By Tom Hamill


So I was surfing through the channels on a recent Tuesday night, having convinced myself that none of the 23 regional sports networks on my satellite dish were going to re-run the Tetley Bitter Cup Final in prime time during baseball season, when I tripped across the "Real World/Road Rules Casting Special" on MTV. Seeing that the lovely Janet from Seattle was one of the hosts, I decided to watch for awhile, especially since I've long ago given up on the networks during the summer.

The premise is that they review the applications of sixteen finalists for inclusion on the Real World or Road Rules. The applications include a home video, two interviews, and an on camera real life situation with an assistant producer. Thirteen of these applicants make one of the shows. In case your head is swimming in what am I talking about and what does it have to do with rugby, let me explain some background and don't worry, I'll get to the rugby.

About ten years ago, MTV wanted a young people soap opera and turned to a production company called Bunim Murray Productions ("BMP"). BMP quickly realized they didn't have nearly enough budget, so they changed the product and put six 18-24 year olds in an unaffordable loft in New York and filmed their every move for six months, editing all of that film down to a season's worth of 22 minute episodes. In the process, BMP retains all of the sexy bits and good fights. There are rumors that conflicts are created by BMP, and it is certain that chronology suffers in the editing process.

Real World New York was such an efficient ratings success, BMP and MTV have reprised Real World eight times, sending bunches of incompatible young adults to glorified, gaudily decorated "living spaces" that most of us will never afford. In sum, it's the "Surreal World." BMP also spawned a sequel called Road Rules, where six good looking, incompatible kids are placed in a Winnebago and made to perform "missions" like sky diving and alligator sex determination in order to earn their handsome reward.

Back to the casting special, there's this guy named James (see below) who spends his whole video playing with a rugby ball, like most of us have done at one time, and talking about the importance of rugby in his life, with that same glazed-eyed look we all get. So I did some checking on the web and the Real World rumor sites said James was going to be on Road Rules, confirming Janet's observation from the casting special. So I'm going to take one for the team and watch James's exploits. This is probably the most publicity rugby will get in this country. So good or bad, James's actions will be what rugby is judged upon this summer. I'll report upon James from a former player and an administrator's perspective.

The MTV website says James is "an All-American rugby player from California." He is a twenty year old sophomore at Cal Berkley. At least he's one of Jack Clark's boys. I'll bet he was warned to represent his school and sport well before he left. As for the All-American part, I'm guessing that's an adjective rather than a title, since he would have missed the Spring season and the collegiate championships. He is also described as going to "a Jesuit high school in California." Like, national champs Jesuit High School? The final bit of interesting information is that he's devoted to his girlfriend of eighteen months, Missy. I'll bet BMP does its best to drive a wedge in that relationship.

Episode 901-902
One hour season premier
Original Air Date: June 19, 2000

We meet the cast. Theo, the young guy poet from northwestern Louisiana is hitchhiking to the meeting place and some little car like a Dodge Colt picks him up. Imagine the conversation: "Hey man, thanks for stopping, would you mind taking my cameraman and sound guy along? By the way, I need you to sign these releases before I get in the car." Anyway, Theo gets to the meeting site, somewhere in a desert, where Mssada, a black woman from L.A. is waiting. BMP has a casting formula, which includes one black, one wild card minority of the opposite sex and a young, naive person from a sheltered background. We already have two of the three. Theo demonstrates his naiveté by saying he hopes there aren't Asians, cause he doesn't think he could get along with Asians. Mssada's not sure whether to be appalled or amused.

Next in is our boy James, carrying a rugby ball and wearing a polo shirt with "8" and "Rugby Club Praha" on the front and a logo on the back that says "Rugby Bar." We cut to these three chatting later and Mssada is holding the rugby ball. Then in come Holly, an extreme sports adrenaline junky who lives ten miles from James; Latterean, a pre-med from Carolina who calls his skirt-chasing alter ego "T;" and Katherine a fruit-oriented beauty queen from Oregon who attends Cornell. The crew in place, we meet this year's Winnebago, which is really a Shasta, complete with a private bedroom with bubble-wrapped bed. A blue light starts flashing and a screen turns on, revealing the Road Master, who will direct the team on their tour. Nobody seems to be paying attention. If the cast successfully completes every mission, they split $100,000. I think Road Master is supposed to be scary, but he's just overdone and weird, kind of a green cross between Max Headroom and Harvey Keitel. They get directions for the first mission and get to know each other. There's a consensus that there's an attraction between James and Holly. Latterean predicts they'll hook up.

This year, each mission has a mayor. The Mission 1 mayor wakes them up at 5:30. James puts on a #15 Cal shirt, complete with Reebok logo above the number. Send that tape to Reebok, Jack. BMP, who are also sponsorship wolves, have the logos taped over by the next scene. As James drives the Shasta to they don't know what or where, Theo asks "Why rugby?" James gets the glassy-eyed stare and explains that its like a brotherhood and the game doesn't care if you hurt your ankle, you just get back up and keep playing. This is basically the answer we all would give. I don't know if its great sales, but it is true. Theo decides he'd be too fragile.

They get to the site and see two balloons. Racing? No, plank walking between two balloons. James is afraid of heights. Jack probably instills that in them as freshmen to avoid over the top penalties. The plank is actually eight inches wide and the walker is harnessed in, but they can't touch the guide wires. James is really really white when he takes his turn last, but somebody yells "just think of it as rugby" and he shuffles across. Mission completed, six coins worth $6000 earned, plus a piggy bank to save the coins in. Then an Indian chief blesses them, they put a cow skull on the hood and they're a tribe. On the road, they talk about interracial relationships. T and Holly have, James could have, but he was in a relationship. But his roommate's black. Katherine's dog is black. Theo's gardener is black. Everybody laughs.

Road Master sends the team to Flagstaff, where they work for a radio station for a day doing product research. The guys have to get girls to try on and answer questions about the Magic Bra. Sample question, "do you feel larger and sexier in the Magic Bra?" The girls have to get guys to try on a surrogate nurser for men. Luckily they're by Northern Arizona U. and find lots of willing subjects. After about an hour, the guys are done and get together on the roof of the Shasta. The girls come by and start bitching at them. Back to the radio station and they've earned $1500 for two weeks of spending money, and if they research one more product, an extra $500. James correctly predicts, "we don't have a choice, do we?"

It's the penis enlarger pump from Austin Powers. They only need five guys to try it and the three in the cast would count. T says he's too big, James says no way, and Theo thinks his unit is fine the way it is, thank you very much. But they go back to NAU and have to turn people away. James interviews a subject: Q. Size before? A. 4 1/4". Q. Size After? A. 10 1/4". Q. Did you at any time feel like yelling who's your daddy? $500 more and they head for Provo.

On the road to Provo, James and Holly are in the bunk over the driver's seat. Holly has had a lot of sexual partners, including her boss when she was sixteen. James has only had one. Latterean wonders if Holly is too experienced for James. In Provo, the gang goes to Gold's Gym to work out. The guys meet about six women who come back to the motor lodge and get in the hot tub with them. Holly is not amused and the dynamics are about to change! The guys don't get lucky. Hey, its Latter Day Saints country. They talk about whether there were too many women and the reaction of their female crew mates. Theo says that these are the only nights he'll ever spend in `Parvo,' so he was going to enjoy them.

The final scene is James and Holly having a "compare the scar" contest, like when Mel Gibson and Rene Russo fall for each other in Lethal Weapon 3. I actually had one of these with a woman rugby player and it was a very sexy conversation. Anyway, James tells us about taking a boot in the chin during a match and needing thirteen stitches.

