We’ve come a long way, but it’s finally the end of Shaq’s Big Challenge! This is quite the loss, since you know this is the show everyone’s talking about around the water cooler – if you work for the Miami Heat, that is. Have Shaq’s programs and the kids finally succeeded? Only time will tell!
Shaq sets off to the field for the final President’s Physical Fitness Challenge, and thousands of people fill the bleachers to watch, which is fairly disturbing. Not sure about you, but my idea of a good time isn’t watching obese kids run a mile. The whole county shows up with confetti and horns, and everyone goes completely nuts for Shaq’s Big Challenge, led by a marching band and a step team. James’s drunken mom compares it to the Superbowl. For once, we’re in complete agreement. Much like the Superbowl, the commercials will likely be the highlight of the show.
Shaq dances onto the field and chides the crowd for not cheering loudly enough for him. There’s an entire orchestra out there, but you can see how that wouldn’t be enough enthusiasm. He explains to the crowd that childhood obesity is the most critical issue facing our world today. Yeah, that Darfur shit is totally bogus, man. Then it’s time to bring out the kids and see how far they’ve come.
Chris is up first, weighing 206 pounds at the start. A giant screen rolls footage of how shamefully hefty he was, and even Chris’s dad’s mole feels embarrassed. After some sad clips, Chris runs out and he is SO SKINNY. He’s lost a total of 77 pounds, taking him to 129, and he honestly looks nothing like he did before. His entire face is different! Though he’s pretty humble about his progress, he could totally brag as much as he wanted to because he’s remarkably, impressively thin!
Next in line is Ariel, starting at 211 pounds. Her montage is full of sappy, irritating tears. She comes out and has lost 40 pounds, bringing her down to 171. I found Ariel’s Myspace last week, which I won’t link to since she’s just a kid and blah blah, privacycakes. She totally looked pregnant though, and I was hoping for some confirmation in this episode, since it was taped in June. I can’t really determine a final answer yet, but good God in heaven, I can determine her camel toe.
Toeing the line
Kevin is the next Challenger. Despite his original gain of nine pounds, he wound up dropping 52 in all, leaving him at 178. He’s not super skinny like Chris, but he definitely looks better! This is probably a good weight for him; his boyfriend will appreciate a little more cushion for the pushin’.
Leading up to James’s arrival, the marching band starts swaying and honks out a tune that goes “James, eat your vegetables!” He waddles out and lost 25 pounds, which is…not impressive for a nine-month period. He looks exactly the same, except for a brand new mullet. James finds the vegetable song offensive, so Shaq gets into his face and starts screaming it. When Shaq can’t wrestle a kid hard and fast, he settles for a good old fashioned shouting session.
Kit is fifth in line, and if there’s anyone who deserves to fail, it’s totally Kit. Her clips showcase what a freaking monster she is, emphasizing that over half of her body weight is fat, and she finally comes out 27 pounds lighter. She still weighs 236. Awesomely, as she runs onto the field, her mom kind of shakes her head like, “Dudes, I know. She dropped the ball pretty hard.”
Pretty in pink
Walter is last, and his mom is still alive! Her bra is showing, but hey, we’ll cut her some slack. Shaq says he fell in love with Walter, causing Kevin to whip out his dick in outrage. At the start, Walt weighed 285 pounds. After sticking to the program, he’s lost 64 pounds, putting him at 221. Unfortunately this has not helped his retardation. He runs out and rips his shirt off, and then he shows off his nonexistent muscles while grunting like he’s on the toilet. Oddly, the crowd yells, “We love you, Walter!” and he tells them he loves them too. Afterwards, he laments not getting numbers from the girls in the audience. Now that he’s 221, everyone wants to hit that. With a metal pole.
Dr. Colker talks about the Challengers’ incredible success. Still, they have to do better on their last President’s Challenge or they won’t have a case for the governor. Colker tells the kids there are children just like them watching this show on TV, and if tonight’s results are good, the Challengers will be their inspiration. Kit nods knowingly like she’s always bearing that burden. Have I mentioned I can’t stand her? Shaq says he’s proud of everyone no matter what happens, and then immediately contradicts himself and says they better pull through with some good numbers.
