I. BEST OVERALL SHOW:
1. The Amazing Race (CBS). Funny contestants, lots of international
footage, great production values, disliked villains, an exciting finish, and capable but surprising
winners. The only drawbacks were the surly (or confused) taxi drivers and the interminable bunching up as teams waited for closed sites to open.
2. Bands on the Run (VH1). Four groups were winnowed down to a single winner through non-stop touring and rewarded with a record contract. We saw it all: the touring, the groupies (and the sex addicts, like Dominic from Flickerstick), the bickering, and the tensions that pull most up-and-coming bands apart long before they make it big.
3. Big Brother 2 (CBS). The “fan voting” to oust residents from the house was gone; in its place came an exciting “Head of Household” format that helped produce the biggest rehabilitation by a winner in the history of reality TV. This was also the only show where the extra features on the Web were truly worth it, providing fans with glimpses of such aberrations as Justin pulling a knife as part of foreplay and Shannon scrubbing the toilets with Hardy’s toothbrush and then putting it back for him to use.
4. Eco-Challenge (USA). The king of physical endurance competitions, combined with a look at the suffering and battles that the teams go through on their way to the finish. No show does a better job of pushing people beyond their limits while making the competition exciting. In 2001, two Eco-Challenges aired (Borneo, also called “Sabah 2000,” and the special “Armed Services: Alaska 2001” edition); both are included in this nomination.
5. Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). The second outing of “Survivor” featured an above-average dose of scheming along with an above-average dose of disaster, both man-made and natural. To the surprise of most viewers, Jerri did not turn out to be the most dangerous creature in the Outback, and Mother Nature was the real winner.
II. WORST OVERALL SHOW:
1. Boot Camp (Fox). First, we’ll shave everyone’s heads so you can’t tell ‘em apart. Then we’ll have them engage in a series of humiliating competitions while harassed by hectoring drill sergeants. And we’ll rip off so much of “Survivor” that CBS will sue us. And let’s get contestants whose fondest dream it is to actually make it through a U.S. Army boot camp!
2. Chains of Love (NBC). Here’s a great idea: let’s combine bondage and dating. Hey, it ALMOST worked in Europe!
3. Lost (NBC). We’ll strand people in some of the poorest places on earth with no money and make them beg for food and transportation from the locals, even though they’ll have these camera crews filming them 24/7. The footage of poor people willing to share their meager belongings with greedy Westerners will be heartwarming, won’t it?
4. The Mole (ABC). Look, the only person anyone is interested in is The Mole, so why waste time developing the characters of these other contestants? And who cares about continuity? We’ve got a wonderful host and a great mole; people will tune in just to see that.
5. Murder in Small Town X (Fox). This will be just like those murder mystery weekends that people pay to attend. We’ll make it so confusing that even the contestants won’t be able to figure it out, which means viewers at home will have their heads spinning. But viewers will still watch no matter how bad it is – they watched “Murder, She Wrote,” didn’t they?
III. FAVORITE CONTESTANT:
1. Ethan, Survivor: Africa (CBS). Richard Hatch may have thought that nice guys finish last in “Survivor,” and even Mark Burnett had written that being nice and honest wouldn’t pay off, but Ethan disregarded their advice and proved to be the first winner who was also the people’s choice. “Jesus has risen, he walks amongst us, and he plays Survivor” – Brandon.
2. Jeff V, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS) and Cannonball Run 2001 (USA). Jeff managed to enliven two shows this year with his wry comments and practical jokes. No surprise that both shows featured him for as long as he lasted. He may not have won either show, but no one had more fun.
3. Kevin, The Amazing Race (CBS). Despite a haircut borrowed from Uncle Fester of the Addams Family, Kevin and Drew proved to be star attractions. Even when they were saying things that should have made them seem like Ugly Americans, they were so funny that you couldn’t help but laugh. In defeat, they stole the show. Kevin, who seemed to be the more intellectual of the pair, also got off most of the best lines.
4. Michael, Love Cruise (Fox). The self-proclaimed “chessmaster” used his quick wit and general charm to prove that looks alone weren’t going to be enough to win this show, despite its cruise ship origins. The champion flame-thrower proved to have a funny and charming side as well.
