This week, VH1 treated us Mission: Man Band fans to two episodes in one night! It’s like Christmas has come early and I’m one very happy girl. I’m sure this decision was fueled by fan demand and the high ratings the show has gotten. VH1 just wants to finish season 1 as soon as possible so it can start airing season 2! Or… no one’s watching this and reruns of Hogan Knows Best and Rock of Love pull in more money. It’s anyone’s guess.
What do you mean, it’s over?!
Episode 1 of our double-header begins with Rich heading off to the hospital to get his blood tested to see if there’s been a change in his leukemia remission. If this is not the fodder for recaps, I don’t know what is. Nothing says funny like cancer. After the blood is drawn, Rich tells us that he has to sit there and wait for about an hour for the results, and the waiting kills him. But I thought the cancer was what’s killing him? Ba-dum-ching! See, comic gold, ladies and gentlemen. I’m going to hell. Luckily the perky nurse comes back with good news, and Rich is relieved and heads back to Chez Kirkpatrick.
The guys are in the car, driving to a dance rehearsal. Chris says the only reason he went to bed the night before was so he could jerk off, err I mean wake up thinking about the dancer girls. He announces that yesterday with the dancers was one of the greatest days of his life, and Rich is all like, hold the phone there buddy, that’s saying a lot. He’s got a point, since Rich only ranked auditioning the dancers as the second best day of his life – below making their music video and above the birth of his first child, remember. Chris really is playing it fast and loose naming the audition as number one. Seriously, VH1 missed a golden opportunity for a flashback there.
At rehearsal, the girls shake their asses while the guys congratulate themselves on such fine choices, Rich and Chris gawk like perverts, and Jeff proves to be a terrible dancer. Overall, the rehearsal goes pretty well and KM is pleased and notes that she thinks the group morale is improving. True, it had nowhere to go but up. Chris mentions that he wants mic stands for their second song, and KM says she can do that. Next is a wardrobe meeting. Angela, the woman of the annoying laugh, is back but thankfully she barely talks. Bryan tells Angela to think “Rat Pack” with his outfit, and after the wardrobe shenanigans she had last time with Bryan, Angela slaps a fedora on his head and calls it a day. The guys try on various articles of clothing, none age-appropriate, of course. Then again, who wants to see a band dressed in golf shorts and polos?
And they’re off to Miami! Jeff tells us that the Miami show is important since the audience will be comprised of their fan base, and if those people don’t like their music, there’s no hope for them. Yep, morale is definitely up. They first stop at a radio station to promote the Mansion show. By the way, I’ve accidentally typed “Manson” instead of “Mansion” a few times. How awesome would it be if these guys were opening up for Marilyn Manson? They’d be eaten alive.
This intern totally has a face for radio
Once on-air, the DJ asks them a few questions and Rich earnestly says, “At first we didn’t know if we were going to take it that seriously, but as we got–” Chris leans forward to interrupt, “It is a joke. It is a joke. It’s a joke on us.” Jeff shoots Chris a total wtf face, but I would have taken it one step further and punched him in the face. I know Chris was brought in as the biggest “name” and because they needed a place to shoot and he’s the only one not living with his parents, but they should really kick his ass to the curb.
KM tells us that while Chris takes the music seriously (he does?), he clowns on everything else, and the way he treats the project is the way that other people are going to learn to treat the project. She says he needs to express that Sureshot is real, and that it’s not a big joke. Word. Jeff does some quick damage control, saying that they take the music seriously, and Rich leans in to plug to Mansion show, asking people to please come out and support them. Chris, not having yet reached his douchebag quotient for the day, interrupts again to say that people should come to see how fat and ugly they’ve all gotten, and laugh and point saying “OMG he used to be my favorite!” Jeff’s molars scream for help as he grinds them mercilessly.
After Chris further obliterated any chance of success they may have had, the guys head over to Mansion for sound check. They all ooh and ahh over the marquee out front with their names on it, and Rich tells us that all his dreams are coming true and everything is getting really real.
