Friday, February 29, 2008

Getting Lost in Lost?

For all matters relating to that phenomenal TV juggernaut that is Lost, please feel free to leave any and all questions here as a comment, and I will deal with them directly.

State which season / episode / event you're up to, and I'll refrain from spoiling anything for you.

Be warned that others may not be so kind, however. You'd be wise not to read other people's questions (and my answers to them), unless you're up-to-date with the episode that most recently aired on Australian TV.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Stop Horsin' Around!

... Spoiler Alert! ... Spoiler Alert! ...

If you haven't yet seen (and you intend to see) episode 2 of The Amazing Race Season 10 (TAR 10), do not read any further!


The previous season of TAR that we saw here in Australia was the ‘All Stars’ version of the show – which was actually filmed after this season and featured two of the teams we official ‘met’ for the first time last night – which may provide some answers to any Aussie viewers who might have been confused by seeing these particular teams introduce themselves to each other like they’d never met before.

Here are the particulars for this first leg of the Race in last night’s episode:

Leg 2 (People's Republic of China – Mongolia)

* Erenhot (Chinese) (Erlian Train Station)
* Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia Flag of Mongolia (Choijin Lama Monastery)
* Terelj (Gorkhi-Terelj National Park), Detour (“Take It Down” or “Fill It Up”)
* Gorkhi (Hotel Mongolia), Roadblock ("Who's ready to aim high?"), Pit Stop (Leg 2)

The Detour for this leg was “Take It Down” or “Fill It Up”. In “Take It Down”, teams had to take down the cover of a yurt, roll it up, and attach it to a camel. In “Fill it Up”, teams had to put four water containers on a cart pulled by a hynik, an ox-like animal indigenous to the area. Then they had to fill them up at a stream, bring them back by their hynik, and fill a barrel to the designated line. The Roadblock was to shoot a flaming arrow and hit a target 160 feet (49m) away. Additional Task: Teams had to put on traditional Mongolian army hats and ride two and a half miles on a horse.

For the record, this was the order in which the teams reached Phil on the mat last episode, and the order in which they started this leg of the Race:

1. Tyler & James
2. Duke & Lauren
3. Peter & Sarah
4. Dustin & Kandice
5. Rob & Kimberly
6. Kellie & Jamie
7. Erwin & Godwin
8. Tom & Terry
9. Lyn & Karlyn
10. David & Mary

11. Vipul & Arti
12. Bilal & Sa’eed

Note: If you're already ahead of this point in the series, please refrain from giving any spoilers in your comments. Thank you.

As always, I’ll provide my thoughts on each team in this episode, listing them in the order in which they arrived at the Pit Stop (hence the 'Spoiler Alert!').


1. Peter & Sarah

Last week: 2
This week: Up two places

Wow, these guys did really well, considering their communication issues and the fact that they changed back and forth between their Detour tasks twice! Not to mention Sarah’s leg thing. Speaking of which, a friend of mine at work today pointed out that Phil's greeting to these two when they arrived at the Pit Stop could have been taken as a nasty swipe of a joke (which is not how Phil would have intended it, it’s fair to say), when he asked them if they’d have expected to be in the lead two legs into the Race. Their hynik was an absolute mad-and-crazy animal, so I wasn’t surprised when they decided to skip back to the other Detour (although couldn’t they have selected a different hynik if they’d wanted to?). It made sense that Sarah didn’t want to stop moving (that’s a normal method of coping – even if it’s a crawl, just keep moving forward), while it also made sense that Peter wanted to ensure Sarah was okay and calm and coping by stopping to talk to her (although in their rush and adrenaline, the ‘talk’ sounded more like snapping than he would have meant it to). So I could understand both sides of the situation, and I’m glad they worked it out and finished well. The fact that they actually finished first was just an added bonus.

2. Tyler & James

Last week: 1
This week: Down one place

These guys looked like they were going to be in trouble, early on. They were taken to the wrong monastery for the show, and ended up losing their initial lead. They then got a flat tyre and couldn’t work out how to use the jack (it worked fine once the helpful local showed them how it was done). But pretty much from there, they took off again – leaving most other teams behind and only being beaten by Peter & Sarah by what appeared to be a narrow margin. But I may be wrong about that. I like these guys and hope they continue to do very well.

3. Duke & Lauren

Last week: 2
This week: Down one place

There’s not much I can say about Duke & Lauren this week, apart from still liking them. Duke’s soft, quiet reassurances that it was okay as they struggled to tie the knots at the Detour were both sweet and sensible. They were also seemingly out in the lead at one point, but goodie-two-shoes Duke obviously didn’t want to get caught speeding, so that meant he allowed a couple of other teams to overtake them.

4. Tom & Terry

Last week: 8
This week: Up four places

If I were still using catchy little nicknames for the teams (like I did in these reviews a few seasons ago, using just the acronyms of my nicknames to reference each team), then I’d have given these guys the moniker ‘Gay Broadway Style (GBS)’. The GBS boys are absolutely hilarious when they’re carrying on, and Tom’s first attempt at shooting the fiery arrow made me laugh out loud (that’s ‘LOL’, to you youngsters reading). Despite their justification on not stopping to help Tyler & James when the latter team had a flat tyre (it’s really interesting to hear how each team justified being so selfish like that; understandable in the Race though it is), there’s not much to dislike about this pair. Yet.

5. Dustin & Kandice

Last week: 4
This week: Down one place

The beauty queens were probably the most ‘robbed’ of the win out of everyone, I’d say. They were the first to finish the Detour (what a team they are!), and Kandice tore through the Roadblock in record time as well. But because they couldn’t find Kandice’s helmet after finishing the Detour, they lost heaps of valuable time where many other teams overtook them. It was hard luck, but they still ended up in the middle of the pack – comfortably within reach of the top spot next week. If watching these girls in the ‘All Stars’ version of the show taught me nothing else, it taught me that Dustin & Kandice are a force to be reckoned with.

6. Rob & Kimberly

Last week: 5
This week: Down one place

I don’t know what to say about these two. Rob’s so helpful and considerate and loving toward Kimberly (like when she fell from her horse and injured her ankle, and he stayed on his horse and lamely assured her that the nomad was fetching her horse for her … yeah, thanks, buddy). But Kimberly ain’t exactly the brightest spark in the fire, either. She qualified her fear of horses by telling us – wide-eyed – that they have minds of their own. Exactly what she expected of the animal kingdom I don’t know. Like I said last week, just because they cheer and hug when things are going well for them, that doesn’t mean their treatment of one another (largely the way Rob treats Kimberly) is in any way acceptable. He’s not Jonathan (from Jonathan & Victoria fame) or Colin (from Colin & Christie fame), but he’s on his way and needs to curb the way he treats (and therefore, by extension, thinks of) the woman he claims to love. It wouldn’t be much of a loss for them to be eliminated soon. Oh yeah, and what’s with Rob’s “decision” to go off-road at some random interval (presumably following a hunch of some description) and tell a questioning Kimberly to hold her tongue because “this is why you’re on the Race with me”. Why’s that, then? To get lost? To look like a pair of d!ckheads? To end up in therapy? Seriously, he’s a complete tosser.

