Monday, January 29, 2007

1 Vs. 100: Second and Third Episodes, Part the Last

At long, long last, here is the promised/threatened finale to my grand televised adventure, including my reminiscences on the last half of my second episode, and all of the third episode (up to the part where I got eliminated, because after that who gives a rat's ass).

Let me preface this by saying: I know at points in my blogging I've joked and/or bitched about the whole 1 Vs. 100 saga. But the simple truth is, it was one of the most exciting and rewarding (in more ways than one) experiences of my life. Strangers paid me real cash money for knowing stupid crap, and they let me be on TV while doing so. You can't beat that, my friends. Frankly, I would've skipped the TV part and gone right to the cash, but I guess they don't really work that way.

Another note: when I wrote about the first half of the second episode, I said that my next episode would be the one featuring Mob members from the cast of the movie Grease, promoting NBC's reality show Grease: You're the One That I Want. That turned out to be a lie. They substituted an episode of Deal Or No Deal instead. I think they still haven't aired that 1 Vs. 100 episode.

Now, when my third episode did air: no cast members from Grease! Why did I ever think my third appearance might be on that episode? Answer: the vagaries of taping. The Grease episode was taped out of sequence; I was backstage (or, technically, on an adjoining stage) when the Grease cast members were in the Mob, watching the taping on closed-circuit TV. But I still thought I might appear in the second half of that Grease episode, due to the way things seemed to get mixed around with the tapings I was actually part of. Guess not. I doubt any of you even noticed any of this, but it nagged at me enough to try to explain it. Hope I haven't muddled it even more than it already was.

So! When I left off recapping episode two, Barry (whom I still want to call Dennis, for no good reason) had just answered his ninth question, accumulating $184,000. Further notes from here:

--While deciding whether or not to go on to the tenth question, Barry said, "I haven't even talked about #66 yet!" #66 was the seven-foot-tall drag queen directly in front of me (#81, remember?). Some of the most significant edits from the taping to the final show, in my mind, were in the back-and-forth banter between Bob Saget and Barry, and #66. (And not just because it would've likely meant more camera time for me.) They talked to her frequently, and she was extremely flamboyant and funny. But for some reason they chopped out almost all of that. For example, right here, Barry threw out his reference to her, but the show cut out all of the subsequent joking that followed. I'm not really sure why (though, to be fair, they cut a lot out of Bob's banter with everyone). I'll assume it was for time considerations, and stop worrying about it.

--Just before Bob asked the tenth question, there was a three-shot of me, the woman standing directly to my right, and the drag queen below us. This shot recurred frequently for the rest of Barry's run. I think it's because there were only 38 Mob members left at this point, and the three of us, who were all still in the game, formed a little island amid the many others surrounding us who had been eliminated. An easy-to-frame-in-camera island.

--The tenth question threw me for a loop for a moment:


How the hell should I know how much Kim Jong Il sleeps? And who's reporting this four hour statistic, anyway? Kim Jong Il himself? If so, why not phrase it like answer C: "He SAYS he sleeps 4 hours a night." I wanna meet the guy who can verify this four hour figure! (Well, maybe I don't.) That qualifier, "He SAYS," is why I never really considered answer C, and the lack of it is why I almost picked A. Eventually, I decided to go with B, the Tom Cruise answer, just because I knew Tom Cruise was short, but he couldn't be that damn short. And I was right.

--Barry asked the Mob for help on this question. One randomly selected Mob member (who picked the wrong answer, C) cited his knowledge of Kim Jong Il as coming primarily from Team America: World Police. Which is understandable. That's how I best know him. But they edited out all of the Mob member's references to that film -- even references to puppets. All that's left is a very odd, out-of-context remark about "DVD commentary." Guess they couldn't get the rights to use the film's name.

--The other person Barry spoke to in the Mob, Gloria, in pod #7, was wearing a lovely blue-green blouse here. I don't know why I noted that. It's so unlikely that that will pay off down the line.

--Barry picked the right answer, eliminating 17 people at $7,000 per head. That's another $119,000 on one question. Damn. Is it any wonder I wanted to be the 1, instead of one of the 100?

