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Average Joe 2: Joes in Paradise. Larissa Meek follows in the footsteps of Melana Scantlin as she has to choose her mate over several average guys.

In the end, it turned into a test of looks over charm, one that many believe she failed.

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

January-March 2004, NBC
EP: Stuart Krasnow
Packager: Krasnow Productions, NBC Studios

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Web design by Jason Elliott. Logo by Chico Alexander. 

January 5, 2004

25 Average guys. One lovely woman. One Chico Alexander to cover it.

Wait a sec - that's not me.

I am Gordon Pepper, filling in for Chico while he's vacationing. I don't know if he's gone out to Hawaii, but he's not here, which means that I get to mind the store for him. And what a store it is - 18 guys in average shapes and sizes. Minding the store is Dennis Luciani, who starts by telling us that this show was taped before we got to see the first Average Joe - so the woman has no clue what she is in for.

That said woman is Larissa, a former Miss Missouri who is in Hawaii to meet the man of her dreams. I don't think that any of these people is who she had in mind...

We'll start with Chris, a 32 year old musician. He seems normal. A little geeky, but normal. I'm waiting for the freaks to show up.

I was not disappointed. David (24), a mail carrier, wants all of his high school buddies to be rooting for him. With the glasses and teeth, he looks like he still IS in high school.

Fredo (31) is a cement contractor, while Tim (29, Life Insurance Contractor) wants the red heads to band together to stay alive. Unfortunately for him, he's losing a lot of that stuff on top,

Brian W. (31, Auditor for US Homeland Security) has a thick New England Accent, while Bill (24, Auditor) looks like he tried out for the Sumo team. Joining Bill on the Sumo Team is Sean (26), a pastry chef from Philadelphia - and joining them is Donato (33), a sewer worker.

Thomas (36) doesn't have to worry about that, because he's as skinny as a beanpole. At 5'4", he's also as tall as one. Matt (call him Botti), a 24 year old virgin, thinks that he has transformed himself from a nerdy kid to someone cool. With the black horned rim glasses, I would have to Also into transformations is Chris (32), who is completely into the 50's look. Henry Winkler didn't have any influence on this show, did he?

Now we have an interlude see the lovely Larissa getting out of her Limousine and being bedazzled by the setting that she will be hanging out in. She's blown away by the easel and the blank canvasses. 'I was so touched at the little details that were into it - and it makes me feel like home.' She goes to the pool - where

Justin (27) is an environmental scientist, but call him by his nickname - booger. Brian G. is a very shy guy and CJ has problems with first impressions - and both of those things spell disaster for this kind of show. Robert (33) has not had good romantic experiences.

Back to Larissa, who sees and gets into a bright blue helicopter. She gets a tour of Hawaii, and the coastline, and the 18 weird people by her pool - oh wait, we're not there yet.

Tony (24) was born without any hair - and no sweat glands - which could be a plus. What could be a minus is his bizarre facial hair pattern. Sam (25) is a graphic designer who thinks that he's a great guy and the woman will be lucky to have him. Uh, ok. Mike (32) wanted to date the cheerleaders - which is difficult when you're in the marching band playing cymbals. Phuc (26) is a very pudgy accountant who describes himself as a soft cuddly teddy bear.

Larissa is excited to see the guy of her dreams. There are 2 things that would scare her as much as it did me - #1 Seeing the average Joes. #2 Seeing the average Joes shirtless, in Hawaii, in a luau theme. Yikes.

Brian G., Was concerned that he was on Loser Island, while David, who left his maturity in high school starts bouncing on the sofa. Almost everyone else grabs a beer - and Phuc opens up beer tops with his teeth. 'That's the most valuable guy here' says Mike.

David continues to make himself public enemy #1 by throwing a watermelon in the pool. Donato - 'Maybe Dave didn't take his ritalin.' Meanwhile, some guys are trying to find out where David is sleeping - and proceed to change rooms away from him.

Meanwhile, no one can understand Robert and Phuc has a strange bordering on frightening awareness of using sharp things. Tony shows off his facial hair, while Mike, who is considered Anal retentive, is already cleaning out the pool, while no one has gone in. Maybe he's checking for watermelon disease...

Next up - a montage of the average Joes dancing. It's as scary as it sounds. Botti, who thinks that he is the sexiest person there, goes in the pool. Fredo, who is sporting a ponytail that's almost as long as my mom's, wants everyone to go in and don togas. Brian G's reaction? 'This is a gay man's slumber party.', as he gets stuck with conversing with David.

The guys realize that the woman who is involved is in for a rude surprise. Meanwhile, Botti and David talk about dating tips. Wha? Larissa thinks that she excited to hopefully find the guy of her dreams. She is all decked out in black and awaiting the limo filled with her dream dates to show up. The first limo does indeed show up, with someone coming out, introducing himself as Jim, and saying...that he isn't one of her dates. But he does tell her that there are 18 great guys here for her journey.

She realizes that something is up. 'I think that my stomach went into my throat because I didn't know what was coming next.' Here's what's coming next - a big white bus with all 18 Joes inside. Goodbye, dream, hello, nightmare. The first person to come out? The sofa jumping David. 'I don't know if I can handle this...these guys aren't people who I'd be interested in.' She looks like she wants to jump into the pool, see if the watermelon is still there and stick her face in it.

How do the guys like her? David dances around, Fredo calls her a piece of ass, and Mike calls her a goddess. How does she like the guys? 'OK, I get it, I'm the butt of the joke.' Mercifully for her, the door shuts on the bus as it drives away. Larissa gets a panic attack and races to her room. 'What the fu$k did I get myself into?'

She goes further than that - she has a nice chat with the producers and she says that accuses them of primping the contestants to make them look even more dorkier. After ranting and saying that she doesn't want to be romantically intimate, she decides that this is a good test and she will try to get to know them. This is a nice refreshing change - something we didn't see from Melana.

She decides to make the best of it and meets the guys, who are cool with it. David is remarkably acting like a normal human being, while people with the social problems are getting it magnified, especially Robert, the guy who no one can understand what's coming out of his mouth. She seems to be connecting with Tony and Fredo, as well as David.

It's interesting - the guys who open themselves seem to be doing better than the guys like Bottie and CJ, who are just dishing out the normal one-liners. Robert thinks that he's having a bad night. It doesn't get better in the photo shoot - and neither does CJ with a rotten poem. Mike W. had a lousy conversation too while the 50's Greaser tries to redeems himself by singing a song from Grease.

It's time for the eliminations - and Larissa is still smiling - maybe because she can relieve herself of four of the guys in front of her. The first person eliminated from Average Joe 2 is....CJ, who had a lousy interview and it does him. 'Everyone was aggressive and I wasn't, and I'm going home.'

The second person gone is Robert, which also isn't a surprise, because no one could understand him. Person number 3 is Chris the Greaser - as she thinks that she doesn't have anything in common with him - she wasn't even born in the 50's. The last person to get knocked out is Matt. D'oh. Well, so much for the so-called sexiest person there. Everyone else can breathe again - except Larissa, who calls it the most bizarre date that she's ever had.

My take? This looks like it would be much better from the get go than the Bachelor. This should be a fun ride, and Chico should be happy that he's getting this one. We'll see if Larissa is just as happy as Chico is next time.

January 12, 2004

**note on my GSNN desk as I come back from vacation** "Memo to Chico: I think you're going to like this one better than Melana judging from the first show (recap enclosed)."

**reads recap** Eighteen new AJs meet Larissa Meek, who thought she was meeting the stereotypical reality dating guy... Larissa says "What the (^_^) did I get myself into?" But she's open to the idea, and ends up enjoying it. Things are looking up already! Too bad about CJ, Robert, Greaser Chris, and Matt, though. Oh well. Let's see what this week for our goddess Larissa and our 14 AJs remaining.

