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  1. Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. That was the tongue-in-cheek warning on the first page of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain but as with most of Twain’s writings the message was delivered on two levels – the literal and the allegorical (or symbolic or coded). Fortunately for me, Twain’s works are in the public domain vis-à-vis copyright or else his estate might have long ago come after me for royalties from a derivative work because I borrowed from (ahem) his method at will. I would have nothing to pay them with but internet likes but who knows they might want their cut anyway. In the case of the final episode, however, I am unable to find a narrative and therefore unable to write one, so scattershot was the production and the editing. However, the motives, morals and plot were rather evident behind the scenes even if they remained unclear and chaotic under the unblinking camera eye. As others have noted, the producers were not fighting a war of attrition; they were fighting a war AGAINST attrition. Having flown the circus to the Australian bush, their animals began wandering off – the potential for yet another invasive species endangering native wildlife was great. In a show where every cough and sneeze is recorded in HD video and Dolby sound, they managed to allow Madison to leave the production 2 full days before the finale without so much as a still photograph of her departure. It’s tempting to put this down to gross incompetence but perhaps the crew was granted some R&R time and were off duty prior to the engagement/disengagement scenes. The blurring of episodic lines between the finale and ATFR and some prior shows meant that The Proposal (kettle drums, violins, wind chimes) was shoehorned into the first quarter hour of this airing which no doubt raised the antennae of every person watching who had an IQ above room temperature. There was simply no way they were going to fill 1 hr 45 min (less commercials) with Hannah & Peter cooing like doves on the couch. As is increasingly the case, The Bachelor spoiled itself with no help required from Reality Steve or anyone else. Another Twain quote, this time from Tom Sawyer as Tom was ordered to whitewash a fence as punishment. He surveyed the fence, and all gladness left him and a deep melancholy settled down upon his spirit. Thirty yards of board fence nine feet high. Life to him seemed hollow, and existence but a burden. Sighing, he dipped his brush and passed it along the topmost plank; repeated the operation; did it again; compared the insignificant whitewashed streak with the far-reaching continent of unwhitewashed fence, and sat down on a tree-box discouraged. Like Tom, the producers faced a long hard slog to the end of the task as they attempted to wring drama from scenarios that lacked it. They were forced to create nearly 2 hrs of drama where none existed apart from a hacked-off Hannah and, God help us, Mother Barb. Mama Barb – homemaker, cook, nurturer, cryer - gave way to Mother Barb as in Mother Superior – fussy, judgmental, disapproving, demanding, haughty. With the hair color change she looked like one of the aging actresses still brought onto Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show or, for those rapidly accelerating down the hill, the $20,000 Pyramid. A Briton might compare her to a pantomime villain – over-the-top melodrama with lots of evil cackling and an adversarial relationship with the audience who boo and hiss on command. The inset shots of Mother Barb glaring at the video screen were inexplicably long and frequent. The inset shots of Hannah watching that which she already participated in were inexplicable (as in unnecessary) full stop. And, of course, there were inset shots of Peter doing the utterly fake sad cocker spaniel routine he’s perfected over two seasons of Bachelorwood. Mother Bates – sorry, Mother Barb was entirely predictable and consistent. It was all about her. Lest we forget, Pete Sr was a pilot too, which meant he was absent the house for long stretches which only increased her power. Context, such as the unavoidable delays that are part and parcel of any video production with a large crew, was unimportant to her. Like many control freaks she carries a sword and shield forged from Attribution Errors – anything good that happens is the result of her words or deeds, anything bad that happens is someone else’s fault. It’s emasculated her husband and made her boys deathly afraid to say a contrary word to her. She spoke of supportive DMs but avoided any talk of what must have been a flood of negative feedback. Trolling is never a good thing but common sense tells us there must have been some, especially given the nature of this franchise. It would take a heart of stone not to feel some sympathy for Hannah especially as she seemed to finally snap out of the gaslighting at the critical moment before the proposal. The skepticism on her face was evident throughout and by the time Peter did an Arie she adopted a grim, cynical smirk that no doubt many shared with her. As an avatar of the Instagram generation, Hannah was less upset about being a one-time-first-time fiancée and probably more upset that she didn’t get to post the captioned videos and photos that are de rigueur these days. A river of likes merely drained into the ocean. To echo comments upthread about Chris Harrison, he went far beyond observer, referee and counselor to having a direct role in the outcome (BIP participants can identify). His eyes betrayed him as he went from feigned interest to a rather intense look in his desperation to rescue this season (he’s a producer too). Many of us probably had flashbacks to lame ‘XYZ likes you, do you like her?’ dialogue from 7th grade recess as Harrison brusquely demanded to know if Madison was in love with Peter and vice versa. Madison probably thought they were going to go for a shot of her tonsils, so extreme were the close-up shots. Poor girl has a few problem spots in the complexion – don’t we all – and had them displayed on giant LED screens in the studio and across the nation. We can all agree that the strong-arming off-camera must have been intense, staged house or no. But she’s a sporting lass and consented to flying to LA to appear on the show. ‘We don’t know what’s going to happen’ Harrison intoned repeatedly. He thought it was a selling point but in hindsight it was a warning. Madison gamely appeared in the studio and for a fleeting few seconds it appeared engagement bliss might be in the offing until Mother Barb got involved. Mother Barb gladly kicked Peter’s sandcastle over without waiting for the tide to come in and claim it. She faulted Madison for everything from cold coffee to rainy weekends while, of course, exonerating her ‘Bud’ whose nickname should be reversed to ‘Dub’ because everything that comes out of his mouth is a cliché or a second-hand phrase. He’s a tape recorder. An automaton. Pouty lip on cue. Touch forehead to female’s on cue etc etc. To be fair Madison had plenty of trite phraseology at the ready including multiple references to the journey. You saw a 25 year old male doing what a 15 year old male should do ie establish his own identity and tell a parent to back off. Unfortunately for for him it was far too late especially after Mother Barb tore a strip off Madison after Madison had ignored her own conscience and taken part in this farce. Madison’s body language was as legible as a billboard – she stiffened up, looked down and away and generally employed every coping mechanism possible to avoid saying what she really wanted to say – but we said it on her behalf from our vantage points. The producers’ and director’s hair lay in clumps in the control room after they tore it out trying to manufacture a proposal only to have Mother Barb smash it to bits. ‘Taking it day by day’ is a far cry from Neil Lane And A Bended Knee and don’t they know it. There would be no repeat playing of The Proposal Crescendo (© Hacktastic Tunes, Ltd.), no cries of ‘WOOOO!’ from the studio audience, no promotional springboard for Harrison’s mention of upcoming series with or without Clare (ugh her again) appearing on stage. Epilogue: Madison will return sensibly to Auburn. Alone. She will meet a State Farm agent who was a practice squad football player for the Tigers and has third-row seats right behind the bench where Madison sits in the second row. A move to Birmingham or Atlanta may ensue. Peter will get involved with a divorced flight attendant who has long legs, a husky voice from sneaking cigarette breaks, a three year old kid and a dodgy ex who is behind on the child support payments. Mother Barb will break into random crying jags and wonder why the phone doesn’t ring as often and why it’s never Peter’s number.
  2. The Bachelor Finale Part 1 takes place in Australia but swapping the Northern Hemisphere for the Southern and the Western Hemisphere for the Eastern changes nothing. We’ve reverted to the very first episode in which Mama’s Boy cedes the floor to Mama herself, whereupon she emotes, quivers, chews scenery and generally makes a fool of herself any time she detects the presence of a camera. Beyond that it’s an episode of nothingness as vast as most of the outback. There are lots of downcast looks, confusion, tears of frustration and futility and awkward silences – mostly from the poor sods like us forced to slog through this nightmare apparently produced the same day the video editor switched to decaf. According to some cursory internet research, birds of prey ie raptors in Australia include the hobby, kite, kestrel, baza, and harrier. One particular species not native to their biosphere is the red-tailed hawk. Through the magic of audio editing back in a darkened suite in LA, we hear the red-tailed hawk’s distinctive scream echoing over the Australian desert. Reality TV eh? If we are somewhat a captive audience we have company in the form of a studio audience inexplicably dressed to the nines as they…watch video monitors and applaud wildly for what even the most optimistic Bachelor fanperson must admit has been an appalling damp squib of a season thanks mostly to the appalling damp squib of The Bachelor himself. At least we can visit the lavatory, the refrigerator and the wet bar at our own convenience – the last of these being the most useful in combating the ennui of watching Peter Bloody Weber sobbing into a couch cushion. Again. Peter arrives in Alice Springs, enters his suite and…stands at a railing. Is Fleiss reading these missives and punishing our lack of reverence by forcing us to double our budget for wine & beer? It’s the standard pensive profile shot (no pun intended) again. It’s interesting to note that deepest, darkest thoughts are never uttered during full-face on-camera interviews and instead are delivered via voiceover. Peter is reunited with the family – well, Mom anyway. The rest barely get a look-in. Soldiers returning home after V-E Day didn’t get this kind of wailing reception. Pilot Dad is in remarkably good spirits despite the failure of his Modern Beta Male web site and lifestyle brand and having to deal with Mom every day, all day. Brother Jack is there also and wearing, er, pink trousers. Ahem. If Peter’s scruffy beard seems odd-looking on his choirboy face (despite the angry-looking scar on the forehead) then Jack’s facial hair looks even more incongruent. It’s almost as if he’s been sneaking some doses of Dad’s low-T prescription. Peter relates the story of the first impression rose and the first one-on-one date. Dad displays the sort of insight once reserved for the likes of Watson & Crick by exclaiming ‘two firsts!’ Well, yes, Dad, someone has to be first in each scenario and it shouldn’t come as a great shock that it’s the females Peter is most attracted to. Dad’s got a big old cross hanging round his neck which is highly ironic given the family’s view of formalized religion (more on that later) but perhaps he’s not as goofy as he looks and it’s meant to ward off the energy vampire known as his missus. Speaking of Mom, she apparently uses a patio broom to apply the shadow. It’s less a smoky eye and more a smoke damage eye. ‘Should I go get Hannah Ann?’ queries Peter. ‘Yes yes!’ respond the family. The next shot is of…Peter pacing aimlessly with hands in pockets (?). Chris Harrison is at that in-between stage of combing the hair forward to conceal the receding front while spraying the bangs vertical to confirm that it has, in fact, been styled somewhat. Hannah arrives with flowers in lovely plain brown wrapping paper. Dad, already well-trained at being well-trained, has adopted Bachelor lingo and uses the term ‘journey.’ ‘I see you and me’ says Mom, injecting herself again into the proceedings. Hannah is dragged outside to listen to Mom string clichés together - – it’s the most dramatic™ test yet of Hannah’s permasmile. If she can handle this she can handle anything. ‘It’s important that you never to change him and he never to change you [sic]’ says Mom who immediately contradicts herself with ‘but grow each other and make each other better.’ One suspects that Mom has those tacky pieces of slate hung around the house with ‘Live Laugh Love’ and ‘Bless This Home & Family’ hand-painted on them. Hannah & Peter are on a bench for a postgame cuddle. ‘I do love you’ announces Hannah but, strangely, says it to his shoulder while he looks down. Unless, perhaps, she’s reading cue cards. You don’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes-level reader of body language to detect something amiss (or fake) here. And isn’t it well past time for Peter to drop the ‘Ann?’ How about plain old Hannah or even ‘Han’ ie a nickname born of familiarity and affection? After more unnecessary carny barker hype from Harrison, Madison arrives. These two lovebirds are as cheery as a pair of strangers in a dentist’s waiting room. The eyelashes are just too much. Distracting for their length and separation – they look like lines of longitude on a globe. ‘How you doin’?’ he asks. ‘Not good’ she half-sobs. ‘MOMMM!’ shouts Peter. OK, not really. But he wanted to. Madison is forced to hand the emotional thumbscrews over to the Weber family as they cross-examine her about her very reasonable and explicable desire to avoid premarital sex. Mom isn’t having it and sets out to mark her territory. Norman Bates, all is forgiven – even your mother wasn’t this controlling. ‘She’s not there for you,’ announces Mom. Peter nods dutifully. Oh God, here come the waterworks again. Mom’s made her choice – Hannah – and expects her boy to follow orders. But what’s this? Peter has located a spine. Well, at least a vertebra. ‘Come on, this is insane right now – don’t do this to me’ he objects. ‘I trust you…I trust you’ says Mom. Yes, we’ve seen this trust in spades, haven’t we? The camera cuts to a pair of multicolored spiky lizards. No, it isn’t Part II of The Women Tell All featuring Tammy & Mykenna, you bad thing, it’s some of the local fauna – the aptly named Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus – which is a great screen name by the way if you’re undecided on one) with its combination of camouflage and protective hide to deter predators. Is this a clever visual joke? If so, just who is the thorny devil's human analogue – besides Sydney, I mean? One of the lizards is rocking aimlessly back and forth and we can identify – some of us have adopted the self-soothing mannerisms of Rain Man while sitting on our couches watching this vacuous season. Madison & Pete take a helicopter tour over Uluru and Peter makes a groan-worthy analogy between the ancient sandstone formation and their love (?). If you’ve happened to see an episode of Kath & Kim (a playful but pointed satire of the Aussie middle class) then you know that insects, particularly black flies, are a constant pest on the continent, occurring in far greater numbers than almost anywhere in the States. Someone might have told the Yankee production team as they’ve chosen to film in the arid interior where food is already scarce for said insects. As a result, the Deep & Meaningful conversations are punctuated by Distracting & Frequent swatting of bugs by the hapless principals. Madison suggests it may be time to surrender – but what does that mean? More downcast eyes and knitting of brows follow along with sad-sounding piano with lots of reverb. This is either the most disastrous one-half of a Final 2 (all together now) in Bachelor history or we are being set up for a rather obvious happy-ever-after even if Harrison claims it’s all still undecided in the present day. Harrison has arrived on scene and is trying out a bit of beard stubble himself. By now his MO should be familiar to all. He pretends to listen but is really there to toss out one or two open-ended questions to get The Bachelor to make statements pregnant with meaning and thus provide fodder for promos and trailers. It’s then Hannah’s day in the sun and as more than one wag on Twitter noted, it may have been worth watching this year just to see five minutes of joey kangaroos casually hopping into the shelter building. A champagne picnic follows and then, inevitably, more of Peter moaning with constant references to ‘being happy at the end’ as if the emotional payoff will be as easy and automatic as flipping a light switch. The previews of the finale of the finale, as it were, reveal more histrionics from Mom which is a great temptation to record the upcoming episode and essentially inflict a spoiler on oneself. In the meantime, visit your local purveyor of beverages and stock up because we are sure to get multiple railing shots.
  3. Only quoting this to elucidate. Savannah had a red hot go at VP, calling her 'the fakest person here' and tearing a strip off her for her antics re: Alayah. At least one person in this room was applauding.
  4. Peter’s had epic love stories? Why didn’t they show us any of them? All our favorite women are back. Except we don’t have any favorites. This collection of rejects is like a nightmare in which all the annoying people you’ve sat next to on various airliners are all herded onto one plane with you for a 10 hour flight. If you’ve got enough time on your hands to make a Mykenna t-shirt then perhaps a charity or Humane Society project might make a better contribution to society. Victoria is at a railing and we thank her as we crack a cold IPA at this stock composition of shot. Her declaration of love for Peter is strangely devoid of emotion – even robotic. The poor sod in the percussion section always gets a workout during the final episodes as he grabs the mallets and spends two solid hours hammering on a cymbal. Every camera cut is accompanied by a sssssSSSSSsssss crescendo. Hannah is choosing a dress – in this case a fringed go-go number. Chris and Peter meet up in a horse pasture – which is convenient because Peter is doing his usual Eeyore routine. He’s upset with Madison’s rules, mostly because he thinks he should be the only one dictating rules. An oddly-timed rose ceremony is taking place, apparently without Madi, as the two others shiver in their barely-there dresses. It’s time to sack whomever is providing the cast and crew with weather forecasts on their call sheets because they’ve been about 20 degrees off from actual conditions throughout the season. Peter and Madison both wear expressions usually seen at a funeral. He really is a miserable git. To no one’s surprise Hannah gets the rose as the safe(st) option. To the surprise of no one with a lick of sense, Madison gets the remaining rose otherwise this would have been the world’s longest shaggy dog story. How ironic that the upcoming Bachelorette was announced today when Victoria would have been a fantastic choice for generating interest among red-blooded males while also generating pull-hair-out frustration among them. Lexi speaks first to declare that fantasy suites are part of the deal and who is Madison to pursue chastity? Sydney inexplicably claims that she and Madison are from the same community. Uh, no dear, Birmingham and Auburn are 100 miles apart. It was in all the papers. Alayah is back to have more strips torn off by her vindictive peers. The room is nearly devoid of self-awareness as Lexi calls her malicious. What’s this? Victoria P is getting a long-overdue dose of comeuppance and is called ‘the fakest person’ by Savannah. Sydney, as usual, is attempting to monopolize the conversation. A torturous return to the life and times of Kelsey is next. Visiting the dentist on consecutive days holds more appeal. Mykenna and Kelsey exchange frequent rubs on the shoulder – apparently this conveys solidarity. Against whom and what we’re not sure. Mykenna is here to bore us with more talk of feeling unworthy with a catch in her voice. She doesn’t want to treat people poorly – but this declaration of noble purpose comes 30 seconds after her snide putdown of a girl who went home on the first night. Tammy you’re still a nasty piece of work but you struck a blow for sanity with your rolling of eyes and asking Mykenna how long she rehearsed yet another speech. Quite long, apparently, as Mykenna was intent on speaking all her lines anyway. Kelsey’s turn onstage is a long exercise in cluelessness in which she equates emotional instability with ‘vulnerability’ (this year’s buzzword) and seems to believe that a nearly 30 year old female losing the plot every five minutes is an irresistible temptation for any man. Victoria F agrees that communication was difficult. She should know. Peter makes his appearance. Sydney is talking. Again. And now we’ve apparently veered off into a tiresome race and social media harangue. If The Bachelor is like high school dating then TWTA is middle school summer day camp self-esteem candyfloss. The Women Tell All? Jokes aside what was told apart from that which we already knew and dreaded hearing about again? In other words, where was the ‘all?’ TWTA actually used to have some surprises, some innuendo, some gossip, some risqué content. There was little, if any, laughter about comedic moments or in-jokes with this group of acid-tongued harpies. In fact, there didn’t seem to be any lighthearted moments due to the hissing and clawing that filled every idle minute. This year’s cast didn’t seem to care if The Bachelor was even involved – they merely wanted to fluctuate between railing against their tormentors and tormenting their peers seated nearby. Hypocrisy is too inadequate a term for the pervasive double standard employed by Mykenna et al.
  5. Does Clare have Mike Fleiss' Social Security number or ATM PIN? She simply will not go away. Codependency is one of her DNA nucleotides. Mildly interesting especially on BIP but making her Bachelorette will a) eliminate the interesting part ie her emotional instability and b) reward her for same. Every tick of that biological clock sounds like a sonic boom and looking at her franchise peers' Instagram feeds with pregnancies and babies isn't helping one bit. They are going to be cracking the whip to get red-blooded males to pretend to be interested in this loaf of day-old bread or else they'll recruit a load of Sensitive New Age Guys (SNAGs) who, for reasons known only to them, want to take on her hair-trigger temper.