7. David & Mary

Last week: 10
This week: Up three places

This team is the little coalminer and his hen-pecking wife that could! Talk about surmounting obstacles and coming out on top! They were clearly at odds when they were trying to do the Detour, and David almost had more trouble than Tom with the Roadblock’s fiery arrow. But they kept pushing through adversity and surprised themselves with their resourcefulness. They showed good initiative in ‘kidnapping’ a local to take them to the National Park where the Detour was, but they suffered terrible luck when they got bogged in the mud (although why they decided to go off-road at that point anyway is beyond me). Especially heartwarming were the two comments by Mary (wherein she was overawed) about never having known any Asians (“We love you guys to death,” she told Erwin & Godwin – was she being literal??), and never having been around any gay people (“We like ‘em!”). So gorgeous.

8. Erwin & Godwin

Last week: 7
This week: Down one place

I’ve been expecting more of this twosome, to be honest, than we’ve been able to see so far. They struck me last week as a pair of jokers (in a good way), but I’m yet to see them truly impress me with their sense of humour. Maybe it’s just that we don’t have much time for it in an hour’s episode while there are still ten or more teams to cover. If that’s it, then fair enough. I just hope they stay in the Race long enough for the numbers to thin a bit so we can get to know them a bit better. Their water-pistol prank in the airport last week was a fizzer; that’s not the kind of thing I’m thinking of. I’m hoping to hear funny remarks and stuff that keep me smiling. They’ve already showed that they’re not afraid to stop and help people or offer assistance in finding the next location (for karma purposes), so I hope there’s more of that to come.

9. Lyn & Karlyn

Last week: 9
This week: No change

I really don’t care too much for these hypocritical women. They’re quick to pray to Jesus and expect his help when they’re in a jam, but frankly they were the rudest and most un-Christian about driving right on by Tyler & James when the boys had that flat tyre. Have they never heard the story of The Good Samaritan? And is it any wonder, then, that their car didn’t start after the Detour? I’m not sure if that’s God teaching them a lesson, or karma coming back to bite them on their selfish, pessimistic hyniks. I was actually hoping that the cheerleaders had experienced a rare moment of clarity when they turned their car back the other way, because that would have meant we’d be free of Lyn & Karlyn from this point on … but alas, that was too much to expect of The Cheerleaders From Duh.

10. Kellie & Jamie: ELIMINATED!

Last week: 6
This week: Down four places

Stupid girls. Why would Dustin & Kandice “just be chillin’” after completing their Detour task? And why would they look so ashen-faced and stricken? It was no real loss when these two were told they were eliminated. They couldn’t even complete the Roadblock, which they didn’t abort until after it had turned dark and after they had both cried many futile tears. The only thing I’ll miss about these two is their carefully choreographed clapping routines. Oh, wait – no I won’t.


I’ll be back next Friday with a recap of next Thursday night’s episode. Leave any comments below, agreeing or disagreeing with me as you see fit. And if I’ve forgotten any golden moments, feel free to add them. Cheers!


Friday, December 07, 2007

That's So StereoTypical Of You Americans! (In A Good Way)

... Spoiler Alert! ... Spoiler Alert! ...

If you haven't yet seen (and you intend to see) episode 1 of The Amazing Race Season 10 (TAR 10), do not read any further!


The previous season of TAR that we saw here in Australia was the ‘All Stars’ version of the show – which was actually filmed after this season and featured two of the teams we official ‘met’ for the first time last night – which may provide some answers to any Aussie viewers who might have been confused by seeing these particular teams introduce themselves to each other like they’d never met before.

Here are the particulars for this first leg of the Race in last night’s episode:

Leg 1 (United States – People’s Republic of China)

* Seattle, Washington, USA Flag of the United States (Gas Works Park) (Starting Line)
* Flight: Seattle (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) to Beijing, People’s Republic of China (Beijing Capital International Airport)
* Beijing (Golden House Restaurant) – Roadblock (“Who’s hungry to stay in the race?”)
* Beijing (Forbidden City – Meridian Gate) – Elimination point
* Beijing (Pedicab Company) – Detour (“Labour” or “Leisure”)
* Beijing (Great Wall of China – Juyongguan) – Pit Stop (Leg 1)

The Roadblock on this leg was to eat fish eyes out of a bowl of fish head soup. The Detour was “Labour” or “Leisure”. In “Labour”, teams had to travel one mile (1.6 km) by pedicab and pave a 45-square-foot (4m2) section of sidewalk in a specific pattern. In “Leisure”, teams had to perform a Chinese relaxation method known as Taiji Bailong, which involves balancing a ball on a paddle while completing a specific rhythmic dance. Additional Task: Teams also had to scale the Great Wall of China in order to reach the Pit Stop.

Note: If you're already ahead of this point in the series, please refrain from giving any spoilers in your comments. Thank you.

As always, I’ll provide my thoughts on each team in this episode, listing them in the order in which they arrived at the Pit Stop (hence the 'Spoiler Alert!').


I will not be providing tips for this season as I have in the past, because the final result has already been spoilt for me in online discussion. To be fair, I won’t pretend to have worked out the winner and take false credit for this knowledge. This will also save me some time in preparing these reviews for you, and should help (a bit) to keep me as up-to-date as possible.

The twelve teams selected for this season seemed to cover a wider range of stereotypes than I’ve witnessed in any other season. And I mean that in a good way; it’s not a complaint at all. I think the more people are confronted with various types of people in this world, the more likely we’ll get used to this ‘tolerance’ thing everyone’s going on about. So it was refreshingly different to see a pair of devout American Muslims, a couple from India, two brothers of Korean heritage and a pair of recovering drug addicts (although, granted, they were also buff male models who posed topless in the credit sequence) join the regular cast of stereotypes in the gay couple, the insulting male and downtrodden female, the backward hillbillies with a heart of gold (well-hidden under all their arguing), the gorgeous females (this time we’ve been treated to both a pair of busty beauty queens AND a pair of relatively flat-chested cheerleaders), the outspoken African American mothers, and the father-daughter duo with a twist of lesbian.

Oh yeah, and the “Mirna and Schmirna” of this season; the chick with the false leg and her prosthetic-limb-making boyfriend (I kid you not; that’s his job).

The first surprise in what spunky host Phil Keoghan promised to be a season sprinkled with twists and turns (some of which have already been spoilt for anyone who’s watched the ‘All Stars’ season already), was one we didn’t know was coming. After just one day racing, the last team to reach one particular point in the Race (it wasn’t even a Pit Stop) was eliminated on the spot. And as many Americans might have hoped, it was “those no-good, bearded weirdos”, the “Buddhist Muzzlams” (according to the cheerleaders), Bilal & Sa’eed.