5. Will, Big Brother 2 (CBS). As part of ChillTown, Will led the Internet hate lists early in the show. But, after all of his buddies were voted off, he skillfully manipulated the remaining contestants, while telling them to their faces (and telling the camera) that he was lying to them. His chutzpah and humor changed his entire image, so that the overwhelming majority of the audience was rooting for him at the end.
IV. LEAST FAVORITE CONTESTANT
1. Andy, Temptation Island (Fox). They didn’t call him “Pansy Andy” for nothing. Even the women who were supposed to try to seduce him didn’t like him.
2. Jerri, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). To know her is to dislike her. “Yes, I lied, but I lied to Jerri so that’s alright” – Colby. “I didn’t come here to be pushed around by a bartender-wannabe actress.” – Keith.
3. Julie, Real World/Road Rules Challenge (MTV). Apparently her outspoken Mormonism didn’t create enough controversy on “Real World New Orleans,” so Julie came back intent on proving that Brigham Young University shouldn’t have questioned her dedication to the faith. In so doing, she succeeded in offending everyone even more the second time around.
4. Nicole, Big Brother 2 (CBS). Proving that first impressions are sometimes the most accurate, viewers of “BB2” immediately pegged Nicole as being so phony that she would be the person the others would most like to face in the final vote … and that’s just how it worked out.
5. Toni, Love Cruise (Fox). Let’s see … double-crossing her alliance, trying to bribe another contestant, sleeping with anything wearing pants, having an outrageously-inflated bosom, and instigating the bug-eyed beach fight. Some people thought that Toni might be the real-life incarnation of Rosemary’s Baby.
V. BEST VILLAIN
1. Jerri, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Two words: Beef Jerky. Even someone as upbeat and positive as Elisabeth immediately disliked Jerri. One Web site used the “Hallelujah Chorus” as the theme for the episode of her boot. At the end, when both Colby and Tina needed her vote, she all but begged them to tell her that they were sorry about having booted her, but they wouldn’t, and most of America loved it.
2. Lex, Survivor: Africa (CBS). Lex’s infamous gut instincts led him on a witch hunt that almost cost Old Boran certain victory. The ultimate irony of the show was that he got booted when his gut betrayed him during an endurance challenge. Plus, he looked like a model for a tattoo parlor.
3. Recruit Wolf, Boot Camp (Fox). His scheming and manipulations throughout the endgame left viewers cheering when he lost the final showdown after building a 6-1 lead in the challenges, because ALL SIX of the booted contestants voted against him. Even though the video showed that Wolf wasn’t the most to blame for the “lost straps” (Moretty was), everyone WANTED to blame Wolf, and so they did.
4. Team Guido, The Amazing Race (CBS). Seeing Joe and Bill misbehave in airports to slow the other teams down horrified viewers, who saw this show after Sept. 11. As if they weren’t already disliked for their behavior, their egos and their matching outfits, they hung on by edging past the two most popular teams, Nancy and Emily (via disqualification) and Kevin and Drew (after apparently skirting the rules in a “disgusting food” challenge).
5. Will, Big Brother 2 (CBS). From the very first episode of the show, Will plotted and schemed against everyone and lied continually. He established himself as the ultimate dishonest contestant, and everyone who allied with him ended up being betrayed. “At this moment … I may be the biggest liar in the entire state of California, maybe even the whole United States.” – Will.
VI. BEST SUPPORTING CRONY
1. Amber, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Jerri, me too! Me too, Jerri! Amber’s inability to think for herself and willingness to go along unthinkingly with all of Jerri’s schemes cost her a million bucks.
2. Andrea, Love Cruise (Fox). Toni, me too! Me too, Toni! Why anyone other than a plastic surgeon would want to become Toni’s bosom buddy is still a mystery, but Andrea chose to play that role, right up to the vote for Gina and Adrian in the finals.
3. Lenny, The Amazing Race (CBS). Lennnnnnnnny! I’m dis-uh-pointed in you for not pulling Karyn through to victory. Uh, perhaps those three trips up the Eiffel Tower and the “side trip” to Notre Dame started things off on the wrong foot?
4. Mike, Big Brother 2 (CBS). Mike Boogie sacrificed himself for Dr. Will and ChillTown, or at least that’s what he thought. But even Krista couldn’t put up with him (or his rapping) for very long.
