Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Accelerate Your Life in the Navy (Bachelor 10 review)

"The Sorority Recruiter Sadly Did Not Accomplish Her Mission"

I feel bad for Erin. Not only did the financial analyst get the extended “blonde joke” edit, the show just happened to air her comments on her idea of a good time on the worst imaginable date. Ecstatic to get a NASCAR-style group date after being subjected to a Triathlon then a reality show boot camp with a disabled list, Erin tells Doctor Andy, “This is more my idea of a good time. But you know what would be even better? I’d love to take you shooting with me. It relaxes me to fire away.”

Andy does his usually non-commital, “You shoot guns? That sounds hot.”

Of course, ABC airs this hot-guns exchange unedited on the very day that Cho-Seung Hui killed thirty three people at Duke’s ACC rival Virginia Tech. It was just one of those collisions between the real world and reality tv that made my head spin with the dangers of our virtualized culture. I still have this image of all these terrified students texting one another on their cellphones and clicking on between messages. I confess, I watched the rest of the show anyway all the way through that weird faux porn scene at the end with Erin again. One of the Bachelorettes tries to use a corkscrew to open a champagne bottle then appears in one of the bedrooms with bottle in hand and Erin delivers a line straight out of Boogie Nights about where the cork might be popping.

Still, the most awkward moment for Erin or anyone else had to be Officer Andy’s odd ploy of getting the ladies alone and then telling them that he really wants them “to come out and be themselves.” Talk about your paradoxical incantations! It’s a variation on “I command you to be spontaneous.”

I’d feel more sorry for her, but the whole bit that started with “I just love fast cars” that ended with, “Gee, I have no idea how to shift gears,” was one too many trips to the clairol well of humor. The fact that Andy chose her the alone time over say Amanda didn’t reflect all that well on Dr. Pecs’s taste.

There’s being well-mannered, which is something he shares with the last two Bachelors, and there’s having actual charm. They’re not the same thing. If you want to bring someone out, you don’t command them to do it on cue. Real romantics have a knack for it. They make little stray comments that seem light and trivial, but then suddenly cut to the heart of the matter. They engage all the senses not just the words someone is saying and they pay exquisite attention to their “alone time” partner. In other words, they give their partners something to come out to. This guy so far is more of a dud stud. He shows off his pecs, his aircraft carrier, lets them massage him and the lady is supposed to either start kissing him or volunteering their “real” selves with him.

That’s the whole problem with this “Gentleman” bit. Don’t the producers ever watch movies? The really polite guy usually winds up being the lady’s second choice. The sparks are supposed to fly in the repartee where each manages to say just the right thing, ask the question that penetrates to the heart, etc. You want romance on this show? Find a guy who actually has the game for it.

Danielle, the Connecticut graphic-designer, sort of tries to go the intimacy route, but she breaks a couple other dating rules in the process. Most people don’t consider talking about old boyfriends as the best tactic on a date. In fact, some believe it’s in incredibly bad taste.

I’m not sure where that lands repeatedly talking about old dead boyfriends, but trying to establish a verbal rapport by way of Stephen King story is definitely a bit out there. Andy though doesn’t seem to mind, he gave the woman another rose. Perhaps it had more to do with decolletage on the driving date than the conversation. I look forward to Danielle maybe getting a home visit and doing a reprise of Meredith and Bob Guiney’s visit to Nana’s grave with the old dead boyfriend.

“Andy, he really seemed to like you. He wants us to be together. We’re destined to be together.” Danielle’s eyes go wide and she brings out a spool of duct tape and a ball gag.

“Uh, you say that he died in bed next to you one morning?” Andy glances back towards the car.

“Yes, of course, I thought I told you that.” Danielle makes involuntary stabbing motions with her left hand.