12. Bilal & Sa’eed: ELIMINATED!

In actual fact, these guys seemed quite nice, so it was a shame to see them go just 45 minutes into the first episode. I would have liked to see how their beliefs gave them trouble throughout the Race (we caught a glimpse of potential difficulties when one of the women on another team went to shake Bilal’s hand in the airport and he – respectfully – advised that he couldn’t touch her due to his religious beliefs), and it would have been interesting if the fish-eye-eating Detour had instead been some kind of pork dish (although I suspect not even the producers would have demanded something of them that conflicted so harshly with their beliefs like that). The fact that Bilal asserted that they’d stop for their five-minute on-their-knees prayer session each day no matter where they were and what they were doing could even have played as a good education tool for those who don’t understand the Muslim religion. Of course, it’s a moot point anyway, as they barely lasted the first day. At least they managed to get out of the country and see a bit of China before being eliminated.


1. Tyler & James

These guys are Wifey’s early favourites (I’m not threatened by them), and I suppose if I had to pick a favourite team at this point, I’d probably chose these guys as well. They seemed like genuinely nice people (although there appears to be substantially more “good guys” and “nice people” on this Race than on previous outings … at least at this point!), and their tale of woe regarding meeting in rehab as they tied to kick their drug habits, then deciding to get into modelling together and make a new life for themselves was uplifting. Half the time they look like a couple, but Wifey reckons they’re not. Either way, they ran a good Race in this leg, and were rewarded $20,000 for arriving at the Pit Stop first. Will they continue to curry favour with my wife? And is it because they’re not wearing much clothing in the above picture?

2. Duke & Lauren

The video introduction to ‘Duke’ (and seriously – who names their kid ‘Duke’??!) is likely to have polarised viewers. As soon as he expressed that he felt “a tiny bit of disappointment” over his daughter for having recently ‘come out’ to him as a lesbian, many would have viewed him as an ogre, … but the tears that followed that statement (in fact, he broke down without finishing the statement, so to be fair, we technically don’t even know how he planned to complete the sentence), and his efforts to deal with both the revelation itself and his daughter’s lifesttyle choice (and even her partner) would have shown others that he’s doing his best and trying to accept things for the way they are. It can’t be easy news for an ‘old school’ parent to hear, so I give him props for his honesty and commitment to doing the right thing (as opposed to cutting her out of his family entirely and refusing to see her ever again). Remember, he’s from a different generation, so I think he took his daughter’s announcement quite gracefully, all told (even though I know there were months of silence – that’s obviously the effect of shock and pain he was working through … and that he has now put behind him). Although Duke and Lauren showed some signs of strain on this leg, it was equally heart-warming to see Lauren in tears of pride for the job her father was doing as he scaled the Great Wall of China (even though Tyler and James completed the task ahead of Duke). It’s clear that these two really do love each other, and even if they get into heated arguments in future legs, I’d say their relationship is going to be all right. And that’s the important thing (although a million dollars into the bargain would be nice, too).

3. Peter & Charla Sarah

The backstory of these two finding each other might sound a bit strange, but when you think about it, it makes sense that a woman who wears a prosthetic leg might meet someone from a part of her life where she spends a fair bit of time – having a prosthetic leg fitted. Peter seemed mostly charming and devoted to Sarah in last night’s episode, although there were elements of a frustration that the ad for next week seemed to highlight even more. I wonder if he’ll turn out to be quite the Prince Charming we (or maybe just I) took him for in the opening episode. I certainly thought there was nothing wrong with them using Sarah’s false leg to their advantage – that’s the name of the game! Whether it was through boarding the plane first (which is perfectly reasonable to ensure she’s not trampled by the massing hoards) or jumping the queue for a taxi (“See my leg? It’s an emergency!”), whatever gives them an edge is theirs to take advantage of. The fact that she’s also able to run as fast as (or faster than) an able-bodied person and scale the Great Wall of China on a single rope with footholds tied into it only demonstrates that she hasn’t allowed her disability in life to hold her back – she rises to the challenge and is a better athlete than the slack and lazy able-bodied people who complained about her. I don’t mind these two at this point, and I certainly hope they get further in the Race than Lyn and Karlyn, who were inappropriate in their grumbling about Sarah, and blaming her ability for their own inability.

4. Dustin & Kandice

It was great to finally ‘meet’ this pair again after initially meeting them on the ‘All Stars’ edition. (And if I was Benny Hill, I’d make a joke here about meeting the other pair, as well. If I’ve lost you, you’re a better person than I am.) I don’t have much to say about them at this point, except that continually pointing out (particularly to David & Mary) that they’re beauty queens might be a bit unnecessary and like rubbing people’s noses in it – although I guess they don’t care too much what the other teams think … and neither should they. Seeing them at work in this episode reminded me of how effective they can be when faced with a challenge. In the Detour, Kandice just chucked those fish eyes down her throat without even wincing, so these two know how to get the job done without complaining. If not for bad luck in locating the Golden House in the first place, they might even have been in the lead at one point. Anyone with a good memory like me will remember from Phil’s remarks in the ‘All Stars’ edition where they ended up placing in this season, but I’ll keep that information to myself and ask you to do the same.

5. Rob & Kimberly

Here’s our obligatory wife-basher in training, and his docile but argumentative woman who asks for it. Rob’s introductory comment that he’s his own man and will do his own thing – and that Kimberly needs to learn that, was drink-spluttering stuff. As was Kimberly’s strange facial expression when he said it. Was she seething in silent fury at the comment? Or was she accepting it and agreeing, just like a Good Little WomanTM should? I’m not sure what it is about women like this, but it must be a self-confidence thing. Colin & Christie, Jerkhead & Victoria, and now Rob & Kimberly – the guys all treat them like crap but follow it up when everything’s all right with hugs and declarations of love. It’s the ultimate manipulation because the guys convince the girls that everything’s fine again – and they manage to keep the woman in tow. Actually, thinking about it for a moment, all three of those girls I named appear to have had some chest-based surgery, so I wonder if there’s a link there to indicate they really do have a confidence-based problem … and they guys they choose to be with only further compound those problems by treating them so hot-and-cold? I don’t mean to insult anyone with these ponderings, but I seriously see a connection between the way they get treated and they way they view themselves as unworthy of any better than the creeps they’re dating. It’s quite sad, really. I hope Kimberly “grows a pair” very soon (I’m not talking about the chest region anymore) and tells Rob to stick it. The ad for next week implied that she might – but I’m guessing they’ll be hugging and kissing again by the end of the episode … even if he hasn’t properly apologised for whatever it is he does to upset her. Rob is a physical demon but has the appearance of someone who’s taken the steroids to get him there. And his volatile temper is one to look out for. Kimberly, meanwhile, looks almost identical to Lauren, Duke’s lesbian daughter! (When they've both got their hair tied back, anyway.) Could the two be related? Maybe this is one of the twists Phil promised us! (As opposed to the ‘Intersection’ and ‘Marked For Elimination’ twists most of us know are coming.)