Episode 903
Original Air Date: June 26, 2000

The next mission mayor is Olympic gold medalist Picabo Street. Theo decides she knows more about winter sports than almost anybody. Unfortunately, she's teaching the cast ski jumping, backwards luge, ski jumping and speed skating, none of which is downhill skiing. We then meet the competition, the team, a bunch of people who entered a contest on MTV's website. All of the dot-commers are from New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey, except one guy from Florida, so he's also probably from New York, Pennsylvania or New Jersey. The dot-com advantage, they've seen snow. Only Holly and Katherine have experience with snow. And Holly hurts her knee, so she's stuck on the luge. Holly tries to run who will do which event tomorrow, but the guys won't listen to her. James and Latterean are going to bobsled,

Theo wants to ski jump, even though his landings are suspect. Whoever wins the day takes everything. Theo mentions that the dot-com team is looking to inflict its brand of dot-communism upon their money. A word about Theo. James needs to convince him to play rugby. He may be small, but for somebody who never skied, he got jumping down in a day, so he is athletic. I see Theo as the B-side scrumhalf who can lead 20 guys on tour to a go-go bar he remembers from four or five years ago. They never find it, they don't meet any woman, they don't even find any beer and the most memorable event is breakfast at Denny's at four in the morning. Yet, somehow it's the rugby event you remember fondly twenty years later.

Holly and a dot-commer fight about a water bottle. The dot-commers hate Holly. Holly says she's very competitive and a lot of people think she's a bitch. Yeah, and? After practice, the cast goes back to the Howard Johnson's and the dot-commers go to their ski lodge to spend time in the hot tub. T goes to the dot-com lodge and winds up giving a dot-commer a tour of the Shasta. (Don't blink, here comes James's moment of the episode.)

James says "Latterean is trying to get it on with one of the dot-commers and its not going over too well with the Road Rules team."

The next morning both teams get on the bus and head for the mountain. Latterean tries to trade for a dot-com scarf, so two of the dot-com girls use their scarves to tie his head to the seat. See, duct tape is overrated.

Next week: somebody cries.

BMP always ends an episode with a chronologically interesting minute, that doesn't fit in with the storyline. In this episode, Picabo is flirting with a totally uninterested Latterean (maybe its her jock-chasing alter-ego, Bo) and she tells him about filming the Charles Schwab commercial while doing leg presses, and letting out gas.

In a semi-related observation, Jamie of Real World New Orleans apparently has rugby connections, too. He was wearing a Springbok shirt in this week's episode and an All Black shirt in the attractions for next week.

Episode 904
Original Air Date: July 1, 2000

The rumor is out that if Road Rules doesn't significantly raise its ratings this season, MTV is set to cancel the show. I'll bet BMP is wishing it had thought of having the cast slaughter and eat chickens.

It's game time for the winter sports, challenge. James has a heart to heart with Latterean about fraternizing with the enemy before the big competition. "LT," as James calls him, says he can separate his personal life from the competition. Of course he can, it was T in the Shasta last night and it's Latterean on the slope. James doesn't like it because the dot-commers are out to take the cast's money and glory. Damn the advent of professionalism in rugby! LT and James agree to disagree, then they're up in the bobsled.

Each day competition, bobsled, skeleton (what they're calling the luge) and ski jumping is worth one point and has two contestants from each team. Team speed skating that night is worth three points. The dot-commers put two of their women in the bobsled. James and LT whip them by six seconds. Wasn't Jonah talking about trying out for the Kiwi bobsled team? Next up is the ski jump. At the top, Katherine says "let's just leave the trash talk at the bottom of the hill. We're all about to do something new and difficult and we're in it together." Classy. Team dot-com hits both jumps for 27 meters.

Katherine hits for 11 meters, so Theo is going to have to make 16 meters. BMP's favorite literary device is . . . foreshadowing. Remember what Holly said about Theo's landings? Theo tries to hit a superhuman jump and catches his tips and wipes out-no score. It's tied 1-1.

Now it's Holly and Msaada in the skeleton. Each competitor gets two runs and the combined two lowest scores win. Holly is saying the whole competition is up to her and she's got to carry the team. James points out that they can lose the skeleton and still take everything with a win in the skating. You do the math, the skeleton is pointless at this point. But Holly doesn't want to hear any of it. It kind of reminds me of an old front row I knew who would go after every opponent's conversion, even if we were down by forty points. So, Holly and Msaada have good runs and the competition is close but team Holly is behind. Holly does bitch about having to push their own starts, rather than the push they got in practice. Does anybody remember "...foreshadowing?" One the way up for the second run, the dot-com girls sarcastically tell Holly she's doing a good job. She explodes on the ride up and tries to punch out the camera. Holly pushes off and runs into the wall twice. She still has a pretty good run but she winds up one second short. James says "that's a girl, Holly." Holly starts throwing her gloves and helmet. James says "or not a girl." Holly says "this could have been so much fun, but they ruined it." Like, they competed hard and tried to out psych you? Holly cries. BMP is loving it.

BMP uses a technique they call "confessional," where each cast member has to talk alone in front of the camera about what's going on in their mind. In the Real World, there is a room set aside. On Road Rules, they just put them in front of some background. Several former cast members have said that they are prompted with subjects and questions in confessional. Holly has already been in confessional scenes four times in this episode, each time with a different hair style. How about that Princess Leah look?

Amazingly enough, it all comes down to the skating. Each skater goes once around the rink and tags off. Do you know those cheesy sports movies where an on sight announcer is supposedly doing color commentary? Well, we've got one here. Boy is it annoying. Road Rules goes with its three men first and they fall behind to the dot-com women. Theo pushes James's butt to get him started, but James was clearly not expecting it and almost falls. Our announcer tells us that James looks uncomfortable on skates. Brilliant insight. Katherine turns things around at number 4, Holly pushes to a bigger lead and dot-com Neel falls twice, so Msaada pulls off the win by just staying on her feet. Road Rules wins! Road Rules wins! Road Rules wins! Everybody is excited. Holly tells us it was all teamwork. $6,000 more to the piggy bank. All of this and the fall of dot-communism!

Next week; prank the Real World in New Orleans. Provo to New Orleans, nice drive. For two episodes, no obvious rugby sightings, such as shirts and balls. While they were in winter in Utah, you have to wonder whether BMP has pushed James to wear the Road Rules clothes sponsored by Route 66, available at K-Mart.

As the cast drives off in the Shasta, the dot-commers tell us that they tied something to the drive shaft to make a noise that they won't be able to figure out. The Shasta rattles and Holly gets out and looks under the hood. Theo asks "are you looking for some money in there?" Holly looks under the Shasta and Theo asks "did you lose some money under there?" As we fade to black, Holly snaps "what's with you and money, dude?" Oh, that's right, Holly is completely altruistic.

Episode 905
Original air date: July 10, 2000

First off, I apologize for how long it took me to put this week's re-cap together, but this episode was one of the most bizarre and disturbing half hours of television I have ever seen and I needed to see it twice to confirm what I saw the first time.

For some reason, MTV got away from running this episode three times per day, in favor of "Sysqo's Shakedown" and "Say What Kareoke." I did search the web for episode summaries and found, which gives hilarious, almost line by line, annotated summaries of each episode. I don't get that detailed and I apparently missed that James said it wasn't kosher for T to be trying to get into the pants of the dot-com girls. Several websites now refer to him as "Rabbi James," which is better than the original "dumb jock."

There is also an unofficial James site that basically contains the information released by MTV and BMP, but this is not a James praise site, it is a James worship site (I knew my radio getting stuck on a christian rock station would pay off one day). But enough of this, on to the disturbing episode!

We start with the K-Mart blue light announcing a visit from the Road Master. K-Mart, where you can purchase Route 66 clothing, as worn by the Road Rules crew. He talks about lying, stealing and cheating, and how Theo got caught with his pants down with the girl across the street. Details of Theo's story are on, but I didn't look them up because always crashes my computer. So this mission is lie, cheat and steal, and go to the Make a Wish Foundation.

We go to Make a Wish New Orleans. Parvo, I mean Provo to New Orleans is 1877 miles and takes 35 hours and 42 minutes to drive, according to Mapquest. You mean to tell me nothing happened in between? Perhaps that's why this is the Maximum Velocity Tour. In addition, the cast are all wearing gaudy huge Mardi Gras beads, so they either have been in New Orleans for awhile, or found a souvenir stand on the way in.

The DirecTV episode description says this is supposed to be power chuting and Theo rethinks his relationship with his girlfriend, which is clearly not the case. I'm guessing either MTV or BMP rearranged things, either to enhance some storyline or to keep this weird episode out of ratings month in August. In any event, BMP is not using a map to chart where the show has been this season.