5. Mitchell, Survivor:The Australian Outback (CBS). Another one of Jerri’s henchmen, and so securely in her pocket that he turned down every proposal that Colby and Tina made to save Keith. So they had to vote him out instead.
VII. BEST GAME STRATEGY
1. Colby and Tina, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). These two formed an alliance on the very first day and then kept their distance. Colby offered himself as a “sacrifice” at the merge, successfully fooling Kucha into believing that, as the leader of Ogakor, he would have to have previous votes that would work against him in a tiebreaker. And then they voted off Jerri before she had a chance to figure out she was even targeted, while Colby kept Amber from defecting. They earned their place as the final two.
2. Hip Hop & Pop, Cannonball Run 2001 (USA). How do you use strategy in a car race with speeding prohibited? By minimizing your restroom stops thanks to the use of a handy container. Oh, and by taking the long way around to reach Las Vegas, on the theory that the short way (over Hoover Dam) would be jammed with traffic. Finally, by remembering that it didn’t do any good to win the rickshaw sprint if you didn’t have any energy left for the draining run across the sand that followed it … something that Third Wheel forgot in the mad dash to the finish. And they did all of this despite the fact that they were subjected to a harrowing search at gunpoint for over 20 minutes by Southern cops apparently upset that black people were driving through their state.
3. Jim and Steve, The Mole (ABC). First step, forming a completely secret alliance. Second step, figuring out that Kathryn was the mole. Third step, keeping their knowledge a secret from everyone except Kathryn. Fourth step, misleading the others into thinking that one of them was the mole. Again, it all worked perfectly.
4. Melissa and Michael, Love Cruise (Fox). Originally part of a shaky four-person alliance with Ralph and Toni, these two survived even though their original alliance didn’t, when Michael played the masterstroke of swapping off Andrea to bring back Jeanette, who teamed with Melissa among the women, while Melissa’s partner Darin took over as Michael’s support among the men. Building a successful alliance is hard enough, but overcoming the crumbling of that alliance is unprecedented.
5. Will, Big Brother 2 (CBS). The best example of how a creative thinker can overcome a disaster. Will’s original partners in ChillTown became the most-hated group in the house and were booted off in succession. Somehow Will was left as the last remaining member of ChillTown and continued to lie to everyone … which didn’t stop him from persuading Hardy and Nicole that he could tip the balance of power on their behalf. Suckers!
VIII. WORST GAME STRATEGY
1. Amber, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). After Jerri was voted off, Amber held the balance of power between Kucha and Ogakor. It was obvious that the ruling bloc would vote her off before the final five, so she had every reason to exploit her power. Instead, she made no effort at all to save herself; she sat around meekly, waiting to be booted.
2. Brandon, Survivor: Africa (CBS). First, Brandon was part of the Samburu old-versus-young split that put them behind at the merge. However, due to Lex’s gut malfunction, Kelly was about to switch sides to vote with Samburu, giving them a winning edge to the end as long as none of their members defected. But Brandon DID defect, to vote with Boran, putting Samburu back in a hole. He thought this guaranteed his place in the final four. Instead, he was the next one booted, since no one from either tribe trusted him any longer.
3. Hardy and Nicole, Big Brother 2 (CBS). When Nicole and Hardy teamed up, they were fighting the threat of ChillTown. But for some reason, they decided that taking on ChillTown leader and confessed liar Dr. Will as a partner was a good move. Perhaps they just weren’t very bright, because they allowed Will to rehabilitate himself at their expense.
4. Silas, Survivor: Africa (CBS). He’s big and dumb as a man can come. Silas engineered the most questionable move in the history of “Survivor,” splitting Samburu along age lines before its very first vote. Then, on the second vote, he demanded that the “defeated” Old Folks’ Alliance go along with his voting plan without offering them anything in return for cooperating. Instead, they voted for him, and then they told Boran about his prior votes, sealing his immediate doom.
5. Toni, Love Cruise (Fox). Being part of the dominant alliance wasn’t enough for this babe, nosiree. Let’s see – she offered another contestant a bribe; she demanded that the alliance be expanded, thus leading to its destruction; and she made herself a national model for caricaturists with her beach fight, in which both her eyes and her boobs seemed to be popping out of her body.