6. Kellie & Jamie

They’re always got to be some ‘special ed’ contestants, doesn’t there! These girls certainly fit the bill. From their annoying clapping sequence (thanks to my friend “Bar-bra” for that one) to their complete lack of knowledge on anything that isn’t cheerleading (“Do Muzzlams believe in Buddha?”), these two look set to entertain us this season with the most stupid comments of all. Should be interesting.

7. Erwin & Godwin

These guys are also “good guys”, and appear to think quite highly of themselves. I don’t mind them at all, and look forward to seeing them in future legs. I found it amusing when they called China their “homeland” (being Korean), but apart from that I didn’t get much from them in last night’s episode. Perhaps I was just a bit startled by Erwin’s long, flowing locks!

8. Tom & Terry

I’m not going to make the obvious ‘Tom & Jerry’ joke about their names, although I have to ask: Why must this show feature such ridiculously effeminate gay couples all the time?! The way they carried on in their opening video was a complete farce, and their loopy-looking eyes when they think they’re being funny just make them appear scary. In one moment they’re claiming to camera that they’re not here to make friends or add people to their Christmas card list, and the next moment they’re hugging another team and cheering for joy (I don’t even remember where they were or why they were cheering, but they were certainly making friends). I foresee these guys being one of the teams that causes the most friction (along with Rob & Kimberly, Lyn & Karlyn and possibly Peter & Sarah), so I don’t know if I’m looking forward to watching them go on. Hopefully they won’t be b!tching the whole time, and their comedy element will overshadow their uber-campness.

9. Lyn & Karlyn

These women are one-part sentimentalists and two-parts whingers. Their gripes at Sarah for boarding the plane first and then running through the airport faster than they were able to move just showed their negative attitude (which was further highlighted in the continual “I can’t do it” remarks as they tried in vain to scale the Great Wall of China). They were both so quick to give up and complain about everything being “too hard”, that I really don’t want them to succeed in this Race. I’d prefer them to be eliminated early on so we can enjoy the presence of other teams like Erwin & Godwin, who are genuinely more fun to watch and are actually enjoying themselves so much more.

10. David & Mary

These guys crack me up. They possibly wouldn’t have been so amusing if I hadn’t seen them before in the ‘All Stars’ edition of the Race, but because I’d already been acclimatised to their antics and arguing, it was just amusing to listen to their verbal sparring matches. Actually, to be fair, Mary’s the one who sticks the boot in – David rarely does the same to her (this is in spite of her assessment that he doesn’t listen to her or respect her … my experience of these two is that David actually adores Mary and thinks the world of her). Although David took a different highway to the airport than Mary had explained (without a map, perplexingly), and she then chewed him out for it, they were one of the first teams to get there – proving that David’s alternate route was a beauty. Mary was quick to encourage David as he scaled the Great Wall of China, but the minute he tried to do the same (quite lovingly, in my opinion), she barked at him to shut up (probably out of embarrassment that she was struggling, but still). Because the final team was so far behind them, I thought it was a fair assessment that David assumed they were in fact the last team to reach the Pit Stop, so when Phil told them they were team number ten – and she swatted David’s arm as if he’d tried to trick her (again, probably out of embarrassment for her own tears) – it was amusing … but strange that he kept taking such treatment (‘hen-pecked’ is a term that springs to mind). In delight at not being eliminated after all, she then proceeded to hug Phil, the Chinese representative on the Pit Stop mat, and everybody else within a three-kilometre radius except her poor, put-upon husband. Telling of their love for each other was that when she reached the top of the Wall, she tearily apologised to David (repeatedly), who assured her that it didn’t matter and that he loves her (which he also said repeatedly). Oh yeah, and her comment that David is really cute made Wifey splutter into her drink until milk came out her nose.

11. Vipul & Arti: ELIMINATED!

It’s a shame that these guys were eliminated last night at the end of the leg – they were another nice couple. So the Indians and the Muslims were the first two stereotypes to go; I smell a conspiracy theory! I’m not even sure what it was that set Vipul & Arti so far behind the other teams. They didn’t even reach the Roadblock until almost everyone else had finished it, so wherever their delay came from, it was earlier than that. It must simply have been that they got so lost on the streets of Beijing and couldn’t find their way. It’s a shame, because not only were they a very cute couple and very much in love, but they also had a calm, peaceful quality that’s often missing in teams on the Race. But maybe that’s why they fell behind. It could be that the Race would have been bad for them and their relationship, so maybe it’s all for the best that they get out now with their sanity and mutual devotion for each other intact.


I’ll be back next Friday with a recap of next Thursday night’s episode. The good news is that Channel Seven is (so far) giving TAR a primetime airing schedule, from 7:30pm instead of 11pm as it used to be (back in the old days). Hopefully this will mean more converted viewers to the show and therefore a better treatment of it next season. Will we one day see the show being “fast-tracked” from the US, so the ending can’t be spoilt for us??

Leave any comments below, agreeing or disagreeing with me as you see fit. And if I’ve forgotten any golden moment, feel free to add them. Cheers!


Monday, December 03, 2007

The Amazing Missing Season

Hi folks, remember me?

Possibly not, but fair enough.

Just touching base briefly to advise anyone who's still checking in here that this Thursday, 6th December, will mark the return of The Amazing Race on Australian TV screens.

So if you're curious to know how those hicks David & Mary and those beauty queens Dustin & Kandice got onto an 'All Stars' version of the show last year without ever having appeared on an actual series of the show, then this is the season for you.

Season 10 is the one Australia's Channel Seven skipped in order to "fast-track" (although that's not the wording they used at the time) the 'All Stars' version for us last year. So the outcome is many moons old, but hopefully no one will spoil that for those of us who are yet to see it.

So be watching Channel Seven from 7:30pm to 9pm this Thursday night for the first episode, where I'm told a few surprises will get us started on yet another amazing season of this amazing series!

Stay tuned to this blog for weekly recaps!

(Yes, I'll actually do 'em.)


Monday, November 12, 2007

We Interrupt Your Regular Programming For An Important Announcement ...

