MUFFIN HUMOR: Andy confides, “There are definitely women in here who I could see being with for the rest of my life.”
ABC’s The Bachelor has long been one of the dirtiest shows on TV, a softcore brothel spritzed with the air-freshener pieties of courtly love. The 10th season kicked off last week with The Bachelor: Officer and a Gentleman (Mondays at 9:30 pm), and the grotesque dialectic of the thing appears to have been cranked to a new extreme: the bachelor in question has become a god, and the women fighting for his ring appear more seethingly desperate than ever. Lieutenant Andy Baldwin — Navy doctor, Iron Man tri-athlete, humanitarian, “raised in the heartland of America,” his life a long swoon of masculine perfection — is a caring person. He cares very deeply. “I have so much to give,” he says. “I have a huge heart.” Groomed and prepped by Chris Harrison, the weasel-faced procurer who hosts the show, Andy stands outside his mansion in goofy innocent male glory as the ladies roll up in their limos. On a table next to him is his “first-impression rose,” which he will present to the girl with whom he feels the strongest “connection.” “Trust your gut and go with it,” Chris advises. Out of the evening they stalk toward him with crooked smiles and glistening shoulders. “I’m from Chicago. Have you ever been there?” says one. “I’m from Dallas. Have you ever been there?” says another. A third essays a joke. Two muffins in the oven. One of them says, “It’s hot in here!” “Holy smoke! A talking muffin!” says the other. “Are we those muffins?” asks Andy slyly.
Once they all get inside the mansion, it’s time for some tried-and-true reality engineering, i.e., trap ’em in a hot room and ply them with booze till somebody cracks. The ladies work on Andy with George Costanza–like gambits: “My parents got divorced . . . ”; “My boyfriend in college sadly passed away . . . ”; “Today is my birthday.” Andy grins and confides in Chris: “There are definitely women in here who I could see being with for the rest of my life.” Somebody sings him the national anthem; somebody else engages him in a push-up contest. One girl does backflips. Another girl falls over, drunk. “Here’s to love, right?” says Andy, raising his glass. We are drawn to Lindsay, who is loudly describing one of her rivals as “kind of heinous, actually.” Five minutes later, when Lindsay herself gets cut at the “rose ceremony,” she storms out and does one of those classic falling-to-bits remote scenes, standing barefoot and shoddily lit in the garden, blaspheming into a single avid camera. Tears, rage; her high heels are dangling from her hand like a brace of dead exotic birds. Unbleeped, her monologue runs like this: “I don’t give a fuck. I think this whole thing’s fucking fucked. Truth be told, he’s short and his head is big, and his teeth look fake.”
More bachelors over on A&E, where Sons of Hollywood (Sundays at 10:30 pm) continues. Randy Spelling (son of TV mega-producer Aaron), Sean Stewart (son of Rod), and their “talent manager,” David Weintraub, are roommates. They have parties where they put hot dogs in women’s faces and say, “Eat the sausage!” David is setting up movie deals for Kurupt, an MC associated with Snoop Dogg, and when he meets his client, he embraces him and says, “It’s all money, baby.” Kurupt orders a drink and hisses at the retreating form of the waitress: “And bring back your bad ass!” “Oh yeah,” agrees David, following the rapper’s gaze. “That is one bad . . . you know . . . ” He may not be very good at being black, but the Traubster is a sharp operator: he’s producer and co-creator, so the show is his baby, a bold attempt to parlay the slender charms of Sean and Randy into something resembling product. Will it work? No. These bozos are too bozo-esque, and their plight as scions is too dark with unspoken misery. Sean in particular seems to have hurt himself with drugs. “You ever hear of stem cells? I’m going to do that,” he tells his friend Joser. “What is it for, though?” asks Joser. “For my brain, dude!” chirps Sean.
Wildlife update: on The Best and Worst of Tred Barta (Versus, Fridays at 9 pm), Captain Tred whacked a British Columbia moose with his longbow. The unfortunate creature presented itself to him as he crouched behind a bush, shambling over with its long lip distended in curiosity, and Tred let fly. “One shot,” he crowed to his guide as the dead-already moose staggered away and fell into a lake. “A double-lunger! Oh Ben, my heart is in my chest!” On APL’s excellent Animal Crime Scene: African Assassin (Saturdays at 9 pm), meanwhile, an adolescent Thompson’s gazelle got a very raw deal. Its mother, having chased off a prowling hyena, was taken at night by a leopard: infrared caught the big cat looking up from his kill, wearing a smeared clown grin of fresh blood. Meal over, he stashed the corpse in a tree, its head hanging down as if in shame. The orphaned fawn trembled briefly in the short grasses before being done in by a mystery assailant. Pathetic details from the biography of a Thompson’s gazelle: “Young fawns have very little odor as their scent glands are undeveloped.” At the lab, vaporized superglue was blown over the body and a fingerprint was obtained. A fingerprint? Yes, the killer was a treacherous baboon who was known to the victim. He came galloping in on his knuckles, doubly lethal because he wielded “the power of thought.” Bastard!