Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Bachelor Ben: Return of the Undertaker

Okay, I've procrastinated long enough. Time to bang this puppy out. Why aren't I eager to get my thoughts down this week and rush it to the screen?

Tonight we all celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr. Day by sitting passively watching 17 vapid white girls vie for the love of one vapid white guy. It's what Dr. King would have wanted. (Actually, we Canadians are excused because it's not a holiday in the Great White North.)

I may be slow on the upate, but it's finally becoming blatantly clear to me how much a role alcohol plays in everything on this show. I'm convinced of it. We start the episode off watching the ladies being chauffeured into San Francisco, all of them sipping champagne in the middle of the day. Or the start of the day. All I know is it wasn't dark out. Made me wonder how much booze is consumed on a given day in Bachelorburgh. Never mind that, how much is allocated for spirits in the budget? Probably more than the GDP of some small countries.

Ben met his sister in San Fran and told her all about his harem, saying the girls are all "professional." Is that something you tell your sister? He also told sis that Courtney is "super mellow and down to earth." Yep, he can read 'em, can't he? And I loved his description of Jennifer: "She's an accountant but she's super attractive." You caught the but, right?

His sister was hopeful of Ben finally getting a girlfriend so they can finally go on some double dates. Say what? Is that something siblings do?

First one-on-one date went to Emily, the PhD student. Emily happens to be terrified of heights so of course they climb the Golden Gate Bridge [EDITOR'S NOTE (Okay, it's me, too): It has come to my attention that the bridge was, in fact, the Bay Bridge, not the Golden Gate Bridge). Which leads me down many neural highways. It's clear that dates are set out to test whatever the selectee is uncomfortable with. Which leads me to believe the producers select who goes on what date. You can't just arrange something like climbing the Golden Gate Bridge in a day [or even the Bay Bridge]. This was all arranged weeks, if not months, in advance. Had to be. They don't wait to see who he selects and then get to work on arranging the date. It's the other way around. I'm also pretty sure the contestants all fill out questionnaires about themselves and one of the questions pertains to their biggest fear. Do you think Ben looks these over and then decides to have some fun with them at their expense? Doubtful.

So if you're reading this and thinking about going on the show, I have some advice for you: Fake a fear. And really sell it. But make sure the fake fear is something you really love doing. Act scared on the date, but then ace it. The Bachelor will totally think he helped you overcome something terrible in your life, and that you're not afraid to take chances. It's foolproof.

Come to think of it, I believe Emily did just that. I was getting queasy watching them walk that round pipe. I couldn't have done it. Not only that, but if I did reach the top platform, I would have lain down on the floor and sobbed. What did Emily do? She strutted on out there and went to the ledge to soak it all in. Yeah, she was really terrified. Also how did they get down? I wanted to see some footage on that.

Did you recall that Emily is also the one who went through the sanitation routine before shaking Ben's hand when they first met? She's got a bucket of neuroses, that one. But cute. I'll give her that. And smart.

At dinner that night, Ben made the odd choice to go with lipstick. Don't know why. It was left unsaid but I found it almost as unsettling as the bridge hike. Ben, trying to prove a point, told Emily, "I think you're smarter than me." It was all Emily could do not to blurt out, "smarter than I, dummy." Ben gave her the rose then they stood up, kissed, then looked to the skies. Ben said it was "our own private fireworks show!" Yeah, over the entire city. Nobody else could see it, Ben. Yup, she's smarter than he is, alright.

The group date killed two birds with one stone: 1. It enabled Ben to cross something off his leap list. 2. It introduced the phrase 'leap list' to the world. Does he mean bucket list? I had no idea what he was talking about. Granted, I'm not the most plugged-in guy in the world so it's quite possible this is a common term. Or maybe a regionalism I'm not familiar with. Just to be sure, I'm going to Google it...

Guess what? It's not even a thing! It's a total product placement by a car company. I'm not going to mention their name because then they've won. This same company was mentioned by one of the girls on the ski date. I thought that was suspicious but now I'm wise to their game. Boycott that car company! I can't believe Ben just effortlessly used the phrase like it was something he's known for his lifetime. Boo. You heard me, boo.

Anyway, the activity that Ben claims he always wanted to do was skiing down a street in San Francisco. Sure, a boyhood dream. Who doesn't dream about skiing city streets? Myself, I've always wanted to parasail through Detroit but different strokes...

What a ridiculous date. Of course the women all have their bikinis at the ready. Snow is brought in and down they go.

At nght, the insignificant Rachel (she of the party-girl voice) took Ben aside and "really opened up" to him. Oh, and she kissed him. But that's not why she got the rose. It was the opening up that sealed it. Kacie B(aton) took him out to the street for a stroll and maybe it was the way she was dressed but she looked about 14.

The final one-on-one date went to grandma's girl Brittney. Brittney, however, had her own thoughts. She realized she just wasn't in it. Or she realized she wasn't going to get a rose and didn't want to be humiliated. So she did the honourable thing and left. Her grandma's gonna give her a whuppin' when she gets home. Ben took it in stride, saying Brittney was on the fence anyway. Nice save, Ben.

Or maybe this just paves the way for her return mid-season, saying she made a terrible mistake. Or does Shawntel's arrival count as the de rigeur return for the season?

