP’s and that a relationship would be good for both of them. We didn’t hear much from dad. JP says privately the day went perfectly, but he’s still a little bit afraid. After all, Ashley will ultimately choose only one of the four guys.

Then in studio with the host of the show, Ashley recaps her experiences at all of the hometown visits. While Ashley speaks well of everyone and says she enjoyed herself and had no regrets, she doesn’t clue us in on who’s her favorite. If her behavior, reactions and body language are anything to go by, it looks like JP is the favorite. All of the guys seem ok (no creeps or seriously dysfunctional families here, going by the edits), although Ben seems tentative and JP (and his mom) have a fear of his being hurt again.

So, who goes home after all this? Ashley first calls Ben up and pins his rose on. So that’s how this goes. Next is JP, leaving Ames and Constantine and one rose left. Then she calls Constantine’s name. Well, nice knowing you, Ames. He stands there with a fixed smile and does a wink and then walks out with Ashley to the bench. He seems to take it okay, they do a meek handshake and a brief hug and off he goes in the limo. Only after he’s on the road does he show his distress of being rejected. “I just wonder what it was…” Yes, was. Meanwhile, Ashley and the three remaining guys do a toast before heading off to a tropical island.

For next week, we get previews of a little romance with Ashley being carried into a hut, a surprise visitor knocking at someone’s door, and some conflict with some harsh words coming up.

All in all, for the first time seeing this show, not bad. Now the question is: Who will Ashley pick to be her man?

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A final word on the schedule ahead (note the Sunday date and early finish as Bachelor Pad 2 starts on August 8):
Monday, July 25: Episode 9, Overnight Dates
Sunday, July 31: “The Men Tell All” Special
Monday, August 1: The Finale and “After the Final Rose” Special

The Have Nots in the House share a padded cell

Things are full swing in the Big Brother house with the masked superhero Brendon and towel-caped Dominic trading missed swings and air punches in the garden. Welcome to the staged set where every kind of stunt is taken to the next level. We enter into this week with Evel Dick now long gone, Keith voted out by the house with some of the more clueless newbies still wondering who voted for who, and ever-shifting alliances along with new enemies made in a manner worthy of a chapter in Machiavelli’s treatise The Prince.

In case you missed Evel’s explanation of what caused him to voluntarily leave the house, you’ll find his side of the story in a video that goes almost ten minutes (warning: explicit language). In short, he didn’t want to leave Big Brother this season but he felt he had to depart the house for reasons he prefers to keep private and CBS was willing to honor. ‘Nuff said here, despite the continuous rumor mongering in the blogosphere that Evel makes some strong statements about. As a result, his estranged daughter Daniele is gifted the Golden Key that keeps her in the game through the top 10. Although she was initially upset with this development, we later see that she seems to relish her newfound role as the outsider on the sidelines as she listens in and watches the puppet dance of the veterans pulling the newbies’ strings.

During this past week, Rachel wastes no time exercising her (mouth about her) powers as HoH. That laugh of hers brings chills down the spine of even the spineless. Her writing is even scarier — read her HoH blog here. (And, looking at her photo, are those real?) For the week’s nomination, she puts Keith and Porsche on the chopping block. Following this, Rachel announces the first Power of Veto competition, with she & Brandon, Jeff & Jordan, and Keith & Porsche competing, and Adam as the host. Brandon and Rachel win the PoV contest handily. Rachel then announces at the Veto meeting that she will not to use the PoV on Keith & Porsche, thus leaving them on the chopping block. Both Keith and Porsche are (or should be) busy finding the votes to take their partner out of the game. Oddly enough, though, both Keith & Porsche seem to be happy with Rachel’s decision to leave them vulnerable to elimination, as they both think that the other will be the one to be evicted. Ultimately, Keith’s unfounded conspiracy theories and overconfidence become his downfall as the vote goes 6-4 against him with only Adam, Cassi, Dominic, and Lawon voting for him while Shelly and Kalia surreptitiously vote against him. The next HoH competition is the exclusive by-invitation-only Big Brother Open golf tournament that even Tiger Woods cannot compete in. While the other contestants putter around as usual like they do in the house, Jordan lands the ball in the 3 hole and takes the HoH trophy, keeping it in veteran hands.

This episode, the repercussions of the split newbie vote leads to an irreparable crack in their former alliance. Now suspicious of each other and with Adam falsely taking flak for switching his vote, Shelly and Kalia fly through the bombing zone unscathed. Shelly escapes scrutiny as she conspires with the veterans, Kalia simply stays silent about her vote with a downcast look, Lawon goes ballistic “like a hot volcano in Hawaii”, and Adam remains confused about what happened. Adam later goes to the HoH room to get Jeff and Jordan’s take on the game, saying that as the show’s veterans they know how to play the game better. Essentially, Adam does the wolves’ equivalent of a rollover and throat-exposing submission gesture while Jeff is the big bad wolf with gleaming yellow eyes that see Adam not as a wolf pup but the untrustworthy and vulnerable stray calf that left the newbie herd.

Meanwhile, Dominic (one of the few newbies whose actions Machiavelli might approve of) says “it’s time to get crazy and start making some deals” and the first person he seriously approaches is Danielle. She appears rather sinister with her hat shading her eyes from the glare of the garden lights. Dominic later privately confesses that he is about “to sell his soul” to Danielle as he approaches the idea of an alliance with her. Danielle, even though she holds the Golden Key which both provides her immunity yet leaves her powerless in other ways, realizes that she is in the potentially pivotal role of kingmaker. The other newbie not mentioned so far, Cassi, has earned Rachel’s ire as they engage in a passive-aggressive cat fight. Without exchanging a single word, Cassi walks around and behind Rachel as she grabs a snack and then sits in the dining area staring at Rachel’s back. Just as a cat would, Rachel senses a pair of eyes stabbing into her spine and eventually she turns around and they silently face each other off.

Jordan forces a break in the ongoing scheming by convening the Have and Have Not competition for the week. She states that the pairs of contestants will dress in a single ant and the winners will choose the two Have Not teams. With the help of a partially opened costume such they could more a bit more freely, Brendon & Rachel outrace the other teams, with Adam & Dominic not far behind. As a result of being in front of the costume and on the bottom when she and Lawon had to crawl, Kalia gets squished when they fall and she seems to be injured as she moans in pain at the end of the competition. Medic! It turns out Kalia is okay, but she is probably wondering if this is what she had signed up for when she sent her application to join the Big Brother household.

This episode closes with the nomination ceremony with Jordan still considering which pair to nominate for eviction. The two targets are Adam or Cassi and ultimately she chooses Adam and Dominic as the pair to be nominated for eviction in what she described as a “strategic” decision. Dominic doesn’t look all that surprised as he probably (correctly) surmises that Adam is the true target. Adam, on the other hand, is one step further away from the newbie herd and into the waiting wolf pack. His loud roar from a week ago has suddenly turned into a weak moo.

Finally, it’s America’s Vote time! CBS asks, what do you think of the House Guests? You can “make your mark” and cast your vote here. So, what’s the catch? You have to answer 20 questions starting with: Which House Guest would you want to give you mouth to mouth resuscitation?

Eek! Would you really want to go swimming with these people?