The test starts with sit-ups, and Chris must do 37 to meet the average. Luckily he manages 39 and doesn’t embarrass himself in front of the crowd. Through a miracle I can’t fathom, James pulls off 47. To celebrate, Tarik hoists him over the shoulder and slaps him repeatedly on the bottom. No one finds that creepy! It’s onto push-ups next, because the other kids must not have done very well, and Ariel does 15 more than the average. Her mom grins happily, revealing that she’s missing half her teeth. They sho did get some classy folk for this here program!
Yo mama’s so toothless, it takes her an hour to eat minute rice
Colker tells the crowd that everyone met the national average, but they’ll need a lot of encouragement for the mile run. Pull-ups are a big part of the Fitness Challenge too, but they’ve never done any of those, so I guess the President doesn’t care so much about that aspect. Shaq calls for a huddle, and then the kids line up while the marching band taps out a shitty beat.
And they’re off! Everyone is exhausted, but they all put the pedal to the metal. The average mile time for Kevin’s stats is 8:06, and he comes in at 7:31. Chris had to beat 9:20, which he does with 7:34. Ariel, who definitely looks pregnant as she’s running, makes it in 14 seconds before the average at 9:52. Walter says the screaming crowd motivated him, but even so, he finishes at 10:05 instead of 7:44. James finishes at 12:22 instead of 9:20, namely since he stopped for a Double Whopper in the middle of the race. Kit walks most of her mile, spliced with footage of her failures throughout the past nine months. She crosses the line but they never show her time, so let’s assume it took her like 30 minutes. Shaq says she finished thanks to positive thinking, which can take you anywhere you want to go. After all, he’s going to meet with the governor and it’s all due to his positive attitude! Surely he never doubted the outcome of this project, right? That would be so unlike him.
Now it’s time for the kids’ medical results, which Shaq claims is the most important part of all. It seems like he cared about their race times a little bit more, but Shaq is always right. He earned that power with his third grade education. At the Miami Children’s Hospital, Dr. Muinos gets the kids on treadmills again for another stress test. While Chris runs, Shaq talks about how he took Chris and rebuilt him to be better, stronger, and faster than before. Of course, Shaq wasn’t around for 99% of the workout sessions, but it seems appropriate that he gets all the credit.
Walter summarizes his test experience by sharing that baggy pants and treadmills do not mix. Shaq has to physically hold Walter’s trousers up, since no one has ever heard of a belt. Lasso him like a pig if you have to, Jesus Christ. Out of nowhere, Walt bursts into a rendition of Hello My Baby. It’s a testament to how long I’ve been recapping this show that I’m not even questioning it. I’m just like, right, it’s time for a sing-along. Shaq is positively tickled! Dr. Muinos starts singing with them, but he picks a completely different song that has no relevance. On the contrary, Hello My Baby is so perfect for the treadmill.
Walter says when he first learned about “the whole health thing,” he was pretty big. No shit. He’s no longer morbidly obese now, although they never say what category he actually fits into, other than large and creepy. Meanwhile, Big Fat Kit can barely fit into the MRI machine for her checkup. Dr. Muinos commends her for not quitting though and upon checking her over, he discovers her cholesterol is no longer abnormal. This brings her mom to tears because her kid might be a sack of lard, but at least her cholesterol is under control!
Dr. Muinos says even though some kids didn’t do so well, it’s significant that they all succeeded. By far though, the best child was Chris, who completely surpassed his weight loss goal. Shaq calls him a sexy beast, an appropriate comment for any adult to make about a young boy. Why not compliment his cock ring, too?
There are two days left before seeing the governor, so Shaq checks up on his three pilot programs. The after-school weight loss program expanded to over 200 kids, including an overweight dwarf in a motorized wheelchair. He has half a neck, so yeah, this seems like the perfect program for him to participate in. Get him on the track for the mile! Shaq asks the kid to throw a football for a touchdown, and even the dwarf looks like he’s wondering “Why the hell am I here?”
After playtime, Shaq and Colker meet with community leaders from the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Clubs, and the mayor of Broward County. It’s worth mentioning that his name is Josephus Eggelletion, Jr., which is the grandest name I’ve ever seen. They all take a seat on some folding chairs awkwardly placed in the middle of the field; I can only hope when Shaq meets with the governor, they have their session in the backseat of his car. The entire discussion consists of Mr. Eggelletion saying Broward County is proud of Shaq, and then everyone gets up and leaves. That wasn’t a time-filler at all!
