Sniff sniff. My summer pleasure is gone. After several hilarious and heartwarming weeks, Beauty and the Geek wrapped up its solid rookie season tonight, and while we all cared who would take home the $250,000, the real question was how ridiculous would Richard be in this final hour. Well, he was pretty crazy, but his behavior wasn’t any different than in previous weeks, which might be why this finale — while sweet and funny — didn’t quite have that spark we saw in the early episodes. Maybe I’ve sort of become immune to Richard’s shenanigans, especially after last week’s over-the-top campfire episode (which I apologize for not recapping). Either way, whether you loved him or hated him, Richard is bound to become a small reality TV legend. The Urkel of The Fishbowl.The big finale opened up with an obligatory look back at the season. I instantly felt all warm and tingly as Brian McFayden’s joyfully bland voice narrated us through the ups and downs of living in the mansion. Why look, there’s Lauren throwing away her bottle rocket! Hey, there’s Caitilin breaking her nail! How now, it’s Richard getting his very first massage! So many memories. Awww, it’s Joe and Erika. Awww, Chuck’s awkward date with Scarlet. Awww, Brad’s herpes. Thanks Brian McFayFay. This has been the best opening evah!
Hmmm… oddly missing from this feel-good recap was Scarlet’s transformation from sweet flirt to hostile bitch. Seriously, did you see her last week? She made Shawn’s NPR voice stretch to vast new levels of soporific tonality. And by the way, I have a bone to pick with you, WB. Smack in the middle of last week’s episode — long before the elimination room — you went and aired a promo for the reunion show and REVEALED THE FINAL TWO TEAMS! What the f*ck?? Where’s your stupid little frog? I want to kill him.
Anyhoo, the recap finally ended with Brian McFayden asking the perennial question, “Who has made the biggest transformation?” Um, actually, shouldn’t you be asking, “Who has done the best at random trivia?” Just saying. I mean, Richard makes for good TV, but, um, he hasn’t really changed that much, unless you count spooning experience as a major transformation.
With last week’s elimination over and done with, Chuck and Caitilin waited anxiously in their suite for the victorious team to return. Chuck in particular was quite nervous because he desperately wanted to see his lovely Scarlet one last time. Sadly, he wouldn’t have the chance to whisper sweet nothings about Syria in her ear as Richard and Mindi returned instead.
“We’re back!” the duo squealed as they bounced into the room. I kind of liked their entrance. It was like a sitcom from 1973 –you know, maybe a long lost spinoff from Maude called Rich and Mindi. Ricardo Montalban and Catherine Helmond could play their uptight neighbors across the hall, and Charles Nelson Reilly could be their wacky landlord. Man, I would totally watch Rich and Mindi.
Anyway, even though he was a bundle of energy and excitement, Richard confessed, “I didn’t look Chuck in the eye because I was afraid that he would karate chop me.” Honestly, that would be awesome. Luckily for Richard, Chuck had other pressing matters on his mind. You guessed it: Scarlet. “I felt like the house got a lot bigger and a lot colder,” he said sadly, adding, “And my penis just got a lot limper too.”
Frustrated that his sweetie pie would no longer be with him, Chuck worked out his aggression by doing some pushups and swiping at the air, Rocky style. Yeah, it was about as intimidating as Billy Ocean singing “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Get Going.” Listen Chuck, you got two nosebleeds on the first episode and your body has all the definition of the Pillsbury Doughboy. Just do what you normally do when you get frustrated: write an essay about Quaker meetings.
Anyway, we moved from this silly montage to Richard, who was now prancing around in red sweatpants and a wife-beater. One word, ladies: HOT. I don’t know how Rachel Perry overlooked him for Stripsearch. Something tells me there’ll be a nice spread waiting for him in the Men of Reality TV Calendar for 2006…
Well, with Chuck punching the air and Richard wearing a skimpy outfit, it was only a matter of time before these two forces came together for one über-Geek moment. For whatever reason, they began practicing martial arts moves on each other, with Richard telling us, “With the flick of a wrist, he can kill me.” Uh, Richard, even a one armed toddler can kill you. It’s not that hard, really.
Nevertheless, this segment quickly turned nasty as the two guys opted to meditate with their shirts off. Mmmm… sweaty, pale geeks. Excuse me now while I gouge out my eyes. Honestly, all I want to do is go over to the corner, curl up into a little ball, and suck my thumb.
Your epidermis is showing! Seriously, cover it up.
With the shirtless male bonding over, Chuck and Richard seemed to be on better terms, causing Mindi to comment, “I don’t know what came over either of them.” Me neither, but I hope it goes away (or at least encourages them to keep their shirts on now).
