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The Surreal Life, Episode 3: Surreal Camping



This is season 1 - which I probably should have posted first.  (I can't sleep so this is what I'm choosing to do instead...I'm not a productive person this week)

I didn't start covering this season until episode three...so that's where we begin.  The case is Jerri Manthey (Survivor Outback), Vince Neill (Motley Crue, although that goes without saying), Corey Feldman (the one who wasn't Corey Haim), Emannual Lewis (Webster), MC Hammer (giant pants fame), Brande Roderick (Baywatch), and Gabrielle Cateris (Beverly Hills 90210 (old school with Shannen Doherty))  

Mindy Cohn (Facts of Life) was cast but dropped out before filming began.  Robin Givens was offered but declined this career boost.


It’s only the third episode (WB counted the first hour-long show as both one and two) and already the fallen celebs are taken out of the Surreal Life house for a camping trip. Jerri plays a key role here but it’s Corey who is taking on the mantle of being the most annoying. 

So we open this week with our band of misfits to see them rolling out of bed. I was struck by how much the editors just love Jerri. Either that or she wakes up looking really good without a trace of bed-head, which would be patently unfair, so I prefer to think the complimentary shots are due to flattering editing.

An aside about Jerri. I didn’t get into Survivor until Marquesas so I missed her season and being a woman and uninterested I didn’t run out to buy her Playboy spread, so this is my first exposure to her. I think she is coming off one of the most likeable people in the house thus far. [Editor’s Note: I can’t argue with that for this episode. But to see some thoughts about her last week, make sure to check out this Hall of Shame Update.]

They read in their house tabloid that camping is on today’s agenda. It is 8:05 and the van will be there at 8:30 to pick them up, so 25 minutes of frantic packing ensues. Sadly, this was no more amusing than when I hit the snooze one too many times and my family rushes to get out the door. Which is to say not amusing at all.

Much groaning about camping from almost every quarter. Corey complains that he has no jeans or tennis shoes. Huh. I seem to recall him sitting around last week during the fortune cookie scene clad in a bad tank top so I’m not buying the angst of this fashion plate. Vince, however, is clearly sarcastic when he bemoans not being able to wear his Versace suit. Okay, Corey, I hope as you watch this you take notes. THAT is how you whine. Make it self-deprecating and tongue in cheek and people smile at your comments rather than wanting to see how well you would take a blow to the head. Get it?

Vince tells Corey he has never been camping before. Corey replies, “this is just something us type of people don’t do.” Remember when he said he is here for image repair? This isn’t helping.

Jerri has bad camping flashbacks from Survivor and Emmanuel loves camping. Where is the foreshadowing music when you need it?

Assorted scenes of them packing and getting ready to leave and a shot of Brande walking by with a roll of toilet paper. I thought I would hate her, I try, but you know, for a girl who claimed she didn’t know that there was sales tax on food as she is so unfamiliar with the ways of America, that is some good thinking.

Vince breaks a zipper on his bag as he attempts to pack. “such a rock star, destroying property.” Look at that, Corey being genuinely funny! Nice moment where Gabrielle helps Vince repack properly and he gently mocks her with gratitude. Very sweet. They seem to be becoming friends. I love these genuine moments no matter how fake they may be.

I noticed last week that I didn’t think the editing staff liked Corey very much. I was wrong. They hate him! No judgment here, they are only human. We are in the van as Corey talks about the rules he has broken by not getting into a serious relationship with a fan nor anyone in a club. Disingenuous much? Does anyone who has watched more than five minutes of this think this man could not date anyone who wasn’t a fan? I think some blind adoration on the part of his woman would not only be welcome but required. Then he moves on to the topic of his lousy childhood and how hard his life has been. This is all intercut with various confessionals of the others just sick to death of hearing this. And can I just comment that I think it is generally accepted practice to just let it go when a relative stranger is confessing childhood abuse to you so he must’ve really, really been beating this horse to death to annoy the others that much. Although makes my work here easier as everything I wanted to say to him was said, which was basically to shut up. Thanks Vince, thanks Emmanuel, thank you Brande.

They have to stop for lunch and Corey is thirrrrrrrssssssty.