At Make a Wish, we meet Mission Mayor Sloan, a fifteen year old cancer victim whose wish is to accompany Road Rules as they prank the Real World. So here are the rules: (1) take the Real World dog; (2) leave a box behind for Real World and don't open the box; (3) don't break in; (4) take Sloan along; (5) take pictures with Sloan, the dog and the cast in front of the wedding cake house and with Mike the Tiger at LSU; mail the pictures to the Real World from Baton Rouge by 8:00 p.m.; and (6) don't get caught. Now, when Road Master says "lie, steal, cheat and break the rules," does that includes Sloan's rules?

We then see James demonstrating how he and LT should just storm the mansion, throwing eggs and just take the dog. The guys think it would "totally work." Msaada tells us that they're boneheads and I have to agree. Katherine says they should offer to walk the dog. What the hell? What kind of alcohol induced, sleep deprived mind trip are these people on? Eventually they decide to use the cancer victim as a means of entry, leave a door open and get the Real Worlders out of the house. Then James and LT go in and get the dog and Katherine is the get away driver. I guess Holly just hangs out with Katherine. While Katherine is running this strategy session, there is a black and white photograph of an old man peering over her shoulder. Chilling. Is this the only camera angle they had? Then they start choosing aliases. Huh? Msaada is going to be Nia, but she dropped the idea of being a photographer from L.A. Theo chooses LeVar Thibodeoux, because it sounds cajun. And we need aliases, because?

Theo gives Sloan a tour of the Shasta. "This is where we eat, sleep and dookie." Dookie? On the ride to the mansion in the Garden District, Msaada and Sloan are seated at the table in the Shasta and Sloan is playing with the rugby ball. We find out that Sloan had cancer in the heal. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that this was bone cancer, but it comes out sounding as strange as everything else in this episode. And the cancer is in total remission. I could be wrong, but I always thought that Make a Wish tried to grant last wishes for kids about to die from cancer. Msaada then engages him about this wish. Then we find out that "when he heard of this, he thought it was a great idea." In other words, BMP sold Make a Wish on the idea, then found a cancer victim, or in this case survivor, to serve as the wishee. I wonder if Sloan had to submit a videotape?

We get to the Garden District and James and LT case out Belfort Mansion. James still wants to do the cavalry charge and says that the girls don't know what they're talking about. James, the cavalry charge was outlawed six years ago! LT is worried about getting caught, so James goes around a corner, down some other street, and pretends to throw-up on a Garden District front lawn. Holly and Katherine are in an alley and Holly says "we look like stalkers." At least stalkers with their own camera crew. They reconnoiter at the Shasta. James says he hopes its not a Lab, because then they couldn't steal it because it might get hurt throwing it over the fence. What the hell?

Sloan, Nia, LeVar Thibodeaux, Sloan's mom and the Make a Wish woman ring the doorbell. Matt . . . wait a second, I'd better describe Matt. . . . Matt is a non-drinking, Catholic, virgin, rapper wannabe, with non-matching bright clothes, spiked blond hair and orange sunglasses from rural suburban Atlanta. Anyway, Matt peeks through the door and says "who dat be?" He then steps back from the door, panicked, and says "its Make a Wish, what should we do?" O.K., two choices here. Either let them in, or pretend the doorbell didn't ring. Julie, the non-conformin' Mormon, lets them in. Make a Wish woman explains that this his Sloan and his mom and friends and Sloan's wish is to see the Real World house. Matt says that they don't generally give tours, so Sloan should consider himself lucky. This is more dialog out of Matt, other than judgmental confessionals, than during the whole Real World season thus far.

During the mansion tour, we learn the inside joke: Shorty, the dog, is a mechanical dog who weighs about five pounds, including charger. Shorty is lying lifeless on the pool table. Julie has apparently just killed Shorty by hitting him in the head with the eight ball. Given some of the other stuff in this episode, this detail almost seemed not worth mentioning. Sloan then convinces the Real World cast to take him to lunch. LeVar Thibodeaux says Sloan should be named General George Sloan Custer. Wow. LeVar then opens a back door. We then see Sloan sitting next to hot Kelly in the Yukon. She asks "what do you need more of, sex, drugs, rock and roll?" Sloan decides he needs more nudity. Meanwhile, Nia and LeVar Thibideaux circle back to let the Special Farces know its clear and where and what Shorty is. James and LT scale the back wall. Meanwhile at lunch, Julie is bitching because they were Sloan's second choice, after the Playboy Mansion.

Meanwhile in some totally out of left field juxtaposition, James holds Shorty under one arm and hold's up Julie's murder weapon and says "mission completed." Back at lunch, Fish-lipped Melissa is getting Sloan's phone number, address, favorite food . . . condom size. James and LT are in the back yard jumping over the fence. Now think about this. Total time to break into a mansion, steal a dog and leave; fifteen minutes. Total time to drive to and from and have lunch for twelve; one and one half to two hours. Yet, through the miracle of modern editing and double and triple screens, it looks like Matt is coming in through the front door while James and LT are struggling to get over the fence. And New Orleans is right around the corner from Provo. At the door, everybody is saying goodbye. Somebody asks LeVar Thibodeaux what his name is again, and he says "Theo." This gaff is repeated four times as it gets expanded to quadruple screen. Spoiler: this major breach of mission secrecy and violation of BMP secrecy policy plays no part in the outcome of the show.

Back at the Shasta, James says "we're in the clear. Well, not the clear, but the clea (pronounced kuh-ool-ee-ahh)." Back at Belfort Mansion, Matt is playing pool. In what had to be at the urging of a producer, he looks over at Shorty's house to discover he's missing. Rounding up absolutely no energy, Matt says "the dawg's gone." Matt and Leno-jaw Jaime open the box and play the CD-ROM left behind by James and LT. In the meantime, Shorty's at the wedding cake mansion, having his picture taken with his new friends. In the meantime, the Road Master says nothing, but lets us know that there will be further Real World, Road Rules challenges. In the meantime, Shorty and friends get to Mike the Tiger's cage. Back in the Big Easy, Melissa's on the phone saying "I don't want any part of any marathon-running, sweaty Road Rules bullcrap." In LSU, Mike refuses to get up for his photo op. In New Orleans, the Real World goes on their public access TV show and Matt says how much he misses Shorty. Like the part where you missed that he was missing?

Finally in Baton Rouge, one of the assistants to the Assistant Producer figures out that the human mascot Mike the Tiger is at an alumni baseball game and slips this information to Holly who gleefully announces this solution to the group. Picture taken, but wait, we need one with our butts to the camera. What the hell? So its in the Shasta and off to find a mailbox. We see a picture of Holly stuffing something into her mouth. After her punch-out with the camera, I predict a lot of unflattering pictures of Holly eating for the rest of the season. Sloan looks like he just wishes this whole day would end and he could get away from these nutty people.

Meanwhile at Belfort Mansion, the Make a Wish woman delivers gifts to the Real World. Kelly asks if those kids were with Road Rules. Make a Wish woman recites the Fifth Amendment. The Shasta pulls up to a mailbox and James and Sloan put their package in the mail. James accosts Sloan in celebration. Back at Belfort, Jaime is saying Sloan seemed like a nice guy. He wanted to get his number and have drinks. I won't even go there. Sloan hands out six coins for a mission completed. Theo refers to it as a "Sloanation." Sloan says goodbye, Katherine says she'll call when she gets back to New York. Apparently 15 year old cancer survivors are very sexy to the 19-23 year old female demographic. And this bizarrely concocted, bizarrely executed, bizarrely edited mess of a mission is mercifully over.

Next week, Road Rules is on the run from the law.

Finally, LeVar Thibideaux is back at Belfort and we see an overhead shot as he purportedly urinates in the toilet. What the hell ?

Episode 906
Original air date: July 17, 2000

BMP makes this episode all about a supposed developing relationship between Katherine and LT. LT and Katherine flirt; LT recites Walt Whitman; Katherine has a boyfriend named Reed who she wants to be faithful to, but tells "have a good time, what I don't know won't hurt me." I'm wondering where they left Casting Special Katherine who talked about thongs, duct tape and playing with boys. It all looks pretty contrived and I'm guessing you now know more about this than you want to. The only thing worthwhile about this 15 minutes of programming is that Katherine has adopted "LT" for Latterean. Adoption from the general public is a crucial element in the development of a rugby nickname. (Yes Wes, I expect a shameless link to the Rugby Nicknames article.)