We start off ten minutes short and with a boxing ring. Cue Rocky-type montage. Only thing missing is a giant meat-locker. Favorite boxers of the crew include Ali, Evander, and Roy Jones, Jr.

Ahem, excuse me... 5-TIME WORLD CHAMPION ROY JONES JR! *hits hero button* He's there to get the AJs ready for a little fight they're about to have. "I hear this Larissa is worth fighting for?" Uhh... YEAH?!

Training ensues. In the middle of said training, Larissa enters wearing a boxer's robe that, for some reason, looks incredibly hot on her. It also looks incredibly hot OFF of her (okay, I need an out before this starts sounding like soft-core porn) as she plays ring girl (thank you, out). "It wasn't about who threw the best punch for me; it was about who had the most fun." But while I would easily watch 50 minutes of Larissa being ring girl, we've got a boxing match to watch. LET'S GET IT ON!

First bout: Phuc vs. Sean for the heavy-heavy-heavyweight championship of the series. Thirty seconds on, and down goes Sean! But Phuc is a gentleman about it. I think. Second on the card: David vs. Donato. David wants to dance, and we don't get to see much of the fight, as he spends most of his time training Larissa... until Fredo steps in with some training tips of his own, namely the "get a better trainer" tip. That one's always a winner for some reason. "I think Larissa's looking for a man who'll stand up and protect her. That's what I'm all about." Back to the fighting, as Sam takes on Fredo. Fredo just hammers him. I'm expecting someone to shout "Kill him!" But Roy steps in and saves the day... for Sam.

Next bout: Tony vs. Tim. The artist versus the Marine. "Winner": Marine. By a cheap shot. "She's got an idea about me being an aggressive, violent person." Heh. She's smart.

But the real lesson here comes from Roy Jones, Jr.: "Herd of males together, they get along fine. One female shows up, and chaos breaks out!" Roy leaves our heroes with these words: "You have something worth fighting for, so keep fighting."

Okay, agenda for the rest of the episode: three group dates, one person from each will get some Larissa time. First up: Tim, David, Mike, and Tom... the air date. The five chopper to a volcano. David jokes about corn dogs and coffee right up until the big crater landing. Larissa then points out (you know, she could do this job all by herself, but then where would Kathy be?) tonight's alone-time locale, where the lava meets the ocean. Tim takes some initiative getting Larissa off to the side, which is a bad thing to do if you are a known pummeler of people smaller than you are. "She's getting an image of me as kind of a brute, which is almost direct opposite of who I am."

But Larissa is more drawn to Mike because, admittedly, he was the most attractive (at least she's upfront about it). Or perhaps it was divine intervention, as Mike mentions that he has a higher calling. "Drop the J-bomb and everyone scatters. I scared her with the faith thing, but you know, that's where I'm at." Note to self: don't be surprised if Average Joe 4: Scott Returns is cycled around the NBC offices. Thomas can't stop talking about Wonder Woman for some reason. Carrot Top... err, David, lays his heart out on the line. And Larissa, who didn't even see herself in this position five days ago, grabs hold for the rest of the evening.

They're gonna have fun tonight, I can tell.

David and Larissa venture to the lava flow, where things are getting hot... a little too hot. David's trying to light the perfect fire next to 3000 degrees of liquid hot mag-ma. But nevertheless, he does have other tricks up his sleeve, namely the wine glass maneuver.

Back at the house, though, Fredo and Tim are thinking 'What the hell?' "The dude we told him not to be he was today, and he gets the date." But if they were actually seeing what was going on, they'd probably understand why David was on the date, as he and Larissa can relate on the "what did they do to deserve this?" tip. And then David sings. Don't worry, people. It's in English. And presumably, he wrote it, because I can't find the lyrics to this anywhere.

And somewhere, Universal Music Group is scrambling for a contract. Meanwhile, David kisses her. Wow. Gutsy.

From air to water, as Larissa meets up with Justin, Brian, Fredo, Bill, and Sean. They try their hand at Snuba, which, and I know this because I actually did it on vacation, is a combination of scuba and snorkeling. Fredo was checking out the sea life at the bottom, while Sean was checking out the Larissa life at the top. "She looks awesome in a bathing suit." Aquatic life wins out, as Fredo gets the date tonight.

Fredo admits that he's got a Jones for classical music. Once she gets past the tough guy exterior, Larissa is pretty much comfortable with him. We also learn that Fredo had started his own charity. Pretty nice guy, really. "If I can do it, anyone can do it." Words to live by from the Average Joe.

THE NEXT DAY (thank you, Chyron!), it's a rumble in the jungle with Sam, Brian Worth, Phuc, Tony, and Donato. But hidden within all that Larissa hacks by a machete... probably the most beautiful waterfall you've ever seen. Everyone... and by everyone I mean Brian, Tony, and Larissa, frolics under the falls.

While Tony entertains with his zig-zag stubble and Sam turns on the charm, Phuc's eyes are all over the place! Zigzags all over the place as Larissa picks Tony. Together, they go back to Larissa's for a little... well, I don't know what, really. Actaully, they just admire Larissa's art right before they get their hands on the paint for portraits of each other. Amazing how lost two people can get when they're just looking at each other, don't you think? Larissa's thinking about the light shining off of Tony's head, while Tony's thinking about his lips shining off of hers.

So nervous are the two that they have to step outside for the requisite kiss... and what a kiss it was. "It wasn't just one little peck, it was a few in a row. It made me feel like she wasn't doing this for show. She felt the same way that I did. It was a little scary, but I'm ready to roll with it." Three dates. Three winners. "I really surprised myself that I really found something that was special," Larissa notes.

Special or not, it's time for ... hold on. Something's wrong. Why is Justin leaving? "He had an issue and had to leave the island on short notice." Well, I didn't really hold out any hope for him anyway. That drops the cut number to five. David's holding firm to his spot on the rung, while part of Mike wants to push her away. And speaking of pushing away, it's time for ... (pausing)... another elimination. This time, it's Tim the Killer, Sam, Phuc the Weird Pair of Eyes, Bill (who wasn't really swimming), and Donato (who also couldn't swim). But we still have seven minutes to kill, so... why not go into super dark mode for a moment...

Everyone is having a blast just living for the moment, not knowing full well that a bombshell-loaded torpedo is heading right up the coast, locked on to Larissa like so many bikinis. Two worlds are about to collide NEXT WEEK. See you soon!

January 19, 2004

Last time, tensions flared and fisticuffs flew as Tim found himself on the receiving end of a sucker punch by Larissa, being bounced along with Sam, Phuc, Bill, and Donato. Meanwhile Justin chose to exit on his own accord, leaving Sean, David, Fredo, Tony, Mike, Thom, Brian G., and the other Brian.

And after all that, David's single, "A Thousand Miles", reached number one, knocking off Outkast. No, not really.

Oh, and in case you didn't get my title? The alpha males? They arrive today.

But first, Larissa breaks down about the elimination process, particularly Donato's removal.

On the other side, the remaining eight celebrate their new found power as being the last of the original eighteen. "We're all average looking fellas. If I was competing against a playboy, I'd have to use what I have to take them out."

Pan to the ocean, and New Guys off the port bow, 403 nm to target. 400...

Interesting thing about the AJs that Brian G. notes is lack of character. "Not being self-centered, not locked up in what your looks are." Tony is confident that he'll be the last one standing, while Mike is concerned that he's showing feelings. Thomas is relieved that he's not competing against the tall, dark, and handsome guys.

Not yet... 335 and counting. Let's meet these New Guys:

Michael - "This paradise that these guys have been living in is about to become a nightmare."

Jim - "They don't know that we're comin', and we're definitely going to give them a run for their money."

The other Michael - "Nice guys finish last, right? If the game calls for it, I'm gonna have to suck it up and be a little nasty."

Jerry - "When we come in, we're going to take things over."

311 and counting... Back to the house and more feelings of confidence and assurance of their position on the grand scheme of thing. "Not to say that a shocker couldn't happen," David quips. "I'm just not expecting it."

