The Next Great Champ
Somewhere, Sylvester Stallone is punching holes in a wall. Not only did Fox survive the lawsuit from Mark Burnett and Stallone to get their boxing reality show on the air first, but they stole that inverted sit-up routine from Rocky IV and used it as a $10,000 challenge. But I'll wager what really sent Stallone over the edge was Fox snagging "Eye of the Tiger" as their theme song — what the hell was Stallone thinking? Rocky III made that song the definitive boxing anthem, and the moment he inked the deal with NBC to produce The Contender (debuts in November on NBC), he should've been on the phone with composer and Survivor front man Jim Peterik to secure the rights.
Now I'm biased because I love boxing as a sport, but I have to say that this show has gotten just about everything right — everything, that is, except the boxing, and I'll get to that in a minute. There is enough testosterone and tension between these 12 boxers to power a small city, and these guys are not your typical reality-show exposure whores. These are rough-and-tumble gladiators looking for a title shot, not to mention $750,000. And of course Fox could have put them up in a mansion and brought in girls for them to carouse with in a hot tub (that's what we've come to expect from Fox after all) but no, these guys are shacking up in one big dorm with military-style bunks and a community shower — kind of like putting a hungry pit bull and a wolverine in the same cage and tossing in a raw steak.
Now watching a televised fight can never compare to being ringside, but editing actual fight footage with Hollywood jump cuts and sound effects only confuses the matter further. In the final bout between the lowest-ranked RC and the top-ranked Paleja, it was hard to tell who got the better of whom. Better to let the camera roll and let us see what the judges saw.
As for the teaser for next week, with a shot of an ambulance carrying one of the boxers away, does Fox really think they can so easily manipulate us with the prospect of "life-threatening drama"? Yes. And will I tune in to see whose life hangs in the balance? Damn straight.
Perdue Chicken Commercial
The commercial is cute enough, with Mr. Perdue talking up his company's meaty chicken breasts while he helps a chicken lift a set of free weights on a bench press. But it's the tag line that wins the doublespeak award of the night. "A healthy obsession with chicken," says the saccharine-voiced spokesperson. Now if you've never seen a chicken farm up close and personal, let me just say that "healthy" isn't quite the word to describe the sight and smell of tens of thousands of birds doped up on steroids and antibiotics living on top of one another. It's really quite fowl — hah!
Twins and models, I hope you learned a valuable lesson. The next time you find yourself in a dream vacation destination like New Zealand, and you have a choice to surf white-water rapids or roll around in boiling mud — choose the clean fun and enjoy the ride. Not only are Kami and Karli out of the game, but they didn't get to sledge over the highest sledgeable waterfall in all of New Zealand — an experience that the Bowling Moms will no doubt be telling their grandchildren about.
As for our leaders Colin and Christie, I have to say they've got the momentum and the energy right now to win this thing, but personally I could do without the frat-boy whoops and no-handed back flips. Then again, if I'd just rolled down a mountain in a giant transparent beach ball, I'd probably act like a drunken frat boy too. Whooooooooo!! Rock on!!
I'm betting Joely Richardson had a blast with this episode. She finally got to play Julia as a character who has a spine. In her anesthesia-induced It's a Wonderful Life fantasy, she's making money, doing blow and watching her husband, Christian, bang other women — everything she always wanted but was afraid to ask for, right? Nope, turns out that the one thing bizarro Julia wants is, of course, the one thing bizarro Julia can't have: children. Oh the irony, the paradox, the contrivance! I'm sorry, but this departure into Julia's mangled psyche didn't totally work for me, even if it did serve to advance the plot a wee bit. I think it was Ava's whole angel-of-death turn that was just a little too precious. It's okay to chew the scenery once in a while, but Famke Janssen left tooth marks on the walls in this episode. I asked my wife what she thought and she said it was obvious that Julia's familial fantasy was written by a man. I told her that if she wanted something a little more sympathetic to the the plight of the common housewife she should check out Desperate Housewives, debuting Oct. 3 on ABC.
Oh, and props to Party Boy, your regular Tuesday night watercooler contributor: He totally called Julia's change of heart about having her air bags removed. — Daniel R. Coleridge is on vacation. Today's column was written by Daniel Roberts.