The flashing blue light says, "Attention K-Mart shoppers, put on your Route 66 clothes, available exclusively at K-Mart, leave your Howard Johnson rooms (product placement #2) and see the Road Master in the Shasta (product placement #3). Harv Headroom talks about the terror of being on the run from the law, like JIM when he and his frat brothers stole the statue and ran all night, right JIM? I doubt this introduction of the diminutive is important, it's just kind of weird one third of the way into the show. Theo deduces that they're going to be in the circus. I'm just imagining "come on guys, I swear there's a go-go bar in this national park." They have to meet Butch at the Toccoa, Georgia city hall at 10:00. They abandon HoJos and go to a campground after some conversation about getting up at 6:30 to be there at 10:00.

When I was in college, the brothers in my fraternity would take on the pledges in water polo. The pledges had to defend the deep end, the brothers outnumbered the pledges two to one, the ref was a brother, and any pledge that got out of line faced repercussions down the road. It could not have been any more unfair. I'm glad that one of my sadistic brothers is now apparently a writer for BMP.

At 6:30, the sheriff's patrol surrounds the Shasta, officers knock on the door and tell everybody to be ready in five minutes. For some unknown reason, James is asleep on top of the Shasta. Should have kept your head down, dude. They're handcuffed and thrown in the back of a paddy wagon, then taken to a police training facility, where they're fingerprinted and mug shots are taken. They're given a small map, put in orange jump suits, put in three boy-girl teams, shackled and, for good measure, "hobbled." Here, hobbled means your legs are connected to your teammate with a zip-tie. All they have to do is have one team ring the bell in the bell tower within two hours of wandering through the woods of Georgia after a fifteen minute head start. Oh yeah, they're facing unlimited cops with walkie talkies, dogs, a helicopter, there are no leaves in the trees, there's a phalanx of cops at the bell tower and there's a cop with binoculars in the tower. Oh yeah, each team has a camera crew. The Eagles had more going for them against Ireland last month. By the way, the cops start at ten minutes.

Holly and James and LT and Katherine at least figure out to take off the hobbles, which means Theo and Msaada didn't. Holly falls and ames yells "we're going to die!" That's the extent of the chase drama. Holly and James get lost, but BMP's medical staff have upped Holly's Prozac so competitive psycho bitch is completely suppressed.

They're caught coming over a hill. Theo and Msaada see the tower and run for it. All I can think of is Pickett's charge and the high water mark on Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg. LT and Katherine are caught as Katherine is trying, much too late, to get LT's orange jumpsuit off. BMP sinks to new depths by trying to make this look suggestive. Theo mercifully declares the end to this "twisted game of Siamese hide and go seek from Hades." The mission mayor sings "I Fought the Law," but not the Bobby Fuller, Clash or Tom Petty version, more of a Neil Diamond version. Theo and LT discuss whether they each lost $1000 or the team lost $6000.

BMP gives us a bizarre Brady Bunch style wall of the cast discussing Katherine and LT hooking up, which leads to-next week, will Katherine and LT hook up and will Reed show up? Finally, Theo leads the crew in jailhouse blues in the holding cell and this episode is dust.

Episode 907
Original air date: July 24, 2000

O.K., I guess I've put this off as long as I could.

Observation No. 1: James may have been wearing a Cal rugby tee shirt in the last episode, but I'm still not sure. I'm not worried, MTV will show this until I figure it out.

LT and Kathryn go shopping in a mall for Valentines gifts for Reed. It sounds like the `friends' conversation is on its way. They wind up at Victoria's Secret and Kathryn is interested in a pink teddy. Later, LT offers to pay half for the Teddy if he can take pictures.

Observation No. 2: it's spelled Kathryn, with a Y. Late in this episode, LT is talking about how there are two Kathryns (yes, this should sound familiar), the one who is all sweet and Cornell and needs Reed, and the one who likes sex with a guy who works out six days a week and keeps his head shaved. I guess there's Kathryn, and her jockstrap chasing alter ego, Y. So, KY . . . and thus a nickname is born! And yes, this episode is all about LT & KY.

The gang is at some unknown restaurant at a table for twelve with six unknown people. Camera crew? KY whispers something to LT and they both get up and leave. Theo follows and knocks on the men's room door and is told to wait a minute. We see the other four waiting and KY & LT leave the bathroom looking confused. In triple screen the Shasta pulls away while LT & KY stand in the restaurant foyer. Unfortunately, they haven't been thrown off the Shasta and had their torches extinguished or been banished into boy band failure, so we see them later sitting in the Shasta, looking glum and not talking to each other.

KY is at Denny's (product placement # 1) with Msaada and Holly (remember them?) eating breakfast overlooking a USA Today honor box (product placement # 2). Then for some reason they're at a different table and Reed walks in. Msaada says "he's so short." Rocky Horror audience participation response: "how would you know Msaada?" Now the next scene was made to look like Holly and Msaada breaking in on LT & KY in a hotel room in the coming attractions, but was in fact them waking up James and LT to tell them that "Reed was here!" Holly looks smug and LT looks bummed.

Observation No. 3: this show used to be interesting in having the kids live on almost no money as they tried to figure out where they were going and did things like breaking into a hotel to use the shower. Now the product placements are so prevalent that it almost looks like a band on tour and it seems like they almost never have to really worry about details like money, where to stay and spending too much time cramped into the Shasta. Now we have no idea about details like where we are and how little money they have. I miss Kit from season one living for a week on $5, eating bean burritos and drinking water at Taco Bell. I guess Taco Bell decided not to be a sponsor. We do know that Reed is a Valentine's gift, but we see James wearing Mardi Gras beads, so we're post New Orleans, and Mardi Gras 2000 was late February. Somebody hand me an Advil.

But here's where it gets weird. KY and Reed get their own room in the non-product placed motel. Then KY takes Reed to meet LT in his room. Then KY has a sit down on some couch with LT and Reed in which she leads LT through this whole "if the parties say nothing happened, nothing happened, right?" examination that must be completely transparent to Reed. Theo walks into the middle of the conversation, but nobody notices because he's wearing a camouflage bucket hat. Observation No. 4: it may just be BMP editing, but LT seems genuinely to like KY. It is truly a refreshing departure from the BMP editing and casting standard of minority men being self-isolating, uninvolved "playas."

Then Reed and KY have someone take their pictures like they're going to a prom. I'll spare the stiff dinner details, but these two have negative passion. Cut to James and Theo playing a game in somebody's living room. Where are we? James ignores the what goes on tour stays on tour rule and tells Theo that stuff had happened between LT & KY. Theo then goes off to grill LT about what's going on between the two. LT eventually says he told KY he wouldn't do anything unless she made the move, and she made the move. Theo is now O.K. with LT because he was honest, as he folds up his portable bamboo torture kit. Next morning BMP calls LT to the motel lobby just in time to see the KY and Reed robots make their painfully stiff goodbyes. Then the whole blue light (subtle product placement)/Roadmaster thing goes on (but Reed is in the Shasta). The scene of the season thus far is Holly splayed across the Shasta couch while HH the R mumbles. She's laughing hysterically and making bunny ears with her fingers. Couldn't BMP catch on at this point that HH the R wasn't working and do something to save this mess? The clue is about controlling something bigger then them and the kids guess horses or cows. Theo lets us know that he's not Mr. Horse with no horses. But he apparently has been appointed Snoop Doggy Theo.

We go to some geographically unimportant house and meet the job mayors, a couple with toddler twins who don't get out much. Babysitting, its not a mission, it's a job. The kicker is we get six sets of toddler twins and the kids run like banshees trying to keep up with them for twenty four hours. Kids don't eat; James juggles bottles; kids stand in the tub; kids run away; kids don't sleep; James shows a set of twins how to be props to his hooker; kids need to be changed. All the while, KY is in the kitchen with a big knife, cutting food, yelling at Max to eat his spaghetti, and giving LT an absolute cold shoulder. The job climaxes with James finally getting the last kid to sleep and he collapses to the floor, muttering a final "dude" as he falls into a coma. KY is still cutting food with her machete. The toddlers are then miraculously picked up, all apparently still alive, and the crew gets $1100 in spending money. I did the math: $3.82 per hour per kid and $7.64 per hour per babysitter. I didn't add in a sharp object differential for KY. I wonder if the money is only good for sponsor products.