Shocker at 220 and closing...

Pete - "Think of us as a torpedo in the water. They will NOT know what hit them."

Theo - "I'm just going to compete with myself and not worry about the other guys, because there really isn't any competition."

Todd - "When we come there, they're gonna start to get nervous."

Gil - "Basically a group with the total package that a woman would want."

"Jocks versus geeks, jocks always win." Evil... EVIL! 205...

Meanwhile, it's a guy-athlon on shore, and David's never swam or rode a bike. This could be trouble for the crooner. The rest of them will have no problem swimming, biking, and running for the finish. The prize: Well, I don't really know.

Tony starts out in second. Sean, on the other hand, doggy paddles into seventh. Brian W. stops in fourth, needing help, and he's out of the race. But he's safe, at least. "Ironman, I am not."

189... Theo, Todd, and Michael play up their strategy: "Come in, take no prisoners, and end up with the girl."

Back at the race, Thom is DQed for tiring out, leaving Mike in the lead and Tony behind. Back in the water, David is in a doggy-paddling last place. Larissa: "Come on, David, you're doing great!" A non-relenting David: "THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!" Heh, now I'm in the mood for a Bartles & Jaymes.

Coming up on shoreline for the New Guys. "Cream rises to the top. Survival of the fittest."

Back at the race, it's still a horserace between Mike and Tony. Mike is first to the finish line, where a waiting Larissa embraces him in the Winner's Circle. "Wow. He really wanted to show me something. He wanted to make up for that first time we talked."

Final standings: Mike, Tony, Fredo, Brian G., Sean, David, Brian W., and Thom.

Note: After 31 minutes of swimming, David was DQed for safety issues regarding his lack of bike training.

Mike's excited, but he was hoping for a prize. Wait for it... Wait for it... A private date with Larissa belongs to Mike. Wait! Bonus! Sean, for his perseverance in finishing, albeit in last place, Sean also gets some Larissa time. "Just to see them go and give it their all is the most flattering thing I've seen eight guys do for me."

133 and counting...

Mike and Larissa go parasailing. Dolphins jump and dance for them. It's a Kodak moment, but not as much as this is... Mike and Larissa are hoisted into the air. It's pretty empowering for Mike, who reveals to Larissa about his drug addiction back in 1994. After some walking near the cliffs, Mike and Larissa picnic with a panoramic view. Mike, for the first time in a year, opens up about being hurt by someone. "I've probably been that girl before. And seeing how it affected him, it kinda made me feel bad." They share a kiss, Mike's first... and second... since last year's unpleasantness. "It felt like the old me was coming back," Mike said.

And third.

And while all that was going on, Sean was hitting the market in preparation to play Iron Chef with Chairwoman Meek. He brings his Philly mood to the kitchen, preparing kebabs and sushi. Things get hot in the kitchen. Too hot. "I was thinking, 'Fat guy sweating. Fat guy sweating. Not good!'" But in the end, good meal, and a Jacuzzi. Uh-oh. Larissa can sense his tense, as he reveals that yes, he is a chef, and yes, he does taste everything. She checks him out, hoping to put him at ease. He checks her out, hoping to graduate from "fat funny guy" to just "funny guy". "I really like Sean, but I don't usually go for guys who don't physically take care of themselves. He is a heavy guy and I would really like to see him take the initiative to take care of himself and have a healthy body."

And through all this, Larissa doesn't bring up genetics once. Makes you wonder, doesn't it?

Sean ends the night on the right tip, but completely misses the lip lock op, going for a subtle hug instead. Make that two. "He wanted to do it," Larissa says, "he just wasn't sure how I would react."

And third. "I could be the first reality TV guy of all time to not take advantage of a kiss in the hot tub." Well, YEAH?! I mean, every show has one. Here's a tip to all prospective reality contestants: look for the hot tub and set up shop.

Back on watch, New Guys at 42 nm and counting. 24... 11... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Target locked! Gordon, red alert.

The AJs watch the oncoming boat from the balcony, wondering if it could be for them. Next date? Larissa? Spoilers? Elimination? Yeah, probably elimination. Probably. After all, there is a cut tonight, right?

It isn't Larissa. She comes in from the house. And she has no idea who's on the boat either. And since Kathy's taping AJ1 in California, we're just left to guess how this is going to go down. But Larissa's game is set: how will each AJ react to some one-on-one quickie time? She's not impressed with Brian G's timidness. Brian G: "I'm just asking for a little more time." The other Brian stresses that he is a good listener and a good friend. Carrot Top can't stop talking about his swim earlier, but Larissa likes him despite his "out there"ness.

And again, Larissa stresses that the hardest part is telling one of them to go home. Girl, it's just begun to get hard.

The boat docks and the New Guys row onshore, tightness tight, cockiness cocked, and flux capacitors... fluxing. But first, tonight's elimination. With nerves and reservation, Larissa ... has a note waiting for her?!

"There has been a change of plans. No one will be sent home tonight."

Vindication for all nine people! At least for a while. Champagne all around and... another note. What... the hell.

"This night of surprises is not over. Right now, everything is about to change."

I HATE it when people say that. But again, clueless. Until...

"Hi, Larissa, I'm Jim." Yep. The Jim from the beginning of the show is back, and he's brought some friends with him. "They're cloning themselves."

Mike says Kathy's line with all the enthusiasm of five of the six cast members of the US version of Coupling (Lindsay Price... swoon). "Gentlemen. We're your new roommates. And your new competition." Just like that, we're back up to 16: 8 New Guys. Eight Average Joes. The real competition begins next week, and I am (^_^) scared for our heroes.

January 26, 2004

You know, if you read TV Guide a couple weeks ago, you know that Larissa must eliminate one Joe and one New Guy. But more on that later. Right now, as you remember, we have eight new studs bucking for one hot filly that was heretofore reserved for eight ... unique breeds. Actually, this is starting to sound like Cowboy U, so I'll just keep the metaphors to a minimum (for now, at least).

This week, however, it's Sean, David, Fredo, Tony, Mike, Thom, Brian, and the other Brian versus Michael, Jim, Jerry, the other Michael, Pete, Theo, Gil, and Todd. We pick up at last week's eliminations (or absence thereof), where Larissa is informed that a) no one would be eliminated, and that b) "everything is about to change." "Oh (^_^)." Oh (^_^) indeed, as the eight New Guys entered and faced front. "I looked at her face, and saw relief, like we were the cavalry riding in," quotes Michael Klein. You know something, these guys are worse than the New Guys from AJ1. Even so, every one of the AJs were stunned and in disbelief. But David knew how to lead. "Do not lose confidence in who you are."

But then again, there's that chapter in "The Art of War" about feigning capacity when incapable, so... let's hope.

Larissa's initial response: "I don't think I've dated guy who were as hot as that." She hasn't? Muy interesante. "I gotta admit that I'm excited to see someone and I'm right off the bat like 'Wow, he's hot.' And I'm really concerned about the first group of guys and about how they're going to react to that. I hope they take it with a good attitude." Nice to see that Larissa has a little AJ in her. But not too much, we hope, it's a TV-14 rated show.

"All my insecurities from (^_^)ing sixth grade are coming out," Tony says, while David tries to calm the waters by saying that it doesn't change who he is. Fredo, on the other hand, says "(^_^) the girls at this point. I'm competing against these dudes." Hmm... not the attitude you want to take. Brian W. sums up the newfound (or should I say regenerated) solidarity with this: "No one's going to come into my house and push me or any of my buddies around."

(C-Note: In an effort to bolster the interactivity of this site, we suggest that if you happen to have an MP3 of Nelly's "Not in My House", you play it now)

Okay. Larissa vows not to forget the old guys because they mean so much to her. Isn't she sweet. She better follow through, though, because it's move in time. And already with the history, as we find out that Michael Cardamone and Fredo go back to Cleveland. "When I walked by Fredo, it looked like he had seen a ghost, and I would've given a million dollars to find out what was going through his head."