  6. Richard Gere gave Debra Winger his officer’s cap. Pilot Pete doesn’t have his cap handy but still lacks the presence of mind to give the freezing Madison his suit jacket. Chivalry is dead – killed by narcissism (among other culprits). Madison’s apprehension is understandable from her perspective but there isn’t a red-blooded male on the planet who would object, really. But putting restrictions on a randy lad who has ‘relationships with other women’ is tricky, to be fair. She doesn’t want to give an ultimatum, she says, but is handing out exactly that. ‘That’s definitely frustrating’ says Pete, who was definitely looking forward to, er, taking out his frustrations especially after deadheading an 18 hr flight to Queensland. In an all-too-rare scenario, the hype matches the setting. The Gold Coast is, indeed, stunning. Less stunning is Pete’s flamingo-patterned shirt but he does make a beeline for his balcony and…a railing. To which we break the seal on our cocktails. Best not use ‘fantasy suite’ and ‘position’ in the same sentence, Madi. Madi’s reverie is broken by Hannah, who is wearing a selection from the Daisy Duke collection – doubtful it will set Madi’s mind at ease. ‘This is definitely the best place we’ve been too so far’ asserts Madi with ready agreement from Hannah. Given the locales to date, I-75 in Atlanta at 4 pm on a Friday might have outpaced the competition. Daisy Duke 2 enters in the form of Victoria who also is operating under the assumption that Australian Customs would confiscate any denim clothing larger than a cocktail napkin. We issue a silent plea for all cast members to give up their lame attempts at an Australian accent. At the very least a ‘Myate’ (mate) should be achievable but a dialect coach was too expensive to fly down and the locals probably want nothing to do with the bogan Yanks. The Wave Runners are beached and it’s the golden hour on the Gold Coast. Peter drops what will probably be the first in a multi-day uttering of the L word. By now most will have sussed out that the beaded necklaces seemingly preferred by males in the Bachelor franchise may, in fact, be microphones in disguise. And what’s this? A Senior version of the Bachelor being launched? Define senior. Could be interesting. For two people ‘falling in love,’ Hannah & Peter spend most of their time sitting bolt upright with lots of daylight between them. No additional notes are passed – which is almost a shame because this conversation, supposedly fraught with peril and meaning, is a formalized exchange of clichés: not going anywhere…do what you have to do to get there…thank you for that…how much that means to me…really really complicated…not giving up. Lordy, kids, throw the phrases in a hat and draw them out for a bit of unpredictable fun. On the more predictable front, Chris’s note about the suite and a novelty key are presented. Meanwhile, Victoria is dripping poison in Madi’s ear about Hannah eagerly taking up the fantasy suite offer. Interestingly, the poison vortex rotates the opposite direction in the Southern Hemisphere (it doesn’t really and neither does water draining from a bathtub but most of us have heard that fiction all our lives). Pretensions to art follow with Bachelor lust silhouetted against a translucent door. Hey, what happened to banishing the cameras from the suite? More than one participant has noted that getting a bit of privacy was as or more important than winning or advancing. To get Madison wound up good and proper, Victoria will be in the 2nd date slot. Victoria is greeted with a mere hug and some rubbish about trusting her and having her back. Are these two lovers or co-workers? The diffident attitudes are abandoned in the chopper as they tour the skyline/coastline and quickly resumed when they return earth in more ways than one. ‘I just don’t want you to give up’ says Vic. You’re in the final three, love. The giving up probably would have happened by now. Madison is now well into her third (?) day of reciting what constitutes a ‘make or break’ situation. Hannah is understandably bored to tears with it all but manages to drop her permasmile and adopt a decent poker face as she listens to the unreasonable – and unreasonably long – demands. Peter & Victoria have reached the cocktail hour. And so have we, regardless of time of day, because a stiff drink is needed to watch these two go round the houses talking about the importance of communication while failing utterly to actually communicate. ‘I don’t know – does that make sense?’ queries Victoria. Answer: absolutely not. And how could it? Nevertheless, Peter declares it to be ‘so frickin’ real.’ If you say so, pardner. But now Vic is throwing the L word around with abandon and fair play to her – it sounds like she went for one emotionally abusive bad boy after another. She offers a novel solution to the apparent lack of tissues available to the frequently teary-eyed ladies and uses her skirt hem as handkerchief. Peter and his little kookaburra part ways as he admires her yoga ensemble. Another day has dawned and Madi is STILL reciting her purity speech. At this point, railings aren’t just a point in a drinking game – they are absolutely necessary to prevent Hannah from jumping off the balcony to escape Madi’s never-ending soliloquy. Jumping is part of the date – well, it IS the date. Wait, not it’s not. This one is just a load of clambering about on the roof of a very tall building hence the safety harnesses but no helmets or bungee cords involved. Helmets might be needed back at the hotel as Victoria is in a lamp-throwing mood while Hannah nods along blankly. They’re not all that thrilled about being pawns in Madison’s endgame…and neither is Peter at having to confess. Madi does a runner, thereby ensuring Peter will pursue her. ‘Will you talk to me?’ he asks. ‘Yes,’ she replies and proceeds not to talk at all. Well, very little anyway. And very little is what happened across two bloody hours tonight except for Pete getting his leg over and playing remorseful when he was inevitably caught out. Advice to Madison: get those white cutoffs out again, head for a beach bar and see the world – as in men. Find a virgin Virgin pilot, if such a thing exists, and make the most of your tourist visa until he flies you home on your schedule, not The Bachelor’s.
  7. The final stages of The Bachelor, especially this year’s edition, are like those old Psych 101 videos in which authority & obedience were examined as a tester asked questions about mundane subjects of an individual in another room. The tester was called upon to deliver increasingly harsh and even brutal punishments including electric shocks eliciting screams of pain from the respondent. The button, the wires and the screams were all fakes but many testers – who appeared at first as polite, mild-mannered types - dutifully adhered to their sadistic roles. Equally dutiful are Bachelor viewers who are screaming (inside) at the mental torture of watching Peter Weber’s Flying Circus in which a confused, disoriented pilot barnstorms a series of houses where bewildered onlookers wonder why exactly he is there and what exactly it is he wants. It’s raining in Knoxville but the needs of the camera crew compel Peter & Hannah (We can drop the Ann now – Hannah B appears to have been banished) to use the kind of flimsy clear umbrella that 2nd grade girls would use while waiting for the bus. White-bread Peter now looks like white bread with the crusts cut off. Ironic that they would rendezvous at the Sunsphere (a relic of the World’s Fair) as the rain pours down. But…there’s a railing in the shot! Drink! The flannel-clad locals are less than impressed with his axe-throwing ability, muscles apparently having atrophied after years of lifting nothing heavier than the control yoke of an airplane. The axes are sharp, the throwers less so but eventually the bullseye is hit and the victory (?) log split. Hannah, mercifully, has not exchanged her crop top for a lumberjack shirt – the shirttail would obscure her painted-on jeans. Peter hopes there is a refrigerator and a magnet at the Sluss home, cos he’s done his homework in neat penmanship and hopes to have it displayed alongside, er, the plumber’s business card. Hannah’s mom breaks down which is odd behavior for someone whose daughter is still a contender. Dad Rick, who probably climbed onto his roof and threatened to stay there until Peter departed, is not impressed. Strangely, Hannah more closely resembles him facially while Sis & Mom are dead ringers. Sis breaks down over ‘nice’ Peter inducing a similar reaction in Hannah. Rick braves the lights and cameras again and takes Peter to the woodshed – well, the woodpile anyway – takes the justifiable contrarian view that the L word must be reserved for only one female. Unfortunately, Rick didn’t extend his fatherly advice to giving Peter a razor and instructions to get upstairs and clean up properly. Both Peter & Hannah are openly using ‘love’ now but apparently the ‘in’ qualifier has magic powers and is a bit of a hedge. Usually the producers frown on this sort of thing until the finale which makes the viewer wonder if there isn’t a plot twist being laid out. The Bachelors’ shocking taste in outerwear is on display again with a muddy brown down jacket as he arrives in Des Moines. The producers were up a stump for a beauty-shot background. Their choices were limited to: a grain elevator, an empty Nile Kinnick Stadium, the state house or the roadside monument reading On This Site A Possibly Drunk Chris Soules Caused A Fatal Accident And Left The Scene. The state house with its ornate exterior wins out for obvious reasons. Grape-stomping with Kelsey at a winery shaped like a barn – natch – follows. One can only imagine how cold the grapes and the tin tub are given the frigid air. Kelsey wants to ‘cheers.’ The world wants to ‘cheers.’ Has the world forgotten the word ‘toast?’ It’s maddening. Peter isn’t having the elliptical approach. He wants more adulation and gets it – the usual smug smile appears when he elicits the L word from Kelsey. The spread of coronavirus is alarming and serious but it can’t hold a candle to the omnipresent scourge of center-parted hair. There are clones of the Clairol Herbal Essence girl everywhere, it seems, including in Kelsey’s home. Her family demonstrates that heredity AND environment have merged to create their default means of communication – tearful, sniffly, voice breaking. An emotional lot, this. We find that all the nose reconstruction may have been medically necessary – it appears that fractured cartilage was a very real possibility as the sisters fought over the mascara. The videographers make a hilarious attempt at an ‘amber waves of grain’ beauty shot as they shoot through a clump of cordgrass in the front yard. Moving from plains to The Plains we meet up with Madison on the campus of Auburn. B-roll footage featuring the sun gives way to more cloudy skies and wet sidewalks. At this point we have to wonder if the Great Airline Captain In The Sky isn’t expressing his skepticism at the whole thing. Yes, kids, Charles Barkley was actually that trim (relatively speaking) during his Auburn days. We’re not sure that a huge banner identifying the statue of the school’s most famous basketball alumnus is all that necessary. A tasteful plaque would suffice. But perhaps people have short memories. A scan of the AU basketball web site reveals that Dad of Mad(i) is technically the Director of Operations under Bruce Pearl. Pearl has never met a camera he didn’t like and probably jumped at the chance to orate and run a mini-clinic. Madison demonstrates some legitimate athletic skills, Peter less so, although fair play to him for making a three-pointer and an and-one bucket with a shapely coed hanging round his neck. Even more bizarre than the masking of the Browns wordmark in Cleveland is the masking of the AU logo (and the SEC logo). We’re in Auburn, AL, on the campus of Auburn University, on the floor of Auburn Arena and the couple are wearing Auburn jerseys. Is there REALLY a need to tape over the AU on uniforms and seats? Ironically, the big AUs on the bench are too big for whatever roll of sticky tape the crew brought and only the first two rows of seats have been taped over. Hey, union stagehands have their own tape – red in this case – and don’t climb more than a few steps. There are few things more awkward than family dinner table speeches. The in-laws tried it once at Thanksgiving. Without warning and without anything to drink it was a cruel surprise. The Sisterhood Of The Chunky Bracelets are having a Deep & Meaningful (D&M) about Madison’s purity. Basketball Dad dribbles deftly around the subject but we take the hint. Madison seems to be slipping back toward the field (we could make a joke about maiden and claiming races here but that would be too punny) on the homestretch but not necessarily in Peter’s eyes. Virginia Beach is, of course, clouded over. It must have been the largest and most stationary front in the history of recorded meteorology. Remember when those tintype photo booths were in every mall to say nothing of their ubiquity in tourist traps like VB? Speaking of tin, either Victoria is tin-eared or tin-plated but drags hapless Peter to yet another country (but not really) gig. He could be excused for wondering if Hunter Hayes (me neither) is another Victorian conquest now slinging a guitar. The lip sync game is given away when Hayes’ last note rings out as he steps away from the mic. The setup of all setups is uncorked as one Marissa, face obscured, magically appears to magically inform Peter that Victoria may be less a queen in black and more of a black widow instead. Proceeding rapidly from trusting his gut to relying on the uncorroborated tale from an anonymous source, Pete is conflicted. In Pat Conroy’s book, The Great Santini (himself a military pilot) declares that ‘a wind sock never lies and a man who is as honest as a wind sock is a hell of man. He’s also a real dumb ass.’ Peter is doing his best wind sock now, twitching and twisting in Gale Marissa. Vic’s response is, of course, to say nothing – well, 100 words of nothing. Hmm…the interview portion of the pageant isn’t going so well. Can we get a bit of coaching on the sly from Alayah? Vic is now breaking the fourth wall. Violently. And saying ‘like’ a lot. A next-morning attempt at rapprochement is equally disastrous. The ugly rumors that Vic may have artificially augmented her posterior gain a shred of credibility as she appears to have secreted a honeydew melon down the back waistband of her jeans. Squat cage or surgeon? You be the judge. The penultimate (or penultimate+1) rose ceremony is back in LA and damn me if they haven’t gone all out with the set. The hanger looks quite impressive with the red carpet and the beacons. The easy choices come first, of course. If you’re a male Upper Paleolithic Hunter Gatherer then instinctively you understand the choice of keeping Victoria around. The prey is interesting and attractive enough but the hunt, the chase is what gets the adrenaline flowing. Victoria is elusive and evasive and therefore maddening and mysterious even if the whole of the female viewership wants to claw her eyes out. And she knows it on both fronts. Kelsey, on the other hand, has thrown herself at Peter’s feet so often he sees her every time he ties his shoelaces and therefore was always going to be a casualty. Kelsey’s ride-home reaction is, unsurprisingly, similar to her courtship demeanor – lots of pursed lips and downcast eyes. For God’s sake lighten up, lass. It ain’t all bad all the time out there. The contrasting poses of the final three are interesting. Madison is gnawing the inside of her cheek, conflicted. Hannah has her permasmile on. Victoria is staring into the distance as usual. Not even a proper exotic locale – the Gold Coast – can snap Madi out of her funk. We end with a show staple – a helicopter shot – and Victoria’s most oft-repeated expression and one that may well become her Bachelor epitaph and ours: ‘Are you kidding me?’