--After commercial, we see Adam West was eliminated on that question. NOO!! Not Batman! Aside from the actual money, my favorite part of my entire game show experience probably was playing in the same Mob as my childhood hero. Very, very cool, even if I never got within fifty feet of him.

--At $303,000, Barry had already won more than any other contestant in 1 Vs. 100's short history. And yet he pushed it, and went for an 11th question. Good man! And got so very, tantalizingly close to blowing it, and giving all the money to the Mob. But he didn't. Bad man!

--The question was:


This question couldn't have been more perfectly tailored to my area of expertise. I knew it was Kelsey Grammer before they even revealed the choices. And I knew for which shows he was nominated: Cheers and Frasier, of course, and the third? Wings. Why did I know that? I have no clue. It's just an example of the kind of useless crap that makes me so suited for game shows like this. Barry, on the other hand, wasn't sure. He narrowed it down to Grammer or O'Connor. And he almost talked himself into going for O'Connor -- after all, how many spin-off possibilities were there for O'Connor's Archie Bunker character to guest star on? Maude, The Jeffersons, Good Times, Gloria, Archie Bunker's Place.... Whether he actually appeared on/was nominated for any of those shows, I don't know, but the possibility was there. But Barry eventually decided to use his last help: Trust the Mob, in which he was automatically locked into the most popular answer chosen by the Mob.

Here's where what I believe to be the relatively short memory of the Mob as a whole benefited Barry. Most of the Mob tended toward youth, certainly younger than Barry (or even myself, at the ripe old age of 36). Most of them had almost certainly never watched All in the Family or The Mary Tyler Moore Show; hell, they might not have known who Carroll O'Connor or Ed Asner even were. But they knew Frasier, which only went off the air in 2004. I think they picked Grammer's name more out of familiarity than any real certainty that he was the correct choice. Lucky for them, and lucky for Barry, Grammer was the correct choice, and Barry was able to add to his already record-setting total, and walk away with $343,000, leaving us 16 remaining Mob members to stew over what-coulda-been.

--Next up: my audition-buddy Kwame. I saw from the comments on previous posts that Kwame rubbed some viewers the wrong way. A lot of that was genuine Kwame: he's just a boisterous, bigger-than-life dude. A lot of it was also just the way of the game: the producers fostered a competitive spirit between the 1 and the 100, which, yes, included trash-talking. But trust me when I say you'd like him in person. He's a good, fun, friendly guy.

--That said, the minute I saw Kwame was going to be a contestant, I knew the Mob would win his money. I don't say that to be mean. I just knew from the audition process that he was a bold, aggressive player, whom I knew would charge forward and answer a question even if he wasn't sure of the answer, even if he had some help left. Which is exactly what he eventually did.

--That was in my third episode, though. In this second episode, new specialty Mob members included six child geniuses, two infomercial millionaires (including the dude in the green suit with question marks who looks like the Riddler):

Riddle me this: if I'm a millionaire, why can't I afford a normal suit?

AAAHH!! Sorry. Scary. Let's see, who else? There was also giant slab of man-meat, Fabio. And lastly, unfortunately, there was a passel of clowns directly above my head. Oh, man, those clowns. Those damn clowns. They JUST. WOULDN'T. STOP. Stop being clowns! Stop it!! Blowing their slide whistles, flinging balloons into the Mob, laughing the laughter of nightmares, and, worst of all, pounding on their tabletops. Those tabletops make a very loud noise when pounded, and when you're directly below someone making that noise, it can drive you a little batty. Trust me. I turned around and asked -- very nicely, I'll have you know -- if they wouldn't mind not pounding on the tabletops. Well, I was very nice the first time I had to ask. Less so the second time. Stupid clowns.

--Before Kwame's first question, there was a shot of our friend Gloria in pod #7. Only now she was in pod #12 -- and she was wearing a beige blouse! What happened to the blue-green number she was wearing five minutes ago?? Because of course there's no pause in between contestants, right? No time to change clothes. The show just continues without a break... doesn't it? The answer may surprise you!