We also learn that Theo isn't really that much of a jerk as the promos made him out to be, as he cites the friendliness of some people. Gil, however, might be. "We just took over the place. Eating all their food." Cleveland Michael probably would be, then he probably wouldn't. It's a crap shot. "David Daskal looks like your stereotypical geek. He did not feel threatened." So we're all friendly and shooting hoops and drinking beer.

But remember what I said about wine and Milton? "Brian Worth and Brian Glaser," Sean said, "Both sharp with the tongue. Hittin' on all cylinders." Enter the remarks about the Queer Eye job done over on some of the New Guys. No, they didn't say it, but they were thinking it. Then comes the egos of "we're so sorry for you." Those are the worst, really. "I can push buttons, but it was too easy,' Michael K. says. "It was like a big huge button. And I just pushed it." And he just keeps pushing and pushing and pushing. "You're a vice president of marketing," Brian W. says of Michael K. "I really don't give a crap. You're nothing to me. Except an arrogant (^_^)." And, as is wont to do with this sort of thing, an assumption is usually one-upped or justified on a single question. In this case is "Do you think you're above me?" Michael K's answer: "Yes."

Oh, it's on now. The AJs have banded up against the common enemy. Because who's America gonna love? Who's America gonna love?

Cue the bodybuilding montage, as David has become ever more focused. "You can bring in a boatload of 600 guys and it can't stop what's already happened between us."

Michael K. brings up a valid point that this whole thing with jocks versus geeks is "kinda segregated." And what better point in your life could you think about that than... that's right. High school. You had the jocks, the geeks, the popular kids, the ghosts, the Goths, and, like me, the every-men who was able to hang out with everyone.

Enter the guys in a school bus, headed back to school. For the AJs, tortured memories. For the New Guys, looking forward to what trouble they could cause. For me, looking forward to Larissa... as the teacher. Yeah, hot for teacher. Here's the sked:

1st Period: IQ Test.

2nd Period: Phys. Ed.

3rd Period: Intramural Sports.

After school: DANCE!

Whoever wins two of three competitions takes Larissa to the dance. Leave it to the guys to make a big joke of it. But when you're really confident that you have the remaining two periods to lose, you know you can. Todd finished the test first. But he'll have to wait until everyone else is done. "This guy's gonna be good and cocky," Larissa says.

Okay, test over. Scores to be revealed... eventually.

Onto phys. ed. Sixteen men, one rope climb, one set of monkey bars. Not to sound like Mo from GUTS, "Best time wins." Again, hot for teacher. Oh, BTW, the IQ test... AJs win it, 138-129. But you knew that. Highest score goes to Tony. But back to the task at hand, and it's kind of painful to watch, as Larissa points out. Big problem for Sean, as he's struggling to hold his own weight... but he finishes. Too slow, but he finishes. Tied at one event a piece.

Finally, we're playing dodgeball. Winners take all. It's kill time. We're playing shirts versus skins. AJs are shirts, which means one of them will be wetting their pants mentally as we see the New Guys disrobe. Larissa's like "God, they're gorgeous."

Well never mind that because WAR COMMENCES! It gets brutal as one by one, the AJs go down. Words can't explain the carnage, so NBC goes for the war footage effect. Long story short, New Guys are headed to the dance, while AJs are fired up even more.

Sean's nursing his wounds back at the house. "First thing I'm going to do tomorrow... Work out."

Meanwhile, the New Guys are getting words in edgewise (sometimes about themselves) to Larissa. Theo likens her to the woman in his dreams. "(Todd) stood out above everyone else by the mile," Larissa notes of her final dance. Todd feels the same way, as they sneak out for a private dance. "It was fun, it was romantic, it was cheesy, it was goofy, but it came together and went very well," Todd says. If I was rooting for a New Guy, it would be him.

"I don't think those other guys are Larissa's type. I'm coming in to the picture and I'm what she's looking for." Woops. Spoke too soon. Or perhaps Todd spoke too much.

The next day, the New Guys hit the water with Larissa and their own egos intact. Back at the house, though, "this is the moment to be very pissed off." David tries to think of the overall picture, but Brian tells him to screw the overall picture. "It's like Revenge of the Nerds again!" Fredo doesn't want to look like a jerk. "My walls are up. And the game's on."

That night, it's a boat ride, and more words in edgewise. Especially with Theo, who thinks that his New Guy cohorts are really disgusting and immature, mentioning that Cardamone compared Larissa to a word... "Starts with a B. Ends with an R. It's an animal that builds dams. And there was a show, 'Leave It To.'" Theo prefaces it with this warning: "Stay away from the blondes." Could he be playing a game? Larissa seems to think so.

But the private date goes to... Michael Klein. "He's not too over the top." If you remember, he was the guy who honestly thought that he was above the AJs. Banter and conversation about romance novels lead into sitting and doing nothing. "I'm feeling a little bit..." above the AJs right about now, as Michael and Larissa share a kiss. "Definitely the best kisser." Cue kiss montage.

After Tony yarns about his insecurities, Larissa and Michael share a hot tub moment. One of ... well, it was only one, but it was a long one and it came in shifts. "My date with Michael Klein was by far the most romantic and the most real."

You know what else is real? Eliminations. And I betcha dollars to donuts that she's less and less broken about cutting the axe. But (you know there's always a but here) that won't stop the AJs from trying their heart out, as they get THEIR shot at the fair Ms. Meek.

And THEN we'll eliminate some folk. We need a good cut here. Come on. I'm begging for it.

February 2, 2004

Last time, the Joes and the New Guys were taken back to school. Obviously, the Joes excelled in the brains department, while the New Guys took the two physical events to win a trip to the dance with our cheerleader/model/woman you have NO chance with Larissa, leaving the Joes high and dry at the house.

Well, it's payback time! We start with... a horse. Of course. It's just a big "never-give-up" fest on all fronts.

Meanwhile, back at the house, Theo shows off their artistic skills, particularly in caricature drawing, complete with Larissa shouting "YESSSS!" and David soiling himself. Yeah. Real mature. But I'll let you judge for yourself. I've attached a copy to this write-up. Can we get a shot of that?

Back to the ranch. Remember, always enter on the left side. David seems to have it, even for a first-timer. Then it's off to ride into the pasture, as Fredo outs a couple of cocky New Guys. Fredo isn't backing down from the threat. Thomas meanwhile is giving it his full heart. Sean is over the whole fact that they're here competing for the girl. "I know America's gonna identify with me." Brian G. can dish it out as good as he's taking it. David is still happy. Brian W. complains of the "one guy in particular", Michael Klein. Yeah, everyone's favorite. Larissa worries about Tony, but Tony is reassured enough.

But it's Brian W. who gets the alone time with the fair Ms. Meek. Everyone thinks it's a good choice, as they see him off with high hopes. They head off to the yacht, where Brian W. is unwillingly pulling out all the stops. "I've been waiting for this. I'm absolutely psyched." Back at the house, Cardamone's giving the guys the kind of once over on how Brian W. is faring. If they only knew how WRONG he was... Larissa "really saw Brian's personality shine through" as he talked about his job at Homeland Security. "I stay emotionally detached," Brian says, as he lets everything go for her. "When I really think about it, it hurts." But he's open to any possibility, as he's replaying in his mind the lyrics to every John Mayer song ever written. But hey, it's working. Oh god, is it working. "Probably the most interesting person I've ever met." Definite connection, and not just because they kissed three times. Four, sorry. Five. "He would be an amazing boyfriend." Six. Okay, you get it. Brian's in love and so is Larissa. "I've never done this before and I think it's time I did it."

And again, Todd and Klein are being the jerks as he tells everyone about the story. So it brings to wonder why he would get a note the next day. Even more, I wonder what it says. Let's read:

"You have been chosen for a very special date with Larissa." He's tuxed and choppered to the yacht. "He's a symbol for all the hot guys. Yeah, you're attracted to them, and yet there's this underlying issue that I can't trust them."