IX. WORST BLUNDER
1. Brandon breaks ranks, Survivor: Africa (CBS). Just when Samburu was about to retake the advantage, thanks to Lex’s blunderful targeting of Kelly and her subsequent defection, Brandon decided that he was going to double-cross his teammates and vote along with Boran. Thus, instead of Boran leader Lex being booted, Kelly got the axe … and Brandon’s best friend Kim P., who expected that her efforts in arranging Kelly’s defection were about to be rewarded, was so furious that she couldn’t forgive Brandon. Thanks to Brandon’s mistake, the Old Boran Four became the Final Four.
2. Frank & Margarita assume they know Queens better than the taxi drivers, The Amazing Race (CBS). The last challenge of the show involved catching a flight to Newark Airport, then taking a cab to a square in Queens. Frank and Margarita are from Queens, and they were thrilled, since they knew right where this square is. They caught a cab but then fought with the driver over the route, and ended up taking a second cab so that they could go their way. Meanwhile, the LA Lawyers (Rob & Brennan) put their fate entirely in the hands of their cab driver … and they arrived at the square and then departed on the subway before Frank and Margarita even arrived (after taking Frank’s “shortcut”).
3. Michael inhales smoke and passes out, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Just when Kucha seemed on the verge of an easy victory with a unified six-man tribe, Michael breathed in too much smoke and collapsed into the hot fire. After a mad dash into the leech-infested river, he had to be removed from the game for treatment of third-degree burns, costing his tribe its numerical advantage … and ultimately the game.
4. Ogakor boots Kel, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Yes, the final three contestants were all from Ogakor. But, when Ogakor chose to boot Kel because of the fictitious “beef jerky” incident, it weakened itself so much that it promptly lost five out of six challenges, with the only victory coming in the maze under clearly unfair rules. Ogakor ended up going into the merge at even strength solely due to Michael’s self-immolation, because without muscleman Kel they were simply overmatched by Kucha.
5. Team Guido gets a hotel room, The Amazing Race (CBS). Coming down to the last stages of the race, Team Guido had a huge advantage over the other teams: it still hadn’t used its one allowed “fast-forward.” Every other team that used a fast-forward ended the leg in first place. However, after beating Team Momily to the fast-forward, Joe and Bill decided to get a hotel room for the night and to take the bus to the checkpoint in the morning, instead of proceeding directly via cab, as all the other teams did when they completed the challenges. Thus, they arrived at the next checkpoint LAST instead of first, despite getting to skip all of the challenges. Although the Guidos avoided elimination when Team Momily was penalized, the Guidos lost a day to the lead teams that they were never able to recover over the entire remainder of the race.
X. BEST HAIR
1. Bob, Love Cruise (Fox). The “carnival clown” look.
2. Bunky (back hair), Big Brother 2 (CBS). Cro-Magnon man returns.
3. Drew and Kevin, The Amazing Race (CBS). Matching billiard balls.
4. Ethan, Survivor: Africa (CBS). Modeled after Medusa.
5. Tony (Mohawk), Love Cruise (Fox). If the final-episode Mohawk was a last desperate cry for attention from Crazy Tony, it worked. Always a great haircut for a cruise, right?
XI. BEST HEARTTHROB
1. Colby, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). As Colby became thinner and hairier, his following increased exponentially … and women had already been drooling over him from the release of the first publicity shots.
2. Ethan, Survivor: Africa (CBS). Handsome, nice, Jewish, a professional athlete, and a millionaire – what’s not to love?
3. Hardy, Big Brother 2 (CBS). Looked like a male model. Thought like a mannequin.
4. Rob, The Amazing Race (CBS). Incredibly popular with both women and with gay men; both groups posted clips of him in whatever state of undress they could find and then fought endlessly to claim him.
5. Silas, Survivor: Africa (CBS). Another potential male model. The only thing oily about him was his personality.
XII. BEST SWEETHEART
1. Elisabeth, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Millions of boys and men took to the Internet to proclaim their undying love for Lis. The fact that she became engaged to a wannabe NFL quarterback shortly after filming the show didn’t deter her fans in the slightest.
2. Emily, The Amazing Race (CBS). A great body, not at all affected or artificial, and a great relationship with her mother – what more do you want?
3. Kim P, Survivor: Africa (CBS). Not only was Kim beautiful, but she gave Big Tom (and the viewing audience) some quick glimpses of her private assets. Next stop, Playboy.