  8. Mike Fleiss will gladly pay you Wednesday for a hotel room on Tuesday. And so The Bachelor continues its tawdry low-budget ‘exotic’ location tour with Peru conveniently bordering Chile. Paddington Bear, famously from Darkest Peru, had the good sense to emigrate to London. But London is damned expensive, especially when a crew of dozens of people are flying and lodging on the company dime. So is Paris. And Rome. Kelley is mustering some more false enthusiasm, this time for creatures with strange-looking hair, diffident attitudes and who spit when annoyed. But enough about her fellow Bachelorettes. Kelley wants to see some alpacas. The Peruvian hotel is christened with yet more flopping onto the bed. Apparently Bachelorettes are unfamiliar with this most basic item of furniture given their enthusiasm for seeing one in each suite they visit. Episode previews show Peter checking in with God. But first, a call to Mom. She has more authority anyway. Incredibly, an actual pilot looks out of place wearing a bomber jacket. The producers must wonder if they have to move production to Yuma, AZ just to get a bit of sun to peek through. He pays a personal visit to the ladies’ suite. Their zeal is quickly doused by wet blanket Pete who wants to moan some more about the season he has singlehandedly ruined. Thought balloons would reveal they’d prefer a plain old date card. It's hard to chronicle a narrative in the later rounds because most of the time there is naff all happening. In a good season (a relative term to be sure) producers will move heaven and earth to convey the impression that The Bachelor is still conflicted and undecided when it’s obvious whom he prefers. In a bad season – like this one – it’s difficult for the audience to feign interest in The Bachelor because he does such a poor job of selling himself. In this, at least, we find a kinship with the bored finalists who are primarily interested in seeing themselves on the cover of a prearranged US Magazine shoot and in watching their Instagram follower count spin up like slot machine reels. If the objective was to portray Peru as an exotic, desirable destination then job most definitely NOT done. Green mountains are ten a penny on every continent. Peru looked gray, cloudy and mundane. Speaking of mundane, the ‘dashing’ Bachelor now looks like the guy sitting next to you on the light rail – sweaty, greasy, unkempt and now with a scar the same size and shape as a caterpillar splayed across his forehead. Those of us who have bonked our coconuts on golf cart canopies multiple times - possibly after a frothy beverage or two - can't help but wonder how delicate Peter's epidermis is or how violently he made contact. It’s certainly understandable that Victoria F would be the target of audience vitriol for her indecision, inability to articulate her thoughts and idiopathic mood swings. On the other hand, as form of punishment dealt to Peter she’s good value. And her anatomy is camera-friendly. The rose-at-the-limo rescue was obviously a setup. Like so many before her, Vic F cares about winning and nothing more. She knows that there are no sanctions for dumping The Bachelor and that engagement can be as serious or unserious a topic as she chooses. Hometowns look to include more of the tiresome crying jags along with tiresome, halting non-explanations – this time with a leavening of nagging. Just what every boy dreams of. Maybe those moronic Chase Rice lyrics had a more lingering effect than we first thought. Kelley couldn’t be fussed the first night. And the second. And the last. So grudging credit for some consistency. Did she mention she was an attorney? Only about 7,298 times. She’s competitive also but not in the Victoria sense – Kelley just doesn’t want to lose a case and take the ribbing at work. Hannah provided the producers with just what they wanted – floods of tears despite actually advancing in the show. Perfect misleading footage material. The luv note was a bit of a time warp back to the pre-phone era when notes were passed frantically during the 5 minutes between classes. That pasted-on smile just isn’t going away. Those of us unfamiliar with Adderall’s dosage and side effects can only conclude that it renders the user a sniffling, quivering wreck. Kelsey cries more often than she breathes. Divorces are, regrettably, as common as cracks in a sidewalk. But the fresh-trauma routine is tiresome. If this is Kelsey’s seductive side, what will her everyday did-you-buy-milk fussbudget side look like? But Peter is obviously taken by the wounded-bird persona. Madison is so far ahead of the field that comparisons to Usain Bolt are unfair. To Usain Bolt. The Auburn Tigress is clearly the fave on all fronts. Their bodies entwine like a DNA helix whenever they meet up. There will be an attempt to conjure some drama from Madi’s revelation that she’s still sporting the V plates on her bumper but rare is the red-blooded male who doesn’t appreciate a white dress that accurately represents its occupant.
  9. As soon as the Bachelor crew reached Central America your humble scribe acquired intestinal flu, preventing him from viewing/reviewing 2 episodes in a week. A very spooky and unpleasant linkage - not least since these episodes were filmed months ago. But 5 bloody hours resulted in some serious blood from the roses' thorns it seems. Speaking of which, in playing rapid catch-up via the DVR it appears that advertisers continue to plumb the depths of tackiness by presenting graphical representations of the monthly cycle. Exactly who this sales methodology is aimed at is unclear since those who require the products in question need no lectures - especially of a glib 30-second variety - about that which they already know full well and everyone else can get along fine without more dumbed-down emojis - this time of a bodily nature. And so a more philosophical or possibly a more quantitative analysis is in order. The Bachelor says he doesn't like the drama. Most of the women say they don't like it. Most of the audience say they don't like it - or at least make the claim. So why does it dominate 5 hours of footage? Occam's Razor gives us two possible non-mutually-exclusive answers: 1) because the producers want it and 2) because Peter, his dates and his interactions provide a consistently alarming dearth of usable footage. All creativity on the date front has been exhausted by design or accident. Probably by design. It's safer, it's more predictable and therefore easier to plan and budget. The camera setups, the establishing shots (city skyline, street scene, people in a park, plaza or tourist attraction), the outfits, the greetings. Granted, 'reality TV' purportedly involves everyday people so it may not be fair to expect anything else. Strictures against discussing real people, places, things, events, etc. means that dialogue involving these things - even a simple and obvious question about favorite films or music or places - will often be deleted lest a complaint from a lawyer is received. We may rail against school bus-caliber 'I like you - do you like me?' exchanges but we don't know what's been left on the cutting room floor. On the other hand, one suspects that not a great deal must be cut especially with this year's crop of narcissists whose emotions are dangerously on a knife-edge every minute. Peter is less a Bachelor and more a predatory camp counselor. Arms outstretched, he shouts 'Yay! We're gonna have so much fun today! But first give me a soul kiss!' The constant intercutting with the bored-but-agitated reserves back at the mansion/hotel is tiresome but apparently meant to stoke understandably flagging interest in Peter's almost staggering inability to hold an adult conversation. He makes mumbling, shuffling overgrown passive-aggressive adolescent Nick Viall look like Ernest Hemingway. A sea change initiated and spread by the constant use of digital technology has robbed at least one generation of their ability to interact in person, in real time and with any subtlety or originality. Unfortunately for the producers, the reserve women no longer sit around and give Austenesque soliloquies about how they miss their man, how they shall fall upon his neck and greet him upon his return and how happy they shall be. Instead, they offer blank looks or, in far too many cases, an endless flow of tears. Some of these women are pushing 30 years old and react to any emotional stimuli the way a 6th grader might. Mary (Tyler Moore) Richards? Bailey Quarters? Diane Chambers? Even Rachel Green? What happened to the sassy, sexy, smart singleton who would find Mr Right eventually but could carry on with life in the meantime even if it meant encounters with a few wrong-uns? Granted these are fictional characters but they were simultaneously contemporary ideals and reflections of women's mindsets in the workplace and the dating scene. Most of us, male or female, would probably have chosen to live under a bridge rather than move back in under one or both parents' roof. Squandering a hard-earned adulthood was unthinkable. Contrast this independence with what appears to be a crop of failures-to-launch, daddy's girls, boomerang kids, et al. That's a long way of saying immaturity is extending well into maturity. This week the girls - and we'll call them girls when they merit the title - hissed and clawed so much we could be excused for thinking a Catwoman sequel was being cast. Trying to remember this week's players vis-a-vis the full list at the ABC site: Sydney - a chip on her shoulder the approximate size of the Rock of Gibraltar. Had a rough trot in Birmingham but despite her description it's not quite the nexus of cast-iron antebellum attitudes. Blokes may lag well behind on the scale of emotional intelligence but they can definitely sense perpetual anger and will run far away. Kelley - has there been a more indifferent Bachelorette, especially one that has advanced this far? On one level you admire her ability (?) to see it for what it is: a lark or merely a farce. A network TV credit will look good on the LinkedIn bio even if it has mostly naff all to do with more lawyerly qualifications. Alayah - damn it some of us were still fighting your corner because we love femme fatales. No apologies. Peter couldn't handle the confidence. Hannah Ann - memo to producers: giving modeling challenges to actual models is not 'getting them out of their comfort zone.' It's the exact opposite! Exactly how and why being out of one's comfort zone is supposed to make one more or less attractive to a partner is unclear but it's become an article of Bachelor faith anyway. Deftly dodged the question of 'What comes after modeling?' probably because the answer is 'Your job will be to fly the jets - mine will be to raise the babies.' Calculated but smart move to follow Peter outside. The kind of girl you DO take home to mother - and let's face it, mother is calling the shots here. But how long can even a model maintain the dewy-eyed, pasted-on-smile pose? Kelsey - the tap handle has been well and truly broken off and the tears are flowing again. This emotional basket case would cry at the sounding of a clock chime. Dangerously unstable. Pete wants to buy a peck of trouble? Have at it. Lexi - bit of a dark horse but decided to join the Witches of Eastwick and her fate was sealed. Makeup went strangely, suddenly askew at the RC rejection. Madison - there is undeniable Sean/Catherine physical chemistry there...an almost Picasso-like intertwining of their bodies when they get together. When the bitching starts she puts her head down or merely vacates the room. Smart girl. Hopefully she's also silently saying rude things about Yankee women. Mykenna - hard to add anything new to the (hilarious) discussion of this one. Perhaps she will some some constructive purpose in convincing the rest of the world to abandon the drowned-rat hair look. Most unconvincing - and derivative - Grrl Power self-affirmation speeches in history. 'I am a strong woman! You can not take my power!' is rather unconvincing when shrieking and crying. That rescue-then-rejection sequence near the end was delicious but bordering on the cruel. Tammy - the tomboy intro should have been a major hint. Women who want to participate in boys' wrestling are...different. Straight women who want to participate in boys' wrestling are even more different somehow. How and why she lasted into these rounds is still a mystery. What isn't a mystery is her stalking the group to identify and then torment the runt of the litter. Just an irredeemable bitch who really had no character arc but for some reason wasn't rumbled until later. Even Puffball Pete worked it out for himself. Victoria P - another point for Pete in giving Vic P a parachute and a premature exit. Shhh! Quiet just a sec. Is that Vic saying 'vulnerable' again? Why does she think that word has any magic power? Why does she think it's what guys want to hear? They immediately translate it to insecure - and rightfully so. Didn't cost him a rose and didn't cost anyone else a rose (except maybe Alayah after the fact). Good riddance. Natasha - it isn't a spoiler to point out that teaser footage had Peter & Nat sharing a kiss in a public venue so perhaps that's a next episode item. It may be hypocritical to dislike her Noo Yawk street-smart attitude but it seems her every on-camera moment is a snide put-down of her peers. Victoria F - getting harder to stick up for her. Might be top of the emotionally-inarticulate list. Why and how does being compelled to express oneself result in being physically sick? It doesn't take Nostradamus to conclude that petite doe-eyed brunettes will probably occupy most/all the final slots including VF. Her final words will almost certainly be 'I don't know what to say.' Again. Peter has made some poor decisions on his own, some poor decisions at the behest of the producers and some poor decisions from the women dripping poison in his ear. As others have noted, the working hypothesis that there are really just 2-3 solid contenders every year no matter how wide the casting net and no matter how often the producers scream SQUIRREL! seems to be holding up this year.
