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What do you get when you take sixteen ugly ducklings, fly them to a mansion with no mirrors, then have them undergo radical transformations including plastic surgery, dental work, fitness regimens, and life coaching, THEN have them compete in a beauty pageant for hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizes? According to this show, "the most unusual competition ever devised for television."

Recaps by Chico Alexander, GSNN

Amanda Byram
Experts: Greg Comeaux, Dr. Terry Dubrow, Nely Galan, Dr. Randal Haworth, Dr. Lynn Ianni, Dr. Sherri Worth
Creator: Nely Galan
EP: Nely Galan, Arthur Smith
Packager: Galan Productions, A. Smith & Co., FremantleMedia
Airs: Mondays at 9:00pm ET on FOX

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Episode 8 - May 17

Someone says enough is enough. Is it the data-entry worker from Olympia, WA, or the sign-language interpreter from Victorville, CA? And which two past contestants will fill the Wild Card seat in the pageant?

I have absolutely no idea, but I guess that's why we watch, right? Riiiight. First up, Tanya Slovich, the data entry worker. "No way!" Yeah, she's so hyped. Here comes the bio. She's very self-conscious. "I think I look ugly." It started in school, where it all starts for some reason. That's scarred her for her life. Her husband thinks that her insecurities hide her from the outside world. That and the car tint. Cool in the summer, but not if you want to become visible. That can only be answered with a nose job, brow lift, cheek & chin implants, upper lip lift & augmentation, Lasik, tummy tuck, breast aug & lift, bleaching, upper veneers, gum surgery, deep cleaning, and a 1700-calorie diet and otherwise standard wellness protocol.

Her competition: Merline Norman, the interpreter. Both of her parents were deaf, and having to witness her dad flatline and be an interpreter. Sign language was her first language, and now it pays the bills. Boyfriend Carlos says that she has to drive 100 miles to work. "It's work, kids, home." Her sex life was great until the kids, so maybe her Swan program will rejuvenate that. On her program: brow lift, upper lip lift, face lipo and fat transfer, lasik, breast augmentation, tummy tuck, bleaching, veneers, gum surgery, root canals, decay repair, deep cleaning, and the same protocol that Tanya is on.

And one of these, if the Fox promo is to be believed, doesn't make it through, thanks to a mirror. Bad, bad.. REALLY BAD. Anyway, we're at the barracks. Merline begins with an initial consult with Dr. Haworth. "With some strategic changes in her fat, I think that's just going to bring out an exotic, inviting, alluring, almost mysterious look to her face." And if that doesn't work, that's what the money-makers are for. You know what I'm talking about. Mm-hmm.

Tanya visits Dr. H later. "What I'm planning is to create some form of femininity and harmony to her face which, at the moment, she's lacking." Again, if that doesn't work, that's what the money-makers are for.

Merline's teeth are, to quote Dr. Worth, "a mess." Crooks, crowds, and just general decay and infection. She'll be back five more times before her final reveal. Can they hold? Probably. She goes to the surgery in high spirits, as Dr. Dubrow tag-teams with Dr. Haworth. After a mid-C breast aug and Brigitte Bardot lips, Merline's up and about.

Tanya's up and about as well... but she's supposed to be sleeping. She's anxious about the surgery. "I feel like I'm going to throw up." With a heart rate of 115, I might just believe her. After her open rhinoplasty, her closed breasts, and her open and closed case of a stomach, we're all done. Dr. Haworth's concerned that her anxiety may lead her to an emotional meltdown.

Merline's bed-ridden as Dr. H makes a visit. "You look great, actually!" Says him. Well, he thinks it's smooth sailing. Tanya's recovery is off to a bad start. A horrible start. Let's just say she needs to punch somebody in the face. And then go home. In that order. Merline isn't faring that better on the transformation path either, as she is constantly checking up on Carlos to make sure all her bills are paid. Dude... they're paid. It's me time now.

Back to Bonecrusher Slovich, who gets a visit from Nely. "You are having extreme negativity." Needless to say, Nely pulls out the tape with Tanya's audition video on it. She wants her back to THAT place. "My biggest goal is to be positive and not so cynical." Why not? Cynicism works. In small doses. Meanwhile, Merline heads to the therapist with her new breasts. All her emotions about having to be interpreter for her parents come out.

That's the least of her problems, as she finds out that her bills are past due. She's toying with the idea of going home. Meanwhile Tanya has a breakthrough from her mom at home. "No matter what goes on, you have to finish it." Good on ya, mom!

One month to go. And we're at the Swan mansion with some unusual circumstances. The Swan security team heard chatter about a mirror in a contestant's room. A mirror that wasn't concealed. A mirror that... okay, it's a mirror, who cares? It was in Tanya's room, and Nely confronts her about it. Having broken the rules of the house, she takes fate into her own hands and leaves the house, only half-transformed.

Oh well. "I was utterly disappointed," Nely says.

I guess that makes Merline's favorite word in the English language "default". And in the good way. Now she has absolutely no idea that Tanya quit. Therefore, this reveal will be surprising on both fronts. Now when we remember seeing Merline last, she had no time for herself. Now she does and it pays off. Still a little bit of a freaky smile there. But a transformation nonetheless. "I feel like my inside hasn't met my outside yet." Well, that's what the Mirror of Fate... the one that's behind the curtain... is for.

Her reaction: "Okay, I am as hot as I feel. I love me." Says it all, really. And so does Amanda when she says "How badly do you want to be chosen?" And yes those italics were no accident. Well?

"Your competitor, Tanya Slovich, dropped out of the program. She went home." Dramatic pause here and... "You're going to the pageant." And repeat it for emphasis. Tonight's winner, Merline Norman. That leaves... 15 minutes and seven Swan losers: Kelly Alemi, Kristy Garza, Tawnya Cooke, Kathy Rickers, Andrea Morris, Kelly Becker, and Dawn Goad. Two of them have been invited back to the mansion to compete for the wild card spot. First lady out is... Kelly Alemi. An improvement from the end of week 1. She's been working hard, you can tell. Second lady out... Kristy Garza. Still a little freaky (but in a good way!). "It's been maximum overdrive. I've just been pushing myself to the limit."

But is it enough? Amanda informs that the woman not chosen tonight will become an alternate (or, in GSNN parlance, "George Huff"). The time is now... Going to the pageant tonight, joining Rachel LaFraser, Cristina Tyree, Cindy Ingall, Beth Lay, Belinda Bessant, Sarina Voight, Marnie Regevich, and Merline Norman, is...

KELLY! And unfortunately for Kristy, no parting medal. But Kelly will represent for both of her. So here we are. Nine ugly ducklings transformed and moving forward to the pageant, where only one can be The Swan. Next week, in a two-hour what-no-Bernie-Mac? season finale, eight women are going to learn that the hard way.

But you know what they said at the top of the series: some will make it through, but all will be changed forever.

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