Todd wants to write and act. So far, he's writing and acting like a sincere guy. Larissa sees right through it, citing the earlier b-word remark. Todd is really buttering it up here. "If Todd wasn't willing to tell me, then maybe he's trying to hide something."

Meanwhile, Klein is again making checks his ass can't cash.

Back on the boat, strawberries and whipped cream not only make for a good Keith Sweat song, but for a good wallbreaker on Larissa's part. "We're just trying to learn a bit more about each other," Larissa says, even though she still finds him too good to believe, especially given his advances. They kiss, only twice from what I garnered, compared to the last two dates. Of the two dates on tonight's show, though, Brian's was by far the better one.

Cardamone, the de facto leader of the pretty boys, listened as minion Todd brought on news of Theo's betrayal to the pack. Michael C. and Todd are at each other's faces about it. "We're in a competition where it's pretty much everyone for themselves," Theo says right before he denies calling Larissa a... "Begins with a b, ends with an r, an animal that builds dams, and there was a show, 'Leave It to.'"

And Cardamone and Theo are still at it. Fredo didn't see anything degrading about it, but he still wouldn't say it to his wife/girlfriend/mama. Cardamone then plays his trump card (which actually runs longer than is expected after Friends on Thursdays, don't forget to tip your waitresses). "He's getting all 'buddy buddy' with your group. He's drawing you guys pissing yourself and quivering in your pants and saying 'Thank God'. He's not Mr. Sincere, Mr. Shiny Happy People Pants." So who's the dumb one, Cardamone for ratting Theo out? Or Theo, for showing Fredo the picture? "It was high school all over again," David notes. Theo rushes to rebuild the dyke, but obviously, it isn't working. "I love funny stuff, but when he drew it, it was in a cocky arrogant way," Brian W. draws. Theo begins to try to relate to them, saying that he was one of them in high school. "These guys... They're like my buddies. It hit me that we're all human. Who cares? *teary-eyes*" Theo is honestly trying to understand his inner-Joe, calling the other New Guys fakes. But is he really in limbo? "If they get cut, I have no remorse."

And after two weeks, it's time for a deep cut, as we say goodbye to six, three Joes, and three New Guys. "I didn't expect to be here this long," David says as he reaches out to Larissa. Tony is still painting her portrait. And Cardamone is pulling up bait, saying that the earlier comment was made by him. "I think it was huge," Mike said. But the New Guy apologies aren't over yet, as Theo owns up to his cartoon. How will all this fare? It's time to find out. Bus seats reserved for... Jerry, Big Sean, Pete, Mike S., and Theo. David is called aside, without a doubt the most heart-wretching of the eliminations for both Larissa and us. But he leaves us with the tried of true words of being who you are and damning anyone who wants us to do otherwise. Brave man. He will be missed.

But what happens when a date becomes explosive, and yet another beautiful woman enters the scene? Well, let's just say with Larissa's heart on the line, the competition will be dog eat... see you next week.

Oh, we have an update. Ever since AJ2, Sean has been on a rigorous training schedule. He's lost 70 pounds (applause). "The magic pill was me in the hot tub."

February 9, 2004

A picture was worth a cut of three New Guys, including the responsible party, Theo, who finds his inner Joe a little too late, and joins Jerry, Big Sean, Pete, Mike S., and, probably the most disheartening cut for Larissa thus far, David Daskal.

We have ten left, all introduced via a Baywatch-esque title sequence. And for good reason, because we have a little game planned. It's a lifeguard challenge, with Baywatch cast members Michael Bergin and Brooke "I used to host Dog Eat Dog" Burns. Three competitions today, a paddleboard race, a rescue race, and a third event that, I'm guessing, involves racing somehow. Michael coaches the New Guys while Brooke is all over the Joes. "It's all in the buttcheeks." Oh yeah. She's lovin' it. "I'm really glad we got Brooke. Michael Bergin totally fit well with those guys," Thomas said. I can understand that. After all, Michael's a good looking guy and so are the New Guys. Brooke's a woman and the Joes are... well, yeah.

First race: paddleboard racing. Paddle around the buoys and back to shore. Michael K. is soiling his trunks at the dead heat prospects. He faced Thomas in the relay, as Brooke kept saying "Get out of the freaking water!" That he did. Joes are up, 1-0. "They're feeling a shrinkage factor," Brooke says. That... is a totally different show.

Second race: rescue race. Rescue a dummy tethered to the bottom of the sea. And by dummy, we mean a real rescue dummy. Brian "with no R's" W. is feeling the pressure. After all, he was rescued after the kayaking part of the Ironman. But he rises to the challenge and pulls the dummy up. And Brooke pulls herself down as he takes a breather on the beach. Larissa looked at her and Brian and just said "Okay, this isn't right. What is going on here, why is she hanging on my guy?" Wow. Playing favorites, are we Larissa? Well, feeling's mutual, as Brian would rather have Larissa laying next to me. Fine. You have Larissa. I'll take Brooke. New Guys tie it up, 1-1.

Final race: Tug-o-War. Hey, that's not a race! Its not a contest, either. It goes to the... Joes. Didn't see that one coming, but I'll take it. Joes win. Prize: A really bad ego trip. Next, Brooke and Michael will select one person from each team for a date with Larissa. Big Tommy gets Brooke's nod, while Michael elects Jimbo. Even bigger shock: it's a double date.

We go right to dinner, as both Tommy and Jim meet Larissa for drinks. Thomas is in it to win, as we head right to the requisite Jacuzzi alone time. Thomas tells Larissa that she meant a lot to him today. He's sweet in a "gosh, I so want to care for him" sort of way, and he's still here because of that. He calls that, and a kiss, a 15 on a scale of one to ten. From hot to cool as Larissa and Jim meet in the pool. "He really makes me feel like a woman." And Jim gets more woman than Thomas gets (especially in the pool-wrestling department). Well now...

Next day, and we're literally taking a leap of faith. As in off of a cliff. Brian G and Gil are amongst the most nervous. "So, um, who wants to go first?" Fredo... thinks about it for a bit... and decides that he won't jump. He'll flip. In slow motion. Ow. Belly flop. But he's still alive. That's, uh... something. "You know what? It's just water." Easy for her to say. You know what else is easy for her to say? Who she'll take on the next date. She decides on... Gil.

And then Larissa jumps. Freak. :)

Gil and Larissa go to a chocolate factory, where they go from cacao pods to fudge in a matter of seconds. Ah, the magic of television. Gil wants to be himself, and he wants Larissa to be herself. "He's much more humble than the other New Guys, and he doesn't think that there's this game going on." Let's hope Larissa's sentiment sticks. Meanwhile... Chocolate fight!

After the fight, the rest of this first date plays off more or less like "talking to a friend. I've kinda forgotten about what a relationship means." Well, Larissa, when a man and a woman love each other... wait, that's a different show. The reality of the date reignites within her thanks to Gil. He could be a favorite.

Next day, another surprise for the guys. It's a Vespa with a note from crazy Vespa chick: "To Tony, please meet me for a private date. See you there, Larissa. Do not read this note aloud." D'oh! Tony sees this as an opportunity to finish up her painting.

Crazy Vespas tear down the highway to a tranquil lake, where Tony intends to try his heart out for Larissa's. He rows out to the middle of the lake...

Meanwhile, back in the house, the guys discover a strange beeping noise. No, no one swore yet. It's just a beep. And attached to the beep... a detonator. "Anytime there's a detonator around, it's usually to destroy something!" Fredo says.

Back at the lake, Tony's grand unveiling. And Larissa loves it. "It's our way that we connect. It represents so much more than the painting."