  10. She might employ the Jessica Rabbit defense: she isn't bad, she's just drawn that way. But Victoria F, Victoria P, Alayah, Hannah Ann and a few of the other rather obvious late-round hopefuls are walking, talking examples of the social media tail wagging the real-life dog. If you're of a certain age you may use emojis liberally, sparingly or not at all. The generation of women we're seeing onscreen actually regard them as 1-to-1 matches for their own real-life emotions. A laugh, a smile, a tear. Red notification circles and likes are the coins of the realm. It would be like using a tray of water colors and never combining any of the hues. Occasionally I mention a VHS copy of a 2004 Bachelor episode (ironically featuring another pilot with the slicked-back blonde hair) that I found when I digitally converted some tapes. That was the last gasp of the pre-HDTV era and video editing and production was a different animal indeed. In order to convey a flashy visual style they used literal flashes - every scene change included a few blinding frames of white light to dazzle the eye and cause it involuntarily to refocus on the next image or scene. This technique was also used to a ridiculous and numbing extent in advertising of the day. The 2004 Bachelor may as well have been the 1954 Bachelor. Everyone looked mature and confident - even if they weren't. Grooming didn't involve 2 hours of applying war paint. Subtlety in language, emotion, movement, etc. was rife. These people were flirting like mad, not just 'spending time' and tossing out canned lines - their own or scripted. Contrast this with the current crop of blank-faced Bachelorettes who are either at an emotional peak (WOOOO!) or in an emotional Death Valley (tears, tantrums). There are no in betweens. There are are no feminine wiles, merely animalistic latching-on mating rituals. There seems to be a generational belief that emotionally-charged scearios are a license to go round the houses in actually addressing the situation. Victoria F tried all the dodges: 'This is intense'...'I don't know what to say'...etc. Let us not forget the opening vignette - Peter's dad was/is a pilot too. Families of pilots know one thing: the pilots are gone a lot. Days, even weeks at a time. This leaves, of course, Mom to run the household. It was clear from the video clip and the subsequent contrived vow renewal date that Peter's mom bigfooted everything and everyone. Emotional control, even emotional manipulation and blackmail, is the approach of many such females. Peter does absolute backflips in response to anyone who gets upset, criticizes him, complains, throws a tantrum, etc. He's forever apologizing, attempting to mediate, compensate etc. He is, without a doubt, looking for a replacement for his mother and responding to those who behave like his mother - usually without even knowing why. A quote from the late 20th Century philosopher Ferris Bueller seems fitting and oh-so-accurate here with regard to Peter: '[He's] never been in love. At least, nobody's ever been in love with him. If things don't change for him, he's gonna marry the first girl he lays, and she's gonna treat him like s***, because she will have given him what he has built up in his mind as the end-all, be-all of human existence. She won't respect him, 'cause you can't respect somebody who kisses your ass. It just doesn't work.'
  11. Disclaimer: with many friends and some family in Northeast Ohio, all jokes about Cleveland, its weather, its people, its cityscape and its football team – especially its weather – are delivered in with all due appreciation and affection for a frequently unfairly maligned and even more frequently misunderstood place. On the other hand, when the roads are like minefields year-round and February temperatures flatline at 10 deg with an icy cold wind off the lake for an entire month the city is deserving of some good-natured opprobrium. And mocking the hapless football team would be like bringing sand to the beach. Deandra delivers the daily Mental State Of The Bachelor address before a joint session of, er, cameramen and sound technicians. It seems this duty falls to a different female each week and for some it’s the only camera time the poor dears are granted. Deandra sounds level-headed and observant, prompting the question: what the hell is she doing here? She speaks of the previous night’s activities ‘bleeding’ into others and into today. Thanks to her for unknowingly extending the metaphor of long knives, most of them wielded by Sydney (Sadney?) who has learned to juggle them in order to carry her wine glass as well. Good old Chris is hard at it trying to apply a coat of shiny new paint to the still-smoking train wreck of this season. A roomful of girls who were sold on Making A Connection™, Finding Love™ and My Wife Is In This Room™ instead express their anxiety and Chris offers the cold comfort of with ‘I don’t want you to think Peter’s giving up on this.’ Morale remains low despite the pep talk. But soft! What light through yonder window breaks? It is the East and Juliet Ohio is the sun! Conductor, cue the staccato strings! Signal the tubular bells to be rung! They’re going to…where? Mexico? Argentina? Bora Bora? Bakersfield? Nothing so predictable or cliched, ladies. You’re going to – it’s hard to get the words out – Cleveland! For anyone unclear on the definition of ‘nonplussed’ (a great word by the way) you need only look at the girls' faces. They’re waiting on a punchline that never comes. A beat passes, then two. Hello? Is this mic on? A somewhat less-than-giddy reaction finally comes. They have one hour to pack. Do they need a passport? How about snow boots and parkas – two items they likely didn’t bring? Deandra, still sensible, declares that Ohio and romance aren’t often found in the same sentence. She’s right, you know, unless you’re an Allstate agent from Van Wert watching the Buckeyes on a Saturday. Savannah, you’ve got a cheek mocking Cleveland when you hail from Houston, which is one large oil depot surrounded by hurricane fencing, barbed wire and gravel roads. Hell even Gilley’s was torched long ago. Like patient filmmakers painstakingly waiting for sea turtle eggs to hatch in the middle of the night to capture the miracle of nature, an advance video crew have been sent to Cleveland and instructed to wait for a clear sunny day. After keeping a vigil for six long months, a freak upper atmospheric pattern never before observed in the region allows the sun to peek through for 15 minutes. Residents puzzle over the strange ball of fire in the sky. The crew springs into action, getting beauty shots of, uh, the Cuyahoga River and a rusty railroad drawbridge. Meanwhile, the first-unit video crew are with Peter in the Flats – and he’s leaning on a railing! Drink! Apparently all railings shown onscreen have magnetic properties that cause the leaner’s brows to knit together, making the individual appear deep in thought. The girls do their level best to praise the city and pose on its landmark(s). Obligatory jumping on hotel bed follows. It may be the first and only time the empty football stadium and murky Lake Erie have been described as ‘beautiful.’ Suitcase Kiarra speaks of seeing her boyfriend. Who would that be then? Do the others know about him? Score a point for your humble scribe who predicted (without benefit of spoilers) that Victoria F would get a single date, putting her dark horse credentials into serious doubt. She’s worried it will be a skydiving date but when the choices for landing spots are the open waters of one of the Great Lakes or possibly downtown Akron she needn’t fret. Vic F has worn her best bandanna tied off at the waist – a meager amount of material means the shy (*ahem*) Vic has plenty of cleavage on display and don’t think our vision-tested pilot doesn’t notice. Brenda Lee's title of Little Miss Dynamite has been appropriated by Victoria F who also does the catch-in-the-voice thing. Pete loves his flying but even he may notice that the producers are taking the mickey in getting his services for free. Either that or only pilots – or possibly astronauts - may be eligible to become The Bachelor in future. Quarterbacks and racing drivers are SO last decade. A flight from the lakefront to Sandusky might take all of 10 minutes. Viewers may note that the gray cap (to use Scott Turow’s phrase) has descended on the region again and that it’s been raining at Cedar Point. Vic has her act very well-rehearsed, frequently covering her face and batting her obsidian eyes. We’re calling him Petting Zoo Pete on this date because she’s got him absolutely eating out of her hand. Despite the park being closed, a gaggle of females with mobile phones surgically attached to their hands have been bused in. An equal number of lawyers have their own bus where they force the fans to sign non-disclosure agreements and prevent any photos from being posted on social media. Someone named Chase Rice (me neither) has been booked to perform. Chase is a lanky bloke who nevertheless opts for what we in the biz call a parlor guitar which looks like a toy in his hands. Not since Tiny Tim and his ukulele has there been such a size mismatch between player and instrument. In a cosmic coincidence, Chase is the ex-boyfriend of Vic – or this is a carefully-planned stitch-up. Bet on the latter. Chase gamely plays his part but his green eyes are made greener with envy. Green is also the color of the bass played by his sideman who sports a mohawk. The band serves up the appalling but familiar mishmash of boyband melody, hip-hop cadence and put-on twangy accent that is bewilderingly still referred to as country music when it’s about as country as Central Park. Petting Zoo Pete is oblivious as to how and why Vic knows all the lyrics – it ain’t from Googling them. And what lyrics they are. We’ve descended from the iconic: I shot a man in Reno/Just to watch him die to this insipid banal doggerel: It could be AM, PM/It could be middle of the week or the weekend It might be time to buy a Chase Rice album so we can hear all about his trip to the supermarket to buy a gallon of milk. The gamine Victoria continues to economize on clothing with a pink dress covering only her top half. Peter, who is understandably conditioned to think that the world’s female population is infatuated with him, is gobsmacked to hear he’s got competition and that his rival just played a gig in front of him while he frugged away in the dark. A good rule of Bachelor thumb is if she walks away from the table she will be pursued, comforted and given a rose. If she stays it’s 50/50. So keep the shoes on, girls! A brief interlude for the group date announcement includes Madison’s hope that there won’t be drama among the big group tomorrow. Has she been sleeping through her own Bachelor season? Vic has Pete sit up, beg, roll over and speak – all in the confines of a darkened utility room. Not