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We are rekindling tradition... sort of. This isn't your mom's Battle of the Network Stars, which began in 1976. This has only NBC stars, but hopefully will have that same tradition going for it. Maybe not - it's based on teamwork, endurance, and commitment to winning.

Recaps by Gordon Pepper, GSNN


FACT FILE:
Airdate:
August 16, 2003, NBC
Host:
Lady One Question:

EP: Stuart Krasnow
Packager: Channel 4 Television


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August 16, 2003

We are rekindling tradition...sort of. This isn't your mom's Battle of the Network Stars, which began in 1976. This has only NBC stars, but hopefully will have that same tradition going for it. Maybe not - it's based on teamwork, endurance, and commitment to winning.

We have 2 teams - the red and blue teams. Olympic Skier Picabo Street is the captain for the red team, while Olympic Decathlon winner Dan O'Brien is the captain for the Blue Team. There are 7 battles - each one is worth $10,000 for their favorite charity.

Picabo's team is Neil Flynn (Scrubs), Ali Landry (Spy TV), Justin Long (Ed), Rena Sofer (Coupling) and Dondre Whitfield (Hidden Hills). Dan's team is Brooke Burns (Dog Eat Dog), Drake Hogestyn (Days of Our Lives), Mario Lopez (America's Most Talented... Series), Amelia Marshall (Passions) and Ross, the intern (Jay Leno). Ross, the intern? Wha? Did we not have enough in the budget to get 10 stars?

The first event is 'Swing for the Stars'. In this event, one member of the team is strapped in a flying machine and is used as a human catapult. When the team swings, the person gets to put the ball in layers worth 10-80 points. A team gets 5 swings - and you can't get the same point level twice. The team with the most amount of points wins.

Drake goes first - and the first shot is worth 80 points. He gets the second for 70, and the third for 50 = 200 total points. Dondre is up for the red team - and they are not nearly as good as the blue team. They do get 80 and 70 points, but they screw up a swing and they find themselves trailing 200-150.

In the second round, we get a twist - this time, people are blindfolded. That doesn't hinder Mario Lopez, who hits a 70 - but he gets the second one also in the 70 point zone, so that one doesn't count. Ali Landry can pull the game out for the Red Team - she gets the first one for 80 points. All she needs is 50 points for the win - and she hits it in the 70 for the 300-270 win and $10,000.

Battle #2 is called 'Bowling at 83,000 feet'. All you have to do is to roll a big ball down a mountain. Picabo starts it for the red team - and she gets 40 points. Dan counters for team blue and gets a big fat zero. Neil also gets 40 points and Red is on a 80-0 roll. Brooke gets blue on the board with a 50 point shot, but they need an error from the red team. They don't get it yet, as Rena hits 50 points to bring it back up to 130-50. Amelia gets 40 points to keep the score within range (130-90)

Justin can put the put the game away - but he gets a zero and he could be the goat of the event. Could the intern save the day for the Blue Team? No - he also gets a zero and the Red Team skirts with the win. 'I'm attached, so I can't even run away in shame.' Day 1 is over, 2 Events are completed - and they both go to the Red Team (2-0). We are left with both teams being given a key - and them trying to figure out what to do with it.

Have they figured out what to do with it yet? Day 2 rolls around - and we don't get the answer yet, because now, it's time for the ropes obstacle course. They have a rope crawl, a rope bridge and a rope 4 by 4. When each lap is completed, they have to pass the baton to each other, and if they drop the baton, it's a 5 minute penalty.

The Blue team goes first. Mario and Brooke get through their section with no difficulty. The baton gets passed to Drake and Amelia, which means that Ross gets to sit out this one 'It's a good thing I'm on the ground, because I would have been on the ground 3 minutes ago.' Well, it's 4:09 later - and that how long it took the Blue Team.

The Red team doesn't have to be perfect - but that can't fall or drop the baton or it's game over. The order for the red team is Neil to Ali to Dontre and Picabo. The Red Team is holding their own, but they are running behind the Blue team. They pick it up with Picabo and Dontre's leg - they blow past what Drake and Amelia did and get it done in 3:42. The Red team builds a hugs 3-0 lead. 'The Doritos Stretch I guess pays off.'

This is now a must-win for the blue team - but not before seeing clips of Mr. T., Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox, Penny Marshall and Ron Howard. This event is Sea-doo Trivia. One team races through an obstacle course - and that's how long that the other team has to answer questions. Dan and Brooke run the course in 3:13, while Dontre and Picabo run the course in 3:33.

Each team member swims to a buoy, which is worth 1-6 points. Once a buoy is reached, the team gets to answer questions. Picabo goes first to a 2 point buoy - and the Red Team gets all of the questions right for 6 points. Rena is up next - and hits 3 points worth of questions. Dontre gets to the 4 point buoy and they get all 3 for 12 points. They get a total of 35 points - but there are at least 11 points that they should have had.

Rena challenges those questions - and she starts cursing out the producers. Dontre comes to her aid. 'We have cameras and kids...it's bull crap...you shouldn't be saying the other word.' Well, at least you can't say that the teams aren't taking this seriously.