Umm, who else would rather see who LeBron’s friends are?
Sound check for their first song goes well, but when Chris calls for the mic stands for the second song, he freaks out since the Mansion people evidently were never told to get mic stands. None of the other guys seem to care that much either way but CHRIS NEEDS HIS MIC STANDS, GODDAMMIT. He tells us that he thinks this is KM’s fault, since it’s the manager’s duty to make sure everything is running smoothly. He stomps over to her, wearing a sideways baseball hat and multiple chains I might add, and demands to know what happened, and whose mess up it was. KM admirably refrains from laughing in his face says it wasn’t her fault, if that’s what Chris is implying, and Chris snottily demands then whose was it. She says she’s trying to figure that out.
KM then treats us to her impression of Chris, screaming “Mic stands! Mic stands!” over and over. She’s got the prima donna, arm-waving bit down pat, but she needs to add a little more swearing. And bloatedness.
Rich tries to diffuse the tension by asking where they’re going to go get dinner. KM says China-something and Rich groans then half sings-half says “Chinese food makes me sick.” God I love that idiot. He’s the only one that makes this show bearable. At dinner, Rich holds back vomit while Chris continues his tirade about the mic stands, asking KM that what if the mic stands had been the dancers, something they really did need, something that was really important. I can guarantee that Chris would have never let the dancers go missing. He’s probably installed hidden cameras in their dressing room. You know, just to keep tabs on them. He’s responsible like that.
KM tells him that she doesn’t think he realizes how hard she’s been working, and Chris repeats that they didn’t have the mic stands. KM, who has now given in to that urge to laugh in his face, says that mic stands weren’t her fault. Chris asks her then who would you like to point at for whose fault it is? KM replies that she’d like to point at Chris, and accuses him of acting like this whole project is a joke. After a rehash of the same old argument, Chris storms away from the table, and KM follows him outside for some reason. I’d just let him play in traffic.
Outside, Chris tells her, “I’m not trying to be a baby about anything, I’m trying to do this as professional as possible, and when you sit there and tell us we’re not taking this seriously, and we’re busting our ass and doing all this stuff we’re doing, fuck you, you know what I’m saying, when you say that to us, on camera, that’s a slap in the face to us.” Oh man, there is so much wrong with that sentence and I’m not even talking about the failure to properly conjugate words. First, if the last 3 weeks have been Chris acting professionally, what the hell does him not acting professionally look like? I imagine it has something to do with each one of those dancers waiting in line at the free clinic. Second, I’m pretty sure KM was only calling you unprofessional, so way to drag everyone else into it. And third, sucks when people embarrass you on camera, doesn’t it Chris? Why don’t you go cry to Boozey about that?
KM interjects that the guys don’t see how much work she’s doing behind the scenes, begging VH1 to not quit taping this train wreck before it even makes it to air. She calls Chris out on the comments he made during the radio show, and tells him that he completely failed to promote the group or the Mansion show as he was supposed to. Chris replies that the guys have done this stuff a million times, and KM needs to sit back and realize they know what they’re doing. Chris’s ego doesn’t seem to realize there’s quite a difference between promoting an *NSYNC show that will sell out in less than a day, and a show for an unknown band of has-beens. Chris argues yet again that if they take themselves seriously, people are going to smack them in the face. Maybe, but calling yourself a joke repeatedly isn’t going to drum up respect either. God, Chris needs extensive therapy, not a career revival.
Just as quickly as it began, the fight is over, with Chris telling KM that he doesn’t want people like her screwing up their new career, and with Chris telling us that he thinks KM gets it, and hopefully won’t cause any more problems. Chris, honey, without KM you’d still be doing body shots off of slutty, aging groupies, so stfu.
After all these “hijinks” as Rich called them, it’s now right before the show and the guys are backstage, nervously getting ready. In fact, Rich tells us that he was so nervous he felt like he had to go to the bathroom… number 2… bad. Dude, that was TMI way back in the series premiere. Thanks for reminding us of your incontinence.