since Kubrick filmed Barry Lyndon strictly by candle have we had such extended scenes in such low light. A random cellist in a suit is playing on the sidewalk. Who said Cleveland wasn’t classy? Most cities just have bums in fatigue coats beating mindlessly on five-gallon buckets for tips. So there. Next day, the football date is overseen by Hanford Dixon. The Bach and the girls are probably not up on their NFL history but Dixon is the very individual who coined the term Dawgs and gave rise to the Dawg Pound and in turn to an entire fan subculture and a brand identity that a thousand marketing agencies working for a thousand years couldn’t devise. When you’re the Browns there is a kind of sad urgency about finding a more interesting nickname to replace the less-interesting nickname of Browns. Speaking of the Browns, they’re in the Browns’ stadium with the Browns’ colors all round, working with ex-Browns players. ABC/ESPN have rights to NFL games including the Browns' own. Why, then, are all the Browns’ logos blurred out – even those on clothing? Either that is some insanely strict and/or expensive licensing or the legal department are just paranoid. The football-firing device is known as a Jugs Gun. Insert anatomical Bachelorette joke here. 40-watt bulb Victoria P declares she will be on injured reserve for this game – which conveniently puts her full-time on the sideline alongside Peter. Maybe she isn’t that dim after all. Just kidding. The evening date begins with a shark swimming amongst a school of fish. Also, there’s an aquarium in the building. They aren’t remoras in that tank but Pete has his own suckerfish attached to him in the form of Victoria P who desperately continues spinning her fantasy by talking about her kids playing football. We kid ol’ Pete and the other Bachelors but if he opts for Vic P and her Crayola-sized box of 64 different neuroses he will get exactly what he deserves. Sin in haste, repent at leisure and all that. Penance arrives unexpectedly in the form of Alayah. Who just happens to be in…Cleveland? Any debate about of who-goes-next is cut off immediately. Between Vic F’s chequered past and Alayah’s sudden reappearance any rational person might start to suspect producer high jinks. But Pete’s head is spinning like a Cessna prop and he has no time for contemplation. Vic is SPRUNG and the sights and sounds are delightful. The voice breaking. The sniffling. The pleas for sympathy. Peter, finally fed up, says to hell with that. Let’s have a cage match. Alayah is the clear money line favorite – biker jacket trumps spaghetti-strap cocktail dress. Vic repeats the phrase ‘my truth’ – which, of course, means no truth at all. Alayah displays remarkable self-control by not biting Vic’s finger off. She can wipe her own tears, thanks. Alayah has played this like an old pro. When Peter inevitably offers her a place in the harem again it’s all she can do not to grin like a jack o’lantern. Instead, she offers a demure downcast look. Victory achieved. With high heel now squarely on throat, she wants some concessions: her record expunged and future blanket exemption from The Drama™. The vast roomful of bored Bachelorettes are now a vast roomful of glum ones. Alayah has parachuted in and taken their rose. Victoria involuntarily shakes her head as she watches her plan and her man sublimate from solid to wisps of vapor all in the course of an evening. It would take a heart of stone not to laugh. And yes, that’s Alayah actually smelling the rose as she delivers a Sanctioned Spoiler and reveals the Victoria F/Chase Rice news which she knows will spread rapidly throughout the hotel suite. Symbolism anyone? Apparently drama cards are just fine with Alayah as long as she’s dealing. A sly one to be sure. Alayah’s pageant personal statement is: ‘If you’re going to play the game make sure you win.’ OK, I made that part up. But I’m probably not wrong. Duty compels the chronicling of the Kelsey date even if she’s dull as ditchwater. They walk past Cleveland’s Fountain Of Eternal Life – in this context it refers to the never-ending cattiness among the girls and to Peter’s inability to see through the fog of negative emotions that surround his season. Cut to a tandem railing shot! Drink! Actually, do two shots because we’re going to get another tearjerker – this time from Kelsey who is a child of divorce, which means she is one of approximately 30 million persons in the same predicament. Quite rare then. Alarmingly, she claims ‘a lot of [her] character traits come from [her] parents’ divorce.’ Uh oh, that doesn’t sound promising to Pete. It wasn’t fun for most of us either, Kels, but we got on with it. Peter is now convinced that The Mistake By The Lake refers not to Cleveland, OH but to his decision to take this band of grumpy mopes and misfits on the road. Anywhere. They would probably pout at a party on the beach pavilion at Papeete. The wind on the river must be quite brisk as Pete cries tears that magically evaporate seconds later. A rose is offered – perhaps because he fears being chucked into the frigid Cuyahoga by an enraged Kelsey. And then they’re back to the railing! Drink! Oh wait the bottle’s empty. It's been a long night. Fireworks are launched from the shore. Baffled locals reach for the calendar. Is it July 4? It’s only 40 degrees out there. ‘That doesn’t mean much to us’ reply the locals. Fair one. Victoria F has cast the unconvincing shrinking violet routine aside to angrily confront Alayah about the Life & Times Of Chase Rice. ‘You’re fake and I’m not!’ shouts Vic, who conveniently forgets that just yesterday she managed to fake her way through an entire concert performed by her recent ex-boyfriend while dancing with her prospective new boyfriend without telling him. Oh yes – she is genuine. Emphasis on wine. The episode is bookended by still-sensible Deandra who delivers a lecture on being underrecognized. We’re not sure what that word means but she’s got the hump so we’re staying out of the way. The perpetually angry Mykenna juts her jaw and nods along as she envisions punting Peter in his privates as punishment. Lord deliver us as we flee another tantrum from Victoria P. Hey that rhymes! And it’s a hell of lot better than It could be AM, PM/It could be middle of the week or the weekend. The brushing-hair-from-face moves are getting very tiresome as are the quivering voice and tears. ‘You wanna take a seat?’ asks Peter. ‘I can’t sit,’ says Vic, who promptly sits down. One suspects that Vic is one of those people who writes her banking password on a Post-It Note attached to her monitor. Vic’s been vulnerable. It seems to be her favorite word. But doesn’t that apply to the rest of them as well? Vic’s been ‘nothing but honest’ – but didn’t she confess to lies of omission and commission when Alayah returned? Is her memory that short or her morality that malleable? It’s only episode 4 but the first suspended Rose Ceremony arrives as 12 angry (wo)men, justifiably sick of being cooped up for days on end while living out of suitcases, hurl angry accusations and allegations. Episode 5 looks to be comprised of a Lord Of The Flies group date and the appearance of a Bachelor staple as familiar as roses and champagne – an ambulance. ‘I’m so tired and so exhausted!’ wails Mykenna. Sigh...we feel the same, diddums.
  12. The term ‘ironic distance’ was first encountered in Roger Ebert’s review of the surreal but stem-to-stern hilarious Raising Arizona. At the risk of explaining the self-explanatory it meant ‘These people have lost their everlovin’ minds and I’m thankful I’m not one of them.’ It also might be a synonym for Wrong Reasons Viewing but, to be fair, it’s getting very difficult to find Right Reasons when the producers themselves have dispensed with such idealism. Somewhere a video editor is congratulating himself/herself with the unifying water imagery introduction. A fountain, then rain, then tears. Somewhere a video editor is hoping we don’t notice that it was nice and sunny in the establishing shot of the house but that rain has begun falling in under two seconds. The Champagne Wars persist, demonstrating that a robotic I Hereby Acknowledge Your Feelings is not enough to prevent the inevitable crying jags. Hannah Ann (do we still need the Ann?) is anguished at being perceived as a champagne stealer. Quite right too. Kelsey pushes her glasses up to wipe the tears off what’s left of her nose. Victoria F speaks to Natasha F about The Drama™. We’re awarding Nat a special F designation because she is unable to communicate without the use of a particular expletive. Victoria P is going on a date. She is a Harrison/Fleiss dream candidate: damaged, desperate, demonstrative and dim. She will be a litmus test for Pete who will demonstrate if he’s looking for a partner or a stray dog/injured bird type. Vic is talking about the ‘relationship’ that does not yet exist which makes her either psychic or psycho depending on the outcome. The Ma & Pa Kettle Pickup is back as transportation. It’s a very red, very obvious signal that the date will be country themed. To hammer the point home, Pete is in a buffalo check flannel. Vapid Vic isn’t fussed. She has her stock speech about ‘spending time’ and won’t be distracted by anything that actually happens during that time. Vic’s torn jeans look like…torn jeans as in torn, not torrid, and she appears to have stolen frumpy shoes from the doorstep of some unfortunate pensioner widow in The Villages. The penny finally drops for Vic who, upon entering a Western store, insightfully declares it will be ‘cowboy & cowgirl today.’ Well spotted that girl. You aren’t going scuba diving. In a store lined floor-to-ceiling with a fantastic variety of boots including rose-themed boots and exotic skins like caiman and ostrich, they’ve opted for the most boring two pair in the place. Call it symbolism. With the proper topper Vic could have looked like sexy singleton Pam in Urban Cowboy but instead chooses a red hat and looks like 5 year old Drew Barrymore in ET. Surprise! They enter a club in the middle of the day where Surprise! a country band is playing and Surprise! an audience has gathered who Surprise! enjoy line dancing but Surprise! Vic admits she’s already forgotten the steps. As a musician I must spare a thought for the band and the players who, despite being integral to the date and the setup, are onscreen for less than 11 seconds even with all camera shots combined. Like, literally. No, like literally literally. That isn’t editing. It’s calculated cruelty. We need a union. Well, we have one. We need a better union then. Back along the Maginot Line, Kelsey denounces bullying by bullying Hannah who responds by coining a new word: ‘finasco.’ It might just catch on. Kelsey is the worst sort of debater – the kind who splutters ‘Are we making this about me?’ when she’s made it about her from the start. On a show that regularly employs barns and sheds as settings for dinner encounters the Western date theme has been inexplicably jettisoned for an aircraft hangar. We get it. Pete’s a pilot. And now Vic will manipulate him like the rudder of one of his planes as she delivers the tragic backstory. Pete’s found his Rescue Bachelorette and files his adoption papers along with a rose. He may even stop at a 7-Eleven and buy one of those paw print stickers for the truck. They climb into a single-engine plane where a camera has been conveniently mounted on the dash. Who has the heart to tell them the mile high club can’t be joined when on the ground? Alayah has read my mind as she references same. She’s letting her hair down a bit and earning merit for honesty but demerits from Sourpuss Sydney who already has a bad case of epicondylitis from wagging her finger. Demi And Her [Oh you probably know what very descriptive if slightly derogatory slang term I want to type here but they would probably kick me off the PC planet and ban my IP if I did] arrive with pillows and bullhorn to scream and spread some feathers around. The group date makes the heretofore unknown underground pillow fighting scene. It’s an apt metaphor for the tenuous Bachelorette bonds because apparent softness quickly gives way to some red-in-tooth-and-claw viciousness from the laydeez. They’re not even above a wrestling takedown or two. On a serious note, Fred Willard has had a brilliant career as a face you recognize but aren’t quite sure where you’ve seen him before. Columnist Bill Simmons called the character actor phenomenon That Guy. There have been two documentaries about That Guy called, fittingly, That Guy…Who Was In That Thing (pts 1 & 2). From Spinal Tap to Best In Show, Willard has been a master of satire because he plays his self-important but clueless parts straight in the context of a comedy or farce. His deadpan characters are the oblivious butt of the joke. It is with this appreciation for his work that it’s sad to see him in his dotage and with a rather obvious case of Parkinsonism. We are genuinely surprised that no blood has been shed during the melee. Alayah emerges victorious and Sourpuss Sydney orders the phasers set to vaporize as she awaits a chance to eliminate her rival. You will recall that Sydney is from Birmingham but made it clear that she wasn’t like – and didn’t like - the University of Alabama Delta Gamma alumnae who provide the dazzling scenery at the Superior Grill. That rasping sound you hear is coming from the also-rans on the date as they grit their collective teeth. Sourpuss explains that ‘Alayah puts on the pretty little princess façade and flaunts herself in front of the cameras in an absolute orchestrated show.’ This is akin to complaining that someone who’s jumped in a pool is using their legs and arms to stay afloat. It’s in the job description, sugarbumps. There is no doubt that Alayah has moves. Mostly of her head and shoulders. This juror finds her innocent of all charges. She is pageanting (possible new verb) like mad during the interview segment of the competition. Hannah Ann looks like a piker now. Kelley displays an admirable bit of maturity and genuine interest in Alayah’s encounter. Sydney is red-faced and it ain’t from the gas fire or the booze. Syd decides the direct approach is best and demands to know Alayah’s employment status. Alayah either fails to detect the insult or is killing Sydney with kindness by actually addressing her question. Frustrated that her needles are missing the target, Sydney aims at the solar plexus and denounces Alayah’s personality to her. Charming. The Birmingham Bitch demands authenticity but what authenticity have we seen from her apart from the obvious and off-putting? Credit to Kelley who, as a lawyer albeit one who possibly shares an office with Daddy, has seen something of the world and is able to ignore the ongoing catfight. Their previous encounter is definitely a huge springboard and an advantage. A jarring jumpcut to Like Literally Tammy whose first words are – wait for it – ‘like, literally.’ ‘This is working’ declares Pete. Well, yes, if your objective was to have a snog with every female then it’s working a treat. Sydney takes Pete to a very dark place. Also, the lights in the room are low. ‘Am I someone you would want to be with?’ she asks. A viewing nation responds by screaming ‘HELL NO!’ at their flat panels. Caesar assembles the Senate around the fire. Sydnus Brutus wields the freshly-honed blade with its new inscription: Death to Alayah. Al may not be everyone’s cuppa but Syd’s behavior is now in the realm of the obsessive. Peter, to his discredit, is ‘confused’ because he accepts one side of a story as fact. The Bachelor franchise’s own Wrong Way Corrigan caps off a disastrous night (for him) by giving Sydney a rose. For someone claiming to be seeking a wife he doesn’t seem to understand that marriage to Sydney would involve lamps flying across the room, a tracker app on his phone and sleeping with one eye open in case she douses him with gasoline and threatens to light a match – all because he forgot to take out the trash. The mama’s boy wants his mama because he lacks the emotional intelligence to detect lies and truth. He decides the best way to launch a party is to whine and moan some more. Even worse, he’s apologizing to…Sydney?!? Hey girls, some of the Seven Deadly Sins can be fun in the right context: lust, gluttony, pride. In fact, they’re part and parcel of many dates. Wrath and envy, however, are never a good time. The Carousel of Jealousy is the worst ride at Disneyland but Pete is dashing across the park to get his FastPass. Alayah, undaunted, confronts her tormentor and charms her suitor as well. This isn’t good enough for the suitor who asks Victoria P to dish the dirt. Both are shocked – SHOCKED! – that a participant might seek fame after filming. This is all getting absurd now. Vacuous Vic is unable to discern the very large difference between telling a premeditated falsehood and keeping a confidence. But hey, when you’re an emotionally needy basket case sacrifices will have to be made. Pete walks out on his own party. Cue floods of tears. Well done ladies! The boo-boo-faced Bachelor arrives for his rose ceremony still grumpy. Er, Pete didn't you say it was working? Kiarra is worried about being in the background but the way the heads are rolling around this guillotine she’s better off remaining anonymous for now. Victoria F still has her rose from what seems like a year ago. Alayah finally yields to the dozen or so blades plunged into her back. Victoria P is now in full stalker mode and declares she will put Pete first. And by Pete she means herself. But wait – what’s this? We will break the official or unofficial episode discussion rules by noting, quite obviously, that Alayah is not done. Huzzah! If Pete is going to burn his Jet A on aimless drama then we’re happy to watch. Well, not happy but content. Well, not content but we’ll watch anyway. Probably. If you ask nicely and don't play up to the cameras because we are are trying to be our true selves.
  13. Dawn breaks with Tammy telling us – again - she doesn’t want to talk about the drama she keeps talking about. Kelsey has eyes puffier than George Foreman’s after the Ali fight. We see in the daylight that her bottle was Dom Perignon (despite the silly Sharpie masking of the logo) so perhaps she has a legitimate gripe when she ended up with the house prosecco. Inevitably last night’s combatants are sent on a group date together with all very jazzed about visiting Revolve. Every girl’s dream apparently. Some dream, some don’t about modeling. Hannah Ann could be excused for cackling loud and long – this will be a busman’s holiday for her. One gets the feeling that, ahem, less emotionally stable members of the party will not enjoy it. Hannah loves her hat but, as the old line goes, not even a Greek fisherman looks good in a Greek fisherman’s hat. Snark aside for a moment, it’s unclear why Victoria F is so insecure. Natural beauty, almond-shaped eyes, raven hair, banging figure, petite. And perceptive. She should know that Ugly Ducklings are a type unto themselves and very alluring to many males – even if it’s not on this show. For those of us unfamiliar with the fashion end of reality TV we can be excused for thinking that Rip Taylor had come back from the dead, shaved his mustache, left his confetti at home and put on a sequined jacket. This host is camp as a row of pink tents and is uninterested in any dermatologists’ warnings about sunbeds. His co-host Janice might have a word about premature aging of the skin. Natasha says the fashion haul is like ‘Pretty Woman’ without the bad parts but several of the ladies have nevertheless opted for Streetwalker Chic. Hannah makes The Statement by donning a wedding gown. Pete surrenders without firing a shot. Costumes are changed and Natasha is described as ‘a really sexy Amish person’ which will be news to anyone who’s visited Amish country and noted, shall we say, the rather homogeneous population. Kelsey appears in pajamas and carries a bottle of champagne, natch. It’s even money she’ll bonk Peter over the head with it or possibly open it and spray the crowd with it. But that would likely cost her the prize – of clothes that is. Victoria notes that Hannah’s been the frontrunner from day one. See? Perceptive. But we’re having a bit of trouble swallowing the Not Confident routine. Not Confident people don’t wear lingerie in a crowded room. Full marks to her for summiting her personal mountain. For the others, beating Hannah Ann was about as likely as outdueling Eddie Van Halen in a Guitar Center on a Saturday morning. Ooh! Power move by Hannah throwing her dress into Vic! Han milks it further by lingering for an extra turn. It’s all child’s play for her really as she coasts to victory. Equally predictable is Victoria’s despair. For once a sniffle and a cry don’t seem calculated as TB reassures her. Mykenna has copped a fair amount of opprobrium but she’s forming an alliance of sorts with Hannah – both may need the support when Hurricane Kelsey makes landfall again. ‘We’re both in a good place.' Translated: ‘We’re comfortably ahead.’ Hannah dishes the dirt on Kelsey. Previous Bachelors usually sprint away from the internecine wars in the house but certainly not here. V is for Victoryia! Nobody in the room, save Hannah perhaps, begrudges the dark horse her rose. Peter unwisely places Kelsey on the stand where she demonstrates no sense of irony as she tearfully accuses Hannah of playing the victim. The next-ep teaser is followed by a rather extensive teaser for the season. Caution is thrown mostly to the wind as we see dates, excursions and in most cases the ladies’ identities are front and center. The crying jags are too numerous to count. Interesting approach. Is it an attempt to keep the audience hooked or is it a statement of confidence in the audience’s loyalty?
