I titled this week’s column with what is basically the theme of the entire season for EI – the graphic most often seen in the bottom left corner of the screen – “Gypsies: Currently in First Place.” While the Saga of No Limits was the much more interesting storyline this season, the domination by the Gypsies was rather impressive and deserves some attention.
It is really hard to find any other examples of reality show domination that equals what the Gypsies did in this season. They lost a grand total of one leg. They even won the vast majority of the mid-leg check points. Taken a bit further, they even arrived at tasks in first place more than anyone else. It was as if they were running at full speed and most of the others will in slow motion. I am safely going to call this the most dominant performance ever.
Boston Rob sure did dominate Survivor 22, and that may be the closest example I can find. But to use Survivor terminology, Rob lost challenges. The Gypsies barely lost anything. Carrie Underwood was as close to domination in American Idol, as her win was not really ever in question and she never fell to the bottom. Megan/Cheyne’s Amazing Race win was similarly dominated. Christian on Project Runway is another example. However, can any of them say that they almost ran the table?
Another aspect of the Gypsy domination – this was a very physical game. Survivor is tough- but a different kind of tough, with starvation, bugs, discomfort, etc. Amazing Race has the jet lag. Top Chef and Project Runway have the massive lack of sleep and pressure situations. American Idol has the white hot spotlight. EI was just utterly grueling. Day by day there were miles of walking, rowing, climbing, etc to do. While it was not all that compelling to watch happen, it is impossible to deny that it was extremely difficult.
And the Gypsies did it with seeming ease. While others looked exhausted, they looked slightly winded. Even with John’s ankle injury, it never really seemed to slow them down. They were not physical specimens like the Footballers, nor as rugged as No Limits, but they were just damn good at this.
Meanwhile, some more on No Limits. Ditto on all I have said over the last few weeks. Erik’s blindness and Ike’s injury should have eliminated them a while ago, but here they are in the finale. Not just that, but here they are coming within a few minutes of winning the damn thing! They lucked out in the finale with much of the action taking place on water, horseback and in the car, but they still had to perform during those tasks to overcome their slowness elsewhere. And they did.
Erik said it well, Jeff really stepped up. They were at a disadvantage to start with because Erik just could not do some tasks, so they were often fighting three people with two. Jeff was Erik’s eyes during almost all tasks. Then Ike got hurt and Jeff had to lead Erik and support Ike. This man is one you would want in your corner. And Ike put miles upon miles of pressure on that injured ankle. I really hope he’s doing ok after all of this because he could have done some real damage to his body. That said, the list of tougher reality show contestants is a really short one. Heck, the list of tougher dudes is rather short too.
As for Fab 3…meh. Fitting that they met their downfall thanks to AJ thinking he knew something when he really didn’t. At least Kari managed to bring some serious hotness to the finale – either she looked a whole lot better than usual, or it was just because she was the only female among 12 other men on screen.
Footballers only got half the episode due to the mid-leg elimination, and I felt a little badly for them. The water task nailed them as usual, but it was Akbar getting thrown from the horse that really knocked them out. That looked painful. In fact, a big guy like Akbar, a tough guy, seemed rather shaken up after that fall. These guys were never the brightest bulbs, but they fought hard and used their natural strength to overcome their shortcomings. And Akbar was always great with a quip.
Bottom line – the show could be a keeper, but it needs an overhaul. I think conceptually it is fine. However, they have to find ways to make the action more, well, exciting. They also need a Host who possesses some personality. Not sure if it is the Host, or that they just gave him nothing to do. However, the show could have been exactly the same with note cards instead of a person giving instructions. And don’t get me started on the “head starts,” there needs to be some rewards attached to doing well. Not everyone can be as awesome as the Gypsies.