At Pines Middle School, it’s the last meal of Tyler’s lunch program. Supposedly Tyler’s been refining his selections over the semester, and though I doubt that pretty severely, he’s finally brought his budget down to a dollar per plate. Today’s lunch is teriyaki chicken with ginger rice. Shaq covers his teeth in a mold of food as he serves lunch to the kids, telling them to step right up and get some chicken. He sounds just like Lou Ferrigno.
Hyuck hyuck hyuck
Over at Olsen Middle School, and it kills me that they differentiate between the two and yet somehow the kids attend both, Shaq inquires about the Wellness Wheel. Actor Frank Angelucci reports it’s been a success across the board. He proves this by bringing Shaq outside to the field, where they wrap their arms around each other and jump up and down about how good the idea was. Nothing like fellating yourself in the middle of the day, hey boys? Angelucci says the entire class was overweight when they began the program, but now every student is below that level. Liar. He also claims GPAs rose from 2.3 to 2.5, which means these kids are both fat and stupid. Since Shaq is both of those things, he’s delighted and invites Angelucci to meet the governor. He accepts, and oh boy, the governor will be thrilled.
The kids head out to pick up outfits for the meeting. Ariel opts to try on a pantsuit, since she’s a dyke, and then asks the clerk if he’d like her to try on anything else. He gives her a once-over that means “You are enormous,” but she tries on more outfits anyway. After shopping, Kevin’s parents take him to a place called Hair Style for a cut. Who trusts a place with a name like that? That’s like going to the Scissor Shack for an operation – never a smart plan. Kevin’s mom asks if he ever thought he’d look this good, and he says he had dreams about it. This makes her cry because Kevin is gay, and she doesn’t like that he dreams about men. Back at the store, Walter tries on a suit paired with sandals and says, “Look out, John Travolta, here I come! He’s not still alive, is he?” Walter is retarded.
For the big trip to Tallahassee, Shaq surprisingly charters a stretch limo for the Challengers, which carts them off to a private jet. He asks the kids if they like his plane and says, “You could get one, too, if you had a Marquis Jet Card.” Then he cocks his head and smiles at the camera. My, I wonder if Marquis Jet sponsors this show! As they travel along, Chris reads over his notecards, which is so freaking cute and studious, I just want to pinch his cheeks. On the other hand, Kevin rambles about how they’re going to change “the whole obesity matter.” Oh, is that what it’s called? Thanks for the technical info.
Everyone disembarks and piles into another limo, accompanied by all the experts. Ariel says if the governor won’t take any action, they’ll have to go bigger. Surely the president will be moved to tears when he finds out a kid can lose 25 whole pounds in nine months. Aces! The limo pulls up to the Florida State Capital for the much-anticipated appointment. Educated people know the building is actually called the Florida State Capitol, but the subtitle clearly says the former. I guess you learn something new every day! As my friend EvilPuppy put it, the editing for this show is done in Shaq’s basement.
Shaq decides that if the governor doesn’t do what he says, then they’ll have to start over at ground zero. This is different from what I was expecting, which was that he’d straddle him into submission. All the Challengers sweat and squirm while they wait for the meeting. What’s great is that they splice in footage of them talking about what a big deal it is to meet with the governor, but the clips are clearly from the early weeks of the program. Chris is enormous in his film, so the editor cropped the shot tight around his face to try to make him look different. You can’t fool me, Final Cut Pro!
Finally the governor, Charlie Crist, arrives in the conference room. He tells Shaq it’s an honor to have him there, which it isn’t, and then Shaq launches into his plan. Since Shaq wasn’t in school long enough to learn about public speaking, he reads directly off a sheet of printer paper. Punctuation also eludes him, so he reads as if everything were one long sentence. Brilliant! Governor Crist leans forward and frowns throughout the speech, which is the universal symbol for “Whatchu talkin’ ’bout, foo?”
You’re getting veeeery sleeeepy
Dale interjects about how the word “crisis” isn’t severe enough to describe how our apathy has zzzzz. When Dale goes off on a tangent, the whole room tends to tune out, so forgive me for following suit. Tyler interrupts and says he brought Governor Crist some lunch. On the left side of the tray, plates are piled with fast food, and on the right is an identical lunch from Pines Middle School. Then he shows his teriyaki chicken and ginger rice. As the camera backs up, the kids are literally hanging on the table, salivating. Skinny in body, fat at heart. Tyler says he saw a trail of drool coming from the governor’s mouth too, which is quite the classy comment to make about someone who’s deciding your fate.
