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The Benefactor - Episode 4 Summary

'Spencer: For Hiring' By kpod
Original Airdate: October 4, 2004

Previously on The Benefactor: Cuban rents out a mansion in the swank part of Dallas. Sixteen people show up and start setting new speed records for getting booted. Interviews are performed. Jenga is played "for a million dollars", then both players are booted as quickly as possible. Cuban is introduced to what plebeian Dallasites (defined as those of us who can't afford Mavs season tickets) do for fun. Second-graders are exploited. Cheesy websites are built. Bad music is made. Viewers from Texas eastward patiently wait for Monday Night Football to come on.

So now that we're down to an almost-manageably-sized group, let's review who's left:

Dominic - Rock-star type, right down to the complete and utter lack of talent. This show's Rupert (or Colby if you prefer).

Femia - Cutthroat competitor, and as such the closest thing this show has left to a villain.

Kevin - Opraholic nanny. Did a good job on the toothpaste marketing challenge.

Tiffaney - Watermelon queen. My spell-checker's least favorite contestant.

Spencer - Computer geek (which I mean as a compliment). First person in reality TV history to declare himself "the smart one" and not get instantly booted.

Linda - Football player. Sentimental favorite, whether we like it or not.

Mark - Joe Billionaire. Acts like he's in charge or something. While other billionaires have Fortune 500 companies lining up to get plugged on their shows, is unable to convince Dave & Buster's to pay ABC's "logo-unblur" price.

We open with an establishing shot of downtown Dallas, then cut to an oil derrick somewhere out in the Midland-Odessa area. Well, hey, seen one bit of Texas, seen it all, right?

Mark Manor. We open on Kevin, who VOs that he's getting excited now that it's down to the final six. He goes on to talk about how he's never had a vacation until now. I badly want to mock the idea that he's taking a "vacation" in his hometown, but then it occurs to me that since the telecom meltdown a few years back I haven't exactly been taking as many trips out of town as I used to. Then he talks about how people he talks to find the concept of a "paid vacation" to be humorous. Tell me about it -- I think I interviewed with those people last month.

Femia and Linda trade VOs over who they believe doesn't belong in the game. In fact, it turns out that this show is about two-thirds voiceovers and confessionals, far too many of which describe actions and emotions which we can see perfectly well for ourselves. It's all part of the running thesis I have that ABC Just Does Not Get Reality TV.

Cut to the group gathered before Mark, who is this early in the morning forging new frontiers in sounding dorky. "Preseason is over, the regular season is about to begin," he announces. Unless you're in the NHL, in which case golf season has gone into overtime. Mark divides the group into teams of three which might seem familiar: Femia, Dominic and Tiffaney, the remnants of Team Rock Star, now comprise Team Silver, and Linda, Kevin and Spencer, late of Team Linda, become Team Blue. The new names are not exactly "Chabogo Mogo", but apparently all the creativity got used up on Mark's new nickname for Spencer, which even Spencer seems to find appallingly dorky.

Today's challenge is a "modified game of H-O-R-S-E". Something tells me we're not going to be getting "through the window, off the wall, off the scoreboard, one bounce, nothing but net" in this version. And in fact, it's not a game among the contestants themselves, but between two teams of players recruited by the contestants. And not just any three players, but a man, a woman, and a 12-and-under child. And no pros, not that any of them would be dumb enough to recruit Antoine Walker for their team anyway.

This is of course Mark's cue to confessional-brag about how he took over the Mavs at a time when they were one of the jokes of the NBA, and through savvy and effort, built it into what it is today: a team that chokes in the playoffs every year. This he accomplished by carefully scouting talent, meticulously evaluating it, and then signing Dennis Rodman out of retirement as a publicity stunt.

Spencer opens the cockiness sweepstakes by referring to the the Silvers as "Team Beautiful" and calling their biggest talent their ability to get a good tan. Or in Tiffaney's case, her ability to remain pale despite living in Laredo.

Outside, the Blues sit down for a strategy session. Linda and Kevin proceed to have the least fascinating power struggle ever over leadership of the team, so much so that Spencer walks off about ten seconds into it.

Meanwhile, the Silvers are inside, doing research on a laptop and zzzzz.

Back to the Blues, where they have a discussion of what Linda means by the term "bitchy". Kevin, in confessional, talks about how Linda "will turn on you like a cat that's been caged up". As if cat needs a cage as an excuse to turn on you.

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