Jumping ahead a bit to Mission Accomplished 2, Andy seemed as actually sexual with the women as Tom Cruise did in that Stanley Kubrick movie with Nicole Kidman. I have to say that I was disappointed that the producers didn’t have Andy land in the helicopter on the flight deck in an orange flight suit, but maybe they’ll let him fire some U.S. attorneys in some later episode. Maybe I shouldn’t go there, but I really don’t like the subtle Navy recruitment message this season. It’s obviously no accident that Phil Stacy and Andy Baldwin got time off from the Navy to be on a reality show, but when they’re sending soldiers back to Iraq who still have post-traumatic stress and other injuries I find it disturbing that anyone’s calling Andy’s double date or boot camp any kind of “Reality.”

No, I’m not saying that they should have made Cindy Sheehan one of the bachelorettes and have them go on a group date to Guantanamo. I’m also not suggesting that the bachelorettes begin asking Andy’s opinions on the Watada case or the bombing of the Iraqi parliament. This is after all entertainment. It’s not the real news. It’s not even Fox news. I just ask that they be a little more realistic about what it means to be a “military wife’ at a time like this in a war like this. I think it’s slimy to try to use an aircraft carrier as a romantic backdrop. In the long term it didn’t work for the President, I hope to hell it doesn’t work for the Bachelor. “Hey baby, they transferred me from Pearl Harbor to Walter Reed this week. It makes me so proud to serve my country like this and support our troops in this way just like the White House.”

There’s a part of me that suspects that Andy Baldwin himself knows better. You notice how they mention his trip to Cambodia, but none of the ladies ever actually ask him about it? Okay, I should stop. I’m going to scare away all my readers. Before I do though, it might be really interesting to watch a movie like “Murder Ball” between Bachelor installments this season. There’s a scene at the very end, where they go to recruit wheelchair rugby players at military base. It’s still one of the most poignant images of all that’s right with America and all that’s wrong with the war that I’ve seen so far.

Anyway, a few people have noted that Tessa seems to be playing a sort of “Meredith” role this season. She actually shows some respect and genuine respect for Peyton prior to their dual for Andy. She’s been in tune with Andy’s foot fetish and she told a lame muffin joke, but that’s about as strange as she’s gotten. I do have to say that the alone time we saw between the two was hardly my idea of quality conversation. The first half with its talk of San Francisco tourist destinations sounded like a script for an updated Rice-a-Roni commercial. The second half consisted of Tessa saying “When I’m with you, I really want to be with you. When I’m away from you, I sometimes see this whole process as kind of crazy.”

Peyton took a less complex approach. “I really like you and I want to be with you.”
Is either actual romantic banter or deep conversation? Is there some personal quality of Andy’s that either of these women cares about? Do they laugh together? Do they respect or admire something about one another other than “He’s a navy doctor. I can see now that it’s a real job and he has such great muscles.”

I was a little surprised that he dumped Peyton to the shame of tri-Deltas everywhere. The camera kept showing Andy touching her first and letting go her of her last when he was in the presence of both ladies, though I think he does greet Tessa first on the ship.

Believe it or not, I thought Boot Camp made for pretty good tv. The bit with Bevin Powers’s possible ankle fracture did have this weird echo of “Improvised Vulcanized Device”, but I was genuinely sorry it didn’t play out. I wanted to see if Amber, the teacher who won the Triathlon or Bevin “Yes, Lou Gossett impressionist sir” wound up getting the rose.

Bevin does seem to be remarkably attuned to Doctor Andy’s foot fetish. I’m not sure how much it’s a function of the edit, but the physical chemistry between the two is very strong.

Other thoughts:

Tina: Doctor Tina got the “psycho” line, “They’re touching the man I’m going to marry.” You know if your future husband is going to get in a mud bath with five girls in bikinis and wrestle with all of them except you. I don’t think he’s exactly your future husband yet. She was also, as best I could tell, intriguingly silent about any prior relationships. I mean how many other guys would stick around after she sang the National Anthem? She got a rose anyway.