Well, probably not: no, it doesn't. There was indeed a break between contestants Barry and Kwame. A two-day break. My first day of taping ended with Barry; my second day of taping began with Kwame. We returning Mob members were supposed to wear the same clothes we wore in our previous appearance, since the taping ended in the middle of an episode. I did as told. Guess no one told Gloria!

--For me, the near-stumper question during this first part of Kwame's run:


I was totally blank on this one almost to the end of our ten-second time limit. Just no clue. I finally picked Roy due to this solid reasoning: I thought the one who was attacked had a short name. That was it. I thought I remembered from the news reports that it was the shorter name. I was very lucky that I recalled it correctly. A whopping forty Mob members got knocked out on this one -- I repeat: very lucky!

--Let's skip ahead to my third episode. This will be the first time I watch the whole thing. It's still painful!

--Ned Andrews, the "reigning Mob champion," had answered 41 questions correctly at the beginning of this episode. I only made it to 26 during my run, which only stings my pride when I think about it. Which is constantly. I wanted to get more right than that guy, dammit!!

--Kwame's second question in this episode was one of the toughest questions I think the Mob has had to face:


How many people are accomplished enough touch-typists to get this in ten seconds? I about had a heart attack when I saw this. Fortunately, over the past few years, I have become an accomplished enough touch-typist that I could get this one by sense memory. I just closed my eyes, reached out my hands, and typed the words on my tabletop. Luckily for me, my hands remembered that G-A-S is found in the second row on a keyboard.

--I didn't remember that Kwame used a help on this question! I thought he just jumped ahead without even using his two remaining helps. But he did use one help: Poll the Mob, where he can find out how many people picked any one answer. Unfortunately for him, he asked about answer A, and found out that only two people in the Mob had chosen it -- which effectively ruled it out. Now, I'm not positive about this, but I think a contestant can only use one help per question. I may be wrong, but I think that's the case. Which makes his decision to jump ahead and pick one of the remaining answers less rash than I had originally thought it to be. Still, he didn't take much time at all thinking about it, and strangely -- in my eyes, anyway -- he decided to go with the answer that shared two letters with the answer that had just been ruled out by the Mob. Instead of WIN, he picked KIN -- and you could hear the audience's moan of disappointment as he did so. He knew right away that he was wrong, but he kept a brave face. And there was a commercial break before Bob revealed the answer. That's brutal.

As he walked off stage after losing, I called out to him, "Thank you, Kwame!" He looked up and spotted me, and grinned a big grin, and said, "Tom Collins! You're welcome!" I'm telling you: very cool dude. I'm sorry he didn't win. But I'm more happy that I did win!

--The next contestant was Shelley. You may remember her: she was the self-described "Miss Fitness" champion in the turquoise dress who... how do I put this delicately? Had a bouncy personality. And by "personality," I mean "chest." In fact, I'm just going to go right ahead and blame her cleavage for my getting eliminated during her run. It's not true, but it will make many of my male readers sympathize with me more.

--Shelley's first question involved Tammy Faye Bakker. After, Bob asked one of the Mob members why he had chosen incorrectly. "I have no idea who Tammy Faye Bakker is," he said. "I was born in 1980." Remember my assessment of the short memory of the Mob? Yeah, right there. And it comes back again in a big way shortly.

--Ah, me. Here we are. Shelley's third question, and my downfall.


"General Motors!" you are all saying. "It's General Motors, you idiot!" Well, I know that now, goddam it. But at that moment, all I saw was: there are cars involved, and I don't know anything about cars. OH, SHIT!! My brain just shut down. I completely froze. I had not a single thought in my brain, other than: "You are going to get this wrong." And so, I did. I picked B, Chrysler. AAAAHHHH!!!

If I had had five more seconds to think about it, to gather my wits about me -- but I did not. I had only ten seconds, and about eight of them were spent panicking. Then I just pressed B, and I knew instantly I was wrong. But I was already locked in. I was already totally screwed. It was one of the very easiest questions asked of me the entire time I was there, and I blew it, big time. All I can say is, be more understanding of people who make dopey choices on game shows. It's a lot of pressure, and without warning it can pile on you and completely overwhelm you. That's what happened to me, and I'm never going to stop regretting it. GRRR!!