Back at the house, it's another note: "All is fair in love and war." Translation: When Larissa's in love, it means war. Cardamone's hand is cradled over the red button. The beautiful shiny button. The jolly candy-like button. Fredo backs off. Michael K. joins Cardamone and three... two... one... boom. The good ship Tony is beginning its final descent. Back at the house, the guys, still unknowing of what the hell just happened, state the obvious: "We just blew something up." And by "we", I don't mean the Joes.

"Average Joe" becomes "Survivor" back at the lake, as Tony tries to save both a very much in denial Larissa and her painting. Yes, friends, it's "Titanic" all over again. Tony swims to shore with her painting in one head. Meanwhile Larissa goes from in denial to downright pissed. "Soon as I find out who it is... they're gone."

Meanwhile Fredo and Todd were going at it trying to pin down who was responsible, Todd for saying "Do it" or Fredo for not saying "Don't do it." Cardamone sides with Todd, while Boston Brian sides with Fredo. Tony doesn't side with anyone; he just wants to know, and I quote, "Someone's got something to tell me. And I would like to hear it right now." Tony gets the story, as well as the people at fault. Whilst Mr. Klein was not at all surprised ("I feel like I was with a bunch of females!"), Cardamone was a shocker. Tony lets Klein know that he is now a marked man. "You just put yourself off the show."

And Larissa, with a few boxes of pizza in hand, will find out for herself. "I was first one on the crime scene," Klein says. Again, wrong show. Needless to say, Cardamone and Klein own up to it; but while Klein takes an extended pause (oops) to react to what would happen if the incident would happen again, Cardamone knows better now.

And just when you think that there weren't enough bombs on this show, four people are going to have their chances with Larissa literally blown out of the water. Those four are... Brian G (didn't open up), Todd (the way too cocky one), Big Tommy, and Bomberman Klein. Cardamone breathes a sigh of relief. "I believe in miracles now." Well, we have a clean slate, but Larissa has the mother of all surprises - quite literally - in store next week.

February 16, 2004

Last week was marked by blowing stuff up. Larissa swore that the responsible parties would be on the next bus out. So far, only half of the party, Michael K., has been kindly escorted off the property along with Brian G., Thom, and Todd, setting up Michael C. (aka the other half of the party) with a false sense of security. Don't blow it.

Oh, who am I kidding. He'll blow it.

We start things off with the New Guys and some glassblowing. No one is really artistic, but, hey, it's time with Larissa. But right now, Cardamone is wishing she would just get off his back for a moment (yeah, he knows he's marked). "We're at each other's throat like a married couple." All that ribbing for something that looks like a glass piece of roadkill.

Over with Gil, Larissa thinks about his walk, even though Gil isn't trying to be closed off. Jim, on the other hand, gives Larissa butterflies. Giddiness ensues. As do kisses. He feels secure in himself after Larissa confesses to having a crush on him. Final decision for the rest of the date... You know, Larissa put it so succinctly, I might as well give her the spotlight.

"You know, out of the complete purpose of fairness, even though he probably doesn't deserve the chance, and has done everything wrong since the beginning, and could use a shoe horn to help get his foot out of his mouth, Michael, would you like to go on a date with me tonight?"

Needless to say after all that ribbing, he says "Yes". Hey, he's a fool, he's not stupid. They head over to Mauna Kea National Park, on top of the volcano. You look out at a blanket of clouds and just see a Hawaii sunset. It's a Kodak moment, basically. "It looked like we were in heaven," Michael notes. Trying to dig himself out of a hole, Michael finds solace in Larissa's company. And Larissa, surprisingly, reciprocates. They see a shooting star and make a wish... And Larissa makes the fool mistake of making her wish known. Now it won't come true, dumbass. And look, Michael's doing the same thing! What's wrong with you two? Don't you know the rules?! Well, it might come true, as they share a surreal experience and a favorable date. "You like the serious side..." Michael asks. "Yes," she says.

Next day, the Joes head to a cave, where they look to swim with Manta rays. A very rocky cave. Our heroes find... the temple of doom! Okay, so it's just a tiki head, but we all remember that ep of the Brady Bunch, right? No one touches it, as we all remember... the detonator? What does one thing have to do with the other? Well, aside from the note:

"As the sun sets, only the man that carries this idol will continue this adventure."

All of a sudden, you want your hand on the idol. Fredo is nervous about walking into another relationship, while Larissa loves the fact that he's a giver. Brian almost called it quits, but he won't run away either. Larissa wants him to be there. Okay, we get it. They mean a lot to each other. Tony was going to bust out the sketch pad, still thinking about the boat from the other day.

Outside, the cave spirits let Larissa in that they'd be uber-pissed if Fredo didn't get a date this evening. And that's the last thing you want to do, piss off cave spirits. They just enjoy the moonlight as Fredo unloads all of his luggage, including a booty call with a married woman.

THEN we have the manta rays, as Larissa is really nervous about going into murky water. Don't worry, Larissa. Unless you have a cut, you really don't have anything to worry about! "It was like swimming with aliens!" Fredo says of the manta rays. After getting out of the water, Larissa snuggles to her "protector". "What more could you ask for in such a beautiful place like Hawaii with such a beautiful woman like Larissa?" Fredo says.

Well, Fredo, they say that women take after their parents. That said (you like that transition, don't you?), Larissa now springs the question, "Are the guys guilty of making the same shallow judgments that I did?" It's time for yet another elaborate scheme, this time involving Sarah, Larissa's best friend, and Mrs. Meek, "Larissa's mom." But again, we know that it's actually Larissa under a lot (and I do mean a LOT) of latex and a fat suit.

Phase one: the Live Casting. Basically making a plaster cast of her face. Now, in reality, "(her mom) is beautiful". But her mom was never on TV, now was she? This mother's going to have hairy warts, age spots, a gut the size of Switzerland, and wrinkles... a lot of wrinkles. Her face looks like Ronald Reagan's neck. Okay, maybe not that many wrinkles.

Phases two and three: Final makeup, teeth, glasses, wig, and contacts. No time to test it out on the street. We implant the mother, ready the surveillance cam and microphones, expel the body double as the guys arrive to the house, and operation commences. The men, one by one, face the undaunting faces of both Sarah and "Larissa's mom." Fredo takes every question seriously, being himself. Jim avoids eye contact. Gil was nervous... really nervous. Tony didn't see any of Larissa in the mother, thinking "traditionalist Ukraine girl"? Brian says Mrs. Meek's an attractive woman. That... from the three second intervals of eye contact. Must ceom from working with the feds. He gets the worst case scenario of "Larissa's art exhibit versus game 7 of the World Series with the Red Sox." Oh god... I'm not even dating this woman and I'm rattled. "I was taking a rash and a crap from my buddies" after picking the art exhibit. Dude, you're taking a rash and a crap from ME. Cardamone is up finally, and he's sinking, especially after telling the mother that he finds people who don't take themselves to shape are physically revolting. The guys are told that Mrs. Meek is so pissed by that statement that she leaves the island.

I told you he'd blow it.

Phase four: the hidden camera tapes. That'll come later. First, the guys make tapes of themselves apologizing for Cardo's earlier remark. "I think he means well," Larissa notes. Real winner: Brian - "I do have feelings for your daughter. I've always had a box around my heart and it feels like it's coming down, and I think your daughter is the one I like to have the walls come down for." Now... the hidden camera. They talk about Cardo's answers. And yes, he elaborates. "Big ass... No ankles. I was thinking of them all! If Larissa was overweight, it would take a lot for me to be interested in her right now, and that's the honest to God truth right there." Torpedo, dude... Tor. Pee. Do.

Going into tonight's elimination, two will go home. I have a feeling I know who one of them is. Door opens, and here comes not-the-mama. "I've always been a firm believe that mother knows best. And the best thing right now is to reveal the truth." And Michael just unloaded... in his pants. "Surprise!"