The guys are waiting in the wings to take the stage, and suddenly the music starts, earlier than expected. The guys panic for a moment, and just before they reach the first lines of the song, they grab Bryan and just shove him out onto the stage. Bryan is able to recover nicely, and instead of looking freaked out, he strolls onto the stage singing, fedora jauntily in place. The other guys follow him out, find their marks, and the song goes off without a hitch. I mean, the music still blows but there weren’t any technical disasters.
The second song goes fine as well, and Chris tells us that once the audience got over the nostalgia, it realized that the guys weren’t there to look cool (no shit), but rather they were there to make good music and have fun. I didn’t know singing words to music, both of which were written by someone else, without playing any instruments at all counts as “making” music, did you? And don’t get me started on his choice of the word “good.”
By the way, have you noticed that we still don’t have any idea what any of Sureshot’s songs are actually called? For a show that’s actually a marketing device in disguise, that’s some pretty shitty promotion, editors.
The guys all gush to the camera about how well the show went. Rich tells us that there were girls pulling their hair out (chemo solidarity, perhaps?) because they couldn’t believe the guys were back and in one group now. Bryan says it wasn’t just women in the front, it was dudes going nuts too, which was a cool feeling. He seems so proud of this fact, it’s just weird. Were there not gay men in 1992?
I’ll just keep my hair, thanks. When’s LeBron coming on?
After the show, the guys pose for pictures and are clearly very happy and relieved that the show was a success. Rich tells us that they’re no longer the guys that got booed, now they’re the guys that rocked the stage at Mansion. He goes on to say that the show solidified them, and they’re going to do the whole kit and caboodle together, and this is the show that’s going to set this bottle rocket off. I’m confused. Weren’t Caboodles those cheap, plastic jewelry boxes in the 80s? Are they going to hawk Sureshot Caboodles on QVC? With firecrackers inside? What? Who talks like this?
The next day, KM arrives to tell them she’s really happy with how the show went, and announces that she’s scheduled meetings with the top record companies in New York. VH1 plays a heavens parting sound effect, similar to what I heard in my head once I realized this is the last time I have to recap this show. Jeff tells us that the labels have gotten some standards (although they still let the occasional Paris Hilton slip by) in recent years, so for Sureshot to get its foot in the door is a big thing and the best news, career-wise, for some of them in a long time. Bryan admits he thinks he’s dreaming, since this is what he’s been hoping and praying for for 10 years.
KM thanks the guys for letting her be a part of the process, and Rich sincerely thanks her back for her involvement. Chris tells KM that he’s still watching her, then winks while she laughs uncomfortably. If Chris Kirkpatrick winked at me, I’d laugh nervously too while searching for the nearest exit. He tells us that the meetings are proof that KM has been doing her job rather than just sitting on her boney ass, and that he hopes they get a record deal and move forward.
Rich, who’s a little choked up, tells KM and the guys that this experience is amazing for him, and he’s so glad he’s doing it. He elaborates with us, saying that to him, this is a miracle, and proof that there has to be a higher power, and that prayers do work. He says that he doesn’t know why he’s so lucky – a perfect stranger gave him a chance at life, and now he’s getting another chance at music, and he has so much to be grateful for. Rich may not be able to rap worth a damn, but he gives this show and this group its heart.
With that Episode 1 comes to a close, so if you’re still with me, let’s continue on to Episode 2!
We start off with a long-winded summation of the show. Nothing we haven’t seen before here, but the narrator mentions Jeff’s “pop star identity crisis” which I think is a perfect description and just hysterical. The narrator also mentions Rich’s cancer and Bryan’s drinking but fails to say anything about Chris’s douchebaggery which I honestly think is the group’s biggest problem. Instead she gives Chris props for helping Bryan get back on the wagon. Blech. Stop kissing Kirkpatrick’s hairy ass, VH1.