... normal blogging will re-commence shortly. Our thanks for your patience during these troubling times. Rest assured that the thoughts, dreams and TV aspirations have all been logged and back-catalogued since the previous post, and will appear here in due course. We appreciate your patience and understanding.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Thank The Lord For Your Presence # 25

Last night, we were treated to another highly enjoyable episode of Thank God You're Here (TGYH). The performers on last night’s show were first-timers Melbourne radio personality (and soon-to-be TV show celebrity prankster) Matt Tilley and UK comedian Ross Noble, along with TGYH veterans Julia Zemiro and Frank Woodley. It was a clear example of how one newbie can stutter and stammer their way through their scene (Mr Tilley) while another tears the arse off everything thrown his way (Mr Noble). I had hoped for more from Matt Tilley, especially as his Fox FM “Gotcha” Calls are generally so amusing (for those childish people amongst us who still find it hilarious when someone falls for a prank phone call, the likes of which some of us have never grown out of making since our primary school days … ahem). But he was pretty weak, it must be said - although, to be fair, it’s worth pointing out that he was given a fairly lame scene. Still, he didn’t make too much of the rest of what he was given, either. So a few good responses aside, he was disappointing (mainly because I know he can do better - maybe a second appearance on the show would eliminate the first-night jitters and be a better vehicle for his sharp and clever wit). Meanwhile, Ross demonstrated why he’s so brilliantly successful as a stand-up comedian whenever he tours Australia. And while Frank seemed to have a less-than-exceptional scene, he did wonders with it (as usual). Julia also did a fantastic job last night - she was my second-favourite performer … coming in just slightly behind eventual winner Ross. But let’s take a look at each of them individually.

Frank was up first, and he played the part of a pet shop owner who needed to break the news of a lost cat to a couple who’d left their moggy with him while they went away. Before entering the scene, judge Tom Gleisner mentioned to host Shane Bourne that the night held certain surprises in store for our contestants, one of which being ‘beasties’. When Frank emerged and spoke to Shane, he told him he knew there were going to be ‘beasties’ in his scene. When asked why he knew this, he answered that his shirt said ‘Pet Stop’, … “and I’ve … augggh … got a brain!” Before telling Frank that their animal was a cat, its owners quizzed him about whether or not he’d worked out what kind of breed their pet was. He replied that they’d crossed a Jack Russell with a shitsu, but that he didn’t know jack shit about that. The same joke could have been used about a bull dog and a shih tsu, with a slightly altered punchline. He explained that the deluxe kennel differed from a regular kennel because it comes with an extra centimetre on all sides, plus a chaise lounge inside. When asked, Frank demonstrated the special ‘cat aerobics’ he gets all the cats to do in their kennels. He then gave us an extensive story about taking the cats to the greyhounds, partway through which he gave up and levelled with the couple: “Look, your cat’s been eaten”. Not eaten, said ensemble cast member Ed Kavalee, and Frank took the cue, agreeing: “No, just licked quite hard.” Moving over to the caged dogs that made up one wall of the set, and trying to open one of them, he discovered something: “You know what they’ve done? They’ve wired those shut so I can’t get at the dogs. Which, you know? I think is wise.” Finally, Ed had to admit to the couple that their cat Susie was missing, although Frank insisted: “No, dead!” Again, Ed had to correct Frank by repeating ‘Not dead - what’s the word we use?’, to which Frank asked, “Ohhh, … coma?” That wasn’t the word - it was ‘Misplaced’. It turns out that Frank had drawn a cartoon cat on the ‘wanted: dead or alive’ posters. Frank’s sugestion for how to make it up to the couple was that he was going to be their cat from now on. In the first pre-recorded segment, which featured our four erstwhile contestants standing next to a cardboard cut-out of the (supposedly) formerly-fat versions of themselves, spruiking a product called Mega Slim in a TV commercial, Frank told us that his wife likes the new him, because now, when they make love, she no longer screams under the weight of him. When asked what he had to say to his cardboard cut-out former self, he said, “Hey, it’s nice to see you’ve lost all that weight … and some of that height - that’s weird!” (because the cut-out stood about a foot taller than himself). When the TV ad’s voiceover guy said, “So it’s out with those old clothes, …” Frank finished: “… and in with the speedos … and you can glide with your floppy skin”, as he indicated imaginary ‘wings’ of flabby skin hanging underneath his raised forearms. In the second pre-recorded segment, which was a parody of Jamie’s Kitchen called ‘Café Sixteen’, Frank said he likes to throw the vegetables into the air and slice (although in reality it was more like ‘swat‘) at them with a big knife in order to cut them up. When a dissatisfied customer signalled him from across the restaurant, Frank smiled and waved, then walked away in mock-blissful innocence of there being anything wrong. When he did approach the customer, he tripped on his own foot as he approached him, tipped a jug of water over him, and in the apologetic fit that followed, he gulped down a mouthful of the customers’ wine. While the customer sat in his wet outfit, Frank ripped his own from his body for him to wear, then gulped down more of their wine. He finished the scene by thanking the head chef for giving him a chance to work there, and being the only person to trust him - and while shaking his hand, a crapload of cutlery fell out of his sleeve. For the group scene, which featured all four celebrities as a team of Olympic slalom athletes being questioned by a decidedly unimpressed official, the scene started with Frank, Ross, Matt and Julia entering the set on a slalom. Frank was at the back, and he said he found it difficult to grip on at the back because he was born without fingers, then held up his gloved hand to demonstrate that the glove’s fingers bent back to his hand because they were empty (because he wasn’t wearing the gloves properly). When the Olympic official asked them why they took last year off training, Julia said that she’d had a baby - and Frank added that he’d had one, too. He said he’d had an idea about how they can reduce wind resistance to increase their speed, and then revealed that his ‘big idea’ was that they don’t need both kidneys, so if they each removed one kidney and left a hole through the middle of their torsos, they could go much faster. He ended by admitting that they haven’t got the ‘downhill’ bit mastered yet, … “but as far as swaying left and right goes”, … then they all went on to demonstrate their coordination - but got it so terribly, amusingly wrong. He did a great job as usual, although he wasn’t the best of the night, IMHO - in fact, I don’t even think he was the second-best …

Ross was already making jokes with Shane before the show began, proper - saying that he’d recently recovered from a motorcycle accident, but that they were able to rebuild him. Apparently, he cost eight dollars. “I’m the eight-dollar man.” Then he affected an air of mock-honesty and confided in Shane: “To be honest with you, I’ve just found out that this isn’t a religious show”, and then suggested that with all the doors in their set, they should rent it out to Jehovah’s Witnesses for practice when they’re not filming the show. He came on for his scene dressed as an elfin king from some kind of Lord of the Rings-type story, and joked that he thought he was going to be on “Dancing With The Staff” (because of the ornate wooden staff in his hand). As he walked through the door and found two other elfin-type ensemble cast members in awe of his ‘return’ while a smoke machine added a level of mystery to the forest setting, Ross immediately said, “I don’t mean to alarm you, but your feet are actually on fire. I’ve told you two about pissing about with matches!” He was asked for the traditional greeting and performed a stupid but amusing dance. When asked a question by ensemble cast member (and current Neighbours recurring guest star - as Toadie’s former employer Tim Collins) Ben Anderson, the following exchange took place:

Ben: “How did you escape the droags of Voldar?”
Ross: “The what?”
Ben: “The droags.”
Ross: “How did I scrape them?”
Ben: “Escape them.”
Ross: “Oh, escape them, sorry - we’ll, I actually scraped them as a means of escape.”

