There isn’t another new show on this season that I was looking forward to more than (deep breath) Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Cutthroat. I love watching these (mostly) familiar faces making asses of themselves, trying to figure out game theory, usually failing, making fools of themselves and playing a game that’s always personal, no matter what they say or think. This time around, as opposed to previous Challenges, the contestants are broken up into three teams. The teams–broken up into Red, Blue and Gray–compete against each other in a challenge for $20,000, but the only way you can get that money is by making it to the final challenge which is worth $120,000. The two teams that don’t win the challenge choose one man and one woman to go into the Gulag, but instead of the usual voting or just throwing someone in, this time it’s a secret ballot, a trick the Challenge folks have never used to my knowledge. The group showed up at night and had to run through a forest, the last three people to get there–Camila, Shauvon and Emilee–got to pick the teams from those assembled. The cast is pretty huge and honestly I don’t remember a lot of them as they’re from the last round of Fresh Meat or the recent seasons of Real World(which I’m having trouble remember thanks to New Orleans just wrapping up). Here’s my problem with how the Real World/Challenge season cycle works: after spending a whole season with the most recent RW cast, I then get thrown into a Challenge with a bunch of cats I can barely remember. The missus is much better about remembering names, but it takes this old dog a while to place names and faces and sometimes that doesn’t happen. Usually the newbies get voted off pretty early, so it’s not too much of a problem, but these early episodes can be tough to keep track of. Thankfully, the Wiki page is already pretty well stocked with information like who’s on which team. Here’s the breakdown. Red consists of Brad, Brandon, Camila (?), Chet (love Chet), Dunbar, Mandi, Melinda, Paula, Tori and Tyler. Gray is Abram, Ayiiia, Cara Maria (?), Dan (not the one from Miami), J.D., Laurel, Luke, Sarah, Shauvon and Vinny (who I barely remember). And finally, Blue has Derrick, Emily (DC), Eric, Jenn, Johnny (ugh), Katie (of course), Theresa, Ty, Emilee and Derek (both from Cancun). They get to live in a mansion in Prague when not running around knocking each other senseless.
The first challenge involved three stages. First, the contestants had to run into a chamber filled with gas (yeah, a gas chamber, it’s kind of not okay) where they need to decipher a complicated letter/number puzzle that somehow gives them a four number combination that they need to open a locked box. There are five boxes, each one with a diagram of how to put one level of a five level three dimensional puzzle together (kind of like 3D Tetris without falling blocks). Once all five boxes are unlocked, the teams can start putting the puzzles together. Though Red got to the puzzle first, the team soon fell into chaos with lots of people shouting and moving things around unnecessarily. Blue fell into the same trap, but Gray kept their heads thanks to Abram taking charge and organizing the troops which resulted in the win. I missed Abe. For the Gulag, everyone was pretty surprised at the new turn that the voting will be in secret. It turns out that Derek and Emilee will be going in for the Blue Team against Brandon and Camila from the Red Team. The men’s Gulag is pretty tough at first, but Brandon walks away with the win as does his teammate Camila, which puts the Blue Team down two players. As you might expect there was also plenty of drinking and arguing. Theresa thought she was getting into Camila’s head by being a bitch to her. Didn’t work. There was also some nonsense that Laurel started with Shauvon, but it was just drunken buffoonery. We also found out that Brad and Tori got married, that Katie is studying to become a criminal psychologist, that Abram is single and also just finished writing his first children’s book, that Paula thinks she’s got the game finally figured out on her seventh try and that Melinda and Danny are getting divorced. Two more quick things I want to say. First off, why is TJ Lavin still hosting this thing? Sure, he snagged the title of “King of Dirt” for his BMX riding, but that was back in 1995 when words had extra Xes to be cool! He looks a little different this season, but still sounds the same, especially when telling contestants they will be embarrassed if they’re sent home first or offering congratulations that mean nothing. Hey pal, jump in the Gulag once or twice and throw down before I care what you have to say. I’m all for a former contestant coming back and hosting these shows. What’s Coral doing? I think he looks like a full size Wee Man. Speaking of bringing in past contestants it looks like, according to the “This season on Cutthroat” clip that CT will be coming back wearing a black uniform which, along with a clip of what looked like him competing in that same uniform in the Gulag, makes me think that he and Tina will be acting as American Gladiator types, going up against contestants in the final challenges. This is a fantastic idea. The next Challenge should be completely set up like that.
Overall, I’m glad that MTV mixed the game up a little. It’s been fun watching these monkeys think they’ve learned how to play the game only to have it flipped on them this time around. Plus, the inclusion of Challenge Gladiators makes me happy for some reason. It’s just too bad it’s hosted by a guy no one cares about. Seriously, call Coral.