So the sloppy seconds went to Lindzi, who took full advantage and scored a rose. They had ice cream at my old work place, Swensen's, and rode a trolley car through Chinatown to City Hall. It being night and all, it was closed. But Ben is the king of San Francisco. He whipped out a key and led Lindzi inside. Lindzi was blown away, as you can well imagine. "I don't know who this guy is, but he's clearly amazing!" No doubt. He must know the mayor or something.
Well, guess what? As luck would have it, some other people were locked inside. They must have been in the bathroom at closing time. So to pass the time, they formed a band and played for Ben and Lindzi. What luck! Lindzi even pretended to know who they were to make it seem like they were a real famous band. She thinks of everything, that Lindzi. They played what sounded to me like a ripoff of Prince's Kiss but I won't judge too harshly since they'd only been practicing since closing time.

Later, at an intimate speakeasy, Ben asked how Lindzi could still be single. It always strikes me as judgmental when I hear this on the show. The question can always be turned around to the asker, but never is. Lindzi said she'd only been in love once in her life, for a year and a half. She got dumped by text message: "Welcome to Dumpsville. Population: You." Clearly, her ex was a jerk of the highest order. I hate to blame the victim, but what would lead someone to break up that way with a woman they'd been seeing for more than a year? I know that's not right of me, but it's a nagging thought. Maybe the guy just didn't dig her dirt make-up.

But she got the rose from Ben, who romantically cooed, "I've been really impressed with you." Aw, Ben, you sure know how to make the ladies swoon.

The King of San Fran then whipped out his key to the city and opened up a closed piano store. The first time we learned Ben could tickle the ivories, we didn't get to hear him play. This time we did. He clunked out a few chords and Lindzi was blown away: "That's seriously amazing!" What was really amazing was when they started dancing in the middle of the store to dubbed-in music. In other words, to no music at all where they were.

At the cocktail party, Ben tells the super-attractive-for-an-accountant Jennifer that she's "hands down the best kisser in the house." I've got an inkling he may regret those words in the likely event he ultimately chooses somebody other than Jennifer.

But the real story of the night was the return of the Undertaker, Shawntel, from Brad's season. I loved Shawntel. In fact, on her return she immediately became my favourite again. But she sure wasn't the favourite at the party. Again, I'm going to blame our good friend Al. K. Hall here. There's no way any sane or rational person could develop a hate-on for her so quickly. How about blaming Chris Harrison, or the producers, for inviting her back? And what's the threat? Either Ben likes her more or he doesn't. There's nothing you can do about it.

The tears started flowing. Courtney showed how super-mellow and down to earth she is by rambling incoherently and attacking others. Elyse (I think it was) said the sexy Shawntel was uglier in person and had thick thighs. That's just crazy talk. Her thighs aren't even as thick as Courtney's calves. Jacklyn said she feels she's better than Shawntel (newsflash: you're not. In fact, it's not even close). Nicki said, "Shawntel rides in on her high hearse – no pun intended." (!) You gotta admit, that's a pretty great unintended pun.

Ben had eleven roses to hand out, after already giving one each to Emily, Rachel and Lindzi. Two would go home.

Or would they?

They went in order, and quicker than any other rose ceremony in Bachelor history! (with my editorial preferences in parentheses):
  • Courtney, who accepted reluctantly. (x)
  • Kasie B(aton) (√)
  • Elyse (x)
  • Jamie (-)
  • Jennifer (√)
  • Casey S. (√)
  • Blakely (x)
  • Monica (√)
  • Nicki (√)
  • Samantha (x)
Before he handed out the last rose to either sexy Shawntel, Erika or Jaclyn, he decided to give a little speech. But Erika decided to go for the sympathy rose by almost fainting. You'd have thought she collapsed and went into seizure by the way everyone was acting, but she was fine. Ben then made his speech saying he wasn't going to give out the last rose afterall. At which point Erika tried one more time. Okay, maybe it was the sauce. It's a theme, afterall. Really, she had no chance whatsoever after showing Ben her inside-lip tattoo of the word Amoré. You had to stick around for the blooper reel at the end of the show to have seen that, but it happened before the rose ceremony so you know he socked that piece of information away.

We never got to see Ben's goodbye to Jaclyn. She just walked off bawling with someone. I think she may be hiding in the house.

Shawntel shed more tears than she did when let go by Brad. She said she was embarrassed, as, I guess, she ought to be. As she left, classy Courtney cackled, "See ya! Sayonara!" Ben's reasoning for not giving her a rose was because it's not fair to the rest of the girls. What does fairness have to do with anything if this is really about finding yourself a mate? This ain't no game, Benjamin. This is your life.

I was clamouring for Shawntel to be named Bachelorette last time so I'll sound that trumpet again. She's clearly desperate and willing to play the game. She's attractive, she's smart, she's funny, she's... well, if not normal, as close as you can get on reality television. Come on, producers! Throw me a bone for once in your lives, would ya? After all I do for you.

Next week the gang is off to – hold onto your seats – Park City, Utah! The gals let out a collective whoop! when they were told. They're pulling out all the stops, I tells ya! What's even better is that Courtney looks even more mentally unstable in the clips.