Fourteen other people missed it, by the way, so I'm not the only dummy.

--After the commercial break: okay, this is the first time I've seen this promo for upcoming 1 Vs. 100 episodes -- including the "Survival of the Smartest" episode, in which previous Mob champs come back to compete in a winner-take-all competition for $250,000. Dude, I answered 26 QUESTIONS. There is NO WAY that there are that many Mob members who answered more questions correctly than me, even subtracting for room to fit in all the celebrity Mob members they wanted to include as well. That is bullshit. Now I'm angry. I should be in this show. I SHOULD BE IN THIS SHOW. And they didn't invite me... why? Because I wasn't as loony as other people who answered fewer questions, or because I never got randomly picked to be a contestant's help? Total bullshit. Wow. Way to turn me into sheer bitter resentment on a dime.

--Okay, let's skip ahead to Shelley's last question and get this over with.


Another question geared especially for my trivia sweet spot. Too bad I wasn't still in the game to answer it! I knew it was De Niro; every time they talk about an actor gaining weight for a role, they always make sure to remind you that De Niro did it first, and did it bigger. (Although, according to IMDb trivia, Vincent D'Onofrio actually broke De Niro's record weight gain for Full Metal Jacket.)

And here's where the Mob's general short-term memory paid off for those Mob members with knowledge older than 1990. Shelley opted to use her Trust the Mob help, which meant she was locked into the Mob's most popular answer. And the Mob's most popular answer was the highest-profile, most recent (2001, as opposed to 2000 for Hanks, 1980 for De Niro) weight gain for a role: Renee Zellweger. And it was completely wrong.

"Cast Away, he was skinny, so... that didn't happen," Shelley said with a dismissive wave of her hand when considering her choices. Everybody remembers Hanks getting skinny; they don't seem to remember how much weight he packed on for the beginning of the film, pre-plane crash, before losing all that weight back, and more. IMDb says he gained, then lost, 50+ pounds. De Niro: 60 pounds. (D'Onofrio, in case you were wondering: 70 pounds.) And Zellweger? 20 pounds. A miserable, measly twenty pounds. So far in third place it's hardly worth mentioning.

She would definitely have been my last choice. Everybody seems to think she got huge for that role. She got a little curvy, and that's it. It's just that she made so much more of a stink about it, as did the media, that everybody seems to think she bloated herself up to Brando proportions. It's more attention-getting, I guess, when a pretty actress gains a little weight than when an actor -- even one of the most popular actors in the world -- gains nearly three times as much.

So, Shelley trusted the Mob. And, as with Barry's trusting the Mob earlier, the Mob picked the most recent answer. It's just that this time, they were wrong. As was Shelley. 17 Mob members split $86,000. Meaning if I had only gotten General Motors right, I'd have made another $5,058! But I didn't. Damn it.

--You know who else didn't? Ned Andrews! He missed it, and left with a still-impressive string of, if I'm counting correctly, 48 questions correct. That means I would've been the reigning Mob member if I hadn't blown it. Dagnabbit!

And that's the end of my 1 Vs. 100 saga! (There's more stuff that happened in that third episode, but I was gone, so screw it.) I'm a little frustrated that now that I finally felt sanguine enough to recap my losing episode, I saw the promo for the future show I should've been a part of, but wasn't. I didn't want to put a capper of sourness on my game show story. I loved being on the show, and I'm ecstatic to have won a decent amount of money. But to find out I've been shut out of a competition which by all rights I should've been invited to... well, that smarts.

I hope I've answered all you wanted to know (and likely, much much more) about the 1 Vs. 100 experience. If you've got any more questions, leave a comment and I'll try to answer it. And if you're a casting agent for the show: dude! Don't be cruel! Invite me back!!

[EDIT: In the cold, hard light of perspective, some of this seems much more whiny and self-entitled than I intended. Of course nobody owes me a shot at another appearance on the show, however much I might have wanted it to be offered to me. I should just appreciate what I've already gotten out of the experience. Which is a tough thing for me to do, because I am whiny and self-entitled. But I'm working on it.]

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