The governor says if the food costs the same, he absolutely thinks they should make the switch to healthier meals. Joy Behar suggests including food plans on every website for the state of Florida, that way parents can log on and help their family. The governor immediately commends her. In return, she creams her panties.
The assistant principal of Olsen Middle speaks to the governor next, followed by a very nervous Frank Angelucci. He should know his lines a little better, being an actor and all. James clearly finds the whole event mind numbing, so he slouches across the table and drums his fingers against it. At this, Shaq hisses “Sit up! Sit up!” That’s probably the most professional way to go about it, but it’s also fucking hilarious. The kids don’t seem to have any involvement in the meeting, other than the governor randomly rubbing Ariel’s shoulder as Tarik starts his spiel. Wait a second, maybe she’s carrying the governor’s baby! The mystery is unraveled!
Governor Crist says Tarik’s work with the children is one of the most exciting things he’s ever seen. His life is dull. That’s Walter’s cue to stand up and start speaking, much to my disappointment. I’ve had fun recapping this show, but mother of pearl, I’ll be glad not to see Walter’s face anymore. He ends all his phrases with a question mark and follows up by mentioning that barely anyone picks on him anymore. He’s going to be one sad panda when he Googles his name and finds our site.
James shares that he enjoyed this program because now it’s easier to beat his friends up, and Kevin says, “I want to give you a message. It’s time for a change, and that time is now.” When kids talk like that, it seriously makes me want to throttle them. Shut your sass mouth, you’re 13 goddamn years old.
Somehow during the meeting, the entire state of Florida floods the Capitol building to cheer for Shaq. The kids walk out the front door and the whole crowd goes nuts. Seriously, they all cheer like it’s the end of a Christmas parade and Santa Claus is finally rolling down the street in his sleigh. A black kid in the crowd picks a little white boy up and waves him around in the air with joy.
The governor announces that every grade will have physical education daily, and all the kids in attendance lose their shit. We’re talking about screaming, running, jumping. It’s like a rave right there at the governor’s feet. Some children are actually crying with glee. What kid would be that excited about gym class? Just to be a bitch, Shaq takes the microphone and starts a chant of “Make us healthy.” The entire crowd gets into it, and you just wish the governor would rip the mic from his hands and be like, “Screw off, dickbag, now plans are canceled.”
Although they achieved their dream, Shaq makes sure to embarrass the Challengers in front of the audience by yelling, “I used to call them fat and freaks and all that, but now they’re healthy and beautiful!” Oh, thanks. Without Shaq as a mentor, I just have no idea where these children would be.
With the program completed, Chris is back to playing baseball. He says his dream of playing for the Yankees is a reality now, and his mom is signing him up for a new gym that he can attend with his dad. Consuelo is overjoyed!
The mole that ate Broward County
Before Kevin participated in Shaq’s Big Challenge, he saw his father working out but he never participated. Now they exercise together, so the program made them a lot closer. James says he’s learned new eating habits, like eating a piece of fruit. Of course, then he goes to the deli and orders half a pound of ham, but hey – he only lost 25 pounds, so what can we expect? Ariel says she’s glad not to be morbidly obese anymore, understatement of the century. I can’t mock her too much though because she tries on a dress afterwards and she looks sweet and charming. She’s not, but looks are deceiving. She says she’ll miss Kit and Chris, and even Kevin. These kids never seem to realize they attend the same middle school. Actually, they attend the same two schools! What luck!
Walter says the only difference for him after the program is that he has friends. On cue, there’s a knock at the door for a very staged visit from his workout buddies. They all seem terrified to enter his home, but they sit down to look at the school yearbook together. Walter then announces he was voted most popular at school, which – YEAH, OKAY. I bet they’re all lining up to be your friend, sport.
Shaq says he’ll keep pressing until obesity is gone, but something tells me that once they turned that camera off, Shaq’s interest waned ever so slightly. However, Governor Crist made P.E. mandatory for Florida schools, grades K through 5. He’s thinking about using the Wellness Wheel statewide, and Tyler’s lunches will be on the Broward County school menu this fall. The closing shot of the series is Kit running on a treadmill, yapping about how she has the rest of her life to lose this weight. That’s Fat Person Code for “I already gained 7 pounds back.”
With that, Shaq’s Big Challenge is complete! While I’m not even slightly sad to see it go, writing for TVgasm has been a total joy. Thanks for voting me in and for all your great comments! See you in the fall for I Love New York 2!