There is a very famous phrase, which is 'when you whine, you win.' The red team does enough whining - and they do get 5 of the 11 points back for a total of 40 - but they should have gotten the 6 points also . Could that come back to haunt them?

Dan O'Brien, Drake and Brooke get to swim - and Ross the intern finally gets to be useful. He takes control of the game and pulls the team to a 41-40 victory. They get the winning points with 33 seconds to spare, so I'm not sure if the extra 6 points that the Red team should have gotten would have helped. The Red Team is still up 3-1, so the Blue Team still has a lot of road to hoe.

The event that's up is the water bucket relay. You take buckets filled with water - and you have to put the water in all of the receptacles. Whoever does this the quickest wins. The Red Team starts - and they have a decent plan, but it seems like they are taking their sweet time in doing it. Sure enough, they get it done in a very long 5:38. It's pretty bleak - and the Blue Team should be able to take this one.

After being able to watch what the Red Team did, the Blue team decides to use the smaller bucket strategy - and that strategy works. They complete it in 5:04 and they close within 3-2. Is it just me, or is the Blue Team getting an unfair advantage by going second?

Next up is Battle Boats, which is a new version of the Dunk Tank. That brings back images of Scott Baio and Charlene Tilton, Catherine Bach and Gil Gerard - oh wait, we see that on TV. The objective of this game is to hit 2 targets get them both, and the person goes into the water. Ross and Justin are the dummies on the planks.

Both teams hit the first target, which means that there's only one more left to hit. The Blue team realize this and they position their target away from the Red Team. The Red Team doesn't do the same and Drake hits the last target. Justin goes down and the score is now knotted at 3.

The Red Team is pissed. 'We are not losing 4 in a row...we are not going to lose 4 straight events.' says Dontre. Justin decides to relieve the tension by convincing the team to moon the camera. 'The only thing that people are going to remember is our asses.' We get a mooning interlude...

Remember the keys that they were given? They will be using them in the final challenge - THE MAZE. There are 3 levels worth of mazes - and they have to find 5 colored flags. The keys that they have open up canisters that only contain the same colored flags. The team that gets all 5 colored flags and sends them up to the Crow's next (where the team captains are awaiting) wins the competition.

After hours of searching - well maybe 10-15 minutes - the Red team gets the first flag and leads 1-0. Ali is second - and she very quickly finds the second flag. Amelia finds the first flag - and she follows Ali to the poles. BOth Red and Blue get the flags up at the same time - and Red still has a full Flag lead.

Ross and Just are in the maze - and Ross gets the flag first. While Justin is taking his sweet time, Ross has gotten the second flag up. Drake, the next person in, has gotten the third flag - and the Blue team takes the lead while Justin is still lost. He finally finds the flag - but not before Drake puts his flag up to give the Blue team the lead.

Neil finally gets in the maze - and it's between him and Brooke to find flag #4. Neil gets it and he takes the lead back from Brooke, who has yet to find the flag. Brooke gets the flag - but by that time, Neil has posted up the 4th flag and Dontre has the lead going for the last flag.

Brooke finally gets her flag posted - and Mario is in the maze too. Picabo doesn't know where the last canister is - but Dontre finds it for them. Dan knows where the fifth flag is - but he can't direct Mario to it. The women of the Red Team finally direct Dontre to his final flagpole - but he fastened it the wrong way. This gives Mario a chance to win the game - but he still can't find the flag. The Blue Team can not take advantage of the Red Team's error - and Dontre comes home for the win. Dontre makes his words stand up - and despite the help that the Blue Team received, the Red Team gets the deserved victory. The Red Team celebrates with hugs, and we end the show with a flurry of ads.

My Take - You know that you have problems when the show, named after the famous Battle of the Network Stars moniker, gets no publicity, only has 1 network involved, and one of the 'stars' is an intern (no offense to the intern). This should be changed to 'Friendly Skirmish of the fairly famous NBC people'. There is nothing that I hate more than a brilliant idea that gets savaged into mediocrity, and this falls under that category. I was really looking forward to seeing this show - and that went by the boards.

The format is terrible, some of the events are silly and lifeless, and people need to realize that not everything needs to be reinvented. As the Blue Team was down - they started to get unfair 'breaks' in the game (penalizing the Red Team on trivia questions, giving the Blue team the chance to go second after watching what the Red Team did, etc. If you want to make the game fair, then change the format - but don't set it up where you have to give a team some breaks to bring them back into the game and make it seem 'fixed'.

I don't want to be excessively harsh - there were some good parts in the show. I liked that the teams were into it. I also liked the trivia, the dunk tank game and the Maze finale, but there was no rhyme or reason for the first 2 games and you shouldn't have to sit anyone out for any of the games. Where is the audience? This should be in a stadium-like setting to really get some juice into it.

So much potential, so little realized - this one gets a very generous C- from me - PLEASE bring back the past elements back into it. I say this from my heart, because this could be something very, very special, if you get enough love, tradition and creativity behind it. This could be a battle that is truly star-worthy.
 

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