In some hotel room, KY does some strange monologue about putting the story of LT & KY on the front page of the paper, holding up a copy of USA Today and making up for the lost product placement from the earlier table move at Denny's. Snoop Doggy Theo then grills KY, who doesn't budge. Wait a second . . .

WHO CARES? . . .

? sorry, I had to get that out. Theo tells KY she's lying. KY goes crying to the phone and tells her mom she thinks she's coming home. What's gotten into Theo. Could it be . . . Satan? or BMP, which may be about the same thing. I hope its not, as I've read suggested, that he's hung up on an interracial relationship, as suggested in the casting special.

Next week, Theo grills LT & KY on what happened in the men's room, writes the rapidly losing interest writer as he puts this recap to sleep and he collapses to the floor, muttering a final "dude" as he falls into a coma. By the way, KY apparently knew that the men's room lock worked.

First, the final segment was Picabo's gas, then Theo urinating, tonight: the guys are playing with a mass of toddlers in the back yard. One of LT's charges needs to be changed, but LT believes changing can wait until after dinner. James says "yo dude, change him now. Would you want to eat spaghetti with a log in your shorts?"

Episode 908
Original air date: July 31, 2000

Yes, this episode is all about LT & KY.

There it is, the `friends' speech. KY can't be buddy-buddy with LT. Didn't I call it? Strangely, KY is defying chronology by wearing a Playboy Extreme Team tee shirt; an editing faux pax that will become apparent in six minutes. Anyway, KY goes into this whole spiel about how they were drunk and they screwed up. LT doesn't look convinced that HE screwed up.

Blue light . . . his Roadly Masterness . . . Holly acts goofy . . . BMP just doesn't seem to get it. And why is the blue light hanging by its wires? Anyway, our next mission is all about body image. Holly recites her problems with her body image. "Big feet, no t*ts and body hair." James imitates HH the R as he reads the e-mail directing them to Florida Atlantic University and repeats the stupid roadmaster catch phrase that I refuse to perpetuate.

Hey, it's a celebrity guest appearance! Previous Road Rules celebrities have included Chris the prop Farley and Tom I Married a Prop Arnold. This year we get, as a mission mayor, . . . Jim Bruer . . . you know, Goat Boy from SNL. James was last in the room and was apparently told to act excited because nobody else did. Star Jim introduces the competition, the Playboy Extreme Team. Their catch line follows: "we are former Playboy centerfolds who compete in extreme sports." We see video of some of these extreme sports that look like elephant walks and stream humping. I don't know how else to describe it. We meet the instructors who talk vaguely about a dance routine, hoping, I presume, to misdirect us into believing that some type of exotic dance is involved. But no, we get synchronized swimming.

Synchronized swimming? This is the Maximum Velocity tour?

Previous Road Rules seasons have had sky diving, bullfighting, bungee jumping, airplane wing walking, swamp buggies, dog sleds, water skiing, jet skis and a nudist colony. Well, there wasn't much speed at the nudist colony, but at least it was funny. Hot air balloons are slow. While falling would bring gravity into play, everybody was so cinched in it would never happen. Product surveys, poorly performed winter sports, dog thievery, trying to get away from omniscient police and babysitting? Call this the Maximum Viscosity tour because the ratings have to be quickly slipping away. And now synchronized swimming. Don't get me wrong; I recognize it as a sport that involves a lot of skill and practice. We won't see that here.

We do see a Playmate complain that her boobs won't fit in her suit. Her words, not mine. The guys get to wear Speedos. No rugby player should ever have to wear a Speedo. [This one never will. - Wes] Wait a second, BMP has recycled video of TyJuan teaching O-Town how to dance in Making the Band! I know that they're not beyond recycling video, but between two series? No, I'm sorry, its just synchronized swimming on dry land. But I wouldn't put it past BMP. The quick shots make it look like the Playmates are pros. Road Rules can't get along. KY tries to take charge and LT bangs his head on a blackboard. He complains that a whiny voiced girl with no athleticism is trying to direct his athleticism. James is wearing baby blue and white hooped rugby socks and Theo says "there's a lot of wrong goin' on." I don't think he was referring to the socks. James does a good job of getting LT's head back in the game, but he's concerned that they're about to be ambushed by Bunnies.

Back at the now product-placed Embassy Suites, KY and Holly are doing some weird arm wave while LT talks on the phone. KY and Holly are upset because they need to practice, but LT is pretty certain that any practice in their luxurious suite will be somehow lost tomorrow in nine feet of water. Thus begins the impeachment of KY, with Theo playing Kenneth Starr to James's Henry Hyde.

Speaking of stars, what's with the stars on everybody's cheek in confessional? It started with Theo, then Holly, then KY with the toddlers.

Everybody yells a lot. Theo jumps up and down saying "that's what I'm talking about." Holly says Theo is a gossip columnist.

In a side note, I found an article in the LSU paper from May of 1999, where Theo organized an eight member protest against the coach of the women's soccer team. Theo referred to the guy as a Hitler coach. Apparently, Theo thought women were being cut if they refused to take creatine. The soccer team was embarrassed and mortified . . . at Theo. Theo called off the protest when the A.D. agreed to meet with the soccer team. "Sancho, find me a windmill!"

"It's about sex!" "It's about honesty!" It's about five undecipherable minutes, with James looking sharp in his Cal 15 shirt with Reebok covered in black tape, but not the Reebok symbol. Since this all started with the need to practice, KY goes off to the Shasta and draws. She's then simultaneously on two pay phones with Reed and her mother. Now under Theo's prosecutorial power, she says "we had another drag down, knock out, Kumbaya session." While KY in extreme tee shirt draws, we see upset KY in sundress and together KY in blue top doing simultaneous confessionals about the situation. Super extreme, but still upset KY (S.E.B.S.U.K.Y.?) bursts into the suite wanting to know about dumped girlfriends and parents' divorces. Miraculously, everybody is sitting down and calmly discussing the situation. LT is upset that KY has made it look like he was the pursuer and that she was saying that they only kissed. Prosecutor Hyde, now bedecked in a Cal Varsity XV tee shirt with no Reebok logo, says "dude, tell her what you told me, dude!" The conversation goes on something like this:

KY: There was no f-ing, we only kissed.
James: are those the only choices? Kissing and f-ing?
KY: there was no oral sex.
BC: what is "is?" (actually this line didn't happen).
LT: your top was down, your skirt was up and my hands were at your panties.
KY: my bra was on.
LT: your bra was off.
KY: ok, yeah, my bra was off (giggle).
BMP: oh my, look at the time, we better resolve this.

Instant resolution: KY misbehaved and lied, LT forgives her, "stuffing? KY's staying." During this whole resolution process, everybody has goofy grins. I'm guessing that BMP got a clue and performed an intervention, either by unleashing a tank of nitrous oxide or breaking out the contract clause about everybody losing the handsome reward if a cast member leaves the show over sex.

James partially redeems himself for his over the top sexual prosecution by saying "bring on the bunnies." Before the season, MTV aired a five minute HH the R clip about how this season, the missions would be aimed at the fears of individual cast members. Now I get it.

In episode 901, James was talking with a buddy on the phone about how he thought he'd dominate, then they did the balloon walk. Penis enlargers, bad skating, dog stealing, getting caught by the police, babysitting and synchronized swimming are all about James not dominating. O.K., it doesn't make much sense, but hey, what does?

BMP pulls out all the editorial stops to make the performances look good; stop frame, several frame, time lapse, but sticking with the now forgotten SNL theme, it looks like Martin Short's synchronized swimming sketches. What's with the Theo chants? The judges laugh at the two inch lift of Msaada. One bunny yells kick ass kick ass kick ass after their routine. The guys take off their Speedos and wave them in the air before they get out of the pool. Scores up: Road Rules wins by 1.5 points. Everybody jumps in the pool except Holly, who does the Church Lady dance in honor of Jim Bruer who apparently left two days ago to attend a car show in North Dakota. Medals are awarded. KY apologizes to Theo, "who was right." (Insert your favorite 1964 presidential campaign phrase here).