4. Melissa, Love Cruise (Fox). Beautiful and loyal, and also a lot richer after winning “Love Cruise.” Her personality made it hard to believe that she was part of something so sneaky as a hidden alliance.
5. Tomiko, Love Cruise (Fox). The cameras revealed that she was playful and sensual. Unfortunately, she had the bad luck to end up paired with Adrian and Anthony at key points.
XIII. BEST COUPLE
1. Brandon and Frank, Survivor: Africa (CBS). The gay bartender and the homophobe ex-military man won a dream date at a movie under the stars, while everyone else joked about them. But then … Brandon and Frank wore “traditional African” skirts while on the jury?
2. Colby and Colby’s Mom, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Incest comes to reality TV, as Oedipus Tex and his mom slept together under the blankets in the back of a Pontiac Aztek … and then Colby compared the night to a conjugal visit. “Hi, gang.” – Colby to his mom upon seeing her. Uh, is that gang as in bang?
3. Drew & Kevin, The Amazing Race (CBS). The former fraternity brothers were so at ease together that they resembled Abbott and Costello or Martin and Lewis more than contestants on a reality TV show. They stuck together through thick and thin and always seemed to be having fun.
4. Elisabeth and Rodger, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Right from the start, Rodger and Lis became a surrogate father-daughter pair. Rodger gave her a heart-shaped rock, comforted her when she was upset, and ultimately volunteered to be booted before her so that she could win a few thousand dollars more. Who said chivalry is dead?
5. Jeff V. and Susan, Cannonball Run 2001 (USA). Two devious minds locked together produced much of the excitement on this show, by scheming to delay other teams (and succeeding in getting the “Forbidden Fruit” team of two arrogant Playboy Playmates disqualified). The more outrageous their scheme, the more fun it was to watch.
XIV. MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT
1. Barramundi camp floods, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). The most-foreshadowed moment in reality TV for the year also came the closest to capturing the feeling of being a REAL disaster survivor. All of Barramundi suffered for failing to stand up to Jerri in choosing a location for the new camp. If only Survivor: Africa had been equally realistic and allowed a survivor or two to be picked off by the hungry lions….
2. Half the contestants switch tribes (“the twist”), Survivor: Africa (CBS). The tribes never knew what hit them. Well, at least Silas didn’t. And Ethan’s probably still guarding the tribal flag while waiting for Lex to return.
3. Michael falls into the fire, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Although we were spared the gruesome footage of the actual burning, the “before” and “after” scenes that we saw, with Michael screaming and completely immersed under the water, Lis crying, the helicopter rescue, the puzzled reaction by Ogakor, and the footage of Michael in hospital left an indelible mark on the show … as well as completely changing the outcome.
4. Shannon cleans the toilet with Hardy’s toothbrush, Big Brother 2 (CBS). In the nastiest act of the year, Shannon, who was furious at being nominated to be booted, took Hardy’s toothbrush, used it to scrub the toilet, and then put it back for Hardy to use. Only the intervention of the producers kept Hardy from catching who-knows-what … and even then, Shannon still wouldn’t apologize, despite being all but ordered to do so.
5. Toni and Jeanette fight on the beach, Love Cruise (Fox). This scene was part of the promos for this show from the very first episode, and for good reason. Toni does her best impression of an escaped mental patient as she denies doing things that everyone on earth knows she did. She missed her calling; she should have worked at Enron!
XV. FUNNIEST CONTESTANT
1. Balloon Boy (Recruit Yaney), Boot Camp (Fox). The Michelangelo of balloon sculptors; he could make just about anything out of his balloons.
2. Drew & Kevin, The Amazing Race (CBS). Someone should hire these two guys to do travelogues from around the world. They brought their own unique slant to the tour. We’re still trying to figure out what “He is three days older than kerosene!” means.
3. Jeff V., Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS) and Cannonball Run 2001 (USA). Jeff’s quick-wittedness made him our voice while watching these shows, and yet he also emerged as the natural leader of Kucha after Michael’s injury. His humor came in handy to resolve the continuing conflict between Susan and Kaya during the cross-country auto race.
4. Michael, Love Cruise (Fox). Even if he wasn’t being “shakes the clown” on the show, Michael simply can’t help being funny, as reflected by the two quotes of his in the Best Quote competition.