The next morning, the two remaining teams made their way down to the living room where Brian McFayden greeted them from behind his little podium. I’m still trying to figure out its purpose. It’s not like Brian’s holding an auction. Maybe it’s there as more of a guardrail, you know, in case the flaxen-haired host collapses under the weight of his own blandness. Nevertheless, McFayden announced that the teams would have a day off before the final challenge, but that in the meantime, each person should show his or her partner an activity that he or she excels at. Well, that’s not much of a day off now, IS IT? Thanks for lying to us, BRIAN. Why don’t you go find Suchin Pak and make little MTV News babies with her. Or is Gideon Yago more your speed? Shut up, Brian McFayden. I hope Sway beats you up and then gags you with his tam.
Ha, that’ll teach him.
Anyway, Chuck took Caitilin to a martial arts dojo where he taught her some of the basic moves of karate. Or maybe it was tai chi. I don’t know. I wasn’t paying that close attention. All I know is that Caitilin kept saying “Kia” with all the bloodlust of a librarian smiling at her desk. Chuck meanwhile exorcized years of sexual frustration through quick, loud bursts of rage. Later, he had Caitilin punch him in the stomach over and over again while he simply said “Good” or “That’s good” or “God, I wish you were Scarlet.” Okay, he didn’t say that last one, but there was something creepy and sadomasochistic about the entire experience. It kind of made me pine for the simple days of watching Chuck and Richard meditate shirtless.
Elsewhere in Los Angeles, Mindi and Richard shared a bonding moment as she taught him all about kayaking. Things were a little rough at first as Richard found himself careening into various boats and flotsam in the water, but eventually he got the hang of it, ultimately heaping praise upon the sport: “This is better than sunbathing because you could theoretically do this in the nude.” A) You can sunbathe in the nude; B) Richard, please don’t kayak in the nude; and C) seriously, do NOT kayak in the nude. We already saw you shirtless today. Let’s just keep it at that.
After Richard and Mindi had their adventures on the lake, the two settled down on a hillside and had a picnic. Awww. Only this show could make me smile sweetly at such a simple activity. Maybe that’s because unlike other beauty/geek shows (ahem, Average Joe: Hawaii), the scene wasn’t ruined by an errant bomb or roving submarine. Nevertheless, at this sunshiney picnic, Mindi announced, “If we won, I would make out with you.” Whaaa? Okay, NOW I have a vested interest in seeing the results of this competition. Please let Mindi and Richard win. I know the image of them making out might be so awkward and terrible that it will be forever seared into my brain, but I’m willing to take that risk. PLEASE.
Back at the house, it was time for Caitilin to showcase her expertise. In this case, it was cooking. We then spent five minutes watching her prepare a lovely salmon meal while Chuck battled with low-level OCD. The poor guy scrubbed down so rigorously, I thought he was going to do an autopsy on the asparagus.
As for Richard, his activity was actually fairly heartfelt. He brought Mindi into a room romantically decked out in rose petals and candles and then made passionate love to her. Ew, no. Sorry, I don’t know why I just went there. Truth was that they did enter a romantically decorated room, but only so Richard could play the piano for Mindi. He dazzled her with some Scott Joplin, and for once, we actually got the sense that Richard was somehow being honest as he communicated through the music. Even later as he sung a dopey song (“Mindy / It’s windy / when you’re not with me”), Richard seemed oddly sincere. “I really wish we had a piano the whole time,” said Mindi later, noting its calming effect on her partner. She then added, “Some Ritalin would have helped too.”
The next day, both teams fretted in anticipation of the final challenge, a trial so grandiose and daunting that the producers had no option other than to shroud it in secrecy. With only hours left in the house, the contestants turned introspective as they contemplated what they had learned. Mindi noted that she had learned to speak up for herself and not be a pushover. Uh, that’s great, but how exactly did she do that? By building model rockets? Calculating sales tax? Wearing an oversized bikini bottom? Eh, I won’t press it too much because Mindi’s my favorite cast member at this point. She can really do no wrong in my book.
I guess if there’s anything that should make Mindi feel better, it’s that she’s proven to be an ace with rudimentary trivia. “She’s the geek, and I’m just the beauty,” joked Richard, clearly never having seen himself meditate shirtless before. Ah, but the Lil’ Woody Allen was on a roll. When Chuck told him to check out some books, Richard replied, “I won’t check out those books. I’ll chuck them out.” This just in: Richard will be performing at the Rubenstein 50th Anniversary Party at Temple Beth-Shalom on Tuesday. The show is free, but donations to Hadassah are always welcome.
Actually, Richard’s best pun was purely unintentional: “I gotta make out with Mindi, and it’s all coming to a head tonight.” Yeah, now that’s the sort of pun I like! Juvenile and raunchy! Yay!
