Sorry it has taken me so long to deliver my opinion on the first episode of Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Inferno II. After some months of unemployment bliss, I found a full time job. Much to my surprise, this job has real responsibilities and stuff, so I can’t stay up to 3AM to finish my posts anymore. I would have put a little more effort into getting my recap out in a more timely fashion, but there was no elimination, so hopefully the suspense was not killing anybody. This season, we return to The Inferno, a challenge that had plenty of drama in its first incarnation, but the highlights were Road Rules team trying to get rid of Katie almost every week, but failing, and crazy Mormon rocker Julie trying to send Veronica to a messy and well-deserved demise during one of the tasks.Bunim/Murray has been trying to mix things up in these reunion challenges, specifically, they are looking for a way to mix up the teams and get a little variety. At first, it was always Real World vs. Road Rules, but the Road Rulers were taking over as of late. Battle of the Sexes was one attempt to mix things up, but the girls were not enough of a match physically, and the competitions did not take into account any physical differences, and so the girls pretty much got thumped the whole time. The Inferno II puts a new twist on the makeup of the teams, with Good Guys against the Bad Asses.
We’ll have to wait and see if this new way of deciding teams is going to be any good, but I there are some changes that make for an interesting game. These challenges are always plagued by the way a team chooses who is going to be eliminated, or in the case of the Inferno or Gauntlet, which team member is going to compete to stay home. In the last Inferno, the teammate’s picked a combatant for the Inferno, but if they did well enough in a second challenge, they could send somebody else to the Inferno. And even if they did get to the Inferno, they had a chance to save themselves by going head to head against a member of the other team and winning.
In practice, that didn’t really help for selection, because teammates on these challenges tend to be very cliquey and it’s easy to pick on somebody you don’t like. Need more proof? Just ask Sarah and Katie. The Inferno II tries to make things a little more fair by having the opposing team nominate somebody to go the Inferno. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that a person won’t be singled out more often, it is much more likely that they will be singled out because they are a weak player than a personality conflict. This also puts some more strategy in the choice. Do you pick one of the other team’s weaker players knowing they have a good chance of getting eliminated, or do you pick a stronger player, hoping to knock off one of the big guns? It’s enough to take the edge off of my cynicism, at least for a little while.
As I said before, there may be some questions about the selection of the cast, and their is one notable absence among them all – Coral is not a member of either team. Yes, the one person we all thought we be included in ever reunion challenge for the remainder of time is not a part of the latest trip to Mexico. I don’t follow Real World gossip, so I don’t know why she chose not to go/was left off, but we will have to do with the Miz and Veronica, not to mention new stalwarts Rachel, Abram, Darrell, and Tonya to satisfy our lust for recycled contestants.
The teams make their way into the new Inferno. Last year, it was outside, but this year it is inside and a lot more menacing. Several people were prompted mentioned that it looks like they were actually in hell. Dave Mirra also took this time to announce the teams to each other, as if they hadn’t already figured it out on the flight from Los Angeles, or during the times they see each other at parties, birthdays, and The Saddle Ranch. The teams are:
Good Guys: Brad (San Diego), Darrell (Campus Crawl), Jamie (San Diego), Jodi (X-treme), Jon (Los Angeles), Julie (New Orleans), Landon (Philadelphia), Mike (Back to New York), Robin (San Diego), and Shavonda (Philadelphia). The Bad Asses: Abram (South Pacific), Beth (Los Angeles), CT (Paris), Dan (Miami), Derrick (X-treme), Karamo (Philadelphia), Rachel (Campus Crawl), Tina (South Pacific), Tonya (Chicago), Veronica (Semester at Sea).
I have a few questions about these teams. I know that there was this whole voting thing to pick who would be on each team, but do we really think this is how they picked them out? Overall the choices are good, except for Jon and Beth who are usually very boring and uninteresting on these things, but I do question who was put on who. I really wouldn’t call this Good Guys vs. Bad Asses, but rather Jerks vs. Slightly Smaller Jerks. And what are they trying to say by putting all of the gay teammate’s on the Bad Asses team? Do the voters think all homosexuals are evil, or just not to be trusted? Couldn’t we have brought back Sophia or Ruthie to show that gay people are nice too?