5. Will, Big Brother 2 (CBS). Very often, Will seemed to be the only person on this show having a good time. And why not? He was lying to everyone and then mocking them for believing him. Gen-X humor at its finest.
XVI. BIGGEST WASTE OF SPACE CONTESTANT
1. Amber, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Yes, it’s nice to cruise through to the final six solely on your looks, but it’s even better to try to win if you reach such a position.
2. Autumn, Big Brother 2 (CBS). Why was she cast for this show? She is not only a waste of a contestant space, she is a waste of a living (?) organism.
3. Mitchell, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). The only contestant dumb enough to believe that the crew would slip him some food if he was hungry. And, in a first for “Survivor”, his “tiebreaker” speech at Tribal Council was a plea for the others to vote him out due to his weakness and hunger. In “Lord of the Flies,” they would have eaten him.
4. Recruit Katherine, Boot Camp (Fox). At least Mitchell lasted 12 days. Katherine couldn't even last 12 hours before she locked herself in the bathroom and asked to be dismissed. Perhaps she thought “Boot Camp” was a place to shop for the latest styles in footwear.
5. Valerie, Temptation Island (Fox). Ah, a tropical resort, men to fawn over you … and a woman who seemingly spends 24/7 crying or moaning. What’s wrong with this picture?
XVII. BIGGEST NETWORK OR PRODUCER BLUNDER
1. Casting Justin the Knife, Big Brother 2 (CBS). We don’t need to have background checks done to see if any of these people have police records or have a history of violent behavior, do we? No, of course not. People like that wouldn't even apply, would they?
2. No running clock or cash totals, The Amazing Race (CBS). If we tell the audience how much money people have left, then they might try to second-guess the contestants. And, if the audience knows how big the time gaps are (or how little), they might lose interest. So let’s just keep all the game stuff a secret between us, OK?
3. Scheduling The Mole 2 on Friday nights, The Mole 2 (ABC). Hey, this was our top-rated program among people 18-34 last year, so they’ll watch it whatever night we put it on. Date night? Nah, kids today don’t have date nights any more. If we show it, they will watch.
4. Third couple added to finals, Love Cruise (Fox). Look, we don’t want these contestants to have to make a hard decision. That might not be good TV. Let’s put a couple back on the boat that no one dislikes. So what if they are so unlikable that they got booted early; at least Michael won’t win!
5. Ytossie and Taheed selected despite having a child, Temptation Island (Fox). Let’s break up a family! Yeah, that’s the ticket for high ratings! Oops, someone might object to our role in breaking up that child’s home. Change direction! Boot ‘em!
XVIII. WORST COSMETIC SURGERY
1. Catherine, Temptation Island 2 (Fox). Curves better than those found in nature; all we can ask is, “Saline or silicone?”
2. Nicole (eyebrows), Big Brother 2 (CBS). Your love keeps lifting me higher and higher .. and if my eyebrows get any more arched, I’m going to look like a McDonald’s.
3. Tina, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Did she win because she reminded Colby of his beloved mother … or because her boobs remained firm and conical while poor Amber’s “superboobs” shriveled as she lost weight?
4. Team Playboy Extreme, Eco-Challenge Sabah 2000 (USA). Actually, their “enhancements” looked pretty good. Uh, if Owen had any enhancements, we didn’t notice.
5. Toni, Love Cruise (Fox). To some women, it doesn’t matter how they look, as long as they’re about the size of watermelons.
XIX. BEST HOST
1. Anderson Cooper, The Mole (1 and 2) (ABC). Argument #1 in favor of using news people to host reality TV. Calm and unruffled, and not likely to take things too seriously.
2. Greg Proops, Rendez View (UPN/syndicated). A witty comedian who views the reality TV segments of his show as straight lines while preventing “relationship expert Ellen Ladowsky” from slowing the pace down too much.
3. Jeff Probst, Survivor (The Australian Outback and Africa) (CBS). Extremely effective at generating good comments under pressure from the contestants while keeping the hokum to the minimum necessary.
4. Joe Rogan, Fear Factor (NBC). On the one hand, he keeps the show lively and spirited...
5. Phil Keoghan, The Amazing Race (CBS). Although only a minimal presence, still adds a level of respectability to the show.