I am really trying not to go for the gratuitous mocking of him, but he’s making it so easy. And before you think I came into this with some kind of bizarre Corey-grudge, let me say that I wanted to like him here. I came of age in the ‘80s, the era of “the Coreys,” and beyond that I love his 1999 CD, Still Searching for Soul, with his band, Corey Feldman’s Truth Movement (which I file alphabetically under T in a silent protest to eponymous arrogance; I’m sure he cares). Say what you will, the boy can sing. So since I like his music I really wanted this to be redeeming for him, a little public exposure so more people would hear him. Now don’t we all want to hear less from him?

Back to the show: They stop at a truck stop for lunch and are just so taken with themselves and all the attention from the locals. Wouldn’t there be a fair amount of gaping if any seven people showed up at any truck stop surrounded by a camera crew? Just asking.

Manny loves truckers and is making the rounds. If anyone understood the conversation he was having about seeing apparitions in trucks please email me and explain. On second thought I might be happier not knowing.

I must defend Corey here. In the montage of how high maintenance they are and how out of place they feel there they include Corey pointing out he thinks he got a diet coke rather than regular. Who hasn’t had that happen and said something? That was a real stretch to show him misbehaving so it seems he was pretty low key in there.

Vince talks to someone on a cell phone, I want to mock but I just can’t. If one of my friends were in the truck stop I can see them trying to get him to throw a call into me. I respect the groupie thing.

We now flash to Hammer working the crowd, starting a roundtable discussion with the patrons about sex. “Since we’re having ongoing topics about sexual addictions, what better place to elaborate on it than with the common everyday man at a truck stop?” How about... anywhere? I’m sure that was fun for the local guys since they weren’t subjected to the insulting “common everyday man” designation. I know when I stop in a restaurant I always wish some former celebrity would join me to ask about my sexual thoughts. Some people have all the luck. “If you could have sex with two beautiful women like Jerri and Brande would you do it?” I don’t know who should be more offended, Jerri and Brande – who clearly weren’t consulted before he was theoretically pimping them out – or Gabrielle who didn’t even get an honorable mention. She is very pretty in an average chick kinda way and on behalf of average chicks everywhere I think we should be insulted Hammer doesn’t feel us worthy. I guess I shouldn't split hairs, there was plenty of offense to go around.

Jerri is embarrassed and says she walked out but, I have to say, she looked like she was being a pretty good sport about it.

They finally hit the campsite and it’s not one of those with water hook-up and a quick walk to a shower surrounded by families on vacation and girl scouts. This is pretty remote. There is a luxury tent set up. Now I would have thought luxury tent would have been an oxymoron but compared to the alternative it is pretty accurate. So is the tent for everyone? Nope, it’s for Jerri! I think this confirms production crew is smitten with her. Makes all that talk about how she isn’t one of them, not to mention being no Robin Givens, seem like a whole lot of foreshadowing in retrospect. So there is some cute Survivoresque lead up to the reward challenge. You have to wonder how weird this seemed to them since they claimed they hadn’t seen Survivor. Hopefully they were more familiar with the Real World/Road Rules Challenge, from which this seems heavily borrowed.

Everyone but Jerri has to randomly pick partners for the challenge. Corey and Hammer, Brande and Emmanuel, Gabrielle and Vince team up to compete for a chance to be chosen to share the luxury tent with Jerri for the evening. Did I mention that includes a four course meal prepared by a Hollywood chef? Yeah... comfort and food and Jerri, this could be a fight to the death! (I am trying really hard to control my sarcasm. Really.)

The first part of the challenge is a 50-yard three-legged-race which Corey and Hammer take easily, but they lose their lead getting stumped by the knot in their bandana. I am sure untying that is more complicated than it looks – though nobody else seems to have the same problem. Next is a sprint to boats they have to push into the water to row out around two buoys and back to shore. The prima donna award goes to... Corey! The others push their boats into the water together and then jump in and row. Corey gets into the boat on dry land and is put out that his partner isn’t “hammer” enough to push him in without help. Maybe someone didn’t want to ruin his leather shoes that got their own story line last week? I have a feeling that had he made the snotty comments about Hammer to his face rather than in confessional we would have heard the sound of an oar striking him and splash as he hit the water. Just a feeling. He and Hammer proceed to row (using the term loosely) in circles and at some point there is a disturbing moment where it seems as if he is trying to climb in Hammer’s lap at the back of the boat. I was so hoping for it to capsize, but sadly, they stay afloat.