We join Bryan in his final workout, and he tells us that while he dreads working out, he feels better about himself afterward. I don’t know what kind of workout he’s doing, but after I go to the gym I feel like death. Give me the Cheetos and the couch any day. Bryan says that he’s not too old to tackle his personal issues, or his weight, or the music- it’s all about making up in your mind that you’re going to get something done, and then doing it. For the record, Bryan lost a total of 13.5 pounds over the three-week period, and now weighs 286.5. He tells us that he’s putting the partying behind him and wants the guys to know he’s giving it 110%. Let’s give him a slow clap, everyone.
The after-school special continues as Rich and Chris head off to the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital to visit children with leukemia, lymphoma, and other serious illnesses. They visit various rooms, and Rich offers helpful advice and moral support to the children while Chris stands around awkwardly in the background. I can only assume Chris tagged along for camera time/image enhancement. Way to use sick kids to help yourself. Rich tells us that the visit really struck a chord in him, and the website for his foundation is shown briefly on the screen: richcroninhopefoundation.com
Meanwhile, KM is meeting with Bryan and Jeff (who thankfully doesn’t have any life lessons for us today) to discuss the NYC trip. She announces that she has chartered a private jet for the guys, and tells us that she wants them to have a little taste of what it could be like for them again if they play their cards right. This is such a cocktease. All I can say is enjoy it while it lasts, boys. You’ll be back in your mom’s minivan this time next week.
Rich and Chris return from the hospital, and Cox arrives with a new song for the guys to record so they have three songs total to show the execs in NYC. The guys eagerly tell Cox that the Mansion show went better than expected, and Cox tells us he can see how much the guys’ confidence levels have risen since this project began. They listen to the song, which is my favorite of the three they’ve done. As Jeff points out, it’s a little bit more R&B than the other two. Everyone likes it, and the guys head into the recording studio. Cox tells us he thinks they sound great, but it’s the opinions of the NYC execs that matter.
Before they take off for NYC, we pause for a little man love between Rich and Bryan. Rich tells Bryan that it’s nice to have someone believe in him again, because people walked away real fast last time when things got sour, to the point where Rich didn’t believe in himself anymore because no one believed in him. Bryan’s all like, yeah man, I know. They exchange “I love yous” and hug it out. That’s nice and all, but ugh, I don’t know how much more of this sappy stuff I can take.
So the guys arrive at the airport with KM, where the jet is waiting. They board dramatically, and once settled, Jeff tells everyone that after the meetings he’s hoping to get back on the jet with a reason to celebrate – which he’s really confident is going to happen. Chris points out Giants Stadium through the window and tells the guys to take note, since that’s where they’ll be playing in two years. C’mon, Chris! You guys will totally be playing bigger venues than the hot dog stand across the street from Giants Stadium! Like, definitely the pizza place. At least.
Atlantic Records is the first stop on the humiliation tour, and an executive named Steve Lunt will be their guide. Rich tells us he’s known Steve for a few years, and Steve’s passed on a few of Rich’s projects in the past. Shocking, I know, but not every music exec gets it right 100% of the time. Chris tells us it’s really nerve-wracking to have these meetings because often you hear things like, well we really liked you guys, good luck with what you’re doing, but it’s not my kind of thing, which really sucks. Better prepare yourself now for the suckfest, Chris.
Caption: Whoa, Ralph Lauren works for Atlantic Records?
They sit down for the meeting, and Steve says that there are 2 keys to the door: the songs have to be right and the exposure has to be right to get fans to know the group in this guise rather than their old guise. As Rich scratches his head over the word “guise”, Chris points out that they have three really good songs, and if you listen to them in order you can hear the evolution of the group over the three weeks they’ve been working together. Chris says their newest song is the first time that you can tell that they’re the guys from the bands they used to be in, but they’re not the band they used to be in. I’m not really sure if pointing out you sound like has-been boy banders thrown randomly together in a new group is the way to go there, Chris.
Our old guys? Like Justin and Nick? What do they have to do with this?