He was asked about his dwarf companions, and he answered that they’re doing some kind of show on ice. A big Hollywood producer had seen them crossing the mountains and asked if they could wear skates. “Trouble is, their feet are too hairy. I was shaving them for hours.” Then he was asked about Lady Gwendoline. “I was shaving her for hours, as well. But that had nothing to do with the ice skating.” Then a tall wizard entered, and Ross’ casual “Oh, here he is” amused me. He was asked if he knew who it was, and he replied, “It’s my granddad.” It’s the wizard, came the reply. “Well, he would be, wouldn’t he! Look at him. He doesn’t work in a milk bar, does he!” The wizard asked Ross what tidings he brings, and Ross replied, “Oh, good ones. Very good ones. Yes. Whole box of tidings.” Perhaps it’s his accent that makes these simple statements sound so amusing - and perhaps it’s the flippant way he delivers them. Or more likely a combination of the two. The wizard noted that he was carrying the Staff of Nergal. Ross told him, “Well, I went into Bunnings, and it was on special, so I thought ‘I’ll have that’. It’s magical, but also, you can open windows, see? And it’s very good for rock-balancing.” Then he demonstrated how he could balance on the large boulder by using the staff as a counterpoint on the ground. When the wizard told him, “These are dark days, young lord,” Ross replied, “Yes they are,” and shouted over his shoulder, “Turn a light on!” He advised us how the fiercest creatures of all are bogans, and when asked how they can protect themselves from their demonic armies, he suggested that they could hide, because “… that’s always a popular favourite”. Another ensemble cast member suddenly popped out of a large tree stump, dressed up like a goblin, chanting, “The answer, the answer - I have the answer!” Without missing a beat, Ross said, “You want to get him on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, that one!” The goblin messenger then gave the elf king a riddle in a typically spooky and taunting voice:

“A spirited jig, it dances bright,
Diminishing every thing in sight.
Give it food and it will live,
Give it water, and it will die.”

Ross looked at him for a beat, then turned to the wizard and asked with a scowl, “Is he high?” (By the way, the answer to the riddle, my dear friends - if you’re interested - is ‘fire’.) Then there was a thunderous voice from the sky, and the wizard said it was “He whose name must not be spoken”, to which Ross did the obvious gag (but that’s alright, because it was the set-up that was obvious), asking: “What, John? Oops!” It was a highly enjoyable scene filled with many laughs, and it was pretty clear that it’d be a hard thing indeed to best Ross’ efforts during this episode. He was clearly the one to beat. This turned out to be particularly unfortunate news for Matt Tilley, because he was the next cab off the rank - and Ross’ scene was a tough one to follow. In the Mega Slim commercial pre-record, Ross said that the people from Mega Slim motivate you by releasing an angry panther into your house, and as you flee from it, you’ll lose weight. In the Jamie’s Kitchen pre-record, while basting pasta, he said he was a painter who thought he was originally being brought in to do some decorating, but he didn’t realise pasta would be involved. Dressed in kitchen whitewear, he said he learnt everything about working as a chef by watching Under Siege with Steven Segal, “… so when I’ve finished this, I’ll just find another chef and run out at him with a knife and slice him up”, and he then demonstrated his karate moves. When the head chef told Ross that he’d expressly asked him to use a ‘fartherling’, Ross answered, “Oh, I thought you said Father Ling, the Chinese priest who lives up the road, so he’s out the back now doing confession and kung-fu”. One of his diners requested bread that was more fresh than the bread on the table, so Ross tipped some water on it to moisten it up, before asking, “How about you, sir? Would you like some bread-water?” When asked why he had ‘Kelly’ (Julia) in tears earlier, he said it was because he was rubbing onions into her eye: “I couldn’t peel them, but she’s just got the perfect shape to … (motions grinding onions into her eye-socket)”. Amongst the suggestions he’s brought to the kitchen are that they use pepper spray instead of a grinder, an idea he got from his own criminal background. He was asked why he thought he should be kept in the program, and his answer was that he’s managed to bake his own hand into a loaf of bread - which is not an easy thing to do, apparently - and now he can’t get it off (then he waved his bread-covered hand in the air and accidentally knocked a bunch of ladles to the floor). Before entering the group scene, he told Shane he loved the outfit he was wearing, and that he’d never felt so free, before waving his lycra’d butt at the audience. As the slalom pulled into the scene, he jumped out of it, pretending to fall over the top of it - but when he did so, he inadvertently kicked Matt Tilley (who was behind him) in the groin - and Matt was seriously hurt, whacking Ross on the arm and telling him he’d seriously hurt him. According to Ross, they took over 30 minutes to complete their slalom run (instead of the normal 47 seconds) because they stopped off to do a bit of shopping. When the representative from the Australian Olympic Committee said they spent over a million dollars a year on them, he remarked that if they’d spent all that money, they should have picked up that he’s not Australian! When Julia said she’d had a baby, and Frank threw in that he’d had one too, Ross added, “I’ve got one now,” and bulged his stomach out to resemble a pregnant woman’s belly. He then demonstrated his dancing skills by throwing fake snowflakes in the air and swooping underneath them and performing his moves. He was brilliant and truly deserved the win. I hope we see him back on the show again.