The other two teams head for shore and on to the final leg of the challenge, where they have to bury one partner in the sand up to their neck and then run to the victory pole. Brande and Emmanuel win with Emmanuel not surprisingly being the one buried. Does Brande look relieved! Do you think there is any doubt in her mind that Jerri will choose her to share the better quarters? She sure looks like she thinks she has it in the bag, but Jerri makes them grovel a little and chooses...

Emmanuel. The two people who are comfortable camping don’t have to. Gotta love the foreshadowing. To her credit Brande is gracious enough to clap and appear happy for Emmanuel.

Jerri jokes that she picked Emmanuel because he promised her some cuddling and he’s single and a catch. Uh huh.

The others go to set up their tents and again, I would like to mock but they do a better job than I ever would have so I won’t comment on their helplessness. Gabrielle works well under the frustration and makes me think she’s probably a good mom. Very patient. I know I am making blanket judgments about them all based on nothing, but if they don’t want strangers to opine about them they shouldn’t put themsevles out there.

The girls get their tent up first and as the guys struggle they start dinner. Hot dogs and beans. Emmanuel laughs as they are “bent on cooking over a high flame.” Just because he won doesn’t mean he can’t toss a suggestion their way. I wouldn’t have known that flame was wrong. That was pretty mean, the only two with camping experience laughing and not helping.

Gratuitous shot of Brande eating a hotdog. Not accidental, I’m thinking.

The chef calls Jerri and Emmanuel to dinner. Both goofin' on it being a romantic date complete with it being set to mood music. You can tell the guys who are responsible for Blind Date had a hand in this.

Everyone talking around the campfire. Corey asks if they think doing this will have a positive turn of events and they all basically say it’s a just a ten-day goof and he should lighten up. I’m paraphrasing. Hammer comments that celebrities have no business complaining. General agreement all around that they have it pretty darn good and have nothing to complain about. Well, except Corey. Hammer tells him, “you oughta be ashamed of yourself for complaining when people are out there trying to provide for their kids, for real.” Can I get an amen?! Talk about missing the point even when hit with a hammer. (Get it? Hammer? Hey if Vince can pun about them being a “motley crew” then all bad and obvious jokes should be fair game.) Corey just wants to defend the “poor me” position and then Hammer goes insane and starts talking about being his manager and getting him 13-million-dollar roles if Corey would just let go of the past.

Easier said that done, I would think.

I read a quote once, “your childhood may have been awful, but it’s over,” and I can’t remember who said it. But it ran through my head this whole episode. Perhaps someone should stitch that on a sampler for Mr. Feldman.

The howls of coyotes seem really close. And it seems like there are a lot of them. Wouldn’t it be funny if there weren’t any and someone just had some howling running on a sound loop out of sight. Would be funny to me. Emmanuel freaks out and goes to get his hunting knife. He looks genuinely scared. I would be scared when I realized he wasn’t prepared for camping and he just owns that thing. He talks about the whole man against nature thing and how animals pick off the weakest member of a herd and it would be him. I don’t think so. I think animals can sense inner weakness and would go for Corey, if only to silence him.

They talk about Emmanuel behind his back. Gabrielle mocks the laugh. I would too, but it’s just too easy.

And that’s about it for this week. Tune in next Thursday at 9/8 Central (note that it is changed from the originally planned time of 9:30/8:30 Central).

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great - now i'm watching this to.

Corey is just sad.  He does a sad diva rock star impersonation - which is even sadder because Vince Neil. 

the dog may be the sanest person there (and it is telling that in that first episode Vince had made friends with said dog)

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9 minutes ago, clueliss said:

great - now i'm watching this to.

Corey is just sad.  He does a sad diva rock star impersonation - which is even sadder because Vince Neil. 

the dog may be the sanest person there (and it is telling that in that first episode Vince had made friends with said dog)

I'm sorry to have triggered the need to watch this. :) 

And yes, Corey is sad and that's actually not snark.  hes had a shitty hand dealt in many ways, but he's not helping himself with the posuer stuff and the drama.  This was filmed (and recap written) 13 years ago so hopefull he's in a better place.  But from what I can tell he's still not someone I'd grab a cup of coffee with.

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