XX. WORST HOST
1. Bryant Gumbel, Survivor: The Reunion Show (The Australian Outback and Africa) (CBS). Argument #1 against using news people to host reality TV. Likes to think of himself as sophisticated and knowledgeable about the show, but comes off as amateurish and churlish. If he still has any reputation as a skilled interviewer left, two more “Survivors” should finish it off.
2. Joe Rogan, Fear Factor (NBC). ...On the other hand, his gleam while people do inane and disgusting activities for peanuts reminds us what he and “über-villain” Jerri saw in each other – soulless ghouls enjoying others’ discomfort.
3. Julie Chen, Big Brother 2 (CBS). Argument #2 against using news people to host reality TV. Inane, insipid, and incompetent.
4. Justin Gunn, Love Cruise (Fox). Where did they find this guy? I hope he worked cheap. His skill level as a host was comparable to the skill level of the prop guy who made the “balls of shame.”
5. Mark Wahberg, Temptation Island (1 and 2) (Fox). While Jeff Probst has the skill of picking at people’s sore spots with precisely-placed needles, Mark chooses to probe the same areas with a mallet. Result: his questions are usually a complete waste.
XXI. BIGGEST DRAMA QUEEN
1. Bunky, Big Brother 2 (CBS). Cry, cry, cry. So many teardrops. Even for people he voted out. And everything was hyped to a fever pitch of importance!!!!!!
2. Kimmi, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Save the chickens! Get your finger out of my face! I don’t stink! Let’s talk about masturbation!
3. Lindsey, Survivor: Africa (CBS). How can we deny a spot to the first woman to announce her period’s beginning on national TV? Add that to the tears and the angst after the twist, and it’s no wonder that even her closest ally Brandon was happy that she got booted. But, if you need someone to bicycle naked through your town, call her.
4. Lisa, Love Cruise (Fox). Oh my god, two guys kissed me! What do I do? And another guy talked to me. He must be trying to pick me up! Let’s get rid of him! Oops, a few more tears. How could I be booted? I’d better vote for Gina to win. She didn’t boot me, and I love her so much…
5. Toni, Love Cruise (Fox). Continual histrionics interrupted only by the desire to conspire, the dream to scheme and scream, and the fight to go down on every man in sight.
XXII. BEST LINE
1. “I think my right testicle is rolling around in the streets of Beijing.” – Drew, The Amazing Race (CBS). Said following a very bumpy rickshaw ride through the older parts of the city.
2. “I’m going to take a bath so the whole tent doesn’t smell like ass.” – Nick, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). A classic quote describing the “aftereffects” of winning food in the food challenge and then gulping it down.
3. “I’m sort of becoming the chessmaster on this boat.” – Michael, Love Cruise (Fox). An accurate description of Michael’s maneuverings with the “pawns” aboard his cruise.
4. “I’m with a boy named Sue and a girl named Kaya.” – Jeff V., Cannonball Run 2001 (USA). Not only was this a clever play on a song title, but it described the role reversal creating conflicts among The Castaways that Jeff was always being called upon to smooth over.
5. “If it’s a mental challenge, we’re screwed.” – Tom, Survivor: Africa (CBS). A pretty good self-assessment of Tom’s partnership with Little Kim.
6. “It ain’t about trying; it’s about being white and Jewish.” – Michael, Love Cruise (Fox). One of the lamest excuses for not dancing with your date that we’ve ever heard. Uh, Michael, even King David danced.
7. “It was almost like a conjugal visit if you were a prisoner.” – Colby, Survivor: The Australian Outback (CBS). Few of us would describe a visit from our mothers in this fashion. But then again, few of us would cuddle with our mothers in the back of a car or engage in innuendo-laden conversations with her … which is why Colby became known as Oedipus Tex.
8. “Nicole and I have one thing in common; we’re both in love with me.” – Will, Big Brother 2 (CBS). Nicole might not have been, but Will most certainly was.
9. “Swing, you fat bastard, swing!” – Kevin, The Amazing Race (CBS). This statement, uttered to Drew, who was trying to get down the gorge lines in Zambia, set the tone for their entire relationship: encouragement mixed with humor.
10. “Uhm, Billy, your life IS the show right now.” – cameraman, Temptation Island (Fox). Uttered in response to Billy’s demand that the cameraman leave him alone because “this isn't about the show, it's about my life.” Some people just can’t remember where they are.