Next week, powerchuting, on a treeless plain in heavy jackets. As the Moody Blues once said "where do we go from here?"

Finally KY is on the speaker phone in the Shasta with her dad and her mom who sounds suspiciously like the mom on the intro to Bloodhound Gang's 3.14. KY says she's better now. Mom actually says, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." And KY, when life gives you LIMES, buy Corona.

Episode 909
Original air date: August 7, 2000

Hey! This could actually be exciting!

The episode or segment is titled "My Louisiana," because Theo is from Louisiana. So BMP would have us believe that after the beeline from Parvo to the Big Easy, then Taccoa, Georgia to twinland to the Atlantic coast of Florida, we've now returned to St Charles, Louisiana. Actually, I don't think BMP wants us to believe anything. BMP just doesn't care. Theo sets up how his dad died at eighty six when Theo was sixteen. All of the men in the audience are going, "dad at seventy? Way to go big fella!" Theo tells us his mother had him emasculated, sorry, emancipated at fourteen. After some convincing, like "no, no, don't really twist my arm," Theo decides to show the guys the St Charles nightlife. Theo dances with a girl who is very interested . . . in developing her portfolio at BMP's expense.

We see Theo looking longingly at pictures of him and his girlfriend, Mandy. Only these pictures once again defy the continuing BMP time-space continuum because Theo is wearing a tee shirt from the radio station in Flagstaff and they are both wearing beads from Mardi Gras. Whatever, BMP.

Theo tells us that Mandy painted little messages on marbles for him. It's kind of like the candy hearts at Valentine's day. Msaada says that Mandy is "special." I don't know, Msaada, "special" is so over the top. I think what we're looking is obsessive-compulsive-obsessive-compulsive-obsessive-compulsive.

Theo is upset because he's been cheating. Only his mouth spasms and he actually says "smooching." That's right, a nineteen year old guy actually says "smooching."

Mandy shows up and Theo says that in the last few days, his world was Yahtzee, but now it's pinball. Really. We see Mandy upset because he didn't tell her everything, like about the water bra. Theo tells her "dude, I didn't think it was important." Yep, Theo calls his girlfriend "dude."

The light, firmly attached to the Shasta ceiling, starts flashing. MTV is now showing Route 66 ads with the cast. Somebody yells "it's the cops!" Holly is laughing again. Memo to BMP: IT ISN"T WORKING!!! HH the R tells us about KY's fear of flying, which Theo takes as an indication that they're going to join the circus or fly jets. I don't even have a comment for this. KY tells us she was on a plane that made a water landing, AKA crash, so she's afraid of airplanes. As the cast stands in the mission site, mission mayor Tim lands in a Powerchute, which is a flying go cart with a fan in back and a modern directional parachute playing the part of the wing. I want one. Theo calls mayor Tim "Tim from heaven." The idea is each cast member who flies earns a token and who ever makes the most points from dropping dye filled condoms on a target wins a special prize. BMP once again uses . . . foreshadowing, as Msaada wonders to herself what she would do with Mandy if she won her.

We see some gratuitous classroom work, but it's pretty obvious that Tim flies by the seat of his pants. KY points out that there wasn't even a chapter about landing (overrated). This segment being all about KY, she tells us that they're not supposed to fly with more than five mph of wind and its eight mph. James jokingly screams that "we're all going to die," but even though he's not hooking up with the new mellow Holly, he's obviously sharing her Valium because that whole fear of heights thing is O.V.E.R. Tim and the flier can talk over a two way radio and Tim tells us that he never lost contact with anyone . . . foreshadowing. . . . James goes first and they can't even talk on the ground. Tim says to watch out for the power lines. Nice risk management there, Timbo. James does his two turns, drops his condoms and scores eighty points. He tells us the wind was making him its bitch. KY wonders what it would do to her (insert your own cheap line here!).

LT goes up and scores eighty while Theo lies on the bulls eye. KY is about to urinate. Does that count if she hits the target? She can't hear Tim on the ground. She goes up and there's no communication. She starts waiving and the Shasta McBuddies say "oh look, she's waiving," and waive back. Since she's going to die anyway, KY makes her two bombing runs, scoring eighty points, and miraculously lands. She tells us that she remembered that she had to land into the wind, or she'd be drug like an enema. I swear that's what she said.

Now if you ran a Powerchute school and almost had a mini-Hindenburg disaster, who would you let direct Holly through her flight? That's right, Theo. On the walkie-talkie. Telling Holly how to fly. Maybe this was set up by the bitter, bloodied cameraman from the winter games. Surprisingly, it's sunny, there's no wind and nobody is wearing a jacket. I smell a BMP editing trick. Like the last three went first, or possibly on another day, but everything is so lighthearted now, you'd think the whole KY thing never happened, just like the cheap, steamy affair with LT. Oh, right, that hasn't happened yet. Holly scores 40. Msaada kicks butt by hitting two bullseyes for 200. James and LT say "wassssup?" to flying Theo over the radio, but I'll cut them a break because this was filmed months ago. Theo mumbles something about how bad the team score is (no, you shouldn't remember a team score) and starts bombing people on the ground. One splashes all over Holly"s face and the other gets some random Powerchute people. When he lands, KY tells Theo he should join the Air Force, but they cut off the part where she said "today, before Holly and Msaada kill you." I can just see the new recruiting slogan: "we're looking for a few good incomprehensible cowboys who don't follow rules." Actually, that's a couple of rugby teams I played on.

The cast collects six coins and Msaada gets her trophy, a piece of plexiglas jammed into a board. It probably gets stuffed into the Shasta's oven (you don't think they're cooking, do you?) along with Shorty and the piggy bank who have been absent for five episodes. Theo goes to visit his brother, Zef, who has been in judicially ordered alcohol rehab for eight months and nobody has visited him. Eight months of rehab? That's harsh. Zef apparently misunderstood what show Theo was on and dressed like a lawyer in "Inherit the Wind." First rule of television, do not wear a white shirt. They talk without much communication, but Theo is going to `Bama because Mandy is going there.

Theo and Mandy are in some big isolated house, as opposed to the earlier high rise. We see a lot of scenes of them cuddling, kissing and talking. They have a level of passion that presents a sharp contrast to plastic Reed and KY. On the "smooching" front, Theo says he has to climb a "big mountain of trust." Theo tells Mandy he wants to have four or six kids, obviously because he is petrified of families made up of prime numbers. Mandy looks petrified at the thought that she might be responsible for bearing Theo's spawn.

Next week: parents on stage and convincing parents to bungee jump. Theo, the linguistic houdini, tells his mom "I think it will be alright." Finally, Theo and Mandy on the high rise porch. Theo analogizes life to a jack in the box, because you turn the crank and never know what you're going to get. I'm thinking brain injury affecting short term memory, `cause mostly jack in the boxes have the same guy inside every time. Wait! when KY said "Air Force," it was a euphemism for Junior Birdsmen!

Episode 910
Original air date: August 14, 2000

I think the show originally opened with HH the R saying something about getting to know them and Holly and James mocking him, but this apparently got cut when MTV ran the reruns back to back.

Did you know that Theo was emaciated . . . sorry, emancipated by his mother when he was fourteen? BMP does not want us to forget this. Theo tells us that he was into drugs and running around, so he was invited to back over the welcome mat. Then he says something about ducks in a row in headlights. While Theo is at the Shasta table having this conversation with Msaada, KY is sitting on the console, having a conversation on the speaker phone about another bottle of vodka. I agree, KY.

So the geographic corkscrew through the southeast that is BMP editing takes us to Emory University. Atlanta. Georgia. Besides, Theo had on an Emory sweatshirt in the synchronized swimming episode. The kids come running through an auditorium up to a stage where they are greeted by a smarmy local DJ. And there are six empty seats, so we meet the partners, their parents. The game is called "the Parent Trap." Think "Newlywed Game" with parents.