Matt was playing a skin care specialist on a TV advertorial, although before entering the scene he told Shane that his guesses were that he was one of Larry Emdur’s teeth, or had just escaped from the Ponds Institute. I always love a “Ponds Institute” punchline - that gag has been amusing me for years, ever since I first heard the D-Gen gang use it in the 80s. I sincerely find it remarkably funny, so at this point I still held out high hopes for Tilley’s performance in his scene. He’d already made me laugh - could he live up to the hype throughout the next five minutes? Before walking through the blue door, he described the feeling of what he was about to do as being a bit like a first date - except that you don’t know if it’s going to be a man or a woman. He then said he was a bit nervous, but that … “it’s not good to be nervous when you’re wearing white, I reckon”. Upon entering the scene and finding two female ensemble cast members waiting for him (Roz Hammond and Nicola Parry), he affected an almost-transvestite-style voice and greeted them thus: “Hello boys!” They asked him what his product, Moxybrasion, actually is, and he replied, “Well, I’m so glad you asked!”, which is an excellent technique for stalling while he thinks up an answer. He said they take you through their unique seven-step process “… which you must pay for along the way”. They start by sandpapering the skin, then getting some spac filler, then sandpapering it again, then getting sued, … He was asked if it was a painful procedure, to which he replied, “Absolutely not! Nobody who’s lived has said it’s been painful.” The only side effects so far have been the current affair investigations. According to Matt’s character, the skin has three layers: the top, the middle and “my favourite” the bottom. He observed that the skin is also our biggest organ … in most cases. When one of the women produced a weird-looking apparatus, Matt called it “Daddy’s best friend”, then said he wouldn’t use it now because they didn’t have any towels - although it can also be used on your dinner. The worst thing about the story A Current Affair did on him was that he hadn’t been able to hide the bodies. One of his satisfied customers is none other than the high-profile politician Mr Paul Hansen (“as he’s now known”). Nicola asked him, “You claim you can take five years of a person’s face - could it take five years off my face?”, to which Matt replied, “I’d say a bottle of vodka could get you off your face!” It didn’t really answer the question or stay on topic at all - in fact, it switched gears midway through the illustration - but it got a laugh from the audience, and that’s all that matters. To a point. Anyway, a beautiful blonde model was brought out on to stage, and Matt was asked what he’d done to her. “Paid her” was his clever response. They then showed her ‘before shot’, which was of a 98-year-old woman, and asked him how he achieved his results. “Photoshop”, he replied. A good answer to finish the scene, but a bit of a yawn-inducing few minutes, all told. Sorry, Matt - I like you and wanted you to do better, but I think between your own nerves and the tediously dull scene you were given, it wasn’t your best work. Maybe next time? In the Mega Slim pre-recorded commercial, Matt said his secret to losing all his weight was that he ate the cardboard box and threw out the Mega Slim, while in the restaurant pre-recorded segment, when asked what his underprivileged background was, he said he didn’t have a Nintendo as a kid. He also said the hardest thing for him to learn is when things are hot - as he placed his hand on the hotplate and burnt himself. In the group scene, after being on the receiving end of Ross Noble’s heel in the groin as they came on stage, Matt (understandably) spent the first few minutes nursing his wounds. Literally. He stood pretty still with his hands in front of his injured bits ‘n’ pieces until the grumpy Olympic official stated that the Australian Olympic Committee spends over a million dollars a year on the team, and Matt butted in with, “How stupid are they!” He then told the official that his medical condition was cramps from holding his stomach in in his costume. Matt wasn’t terrible by any means, but he was, unfortunately, the dimmest shining star in a particularly bright bunch. I don’t think he was given much to work with, scenario-wise - and I think it’s fair to say that he’s used to being the wittiest one in the room (working on radio with Jo Stanley, Adam Richard and Troy Ellis). When you’re normally the funny one and suddenly find yourself in unfamiliar territory with a bunch of other, equally witty people who’ve all done this kind of thing before, it’s no wonder he came off the worst for wear. The true test will be whether he does any better on his next TGYH appearance (should he ever be lucky / unfortunate enough to receive another invitation).

Julia was the final celebrity to strut her stuff, and I thought she was hilarious. She played a ‘doctor in love’, and when Shane greeted her on stage, she pointed out that she was carrying a clipboard by saying, “And I’ve got a note … pad. See, I can’t even speak. I’m looking forward to getting in there.” Using a time-honoured technique of entering a scene with all guns blazing, Julia was encountered by Ed Kavalee who asked her, “What’s with the three-hour lunch break?”, to which she snapped, “Well, I was waiting for you; ya said you were going to join me, I’m sitting there alone with a chardonnay and a beer going warm, imagine my surprise when you don’t turn up!” The audience applauded this opening line, and well they should. Not only was it very amusing, but she just happened to nail her character in one inspired guess. She snapped at Ed when he placed his hand on her sleeve (“Don’t touch me like that!”), and when ensemble cast member Heidi Arena, playing the part of the hospital’s matron, asked her why she had told Mrs Scott that she could go home today - despite being in a coma - Julia answered, “Why let that stop her? Let her run free,” before turning to Ed and adding, sotto voice, you and I, down the pub, push her in, have a drink, go off to ‘eh-eh-ehh’ …” After the matron had left the room, Julia (whose character’s name was Dr Felicity West) started clicking away at the computer, and grumbled under her breath at Ed, “I’m going back to Lava Life, that’s what I’m doing”. Then - in true soapie style, at Ed’s “Doctor?”, she spun around and pleaded with him, “Why do you call me doctor? Call me Flick.” Ed asked her what’s wrong, saying she’d been ignoring him all morning. She spluttered back at him in surprise: “I’ve been ignoring … ?? Are you mental??” Another amusing piece of dialogue came when Ed asked her about last night, and she launched into an explanation of why she hadn’t rung him - because she was busy. It turns out they were actually in bed together, to which she confessed to having taken the drugs she was supposed to give to Mrs Scott, the coma patient. “I took them because I’m crazy for you!” she cried, in true melodramatic style. It was clear throughout this episode that she wasn’t just in a regular hospital scene - she played her role like she was on a sappy soapie like General Hospital or something … which only made it even more amusing. She told him she was leaving him, and that she needed some space to walk around him and take a look at what she was giving up. Suddenly, they were interrupted by a paging announcement for Doctor West - and she checked her ID card to be sure they were paging her. When doing so, she failed to actually listen to the announcement, so when Ed asked, “What’s a code yellow?”, she sighed and said, “Oh, I’m glad you were listening”, before explaining, “A code yellow, ah, it means an emergency of some kind. A heart attack … of love. Can you hear me when I say I love you?” Then she followed this by speaking in a funny voice into the end of his stethoscope. When he asked her what a PCR was, she ‘looked it up on the computer’ and declared that it was a practical cervical retraction … “Not appropriate for a man with a heart attack, but oh well.” He told her to look into his eyes, then asked her what she saw: “Contact lenses”. Suddenly, another doctor entered (Ben Anderson again) and seemed distressed to find Julia in Ed’s arms. Ed got her to tell the other doctor what they’ve been up to, so she proclaimed, “Okay, this is awkward … we’ve been making love to one another - with no clothes, sometimes.” The jilted doctor asked her why she’d cheated on him. Looking at Ed, she answered: “Because he’s young and stupid, and I like that in a man. He makes me feel important. You’re too smart with your Oxford degree and your this and your that and your Nobel Prize and your poet laureate - no! I want someone stupid and big and tall and dumb like a dog, ruff!” In the pre-recorded Mega Slim commercial, the only thing she had to say to her former self was, “Fatty!”, and in the restaurant-based pre-recorded segment, she admitted to not having known where chickens came from prior to getting the job in Café Sixteen. The group scene saw her admit to having had a baby during the slalom team’s year off training, and she suggested they could dance to make their downhill runs more interesting.

Ross was definitely the funniest of the bunch last night, and I very much enjoyed what he did with his scene. The others were also very good, but in my opinion Ross had already sewn up his victory with the gags he made with Shane during the opening segment, before anybody had even gone backstage to change into their costumes. I hope he comes back to the show soon.

You can watch Ross’ Elfin King scene for yourself by visiting the official website.


Friday, August 03, 2007

What Arrrgh Show; What Arrrgh Tragedy

Although my dear blogging friend Ms Fits gave Network Ten's new reality TV show Pirate Master a relative shellacking in the paper a while ago, I must confess to having a soft spot for this show. Why? Because I love pirates. Not as much as my other dear blogging friend Elaine loves pirates, but no one can love pirates more than she does, anyway - so she doesn't count.

