Saturday, October 9, 2010

Reality TV Roundup: Drama Out the Whazoo

In an attempt to make my regular TV reviews a more manageable size, I'm going to start trying to split them up by genre/format/category/something.  Thus, here I present a collection of my thoughts on all of the Reality TV style shows I watched last week, most of which were exceptionally drama-packed this time around.


Survivor (CBS, 7:00):  There was a bit of drama playing out on both tribes this week.  As usual, the Young'uns' drama was provided by the caustically outspoken NaOnka whose comments about her fellow tribemates are filled with barely-concealed hatred; I think there might have been a few more fireworks if she had gone to tribal council. On the Old Folks tribe, we have the constant chattering of Jimmy T., the man so delusional that he thought Jimmy Johnson was threatened by his leadership skills.  As much as I tire of self-proclaimed puppet master players declaring that another contestant has "signed their own death warrant," I was actually hoping that Marty would be able to follow through on the threat and get the motor-mouth booted out.  Thankfully, he was.

Top Chef: Just Desserts (Bravo, 9:00):  First of all, I have to say that of all the breakdowns I've seen on reality TV shows over the years, none have been as uncomfortable to watch as Seth's spiral into madness.  Honestly, having to leave the show was probably the best thing that could ever happen to the boy.  Of course, once his antagonistic form of craziness was removed from the show, it didn't take too long for the producers to find a new villain to showcase. Heather H. was already on my list for just how disdainful she was of anyone showing a hint of emotion in previous episodes, but with her full on-attack of the fragile Heather C. and delusional screed against Morgan for his imagined betrayal, she has firmly ensconced herself as my least favorite contestant.

Ultimate Fighter: GSP-Koscheck (Spike, 9:00): The answer to the "Wonder when Koscheck is finally going to start annoying me like I'm sure he must?" question has been answered, and the answer is "14 minutes into this week's episode."  So cocky, so abrasive, and so stereotypically macho that he can't even comprehend the idea that GSP's ability to just shrug off his sophomoric taunts* is a sign of GSP being the better man.  I really hope GSP is able to maintain his calm, cool, and collected response all season, and then just destroy Koscheck in their fight.  Of course, the GSP-Koscheck interactions, while incredibly annoying to me, are not the true source of drama here -- no, that honor goes to the near throwdown between Sevak and Bruce Leroy.  Honestly, I thought Sevak was going to burst a blood vessel with the amount of rage he was throwing off; think Bruce Leroy was pretty lucky people held Sevak back because he was in full on berserker mode and I don't know if Bruce Leroy is quite ready to deal with someone in a murderous rage . . . then again, considering how obnoxious he's been so far, there's a good chance that Bruce Leroy had engendered murderous rage from other many, many times before in his life.


Project Runway (Lifetime, 8:00):  Yes, that's right -- I've started watching Project Runway again. Long time blob monkeys may remember that I was briefly hooked on the show during its second season after being subjected to a day-long marathon.  And while I managed to escape the show's eerie hypnotic pull after that season's finale, I recently stumbled upon the latest season and found myself dawn back in.  My connection to this show is odd, as I am one of the least fashion-conscious people you will ever meet.  But, let's be honest -- outside of The Ultimate Fighter, none of the reality shows I watch revolve around anything I'm all that interested in -- whether it's the business world, gourmet cooking, crab fishing, sharpshooting, etc., I'm typically drawn not so much to the subject matter as to the personality types that subject matter attracts.  In all of these examples, it takes some pretty strong personalities to prosper, and watching those strong personalities deal with the pressure-cooker life of reality TV can make for extremely engaging TV.  Plus, Tim Gunn kicks butt.

Wow, so much for keeping the size of these things more manageable, huh?

Anyway, back to the drama-filled extravaganza that was this week's episode of Project Runway.  First of all we had the fun of watching Heidi clash with Mondo, the season's reigning hero, and Gretchen, the season's reigning villain -- or at least she was reigning villain until the episode's big twist brings back Ivy who appears determined to use her moment back in the spotlight to swipe the Crown of Villainy from atop Gretchen's massive ego-inflated head by taking this season's favorite pass-time of "Beating Up on Michael C." to a whole new level.    As other people have pointed out, when even Gretchen, the queen of self-involvement says "I think you've gone too far," well, you've probably gone too far.  Best moment of the episode had to be the hilarious editing job of following up Ivy's comment of "I believe in karma" being followed by the shot of her sewing machine self-destructing and sending a piece flying into her face.  In the end, I felt sad that there was no way for Ivy to get a real verbal slap-down for her sour grapes behavior.  Bookending the centerpiece of Ivy's evil was Gretchen's desperate attempt to make sure that despite losing her Crown of Villainy she at least maintained her Tiara of Haughtiness, boldly lashing out at all criticisms of her clothes. 

The Apprentice (NBC, 9:00): Surprisingly, the one reality show that has typically been overflowing with over-the-top drama and conflict felt pretty low-key after watching the rest of this week's reality offerings.  Of course, a lot of that probably stems from the fact that crazy-man David had a tooth malfunction that removed him from active participation.  I can only hope that next week he'll be recovered enough to get into the knock-down drag-out with Steuart that was teased by the post-board-room encounter at the beginning of the episode.  As to what actually happened in the episode, I have to admit there was a part of me that was hoping the men would go the board room, so that Wade, their own Negative Nelly, might get the boot, since he was pretty much guaranteed to criticize the concept at that point despite keeping it to himself during the entire challenge. Something about his refusal to voice concern to the others but rail against them constantly in his confessionals bugged me.  Meanwhile, although I wasn't Tyana's biggest fan, I would much rather have had her stay while the much more egotistical and abrasive Mahsa left. 

*Really, the worst part for me is that now Koscheck has ruined "GSP-as-robot" jokes for me forever. 

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