Now there is apparently some elaborate scoring system that leads to Roadmaster points, but BMP doesn't bother to let us in so I'll just stick with "highlights." KY realizes that this is why the sneaky producers wanted to know about things their parents wouldn't know about them. Holly's nickname as a kid was Holly Ho Ho. James couldn't just take fish off a hook, but had to whack them over the head with a stick, thus his nickname was Whacker. Heh heh, James's mother said "Whacker." Msaada's dad guesses she first "made whoopee" at twenty one. Sorry Leslie, wrong by three. Msaada is real concerned because the others don't have to deal with the reverend Mohammed. Theo's mom doesn't know him. Ho Ho's mom nails the first sex question, Whacker's mom is close, LT's mom overestimates. LT tells us he hides his wild side from his mom. His mom tells us she just wants to be proud of him. If by "proud" you mean almost nailing the blonde chick in the men's room . . . oh, nevermind. Theo's mom underestimates by three, apparently just choosing the median age in her Bayou. Apparently Theo's mom doesn't know him. Do you get the impression that Theo's mom doesn't know him?

My best guess is that they get four of six Roadmaster points, but who knows? Now, one more challenge, at a different location. Unfortunately, the DJ fails to pull a Jim Bruer and we're stuck with him for the full episode.

Anyway, it's a crane, it's bungee jumping, it's attached to you and your parent. Theo's mom ain't diggin' this. She gets "nauseated and passes out at the top of a six foot ladder, so these are concerns." It's good to know the apples don't bungee far from the tree. Well, each parent is worth a grand; Leslie hopes it will go toward Msaada's phone bill.

Oh, it's Whacker's MOM that's afraid of heights! She does go through with it, reluctantly. Why is Whacker wearing a Msaada name tag? Whacker practically grabs her by the collar and pulls her off of the platform. Afterwards, Whacker is glad he could be the strong one for his mother and she says this is a unique memory of something shared with her son. It's actually kind of sweet.

Theo's mom has a slipped disc.

KY's mom is afraid because she leaks. Yuck. KY, why'd you have to say that? BMP, why did you edit it in? KY's mom jumps anyway. Theo's mom has a slipped disc.

LT, Msaada and Ho Ho all jump without incident. In fact, it looks like Ho Ho and Ho Ho Ma have done this before.

Theo's mom has a slipped disc. Theo says it should be cool. Strangely, Theo does not call his mother "dude." Bungee guy says there isn't much jerk. His lawyer then mumbles that each individual must assess their own medical condition. BMP decides enough drama, they jump and Theo's mom wants to do it again.

Ten coins, still no pig, and the parents get a parting gift; framed pictures of their spawn. Way to splurge, BMP.

Whacker and Theo go to dinner with their moms. Theo's mom looks confused because there's no nutria on the menu. Theo and mom hug goodbye. Theo thinks they've taken a big step.

Next week: does Whacker have a silver spoon up his ass? Also, monster trucks, an annoying announcer saying "that's gotta hurt" and making like salmon on a greased incline.

Finally, parting shots of cast and parent. KY says her mom wants a senior citizen Road Rules. KY, she's only grey from raising you. Ho Ho Ma says she loves Ho Ho anyway. Ho Ho convulses in a strange combination of the Roadmaster reaction and the church lady dance and says that's her mom's favorite line. Msaada's dad says he's a christian it's all about salvation, but if you're watching this, you're probably lost already. Msaada bursts out laughing and takes a lap. Too true, Leslie, too true.

Episode 911
Original air date: August 21, 2000

Previously on Road Rules: we see a scene of Whacker, screaming about losing challenges and walking away with the consolation prize. Only they haven't lost a "challenge," as opposed to a mission or job, yet. And this scene was never previously on Road Rules. In fact, he's wearing the Cal Rugby shirt with electric tape from the synchronized swimming/impeachment of KY episode and it's the same hotel design and table and truly frazzled look. BMP, repeat after me: "creative is not necessarily better." Say it dammit!

So lace up your boots and cinch down your scrum cap, `cause this episode is all about Whacker. And when BMP says "all about," they mean that his rugby competitiveness is about to be fed through the ringer in the hope that he'll be a babbling puddle of jello in twenty two minutes.

We open with Whacker and Theo, sitting at the Shasta table across from each other. They're wearing goofy winter hats, perhaps from the winter sports challenge, and appear to be drinking beers. In fact, in the Mandy plot line, this was the scene before Mandy accused Theo of drinking. Msaada is beside them with the product placed ibook in her lap. She's asking questions in some game with no particular purpose. KY's driving and Ho Ho's in the over cab bunk. We see snow covered scenery that looks like the midwestern plains at the base of the Rocky Mountains or possibly the southwest. Oh well, so much for my teseract theory. And continuity. And honesty.

Msaada asks who invented the light bulb. Theo says "Benny Frank." Whacker answers "Thomas Edison." Msaada asks for the title of two Garth Brooks albums. Garth Brooks, isn't he like over yet? And what about that "alter ego" album? Oh, wait, that's right, this is the Maximum Alter Ego tour, so I guess it fits in. Whacker guesses something that I just don't care about and, "oh, wait, Garth Brooks Live." Ho Ho points out that it's Garth Brooks Double Live and Whacker threatens to double kick her ass. Another scene of Ho Ho eating (sorry, I keep forgetting to keep track) and Theo says James is a kid. Umh, Theo? Take a reality check, please. Then Theo and Whacker clown around and speak incomprehensibly. Designed, I'm sure, to show that they're drunk. Ho Ho, the moveable feast (yes, all entendres intended), is now in the shotgun seat trying to find where they are on a map. KY tells Whacker he has a silver spoon up his ass. Whacker counters about how that's strange coming from miss Pi Beta Phi. Pi Phis, the "good" girls you could take home to mother. Suddenly, I'm transported back twenty years and hear the Pi Phi song. That's song as in screamed chant:

Pi Phi, Beta Phi
P-I, P-H, I, Pi Phi
me for Pi, for Beta Phi
for I just love
Pi Beta Phi

Yet somehow, I now understand KY.

Talking head Whacker goes "phew." Deep.

Now Whacker is driving. I hope its not the same night. Please BMP, tell us you exercised some risk management here. Ho Ho talks about how he's been driving a long time, it's late and he's irritable. Ho Ho wants to stop at a RV park and lists attributes: pool table, air hockey, etc. Whacker doesn't like the bed in the Shasta and wants to spring for another motel. There, don't blink, it's the token road money argument for the season. Thank you for listening, BMP. Then Whacker and Ho Ho argue some more. Saved by the blue light! HH the R sings a song about crashing and falling in love. Ho Ho looks on in, well, I don't know, I guess it's just a goofy look. Maybe MTV will cut more Roadmaster out of the reruns. Now go to Augusta. I think we're still talking Georgia, but in the world that is BMP, Maine would somehow make more sense.

So its Whacker and Theo in the Shasta, definitely drunk. Whacker goes on about the cramped quarters and not getting along with the girls and how at home he could just go home. Then he pulls some of the cheesy "techno-effect" stickers off of the Shasta wall, revealing cheap white vinyl paneling. Whacker says if it wasn't for the money and the challenges, he'd just go home. For a second I'm thinking "Yes! No more episodes to summarize!" Then he crawls up to sleep on the roof of the Shasta, because it's so much more comfortable than the bubble wrap bed in the Shasta.

We arrive at some arena and a big fat bald guy in leather and chains, carrying a skull gets out of a car and enters the arena. Inside the arena, the WWF monster truck drives around. Apparently, WWF didn't purchase the platinum sponsorship, because we only see the letters a couple of times and there isn't a tie-in made during the show. We also never see skull guy again. But we do meet mayor Calvin. Calvin puts the G.O.B. in good old boy. He has a gut that would make any two old boy props proud, nicely framed with suspenders. What's with suspenders in the deep south? Calvin introduces the cast to a monster truck and tells them they will be driving trucks and competing. This next part is important. Whacker asks if they'll need to be trained. Calvin says "it's just gas and brake."

The competition: the Georgia Greeks. It turns out that they're three Theta Chis and three Theta Chi little sisters. Uh-oh, two college flashbacks in one episode. Theta Chi? OX sux. all right, I'm back. I guess OX wouldn't pay the placement fee to be an "official" Road Rules team. Ho Ho says "they're a bunch of debutantes," which I find kind of funny, but I can't explain why. Whacker says he's in his element with interfraternity competition. Hey, don't get cocky, or BMP will beat you into submission like a rented scrumhalf.