What I love most about the show is the weekly treasure hunts that make up almost half of the hour. The contestants are randomly split into two teams (teams are never the same unless purely by chance), then they compete against the other team to be the first to find the buried treasure. They set out from the Picton Castle (the name of the pirate ship they're all living on throughout the show), row to a nearby island (each episode takes them to a different island with different buried treasure), and they use maps, booty traps and cryptic clues to locate the treasure chest filled with gold coins before the other team. The booty is then split amongst the winning team members (the captain gets more than anyone else, which has been a cruel but juicy twist to the bonds and friendships formed on the ship), and then someone is "cut adrift" at the end of the show. The captain chooses three people he wants gone, and the crew votes one of them out. But the captain must beware, for the crew possess the power to mutiny and cut them adrift instead (although only if the mutiny is unanimous).

Sound like Survivor on a boat? Well, it effectively is. Except that I don't really like Survivor, whereas Pirate Master doesn't take itself too seriously, and it's clear that the producers don't expect too much from their little show.

And as it turns out, that's a good thing. The show has been plagued with troubles, both here and in the US.

Shame. Aussie E-grade celebrities Cameron Daddo and Eden Gaha are heavily involved in the project (creator Bruck Bruckenheimer has often admitted to having a soft spot for Australians, having employed many Aussies over the years as his camera crews on most seasons of Survivor - he particularly likes their work ethic, which is why he hires them to film the other, top-rating show). Daddo is the show's host, and Gaha - inexplicably - is one of the Executive Producers. Just how the latter landed THAT gig, considering he was last seen as the near-invisible and hugely-underused vet on Channel Nine's Renovation Rescue a few years ago, I'll never know.

Cameron Daddo. I admit to still having a bit
of a crush on his wife (which originated in
my early teen years), Alison Brahe.

Eden Gaha: "Hey guys, remember me? ... No?"

The show's initial problems in the US amounted to much the same thing as the problems the show has encountered here in Australia as well: Basically, nobody's interested in watching it. Except for me, it seems.

However, whereas that's where the problems stop down here, back up there the situation has recently gotten a whole lot worse. One of the first contestants to be "cut adrift" on the show, District Attorney Cheryl (friend and co-conspirator of the at-first despised inaugural pirate captain Joe Don), committed suicide the other night - and the show has now been cancelled in the US. Apparently the remaining five episodes will be 'aired' on the official website, one per week, so that loyal viewers can see it through to the end (and so the winning contestant/s can receive their prizes, as prizes aren't awarded on TV shows until the episodes in question go to air - it's an advertising revenue thing). Cheryl's suicide is a tragic event, and it's an interesting insight into the human mind that the show has now probably gained more popularity than ever before. I bet the more black-hearted producers and network executives involved with this show in America would be hating themselves right about now -- here's the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the free press they're receiving and ride the wave of infamy to the end of the series with increased ratings (people will want to see Cheryl in the final episode, knowing with some sort of sick morbid curiosity that the woman they see smiling on their screens has since taken her own life). And yet these same hypothetical black-hearted producers know that if they were to screen the show on TV and be seen to 'profit' from the attention the show has received since Cheryl's death, the public's reaction will be outrage.

Cheryl Kosewicz: RIP.

The really nasty side of the coin for the producers of the show, is that the media is reporting that Cheryl left a message on fellow contestant Nessa's MySpace page not long before she ended her life, partly blaming the show for her decision. After reading said message for myself, I have to disagree. The full story is far more tragic and realistic (who'd kill themselves purely because of a TV they'd been on?).

Almost a month ago, Cheryl's boyfriend killed himself. That's awful enough, but when you realise that such a short time later she was to follow suit - presumably in desperation and despair - it compounds the misery for all. The comment Cheryl actually left on Nessa's MySpace page was the following:


28 Jun 2007 5:40 P

Truthfully, I've lost the strong Cherl and I'm just floating around lost. And this frik'n show doesn't help because it was such a contention between Ryan and I and plus its not getting good reviews.....then I made National Enquirer today so I'm just hitting it big....the hits keep on coming.

Sorry you couldn't make it to Vegas. It was a blast. Lets plan another trip in August - for one of the last shows....what do you think?"

So you see that the public's reaction to the show - not the show itself - was what was depressing Cheryl further. But to intimate that the compete story to Cheryl's sadness was somehow linked to the show is just nonsense (I know the reports said "blaming in part", but when no other reason is given, the implication is that the item referenced is the main cause). Clearly, the woman was already depressed beyond belief. She was grieving, and obviously taking it very badly. The truth of the matter is that the poor press and bad reviews the show was getting certainly wouldn't have helped her emotional state, but we can't go around pointing to the show as the main cause of her sorrow and the reason behind her decision. That's highly disrespectful; both to Cheryl, and her late boyfriend.

An eerie reminder of Cheryl is her MySpace page, which not (obviously) not been updated since a couple of days before her death.

So the show has been shafted to the Internet in the States. Meanwhile, before any of the above tragedy unfolded in America, the show was already attracting lower than low ratings in Australia, so the other week it was replaced with an hour-long Simpsons special (purportedly to celebrate the release of the movie), and then appeared at the extremely flattering new timeslot of 2pm Sundays. Considering that its original timeslot was 7:30pm Thursdays, this is quite a sideways shift.

TV Week still lists the show as appearing in its Thursday slot, so I'm not sure if I've already missed an episode on the weekend that's just passed ... seeing as I only found out about the scheduling change yesterday. Hopefully I'll be able to catch the show this Sunday and pick up exactly where I left off.

But if not, it's not the end of the world. (Note the lame and somewhat paraphrased Pirates of the Caribbean reference, there? Probably not, without me pointing it out like that. So I'm glad I did.)

The impressive Picton Castle.
Check out the size of this castle's moat!

So what does the future hold for Pirate Master? Well, I think it's safe to say there won't be a second season of the show. And if US audiences have to watch the remainder of the show online, I wonder if we'll ever see the end of the thing here, either. Will a 2pm timeslot on Sundays be any more fruitful for Ten than 7:30pm Thursdays? I can't exactly see people following it to its new (barely advertised) time. Except for me, of course - but I'm a different beast entirely. So maybe, in the wake of Cheryl's suicide, the show will be pulled from our screens here, as well. I certainly wouldn't put it past Ten to do something like that (it's not as if they haven't had a history of the same offence with other shows - Smallville, The 4400, Battlestar Galactica, Jericho, etc).

I know this much - if I'm forced to watch the last five episodes of the show from the Amercian website and read about the missing intervening episodes on Wikipedia or something, I will. But I'd prefer to watch it from start to finish like a normal person.

It might be a lame, sucky show that pales next to the likes of its older, more stable and popular cousin, Survivor. But the theme is more enjoyable, the b!tching is kept to a minimum (at least so far), the twists are in line with the pirate thing, and the challenges are all about hunting for hidden treasure. So it's WAY more exciting for the likes of me. I hope I get to watch it through.

PS - Pirate joke for everyone. Say it with me, now ... don't pretend like you don't know it ...

Q. Why are pirates pirates?

A. Because they arrrgh.