KM asks Steve what he thought about the songs, and Steve says he thought there was a danger area. Not that he didn’t like them, he clarifies, but that they weren’t as dynamic melodically as he personally would have liked. Surprisingly, Chris does not jump up and start pointing fingers at Cox. KM suggests they listen to the newest song, and once it starts, they all get really into it, bobbing their heads like a bunch of happy drinking birds. Even Steve seems to like it, and Jeff is flat-out chair dancing.
Bryan tells us that most music producers play the wait game, and even if they’re interested, they won’t show it at first. Rich refuses to predict anything to us, saying that you never can tell and he’s thought before that he “for sure” had record deals, and didn’t, and it’s a very unpredictable business. I wouldn’t call turning down shitty artists as “unpredictable”, Rich.
Steve turns down the music and says he definitely can hear the progression of the group, and that he thinks the song is stronger than the others. He says that if this is the direction that Sureshot is going, that’s an encouraging sign. With that, he tells them to get the hell out of his office. Jeff is somewhat bolstered by how the meeting went, and recalls his expertise in the music industry to tell us that getting positive feedback means you’re generally going in the right direction. Wow, thanks for that, cuz it’s totally different in, say, Human Resources. They pile into the elevator, and Chris thinks Steve dug it. Jeff isn’t as sure, and Chris is like, I could tell, I can tell the difference between a good meeting and a bad one. But not the difference between a good outfit and a bad one. That stumps Mr. Perception.
Regardless of the outcome of that meeting, next stop on the tour is Jive Records and executive Jeff Fenster, who is so the nerdy kid who got his ass kicked in grade school and now revels in a position of power. Bryan’s a little nervous going into this meeting, since he hasn’t ever met Fenster before, and Fenster evidently has a reputation for being hardcore and a huge asshole, err I mean ruthlessly honest. Bryan admits that it’s good to get an honest opinion, but sometimes it’s hard to hear the truth. In that case, I hope Bryan hasn’t found this site.
Revenge of the Nerd
Everyone gathers around the table with Fenster, and Cox steps in this time for a little sucking up. He tells Fenster that Fenster knows him, and knows he wouldn’t work on any whack projects. Fenster agrees, and says he knows Cox doesn’t just do anything, so Cox must really think there’s something here. Or he’s being paid a considerable sum by VH1. Fenster directs his attention to the guys, and says one of his concerns is that they’ve only been together for 3 weeks. He asks a rapid series of rhetorical questions- is this really a group? What do you really anticipate your live shows to be like? Have you really anticipated that? Worked on that?
Jeff timidly interjects to point out that they have performed live recently, and Fenster demands that they all get up right then and perform for him as if they were at Mansion. The guys hesitantly get up, and Bryan tells us it was weird to have to sing for their supper, since he’s 37 years old and the last time he did that was when he was about 19 years old. Nonetheless, they sing, and they sound okay. Rich raps, leaning in close to Fenster, trying to be all badass in his argyle sweater. Rich tells us that when he performs he gives 110%, and he doesn’t care if it’s for a guy, he’s gonna get in his face and rap to him. He’s definitely taking one for the team here, since I don’t think anybody wanted to get all up in Fenster’s face. Jeff messes up a few of the words due to nerves, and Bryan tells us that it was good for them to get up and sing since it shows they’re not above and beyond the situation, and they’re hungry for it. Yes, Bryan is definitely hungry.
Fenster hands in his verdict. He feels like they all still need some work for them really to feel like a group, performance-wise. He then raises his arm to point dramatically and says, “Cuz in the Fenster keep-it-real department, Bryan, Chris – weight issues, brothers.” Finally someone calls out Chris on his bloated, pasty ass! Fenster may be a tool but I love him for that. Even though he referred to himself in the third person. Bryan tells us that the weight comments weren’t the best to hear but it was constructive criticism and something he already knew was a problem. Chris unfortunately doesn’t comment. I would have liked to hear his reaction to that one. Although he’d probably try to find a way to blame KM for that, too.