Well, after hours of nervousness that sent Richard scouring through his GIGANTIC wallet (ah, hence the “hip wings” — it’s starting to make sense now), the teams dressed up all purdy and headed down to the Elimination Room to find their intrepid (and underdressed) leader, Brian McFayden. Alleged irony hung thick in the air as Brian noted that Chuck and Caitilin were facing off against the very team they had sent to the Elimination Room three times.
“Isn’t this ironic?” McFayden asked.
“Don’t you think?” replied Mindi. Wait… did Mindi just make an Alanis Morissette reference? Hmmm… I might have to hate her now. No, not because she thought she was being clever. But because I just totally went to the iTunes store to see if other songs from Jagged Little Pill would be appropriate for Beauty and the Geek jokes. Amazingly, nearly all the tracks are ripe for punnage (“You Oughta Know,” “You Learn,” “All I Really Want” etc.) Sadly, had I known this, I would have laced the whole recap with Alanis puns, just as an experiment. Oh well. I’m sure I’ll be FORGIVEN! Ha! I just did it! One might say that was PERFECT. Oh, I am on fire. I should go tell MARY JANE. Eh, it’s over now.
Okay, so let’s get right into the meat of this final challenge. The way this was going to work was that Brian was going to ask each person questions about his or her partner. The team with the most correct answers would win the big prize. Oh great. Who would have thought this whole transformation process would come down to stupid trivia… AGAIN.
Chuck and Caitilin were up first, and they immediately hit a bump in the road. Brian asked Caitilin where Chuck was born, and she replied “Sioux Falls, Iowa.” (Not to be confused with Sioux Falls, South Dakota). The correct answer: Atlanta, Georgia. Yeah, not even close. I guess that’ll happen when you MAKE UP A GEOGRAPHICAL LOCATION.
Later, Chuck got tripped up on the same question, incorrectly saying his partner was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Caitilin tried to make him feel better as she chirped, “Good try, you were close!” Yeah, at least your city actually existed, Chuck.
As for the rest of the questions, the plucky team answered them all correctly. Normally you’d think that would be boring, but I was highly entertained watching Brian McFayden’s various reactions, which varied nonsensically from giddy glee to sneering animosity. Eventually, by the last question, he simply busted out in giggles, which had me wondering whether or not he’d been subject to some strange Ashton Kutcher punking.
Once our Nordic-in-looks, Irish-in-name host calmed down, he brought in Richard and Mindi for their questioning. “Let’s play, shall we?” LET’S!
Off the bat, Mindi flubbed her first question — the old “Where was your partner born?” trick. Next question please.
“What country did Mindi visit to perform at the World’s Fair?” Wait, what? Mindi performed at the World’s Fair? What the? Can we get an explanation? You can’t just throw that out there, Brian. Explain. EXPLAIN!
Well, we didn’t get an explanation, and even worse, Richard had the wrong answer, which meant he and Mindi were perilously close to flunking out and never swapping spit as we had hoped. “You get this next question wrong, Chuck and Caitilin will walk out of here with $250,000,” said Brian happily. Technically, Mindi and Richard could get any question wrong and lose. It didn’t have to be that very next one. Wow, I really sound like Chuck right now. I’ll just shut up and think of more Alanis puns…
Speaking of Chuck, he looked about ready to shit himself. He had that faux-grin on his face — you know, the kind that seemed to say, “I’m about two seconds away from a bloody nose.” His anxiety stemmed from the fact that Richard and Mindi were launching an amazing comeback. Suddenly, it was 8 to 5. Then 8 to 6. 8 to 7. And… tiebreaker! Woohooo! Extra innings! OT!
Okay, so sudden death. Brian asked the girls questions which they both got right. Now it was time for the guys. Brian asked each Geek what his partner’s middle name was. Chuck managed to correctly answer “Assimo” or something that sounded like that. Honestly, I really don’t know what’s going on with Caitilin’s names. As for Richard, well, he didn’t fare as well. He guessed that Mindi’s middle name was “Jackie,” and, well, any hope we had for that make-out session pretty much went down the tubes at that point. Chuck and Caitilin won the grand prize, causing Brian to announce, “You are no longer the Beauty and the Geek!” Huh? All season long the promos have been asking us “who will be crowned Beauty and the Geek?” WTF, Brian McFayden? I hope Serena Altschul comes out from wherever she’s been hiding and BEATS YOU.
Ah yes. It was all over. As the show wrapped up, we had some perfunctory interviews with the finalists as they all patted themselves on the back for growing so much. “When I first met Richard, he was the nerd of the nerds,” said Mindi. Yes. And now he’s only the nerd of… nerds still. Okay, so not everyone grew the same amount, but hey, kudos to Ashton Kutcher for putting together a fine social experiment. Can’t wait to see the reunion show next week.
What did you think of the finale? Were you happy with who won?