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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

The Joe Schmo Show: “Fear No Evil”

Illustration for article titled The Joe Schmo Show: “Fear No Evil”
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Up until tonight’s first eviction, I had almost convinced myself that Karlee was a mole. After all, who had done more to sabotage the game than her? Hearing things when she was supposed to be deaf, losing it while performing with Mr. Wentworth, and now unable to endure being buried alive with Stan for 2 minutes… it all might have made sense. Maybe there was a secret faction within the production tasked with adding another layer of deception to the game, so that the joke would not only be on Chase, but on some of the producers as well.

That theory went out the window when Karlee was evicted, but that’s all right; the production team came through with enough bizarre decisions and inadvertent gaffes to keep the episode humming along anyway. First up was a Fear Factor-inspired challenge which was supposed to result in immunity for everyone and no eviction at all. Instead, it turned into another demonstration of how little control the producers actually have over the Joe Schmo proceedings. Randy managed to get through being trapped in a plastic box with a dozen rats for 2 minutes none the worse for wear, aside from a sprinkling of turds on his clothing. But Allen, who should have had a relatively easy time downing a “bug” milkshake (which actually contains nothing more repulsive than prunes) instead nearly chokes because the prop department has somehow supplied a much larger glass than was used in rehearsal. More evidence pointing to a mole?

Actually, it’s just more proof that the production doesn’t quite have a handle on their creation anymore. Even though Allen manages to come through on his task, the immunity free-for-all still falls apart when Karlee completely freaks out after being sealed in the coffin with Stan. (I will give her credit for this much, though: Despite her sheer terror, she managed to stay in character and keep screaming in her “deaf” voice.) This prompts another appearance by producer John Stevens, whose role in the show is now to appear several times each episode to explain how badly Team Schmo has screwed up. Now they have to arrange an eviction that shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

It’s clear that Karlee has to go, but the trick is to make Chase think it’s his idea lest the reality of the show crumble even further. For once, something goes the production’s way, as Randy is able to make a convincing case that he and Chase should “form an allowance.” For some reason, though, the producers think they haven’t gone far enough toward erasing Chase’s doubts about the veracity of the show, so they decide to stage a second eviction in which Chase has the only vote. The logic of this move escaped me. It’s all very well to make Chase feel comfortable and in control, but couldn’t that have been done within the mechanism of a normal eviction? Giving one person that much power based solely on the fact that he raised his hand first seems like a fishy move that an already suspicious person would question.

Chase doesn’t question it, though, and he doesn’t decide to keep Randy, much to the producers’ chagrin. This time, however, they have a backup plan, and an ingenious one at that. In the production meeting, when Ralph Garman suggested giving one person the power to bring back a past contestant, it sounded like a back-door plan for keeping Randy in the game no matter what. Maybe that was the idea at first, but instead, when Chico is given the option, he chooses to bring back Lorenzo Lamas. (A little more planning must have gone into this than the episode lets on, as I’m sure Lamas wasn’t actually staying in a sequester house as Jake claims.) This is a production improvisation that may actually pay off, as the season could have used a little more Lamas anyway. Maybe it’s a good thing that the production seems continually on the brink of disaster lately; a well-oiled operation that’s never forced to correct for mistakes or change the game plan on the fly might not be half as entertaining.

Stray observations:

  • So I guess Mr. Wentworth got evicted, too? I’ll miss that creepy little dummy.
  • “These rats are swarming my junk.”
  • It’s hard to pick a favorite Jake Montrose painting, but if forced to make a decision, I guess I’d go with Randy’s donkey mounting him from behind over Chase in bondage gear riding a spitting llama.