Needless to say, Michael is going back to the house. No surprise there. But who would join him? Tony is called aside, and, with another silent cry, shown the door as well. Seems like they talk about the same things. He is just devastated. "The one question would be... 'Why?'"

And so am I. I wanted to see Larissa bitchslap Cardo! Oh well, we're down to four, and next week, Fredo pilots a sub, and gets pissed in the process. What at? Well, you're just going to have to wait and see, won't you?

February 23, 2004

Last week, Larissa's mom entered the scene... actually, it was Larissa in a "mom" disguise. And Cardo fell for it, lock, stock, and two smoking barrels. Joining Michael on the bus ride home is a heartbroken Tony, who just couldn't get off the artsy fartsy for a second. Now we have Fredo, Gil, Brian W., and Jim.

We start this supersized cup of Joe with a combination trivia/jet ski challenge. No one remembers Larissa's sign, and no one knows how she did in Miss USA, but the guys did fare better with Pickle the guinea pig and the nine-month ex. Fredo fared the best, getting two of the four questions and racing in the fastest time. So Larissa and Fredo zoom off to their next destination... golfing at the Mauna Kea. Admittedly, the two have NEVER played before. Swing and a miss, what a wiffer! Well, at least there's tennis. Or not.

But we do have massages ready, because after a day of sucking, you can only get a naked rubdown. That night, they talk about "indecisiveness", as Larissa feels like she's being tested. "Not sure of what decision you want to make," Fredo clarifies. "It would be dumb not to talk advantage of any opportunity that comes into your life," Larissa rebuts. "I want you here because when I look at you, you've totally blown my mind on so many levels." Well, Fredo's already preparing himself to swim with the fishes, isn't he?

From the beach, we go to a chopper with Gil, as they head over to the northern part of the big island. A little turbulence here, and a little cuddle there, and four waterfalls everywhere. Larissa likens the experience to "a fairy tale". Beautiful, yes, but no fairy tale.

On the beach below, "Are you ticklish?" Larissa turns Gil into a basketcase with one touch. Gil admits that he's holding back, while Larissa tells him not to. They don't hold back (unless you count breath and saliva). "It was a really nice and honest moment."

Next up, playing around upstream... and sliding downstream into a lagoon. Weeee. Looks like fun.

Finally, we get dinner and a view. Gil fires up the burner. "I'm no Emeril by any means, but I can put a decent meal." Insert Iron Chef joke... here. Okay, Larissa's thinking of cooking up a little something of her own. Namely a plan to get inside the mind of Gil Hyatt. Gil's not letting her, especially given the subject: his ex. It comes down to one question: "You think you would be together if she was still in Ft. Lauderdale?"

Answer: "I don't think so." You can see the fear in his voice. Larissa understands, as she doesn't want him to expect that he won't be hurt. "I think it's a competition between each guy and himself." Agreed.

All this, while it's raining. Definitely a moment. Definitely. Consensus: best date ever.

Next day, Larissa meets up with Brian for sushi. Kaikodo, one of my favorite places for sushi on the island, is the place, and Brian would normally never put raw fish in his mouth. And just what's wrong with raw fish? Brian loves to have fun with... whatever it was he's eating. Looks like crab and bonito to me. "I liked it, it went down easy. I just thought, hmmm. This isn't so bad!"

Well, sushi's passed. Now onto chopsticks. It says volumes that Brian would try sushi just for her. Then they head over to yet another waterfall, where Brian admits that he was scared of "the C word" with his past relationships, while he continues his "I want to let myself out" tirade that he started last week. Larissa appreciates his sincerity and honesty. "I know that he's here for me."

After the rainforest, we get another black sand beach. With a tortoise. Cute. Brian should be a bit scared. We go canoeing, one thing leads to another, and... drinks. Nice transitions, there. Larissa loves to watch Brian change and grow and open up. So Larissa begins to open up himself. "I kinda questioned my actions a bit" about surface relationships. Larissa wants to be with Brian because every day he'd treat him like a princess. "We basically took it to the next step."

In a word... Touching. But there's still one more date left. That would be Jim and Larissa. No activities planned. Just two people, one canoe, and a deserted island. "I really need to find out who he is. Being on a deserted island with some hot guy is like every woman's fantasy."

But, as the promos keep telling us, they weren't alone. Fredo, on the deck of a sub, tells us that he was picked up from the house and basically not told anything. Fredo docks onto the Atlantis (I've taken an Atlantis tour before. Pretty good stuff... but as you know, this is no pleasure cruise).

Back on the beach, Larissa and Jim, looking forward to just hanging out, prepare to fry up some Spam. Because a reality show is not a reality show without Spam. As for relationship potential, Jim's really taking it as they come while Larissa details her five-year-plan.

Fredo, driving the sub, isn't sure what's going to happen.

On the beach, Larissa feels like she's in a Ralph Lauren ad. Jim admits that he's stereotyped as being stupid in his physical beauty. They're falling for each other. Hard.

Fredo, on the other hand, is just handed a monitor with a text message: "Fredo, this submarine is currently stationed 40 yards off of a private beach. Larissa and Jim are enjoying their private evening together on shore. Your orders are to come to periscope depth and witness the truth."

Hmmmm... Fredo follows the orders to find Larissa and Jim frolicking in the water. Really frolicking. "I'm just hell(^_^)ed over. She's basing everything off of looks at this point. She's got a crush on him? What the hell is a crush?" See, when a woman loves a man she knows she can't have...

Long story short, Fredo is definitely disappointed and pissed. You think you know pissed? Try hearing someone say "You make me feel like nobody else here does." That tears it for Fredo, who is shocked into action. "If that crush is what she wants, then she can have him. This is the number one reason why I don't get myself emotionally involved. That reason I just witnessed right there. Because... I just got (^_^)ed again. I don't want to see any more."

That's the last we see of Fredo, as he takes a charter back to Cleveland, per this note at the pre-elimination party:

"Dear Larissa,
We often spoke of the foundation we were building and I always will think of it fondly. However, I think we both know it's not taken us to the type of happiness we both deserve. I can't continue with this process. I'm on my way back to Cleveland. I wish you all the best. - Fredo"

The other guys don't think it's really fair for him to just leave. Larissa just thinks it's convenient, since he was the token Joe that was going home anyway. Well, that makes her job easier, as she heads to the three remaining guys' hometowns, meaning that we have to say goodbye to the big island. Brian does that for us. Larissa likens the three to the characters in "The Wizard of Oz". Jim: The scarecrow. Gil: The tin man. Brian: The cowardly lion.

So from here, we go to Ft. Lauderdale, Scottsdale, and Boston. Group hug!

First, it's Scottsdale. Jim meets Larissa for some mountain biking. On an actual mountain. Larissa can't freaking ride a mountain bike. Luckily Jim's there to help her. And also luckily, they quit in time to climb up a rock wall for some shade. I think the 110 degree heat is baking their brains. Larissa thinks Jim looks pretty darn good with out his shirt on. Unfortunately, that's where the attraction ends, as Larissa can't converse with him.

Jim takes Larissa back to his apartment. Wow. Bachelor pad, complete with a blow-up doll. What the hell? "It needs a little help." Yeah, Jim needs a girlfriend, because a blow-up doll and a dog just don't clean things up here. They walk said dog, and, afterward, to the Biltmore resort in Scottsdale, where Larissa learns the harsh truth.

Jim's not well read. Oh boy.

They walk during a thunderstorm, where they get caught up in the moment. Larissa asks Jim if he can see a relationship for the long run. He says he can, but he's not really opening up that darn much. All he says is that he likes her. He didn't really bring anything else to the party, so will Larissa let the crush just die out?

We fastforward four days to the LA hangar where Average Joe ended. On one side, a jet, waiting to fly Larissa and the winner to a tropical paradise for some more alone time. On the other... the bus. Jim wants to be the last guy standing, because he sees potential for chemistry. On the other hand, Larissa is still trying to figure out ANY complexity to Jim's persona. Good luck, girl.