  14. Meghan Markle’s long-lost cousin Peter faces a dilemma similar to hers: what if the lure of tawdry fame and adulation is stronger than genuine feelings and obligations? And how do you sell that without looking like a total plonker? (Spoiler: you don’t). The damp squib of a group date becomes more of a group delay as the ladies sit around puzzling. Peter & Hannah B have done everything but lock lips and some grudging credit must be given to them because most would have yielded to nature about a week ago. Less credit must be offered to the video crew and their silly voyeuristic door-crack-peeping nonsense. Last week the cameras were fully in the same room during all the sturm und drang. Hannah B & Peter are well accustomed to seeing the men in black and their rigs. Now we’re getting ham-fisted cinema verité. If the also-rans think the first night was hurry-up-and-wait drudgery they ain’t seen nothin’ yet. As Paul’s grandfather complained in ‘A Hard Day’s Night’: ‘So far I’ve been in a train and a room and a car and a room and a room and a room’ – meaning the glamorous vistas they were promised and envisioned themselves have devolved quickly into a long session in a dentist’s waiting room. But at least the dentist eventually shows up and shows interest. Natasha is carrying on with her Real Housewives patter. If she normally communicates this way it’s worrying. If she’s desperate to become a meme on the internet it’s a bit sad. Mykenna gives her best Glenn Close/Fatal Attraction ‘I won’t be ignored’ speech. That is a crazed look, my dear. Alayah drags the English language even closer to the abyss by stating she wants to ‘progress their relationship.’ The girls are gathered, notebooks in hand to be informed that Pusillanimous Pete has decided to do…nothing. Well, as the great and sadly departed Neil Peart once noted, if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice. The girls are still in ‘oooh pick me’ mode but any one of them could be forgiven for smacking him on the head for leading them into his personal no-fly zone. Pete wants to reconvene at the afterparty. After what, exactly? And what is there to celebrate? These cats are well annoyed and tails are flicking madly left and right now. Natasha is fully committed…to stirring the pot with more tirades in the key of F-sharp if not The Bachelor himself. Alexa is sporting a daring hairdo not seen since Wendy and Lisa in their pomp in ‘Purple Rain.’ The ink is still wet on the Leave It In The Past Treaty but signatory Alexa wants answers anyway. Wait – aren’t we supposed to be the ones asking questions of Alexa? Natasha is now offering poison-dripping sessions to individual ear owners. Now it’s Savannah’s turn. And Savannah is doing the defensive arm-bar-hair-grab move! Who needs subtitles when you can read body language? Natasha’s next victim is Pete himself. This sounds less like a dating show and more like a customer service class at a restaurant. I’m sorry, you’re right, I was wrong, how can I fix it etc. etc. Sydney is from Birmingham AL but sounds as if she’s from Burbank CA as she steadfastly refuses to place any space between her words. Soeveryutterancesoundslikethisandendsinaquestion? Her ‘I gave up a lot to be here’ speech is a familiar one but has the desired effect on Pete as he latches on. Or maybe it’s a move out of desperation as he tries something, anything to get her to finish a sentence. Now it’s Mykenna’s turn and apparently this is her well-rehearsed switched-on I’m-such-a-flirt act. Fred Flintstone voice: ‘Hoo boy.’ They’re now reviewing line-dancing steps which are mercifully short and unmercifully arhythmic but merely a pretext for her to get a kiss. Pete unwittingly brings her inner Glenn Close out (again) by playing the role of Michael Douglas, lifting her onto a desktop. Pete, our only advice to is to keep her away from the bunnies. And boiling water. Considering he’s only been on camera with four of the nine women gathered and only kissed two of them the rose will obviously be a coin flip between Sydney and Mykenna. Payton’s body language is nearly screaming aloud – she’s leaning so far off the sofa she may knock the lamp over as she taps her foot impatiently. She looks like a poor soul waiting on her train stop as a bunch of rowdy kids climb over the seats next to her while their mother ignores them. Rabble-rousing Natasha is back at it and why not? She’s got the full complement of rabble to rouse now. Tammy is chock full of criticism for someone she’s met just the once. Pity the poor soul who ends up with her constant disapproval. Maybe she’ll pin them on the floor as punishment for leaving dirty dishes in the sink. Pete arrives with his now-standard apology and Lockjaw Lexi ‘feels a lot better.’ She wants to talk about the first night…of which Pete has no memory. That should fill her with confidence! Kisses, once a rare and prized commodity on TB, are now so uneventful that when they happen the cameras focus on…the hanging lanterns. Unlit. Even the cymbal crescendos are muted. Kelsey has brought a bottle of champagne ‘for a really special moment.’ But hasn’t she noticed the bubbly has been flowing throughout the production already? Let’s face it…some of the best moments in the franchise occur when the participants are listing to starboard and have let their guard down. I suppose we can thank the execrable Corinne again for forcing adults to be treated like children as and when the booze is rationed. In addition to her champagne, Kelsey is lighting candles. On this show it’s like bringing sand to the beach. One wonders how she is guaranteed an audience with His Pilotness and that doubt is justified because he’s dashed out the front door with Glenn – sorry, Mykenna. Both of them already have drink in hand so the champers and Kelsey can wait. Whatever M&P got up to has been left on the editing room floor but she returns, inexplicably, with a smug look, a can of Reddi Wip and a bottle of Log Cabin. Fleiss & Co. have never been above a bit of product placement but this is still very odd. Did we miss a reenactment of 9 ½ Weeks? Mykenna is still suited and booted. Does this mean Pete is naked and tied to a fence post somewhere, claw marks on his back, moaning softly in Spanish for his mama and looking like a stack of silver dollar pancakes? And why isn’t a single person in the room asking some rather obvious questions about the sugary condiments? But why talk food when you’ve got drama? Kelsey is reading every page of the riot act to Mykenna but it’s fine. Yes, it sounds entirely fine. Pete, as it turns out, did not become a human Grand Slam Breakfast also which only adds to the mystery of the cream and syrup. But now it’s Madison Time! (It’s an old song- ask yer dad). Pete may be pecking around the barnyard – and why not? – but he’s a giddy schoolboy around Maddie. Speaking of barnyards, Alayah has rather noticeably become the mother hen, acting as sounding board for the others and now makeup artist touching up Kelsey after The Showdown Pt 1. Kelsey has regained altitude but is about nosedive into despair as she suffers the twin ignominy of someone stealing her moment…and her champagne. Never has the pop! of a cork so clearly marked a dividing line. And brothers and sisters, that line has been well and truly crossed. Yes who is with him? Madison’s back with the group so it must be…Polly Purebred, er, Hannah Ann! Underdog, you’re in truuuuuuble. Hannah pleads innocent – she’s got the act down cold, to be fair – but she seems believable here. We shift quickly from The Bold & The Beautiful to Dumb & Dumber as Kelsey unwisely tips the champagne bottle to her lips and gets a faceful of it. It would be impolite NOT to laugh, really. For a split second Pete doesn’t know if he should laugh because it is genuinely hilarious. Kelsey, frankly, could defuse the whole situation by laughing herself but lacks the presence of mind. Kelsey is still convinced that she has transported the only bottle of champagne on the planet to California and the Bachelor house with her despite the open bar that has been on offer throughout. She’s like a kid who brings candy to a birthday party and throws a wobbler when others partake. Hannah is nearly robotic: ‘I acknowledge your feelings.’ It’s a fairly new passive tactic in Bachelorland but evidently a fairly common one. But it beats screaming I suppose. It’s another Mid-Episode Rose Ceremony (MERC?). Kelsey & Hannah Ann are front and center and next to each other. Coincidence no doubt. Roses awarded to Victoria P, among others, who has gone from teacup turmoil to nearly zero minutes of screen time this ep. Also to Natasha although Pete might be playing defense as he doesn’t want the final tongue-lashing from her in the room with all the others! She’s clearly in the Friend Zone but in her case it might be more accurately termed the Demilitarized Zone. Hannah, we aren’t buying the gee-I-don’t-know-if-I’ll-get-a-rose routine so stop selling. Let’s all agree in non-judgmental fashion that you’ve got aces wired. Tammy. Ugh. Shiann’s got some front talking about others’ tantrums considering she was one of the primary tantrum-throwers last ep. At this point we are pounding the table and chanting Send Kelsey Home! but the psycho stalker on an emotional knife edge is a stock character in this show so no such luck. A number of clear no-hopers have been retained which, unfortunately for the producers, only further tips off who the final group will consist of. ENTR’ACTE
  15. McKenna starts part II with ‘journey’ and ‘find love.’ Drink? Oh give us a break..we’re hung over and didn’t sleep. Shouldn’t Chris Harrison have clothes made with a little kangaroo pouch sewn onto the back to hold the envelope? If not, where, exactly is he storing it? Can we get clothier Kelsey on the job? A rather obvious group of pigeons have been selected by the cat. Or is it the other way round? They’re really going to milk this pilot/airplane thing for all it’s worth aren’t they? That's another cat pun but it wasn't intentional. Probably because a having licensed pilot means his services are free. Pete’s excited about the female aviators but it’s fairly evident that our vapid Bachelorettes are unfamiliar with the Blue Angels – maybe they think it’s a clothing brand spun off from Victoria’s Secret? C-130? Is that a Ford pickup truck? Now we have math. ‘Oh no!’ one gasps - understandably. Pilot Instructor Cook isn’t quite up to airspeed on the fun aspect of all this. Don't ask, don't tell, airman. No laughing or giggling in her ground school, dammit. Now give me 50 pushups. Victoria P recounts yet another harrowing Devastating Personal Tragedy (DPT) – she vomited on ‘the little teacup spinny thing.’ How well-read and cosmopolitan she truly is. She speaks so lyrically. B-roll footage of the actual ride and some ominous music are inserted for those still unfamiliar with the teacups. Or vomiting. Which she predictably does and her white knight of the skies predictably runs over to the bathroom door – because we all want to converse while we’re hugging a commode and retching don’t we? Like, Tammy, literally like, can’t, like, stop saying like. Like, literally. Ugh – what did they slide down into? Grease? Pumpkin? Kelley is cheating but never have we been so happy to see someone break the rules. Kelley’s a lawyer, girls. She knows rules are made to be broken. She’s even met TB before. Victoria P with a ‘journey’ (ding!) and I think we have the first ‘comfort zone’ of the season – Comfort Zone should really become the name of a cocktail. Crikey, there’s a whole hour left? Shiann has either brought the full complement of bad gambler’s luck with her from Las Vegas or she’s getting a horrible edit. Either way, she is squarely in the Friend Zone. Kelley adds punitive damages by stealing Pete AND getting the rose. Even Hannah is a little off-kilter after that clean sweep. Aubie Madison is dressed to the nines at midday. Oiling her Tiger traps as it were. Most of the ladies are on the slim side but Madison has some noticeable muscle definition. Even her peers are impressed, especially the ones who have been relying on the Diet Coke and sneaky cigarette plan before filming commenced. A cheeky pseudo-hometown date – which is undoubtedly how the other girls will view it – follows featuring more of Pete and his Mommy issues. But Madison is returning serve with Daddy stories. The vocal fry is at max sizzle now and she’s using the word ‘wife.’ Gulp! Hoopster Madison gets a slam-dunk rose. Never in doubt. Cue the country that really isn’t country featuring a ‘bantar’ (a banjo strung and tuned like a guitar). The hours at the mansion are long. And so are the faces. Another group date involves…more Hannah B. At this point your odds of falling into a pool and staying dry are better than avoiding The Eternal Bachelorette. Natasha slips into Real Housewives mode but it’s entirely appropriate here. ‘That’s two times we’ve seen her in a week’ notes Alayah. Amen. But to be fair real emotion is on offer here from both…and it involves the complete wreckage of eye makeup. Love is a powerful force…but it’s not as powerful as network ratings and schedules. If Pete bails now there will be some rather large holes to fill on the calendar and ABC/Fleiss/Harrison aren’t having it. It’s a gripping scene and an authentic one, actually, but probably a hiding to nothing since there is a series to air! Give ‘em grudging credit. A 3-hour show still ends with a cliffhanger. Top that, Scorsese!
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