FEAR FACTOR:
Season 3
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Six men and women must conquer their greatest fears or face elimination. In the end, one will claim the $50,000 prize and the honor that "fear is not a factor for them."

Recaps by Gordon Pepper, GSNN


FACT FILE:
Host:
Joe Rogan
Creator: John De Mol
EP: John De Mol, Matt Kunitz
Packager: Endemol USA, Pulse:Creative
Airs: Mondays at 8:00pm ET on NBC


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Episode 3.1 - September 22

Welcome back to this season's Fear Factor! We'll be starting this one off with a little more excitement than usual - tonight, one of our hapless victims will win ONE MILLION DOLLARS!!!! For our 2-hour opening, we will start with 12 contestants, who get to toil through 6 stunts - the person left standing gets 1 million dollars!

"Are you ready to will a million bucks?" asks Joe facetiously. They all scream yes - but some of them may be changing their mind when they see 2 helicopters carrying a jungle gym-like apparatus. In teams of 2, people compete against each other to traverse the rings, monkey-bar style. Whoever gets from one side to the other and back, releases 2 sets of flags, and jumps into the water first advances - the other person is eliminated.

Heat #1 - Vivian Richardson (Richardson, CA) is an ex-marine (now current mommy), while Leanne Flom (Great Falls, VA) teaches little kids. Everyone thinks that Leanne is going home, but contrary to everyone else (and her home location), Leanne is not taking a great fall - unless it's into the ocean for the victory. The ex-marine is now an ex-Fear Factor contestant. "A physical education beat a marine. That pisses me off." Leanne is doing this for her baby daughter. AwwwwBarf.

Heat #2 - It's a battle of the blondes! Katie Ross (Greensboro, NC), a female wrestler, just wants to be quick and focused, while D'Nara Manning (Oklahoma City, OK), thinks that she will fall off of the bars rather quickly. The guys think that Katie is scary - and she may be, because she is handling the course masterfully - until she slips and falls into the water. This opens the door for D'Nara - but she falls too before getting the first flag, which Katie manages to get to before she falls. Well, both blondes made a splash, but the wrestler moves on.

Heat #3 - Amanda Palencia (Colton, CA), is going to use a different strategy than the blondes, while Stephanie Braeklein (Tampa, Fl), is a physical fitness instructor. The guys believe that Amanda will be advancing, and once again, the guys are wrong. Stephanie falls in the middle of the first lap, but Amanda completes the course, and advances.

We are done with the women - time to see what the guys can do. Heat #4 - Durant Fowler (Ontario, CA) is a counselor for boys - but he didn't get any advice from what the women were doing. Joseph Marks (Atlanta, GA) got here through a contest from a radio station, where he got to eat lovely things, including moldy cottage cheese and bull...parts. Too bad the contest didn't include monkey bars. Everyone says Durant will advance - and this time, they are right. Durant just blows past Joe, as the self professed "King of the Monkey Bars" advances in a romp - and Joe falls into the water for good measure. Durant is doing this for his kid. Awwwwwwbleagh.

Heat #5 - Both guys - Grant Dawson (West Richmond, VA), and Scott Merrill (Tempe, AZ) - also got here through radio contests. Everyone thinks this one will be close, and it is, as Grant motors past Scott (firefighter) and extinguishes his shot at a million dollar chance. "When you lose, you are forgotten," says...who said that?

Heat #6 (Final Heat) - Eric Bryant (Nashville, TN) also got there via a radio contest, but Gordon Navarre (Waterford, MI) is a septic inspector. "You inspect poopie water?" asks Joe incredulously. Yep, he does - but the water that he will be falling into looks pretty clean. Unfortunately, he does it without him grabbing the second flag. Eric comes from behind, thanks to Gordon's slip on the rings, and he advances - along with the 5 other people.

That evening, the contestants descend onto a deserted building area with plates full of various ingredients. It looks like it's time to chow down - or lie down. Three women will be lying in a tank with blood sucking leeches. In addition, the tank that the woman will be in is slowly flooding - and they keep the water from them by pumping a handle which will delay the water (and leeches) from coming in. Whichever woman stays in the shortest amount of time gets eliminated.

The 3 men will be bobbing in a pool of ostrich egg liquid, eat a pig tongue, and eat 5 leeches. Ham, eggs, and a leech for desert, Yum, yum yum. The man with the slowest time gets to join the woman with the slowest time out on the sidelines.

"I can never say that I've been in a bathtub of bloodsucking leeches." says Katie. Apparently, you haven't been with any lawyers. Katie starts out slow, but gets a pumping rhythm going and stays in there for a decent 2 minutes. Her bathing suit fell of in the middle of the stunt, and "I wound up with a crotch full of leeches." Ewwwwwwwww....

Leanne was giving birth for 18 hours - but I don't think that she wants a crotch full of them like Katie got. Leanne isn't nearly as good with the pump as Katie was, and she only stays on for 1:13. While Stephanie is getting ready, Joe does an informal pool on what they would rather do - and everyone says that they would rather want to do the stunts that they are doing.