"No matter where we are, we're on our own private beach, where nothing else matters. Which is what makes it really hard tonight. In the end, I fear that spark's not enough. I still have that crush, but I need something more. I'm sorry that I have to say goodbye tonight."

So the crush gets crushed, and Jim wishes her on her well way. So here's where we stand. Two great guys, two great towns, one great girl, and another twist that probably won't really mean much down the road. Someone's going to get hurt. And for once, it isn't me, on the season finale next time.

March 1, 2004

Before we begin, I just want to say that I had previous intents on calling this wrap-up, "Bad Day for the Miss America". I'll show you why... that's right... LATER. But wait! For the two of you who scolded me on my approach to the Average Joe 1 finale, I promise you that this will have a fitting ending.

But first, we fast forward through the series, the many twists, turns, explosions, fat suits, submarines, and Larissa bleeping (okay, she only bleeped once), we are down to the final two: Brian, who, for the first time in 31 years, put his heart on the line, and Gil, who... well, is a pretty face and... just there... for the chicken, I think. Both are on their way to the hangar to meet both Larissa and their untimely fate. But perhaps we're stating too much. It's probably best to begin at the beginning.

And that has to be the most realistic mannequin I have ever seen.

Rewind three days to Ft. Lauderdale, where Larissa meets Gil. Gil just wants to be himself... whatever that happens to be. They go airboating and then to a construction site.

Wow, very Trading Spaces. Isn't he the charmer. Apparently so, as Larissa's fascinated by Gil opening up and talking about mudwork. Hey, let it not be said that he doesn't have a comfort zone. So we mud the whole room while Gil talks about his reputation and his ties to the Fort. Larissa would rather not have to get into the long distance relationships. Looks like Gil's got an uphill battle ahead of him.

Maybe a round of airboating will help. Nothing says loving like 1000 horsepower onboard engine. From there, we go to a "very magical" dinner at a museum. Larissa feels a very strong connection to Gil, but she is more openhearted, as she gives him a St. Christopher medallion that reminds her of the ocean and his eyes. Gil can't seem to get the words "thank you" out without stammering, so we'll just assume that he meant well. Larissa points out that he's holding back, but "there's something there that's incredibly special."

Admittedly, there isn't, as Gil points out. "I am not someone who wears his heart on his sleeve. I'm not someone who busts out in the open with crazy emotion all the time. I like to be practical and thoughtful of the things that I do." Is that really the truth or just... ACTING?! Yes, Gil admits to having aspirations of being an actor. Why that would be a big deal, I don't know, but Larissa thinks so. "Where'd that come from? It made me wonder if he'd been acting this whole time."

One hug for old time's sake, and Larissa's only half-convinced. Hey Brian, I think you got this one. Moving north to Boston, where Brian is falling in love for the first time. Larissa meets Brian, hoping that he becomes more of a man in this final date.

First stop, a boat, where they see "the city of flash. Bostonians... They're not flashy people. It's all about substance." And by Bostonians, we mean, of course, Brian, who presents Larissa with the substance of two lobsters, which they've named Gil and Jimmy. So the big question: eat or let go. They let go. Good for them. Symmmm-bolism.

Brian tells Larissa that he could leave Boston for the right reasons. Blows her away. From there we head to the most famous museum in Boston, the happiest place on earth... Fenway Park. Larissa had a different kind of museum in her mind, while Brian had Timmy Wakefield on his mind. I believe this calls for the hero button again. *hits hero button*

Brian's reaction: "I am not a butt-kisser, but you are my favorite player on the Sox." Hello, does the name Nomar do anything for you? In any event, Brian's like a kid on Christmas. Larissa's drawn into his excitement, especially since Brian's compliments. "I've never had a guy talk nice about me to another guy!" Their reward for the visit: Red Sox jerseys and tickets. And a billboard sign. And an endorsement from Tim Wakefield.

"I'm not as good looking all year round as Gil, but I want you to know that I am always going to be there for you. Always. I think you're so amazing. There's only a select few things worth fighting for, and you're one of them."

Home run for Brian. But like the Red Sox winning the World Series? I wouldn't go that far. Next up, a drink at the bar with the boys. And a sight of Larissa's butt crack. Must be a thong girl. And apparently the boys are in shock and awe. "It wasn't Brian walking through that door. It was Brian and Larissa." Well put. I mean, this is a completely different side that they're used to seeing. This is the new, improved, and slightly refurbished for reality TV Brian. And, of course, it helps that Brian thinks that "this is the one." Rarely do you hear such language.

They head to a hotel for dinner, a very decorated dinner. A perfect ending to a perfect day, as Brian wishes he has more time here. He's learned a lot about how to treat a woman. "I wanted to say three words that I've never said before." Oh, get over it and do it.

Well, we never hear it, and Larissa just has an "I know" moment, as she cries on his shoulder.

But someone's going to be crying soon, as we fastforward to the final elimination. Finally. Gil's nervous. Brian's putting it down for the AJs. Larissa wants to be physically attracted, but wants to have depth. Well, you can't genetically recombine Gil and Brian, you have to choose one.

The hangar opens after many split screens, and Gil's limo is first inside. "Gil, you intrigue me. I know that I have feelings for you. Strong feelings. But sometimes I question whether you're ready to take it to the next level. So I hope you'll understand that there's only one thing I can do. And that's to trust my instinct. And my instinct tells me... that you're the one for me."

I'll repeat that... because it bears repeating. Larissa picked Gil. Don't think about that sentence for more than five minutes or your brain will cave in on itself. Gil thanks her for trusting her instincts, and robotically stammers through his thank-yous before hopping on the plane. "I would see things that remind me of him. It also intrigues me that he's very guarded." What type of crap is that, Larissa?

Only one more thing to do here. Let Brian down easy and give him back the jersey. "Last time that we saw each other, you moved me. You made me happy in a way that no other man has in a long long time. It was in your beautiful words. It was in your kiss. And I always knew that you would treat me like a queen. And that night, you did. But you deserve a woman who can look at you right now and say 'I love you, too.' Brian, I wish I was the one. But my heart is telling me something else." Ah, your HEART. Is that what the kids are calling it nowadays. I would've said "your libido". With a quick "I'll miss you, Brian" from her and an even quicker "Bye" from Brian, they part ways, her for the plane, and him for the bus.

"That has got to be the hardest thing I have ever done this whole time," Larissa says in tears, as Brian has experienced both the highest high and the lowest low in the span of one episode. "That hurts. That really hurts. I'm never going to forget her."

So that's it. Game over, right? Wrong. Whenever you have an outcome and you're 51 minutes into the show, you have to have one more... je ne sais quoi. And Larissa's here to deliver it to Gil on the little wingding in Cabo afterwards. Get ready for this. A storm moves in on the fourth day (symbolism...), and Larissa drops her BIG secret. Remember that ex she's always talking about?

"My ex-boyfriend was Fabio."

The "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" Fabio.

The "Kuros on the box of Ironsword: Wizards & Warriors II" Fabio. Okay, only I will get that one.

Anyway, Gil reacts in the only way he knows how. Nothingness. "Any guy in the United States can feel with me on this one." Hmm... I'm a guy. I'm in the United States. I don't feel with you. As far as I'm concerned, an ex is an ex, but enough about me. Larissa learns the hard way that going with her instincts proved wrong, as Gil packs his bags and exits stage right. "But maybe now I know how Brian Worth feels," Larissa says, as she can only watch.

For you, who, like me, are fans of instant retribution? This one's for you. I told you that someone was going to get hurt... And, damn it, I was right. Moral of the story: brains and a personality can't make up for the fact that, well, you dated Fabio. Heh. Just when you think you know people.

So the question remains, can a beauty find love with the average man? Guess we'll find out sooner than we thought, as Adam Mesh makes his triumphant return, as he begins to call the shots. The average Joe takes back the house on March 15.

Hell, yeah. 


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