Nicole: When they get down to about 9 tends to be the sweet spot of the season. Lots of different possibilities, but you’re starting to get a clue about who the Bachelorettes are. That said, I know almost nothing about this lady. Was she the one who put vodka in that birthday cake?

Stephanie from Kansas: Okay, my pet theory is that if you give the Bachelor a massage in a bikini, you invariably get to the fantasy suite dates. She’s also providing a clear contrast to Stephanie from Slut Carolina and her “Can’t keep our hands off one another” approach to romance.

Stephanie from South Carolina: I think she somehow escaped from a Girls Gone Wild Video. The Gufus and Gallant bit with Andy in between the two Stephanies was fine tv. Stephanie rubbing up against Andy in the mud bath was even better with its primal-sexy goofiness. “Yes Admiral, this is my fiancée. We realized that we had a future together when I was mud wrestling with her along with four other ladies in bikinis. Thank you for letting me bring her along to Tailhook.”

Amber: Didn’t get many lines at all this time through. I hear that the ladies used Stephanie from South Carolina’s toothbrush on that bathroom floor then put it back in her toiletry case.

Kate: Took a shot at I’m really the domestic wholesome type. Andy kept her, but this guy is clearly into “flash” at some level. He didn’t exactly say, “Wow, that’s who I really am too.” She may need to put the ultra-short skirt back on that she wore on opening night.

Next week is Lake Tahoe. I've heard they're in negotiations with a very special guest to help advise Doctor Andy on his choices, Don Imus.

Chris- Don you do realize that these ladies are all someone's daughters, sisters, grandchildren and you're saying this on national television.

Imus- Hey, I was just being an entertainer. Does everyone have to be so politically correct? Besides, I've been nice to women a couple times. They should be coming forward to defend me right now.

Andy- You can't say those sorts of things. These ladies look so beautiful and they're all so accomplished.

Imus- Right, tell me about it rose boy.

Danielle comes into the room.

Danielle- You know Mr. Imus, I don't appreciate what you said about us. I have a boyfriend who died.

Scene goes to black and the next segment have the ladies going a boat ride and deciding to throw the guitar player who follows them around and strums during the romantic scenes overboard.

Eventually, we see a preview of a scene where an angry Andy breaks into the ladies house and screaming, “You wondering why I act and look so much like a gay porn star. Well, you can’t handle the truth!”

I am still hoping that cool looking drill seargent gets to be the next Bachelor. All these ladies with shaved heads getting roses, guest appearance by Demi Moore dressed as G.I. Jane.

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At 4/18/2007 01:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shooting entendre on the Virginia Tech day is the kind of impossible script turn that only Fat E can have the grueling metaview to bring off. She does impossibly eerie really well.

At 4/18/2007 08:41:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

It is indeed. They did have one home visit on the show a couple years ago where the Dad and the bachelor took out what looked like an AK47 to target shoot on one of the home visits. The daughter of that dad finished second.
Last Bachelor, there was a Dad who brought out a shotgun.

For whatever reason, reality television tends to skew slightly southwards culturally.

Anyway, I am thinking about those past Bachelor moments a bit.

At 5/09/2007 09:20:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tessa's best friend just seemed like she was jealous. she kept grilling him and asking about proposing and all, that was a bit presumptious of her. I just felt like the best friend was not being very genuine, but just a mean dirty girl. I like tessa and want her to win, but i dont think he best friend does. she was like, tessa came on the show just to have fun. tessa came on to look for love and try it. the mean best friend just made her look bad. I wish I could have been there to tell Samantha to just chill out and be nice. She was so fake, smiling and laughing. Totally think parents should interrogate, but should the ugly bizatchie best friend be doing that too? I don't think so.

At 5/09/2007 03:47:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

I thought Tessa's friend Samantha was a bit out there. I think she thought she was having fun with Andy, but if Tessa was serious at all about Andy it wasn't really cool to make him feel uncomfortable.

It was definitely an odd home visit, but didn't compare at all to Amber's.


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