KM asks Fenster if they can play the newest song, and the happy drinking birds start up again. Fenster leans over to whisper in Cox’s ear that “this is the best of the three songs you’ve done so far” and Chris tells us that he thinks the third song really got Fenster. Fenster announces that this gives him a good idea of where this group can go, and that while there are clearly things that need to be worked on, he got a good sense that maybe the guys know where they’re going. Maybe they do right now, but once Cox and KM jump ship (as soon as “it’s a wrap!” is called out), this whole thing is going to implode.
The meeting ends without any resolution, and Jeff tells us that they’re remaining positive about the meetings since no one kicked them out or said this is a joke. True, but that hardly translates to “sign here, boys.” KM tells the guys that she thinks the meeting with Fenster went well, since she’s sat through a lot of meetings with him and he’s always looking for things to criticize, and he usually doesn’t smile. He’s a charmer, that Fennie. Jeff says he thinks Fenster and Jive will make them an offer, but what he’s basing that on, only he knows.
The guys board the plane back to Orlando, and the cheese starts coming on thick, with black and white slow-mos as each guy reflects on the experience to us. Rich tells us this experience meant everything to him, that there was a time not too long ago when he didn’t think he was going to be able to walk again, or didn’t have much more time on this earth, but here he is, living his dreams to the fullest extent again by making more shitty music. Bryan says that he didn’t know what to expect, he just wanted an opportunity to show that he did still have a spark in there and he was going to find it underneath the layers of fat. Jeff tells us that the experience has been one of the best of his life, it’s been dark stuff for him the last couple of years, and he almost didn’t come to do the show because he was scared to leave mommy’s house, but he’s glad that he made the choice to take another risk in his life and his career. Chris, you’ll notice, doesn’t get a reflective montage, which is totally fitting seeing as though he didn’t take anything seriously and didn’t grow at all as a person.
As they sit on the plane, Rich tells the guys that it was amazing to see everyone make such major changes in such a short amount of time, especially because those changes came from within the four of them. He says they were the ones cheering each other up after the Magic game, congratulating each other after the show in Miami, the whole thing was about the four of them. He thinks that this three-week period is just the beginning of an amazing future.
Rich then tells us that they’re all officially a group, and that’s just amazing, and he sees the possibility of this lasting since they all really like each other and there are millions and millions of people out there who bought their records before and hopefully they’ll like them again. Chris tells us that the group is going to do other things and continue to work, and it was an amazing experience and he got everything out of it that he wanted to get out of it. Well I hope “tarnished reputation” was on that list Chris, since you certainly got that.
Bryan tells the guys that he loves them, and Chris pops open a bottle of champagne and then pours the foam all over the recovering alcoholic while waving the bottle in Bryan’s face at the same time. What a fitting final image of Mr. Kirkpatrick. The guys all high-five each other and laugh, while the screen fades to black and the following words appear: “With Rich’s leukemia still in remission, Sureshot continues to work with Bryan Michael Cox on new material. They are confident they’ll get a deal and a second chance.” So they didn’t get a deal from either Atlantic or Jive? With VH1′s influence, I’m honestly a little surprised. Hell, even Danity Kane got a deal. What a crappy way to end the show- yeah, they don’t have a deal yet, and if they didn’t get one by now they’re probably not ever going to, thanks for watching and come back for Flavor of Love 3, right here on VH1! I wasn’t expecting the fairy tale ending, but that really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Ugh.
Drink the booze, bitch!
I do wish Rich, Bryan, and Jeff the best, and if that means that Chris has to benefit as well, so be it. It’s a shame this show was as boring and slow as it was, because if you watch the extra clips on Vspot, a lot of the funniest stuff ended up there rather than in the actual show. Why, who knows. But judging from those clips, Rich totally deserves his own show. Whether intentionally or not, the kid’s hilarious.
Well, loyal readers, that brings us to the end of the first and most likely last season of Man Band. Thanks to all of you that read my recaps, and thanks especially to those of you that left comments. I can’t tell you how many times a week I check for new ones â˜º I’ll be covering Gossip Girl starting next week, so I hope to see all of you there!