Event one: relay race. Half of each team pushes a 300 pound monster truck tire across the arena, possibly with Msaada, who is about to puke, inside. The other half runs through a bunch of tires, like for football practice. Then you climb over a greased ramp and somebody has to push a monster truck over a line. Don't shoot me, I'm only the messenger. I looked for a better explanation in some recap sites, but there is none. Pushing the tire and truck are a lot like rucking, the Road Rulers build a human bridge up the ramp, one of the OX girls is stuck, then OX wins for 100 points. Yes, it's just that hard to follow.

In the back, Whacker works to get the troops up. Next event, KY in a mini-truck, trying to knock over flags. KY gets stuck on a flag and Whacker pulls her loose. She takes out eight to OX's six for fifty points. Theo wins a mini-truck drag race to tie the score at 100. Calvin then pulls out a full sized Jeep and pick up truck for monster truck moguls. The OX in the Jeep never gets out of first gear and circles the track at an astonishing three miles per hour. The crowd boos. The OX says he was embarrassed to be booed by 10,000 people.

Dude, just because the arena holds 10,000 doesn't mean 10,000 people were there. If there were, 9,000 of them were disguised as empty seats. Whacker takes the truck and attacks the course. The truck bounces up and down the moguls. The stupid announcer from the winter games says "that has to hurt." When we get back from commercial, we see Whacker is the winner, pending review. Whacker tells us that "Fat Calvin" (and I laugh) is pissed because he broke the truck. A bunch of guys are frantically looking at the front end of the truck. Somebody yells "somebody's going to pay for this!" Another guy does a Sean Penn to the camera. Dude, don't attack the camera unless you want unflattering shots of you eating broadcast and rebroadcast for the rest of your life!

Calvin bitches at Whacker for not treating the truck with respect and declares the OX the winner of the race and the challenge. I'm thinking the monster truck boys took their trucks and went home, hence no events for LT, Msaada and Ho Ho. Much to their credit, the OX stand up to Calvin and tell him that there was no training or instruction on driving the trucks. Flash back to "just gas and brake." Much to her credit, Ho Ho yells at Calvin about driving trucks over rougher conditions and much harder and they didn't break. But Calvin can't be swayed, mainly because monster truck competition without trucks is just kind of stupid, like the obstacle relay from five minutes ago. The OX sing incomprehensibly; medals are awarded in a bogus little ceremony; Whacker sits on a mogul staring at his medal. His voice-over tells us that he was surprised and glad that Ho Ho stood up for him. He then hands his medal to a kid in the stands.

Lesson, James: sometimes you'll come up against home cooking. When you get to club rugby, there'll be refs who call your team offsides twenty times in a match and never call your opponents for the same thing. I think Fat Calvin didn't want to see that money being wrested from the hands of a bunch of fine Georgia kids and going to California. Blame the BMP lawyers for giving him the room to do it. Blame the BMP producers for hanging you out to dry, then using the event to make you look bad. But keep going.

Next week: Key West and free diving. Theo blacks out. Finally, Theo has Ho Ho caught in a revolving door and is hawking her like an animal at the zoo. "Don't feed the Holly." "Hollys wear jackets and drink coffee." Msaada's laughing so hard, she almost does a KY.

[Editor's note: I did a search through the annoying maze of sloppy graphics and purposeless links that is the MTV website for the image of James you see above. I got tired of trying to make sense of the variations of this wretched show "New Orleans!" "Maximum Velocity Tour!" (maybe somebody is going to blast the cast out of a cannon, perhaps?) "Semester at Sea!", etc. I also don't care whether or not they resolve their self-absorbed "issues." Yes, I realize I sound like a real curmudgeon here but the way I see it, you people owe Tom and me. - Wes]

Doug Hamilton has this about Road Rules James:

Just some info on Jim Orlando, the rugger on MTV's pseudo real life drama.

He was a member of the Jesuit High School Rugby Club in its inaugural season ('97) and the following year as well. He also was the goalkeeper on the school's '97 section championship soccer team. He played fullback on the rugby squad. He graduated in '98 and went on to Cal. I don't think he has had much of a presence on the Cal team, in fact he reportedly took this season off for the production of "Road Rules."

Perhaps you recall an article in Rugby magazine about two years ago about Pacific Islander rugby club in Sacramento, featuring a game between Burbank, the Islander team, and Jesuit. Jim gave his all for the team that game, suffering a concussion on a late hit early in the game. Jesuit lost to Lamorinda later that year in the Northern California RFU HS semifinals. I suspect the concussion took its toll on Jim as he missed a kick or two that might have turned the game in Jesuit's favor. Since he graduated in '98, he missed the national championship year and the "Biggest upset in US high school rugby history," their victory over Highland of Salt Lake City to whom you have devoted some space.

For another site, look at I'm obviously touting the Jesuit team. My son was the loosehead on the '98 and championship '99 teams.

'Road Rules' behind him, local man to go on journey for good

By Diana Griego Erwin (June 7, 2001)

Where would you look if you were an MTV fan trying to find James, the adventurous young man with the good-guy, ultra-competitive persona from last season's "Road Rules" show? Somewhere walking a plank between two hot-air balloons 2,000 feet in the air? Bungee jumping? Piloting a fighter jet?

Beginning June 20, James will jump on a bike and start pedaling across America with another ex-Road Ruler, 24-year-old Emily Bailey. Expect crowds. The two are quasi-celebrities among MTV devotees. The word's not yet out, but this summer, viewers who followed their adventures on the reality-based show can meet them as they cycle through countless American towns. The route begins in Williamsburg, Va., and ends in Florence, Ore.

Why, then, have there been numerous sightings of MTV's James in Sacramento this week?

That's easy, silly. Around here, James is better known as Jim Orlando, UC Berkeley student/rugby player and Jesuit High School alumnus. His father, Marcos Orlando, lives in Land Park. His mother, Rosemary Egan-Orlando, lives in Loomis.

In other words, he's a hometown boy. Never mind that Abercrombie & Fitch ad...

The fuss is all a little embarrassing to Orlando, who never wanted to be a model, veejay, TV personality or anything else having to do with the entertainment or fashion industry.

The only reason he showed up at the audition was because he went with a friend who didn't want to audition alone. He was pretty darn surprised, then, when he was the one who made it through the arduous selection process. Being on the show meant a semester leave from Berkeley. His dad made him promise he wouldn't get stars in his eyes and give up his rugby scholarship. Dad needn't have bothered.

Despite the fun Orlando had doing the popular show and a sequel, the high-profile opportunities lacked what it takes to rock Orlando's world. Ditto for the TV commercial and an Abercrombie & Fitch modeling gig that followed. What rocks: new experiences and helping people.

"To tell you the truth, it was a good time, but not really gratifying," said Orlando, who wants to work in a Third World country after college. "Serving plates of hot slop at Loaves & Fishes, now that's gratifying. There's something wholesome about it. I like that feeling more. It's great to see yourself on TV, but it's not me."

So he and Emily thought they'd turn their "fading notoriety" into something useful. Both had relatives and/or friends who'd succumbed to breast cancer. They decided on an 80-day, 50-to-60-mile-a-day ride across America, even though neither are cyclists. An alliance with the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation was formed.

So here they are, sans the motor home, about to embark on a new road trip, this one by bicycle. The message: early detection.

With the target audience of MTV's shows being 13 years to 35 years old, James and Emily see their 15 minutes of fame as an icebreaker to talk about breast cancer with a young group that thinks it will never happen to them. They also hope to raise $10,000 for local Komen affiliates.

Information about their whereabouts as they journey across the Appalachian Mountains, through the Midwest and over the northern Rockies to the Oregon coast will be online later this month in the Road Rules section of the site

For Orlando, it's a chance to give back. "When I was on the show, I felt like just the luckiest guy in the world. Those are once-in-a-lifetime experiences. But what's really important is what you do for others."

For a guy who thrives on new experiences, it also has the potential to be an even tougher test. The open road. No tech crews to come to the rescue. If his tire goes flat, he's on his own.

Orlando smiles. That's just the way he likes it.