Meanwhile, Stephanie is asking for some decor - and she's not going to get it. "No candles, no music - this is not a bath". Stephanie doesn't make the experience into a scene from "A Roman Holiday", but she does complete the stunt in 1:15 - and that's good enough to send the woman with child home. "I'm a preschool fitness teacher - but I would have done better with the money."

It's time for the guys to have a little midnight snack. Eric starts it off - and is Stephanie cheering him on? No - she just wants to get this over with, since the egg smells. Eric is getting through ok - until he moves the Fear Factor chuck bucket over and Joe is trying to convince him not to use it.

Eric convinces himself to get through it - but it's an agonizingly slow 5:48 - which means that Durant, who's next, can go to the store, buy some barbecue sauce, come back, sprinkle it on the leeches, and have himself a little mesquite cook-out. But Durant is taking his sweet time in the bobbing segment and that 5:48 may be looking good. Or maybe not - Durant finishes it in 4:38 and Eric is in deep trouble.

Durant has sworn off pork for life. Grant will try to swear off Eric from the show. In the words of Grant, "Rub-a-dub-dub, here comes the grub." Eric is trying to talk trash, but when Joe asks the women who they want to see go, they both say Durant. Ouch. Eric can't talk trash - and he can't stay on the show. Grant gets it done in 3:45 and "It's devastating when you go from 6 people to 4, and you are not one of the four." Bye, bye, Eric...

Hello, next stunt. The contestants are asking "What is that?" That, according to Joe, is a circular pendulum, which is swinging back and forth. The contestants have to move flags from one side to the other. The three people who gets the most flags (in the fastest amount of time) gets to be in the final 3.

Katie is afraid of heights - that's not good. What's worse is that she keeps on dropping flags off of the ledge, as she's already dropped 2. According to Joe, "If you guys get through the whole thing, and you don't drop 2 flags, you're in." She does get 5 flags, but those 2 dropped flags could be costing her a million dollars.

Durant goes first - and he already drops the first flag - so maybe Katie has a glimmer of hope. The hope is gone, when he doesn't make another mistake and posts up 6 flags. Katie's not going to get any help from Stephanie either, as she also gets 6 flags.

"I do not want to take the walk of shame," worries Katie. Will Grant be taking it in her place? He could be - as he drops the first flag that he is grasping. He drops the second one - and Katie is really hoping for one more bad thing to happen. It doesn't. Grant gets 5 flags - but he does it 8 seconds faster and Katie does take the walk of shame. As for Grant? "I just wanted to keep it interesting for the TV audience at home." Thanks, Grant - I'm touched.

What will be touching the contestants for stunt #4? Rotting Disgusting Fish Parts! As a boat docks in, the contestants on the pier sees a tank with thousands of pounds of fish parts. At the bottom of the tank are 8 pairs of Fear Factor boots, which needs to be hooked up on a net at the top of the tank. The 2 people who do it the fastest are your 2 finalists.

Durant goes first - and Joe drops another can of fish parts on him just for good measure. Durant is flying... or should I say swimming... through this, as he gets in done in a very quick 1:09. "You've gotta be kidding me," says Grant. "I would have shook your hand, but you're gross."

"You will be gross next," Joe says to Grant, and he is quickly, as Joe drops a bucket of fish on him as well. His time was far from gross - he gets it done in an even quicker 59 seconds. He looks gross, but feels like a million dollars.

If Stephanie wants to be in the finals, she needs to beat 1:09. According to her, if she wins the money, she will be building houses for poor people in Vietnam (as it costs around $7,000 a house). Stephanie can be doing that - but not from money won in Fear Factor. She starts out quick, but she gets lost half-way in the stunt and it costs her. "It hurts to come this far... when you fall, you get back up and become stronger."

Either Durant or Grant will become financially stronger in a stunt. Durant is treating this like a business trip, while Grant is smelling money. The only thing that separates them from the cash is a launchpad for a quad ATV. Whoever launches their car over a 200 feet cliff and closest to a Fear Factor flag will be picking up a check with 6 zeros.

Durant wins the coin toss and decides to go first. He launches it - and it's really cool to see - but not really close to the flag. He's a good 26 feet from the flag, and that gives Grant a lot of room for error. Durant got a good bounce, so Grants looking to do that. On his jump, Grant's buggy... does not bounce at all. It stops with a thump, and I don't see Grant winning the money. The distance away is...41 feet. Durant, thanks to a... well you can't say an unlucky bounce, because there was no bounce... but because of the non-bounce, wins a million bucks.

My take? Well, it was a cool start for the season, but it didn't seem to me like they were million dollar caliber stunts. Last year's tournament of champions looked better - and even the stunts from the coming attractions for this season looked tougher than this episode. The coming attractions look like this one will be just as much fun as the seasons before it, so I eagerly await Monday.

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