After the introduction to their Inferno battleground, they all got to visit their new house. I can believe the first time these people are in front of the camera and they go crazy about their fly crib, but some of these people have been on some form of MTV show five or six times. Of course you have a sweet house you idiots. I challenge the producers to one day put them in a dump. That would truly show you who is in it just for the money, and who is just so desperate to be on TV and grab some fame, they will say yes to anything. I know you have to have something that you don’t mind getting completely torn apart, but why not some cinderblocks and a tin roof? Imagine how difficult these people are when they have bed lice. And don’t give them any good booze. Force them to live off of Natty Light, Old English, and Zhenka. That is good TV people.
The first challenge of the next day took place on the beach, and it afforded us the chance to see how the Bad Asses were going to try and intimidate the Good Guys. Veronica tried really hard in her polka dot pink bikini, and nothing says intimidation like the ever so jacked Dan and his bleached blonde hair frolicking in the surf.
Team Bad Asses really didn’t need to do any intimidation, because the challenge looked to be plenty physical enough. The two teams would split up into pairs, and would compete in a number of physical tasks in the sand and surf, while a couple of Navy SEALs barked out orders. If they weren’t performing up to task, the SEAL would tell them that they suck, and they would be eliminated. As a final insult, they were forced to ring a bell when they were eliminated, just to show how manly they weren’t.
I am all for this sort of competition, but I think you have to have something where the elimination is not up to the subjective belief of one person how badly you are doing. I don’t think either of the SEALs is going to favor one team or another, but how do we know that they are using the same exact criteria. Plus, they can’t keep an eye on everybody, somebody could just goof off until they got near, not actually having to compete the whole time.
Reservations aside, the teams paired off. Since the winner would be whoever had the last team standing, it made sense to pair off your two strongest competitors together, but this was lost upon Tonya. She complained that she and her partner weren’t a good match, but the point wasn’t having a bunch of people that would do well together. There was no cumulative prize for the team that had more people last longer, it all came down to one team. There fore, you have your strongest team, and everybody else. Dan tried to make this point to Tonya, and it bruised her ego, and she started to wine. Even though they are all Bad Asses, they can still hate each other, and this should be for some interesting episodes.
The parts of the competition did not look hard at first, but the length of time they had to spend completing the tasks made it difficult. They did things like wheelarrows to the surf and back, pushups, raising a heavy log above their head, and killer leg lifts sure to burn a hole in your abs. People dropped off quickly, some because they were too exhausted, and some because the tasks were to challenging. For instance, Karamo made it a point note that as soon as he gets to the water, he only thinks about drowning and nothing else. Gotta love those Bad Asses, and their killer instincts.
Eventually, the game came down to two teams. Mike and Landon were up against Derrick and Abram. This is a good matchup because they are all in good shape, and all seem to be strong competitors. Although I think it would have made it more interesting if they had made Landon and Derrick drink after every cycle, things were exciting enough without it. In the end, it was the tenacity of Derrick and Abram that won out, meaning the Bad Asses were the first to cash in on what can be up to $300,000 worth of prize money. As the kids say, that is some serious coin.
Their performances behind them, the task came down to picking out who would be going into the Inferno. As I said before, the opposite teams make the nominations, and the person who is nominated does have a chance to save themselves. There is a bunch of strategy involved, especially in the early going, especially for a bunch of people who are seven, eight, and nine year seniors, and would list “Cashier – Hooters” on an MBA application.
After much was deliberated, the Bad Asses chose Mike, and the Good Guys chose Dan. Next week, we have our second challenge and the first Inferno match up. It might be a little early to tell, but this season should at least be better than Battle of the Sexes II (not a ringing endorsement, I know).
What do you think of the new season? How are the cast and teams? Who is going to win in the end?