Breaking news: This dreary drama was expected to run for only six weeks—longer than the total of Chris Harrison’s appearances since 2002, yet shorter than any winner’s resulting relationship. But now that COVID-19 has put the kibosh on new material, the producers are reportedly investigating extending the episode count for the show. Now the viewer is not only held hostage in his own home, he’s being subjected to cruel torture. Never mind WHO, where’s the Geneva Convention?
This padding of content (and me, since I’ve put on eight pounds since the premiere) can only be contrived bits like outtakes, bloopers, and interviews with people who’ve proved themselves boring in short form. Why won’t ABC try something original, like shadow puppets or a review of Vanna White’s dresses over the decades?
Tonight Ryan and Natascha will go on a date, during which they will sound more vacuous than the president suggesting we treat coronavirus with a hypodermic full of Formula 409. The couple will attend a concert by Chris Lane, who’s married to Lauren Bushnell, the Bachelor contestant who broke up with Ben Higgins. In the future, everyone will have appeared on this franchise for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, Brandon is in quite a spot. He gave Savannah a rose last week, but told Julia he’s still interested in her. That’s after Julia revealed she’s interested in both Brandon and Sheridan. Have you updated your Google sheet? Maybe they can all trade off every few nights, like Kody from Sister Wives does.
Chris Harrison says this is the moment we’ve been waiting for. His retirement? An episode where no one wears sequins? Alas, no. In between crying, flirting, and spats, the couples will sing together in front of an audience, as well as the judges. The panel consists of seasoned experts in musical performance, whoring yourself out on TV, or both.
At this juncture, the guys and gals are apprehensive. So much hangs in the balance, especially their bank balances. Gabe is suddenly interested in Savannah, while Sheridan continues to be hopeful he will connect with Julia. Brandon finds both Julia and Savannah “incredible,” largely because their cup sizes are comparable.
Chris Harrison arrives to remind the group that in these here parts, love comes before music. They say the opposite if you’re a member of a symphony orchestra. He further reports that no new people will be joining the cast, so everyone present must determine which relationship they want to pursue. If it’s someone in craft services, get the hell out.
Chris then admonishes them to decide if they are ready to proceed with that person, and if not, well, there’s the door. Turn left to audition for The Voice.
Some of the group are put off by this demand. These stragglers are still torn as to whom they’re drawn to. With both Savannah and Julia undecided, Brandon has a better chance of being chosen to participate in an online survey.
Gabe, who’s had less screen time than the reflection of a boom mike in the window, now sees Ruby as his best option, as if she were a plank of wood and he were treading water near the Titanic. Ultimately, he decides to go home without drama, probably figuring there are more interesting women on Hollywood Game Night. At least Chris and Bri are a solid pair, although I remember when we all thought Danny De Vito and Rhea Perlman would last forever.
Now Savannah is in tears. She is troubled by Brandon’s uncertainty. I would be troubled by his fatuousness. He does his best to reassure her, along with shoring up his chances of performing Music To My Eyes in the next episode.
Sheridan hopes Julia has found some clarity. He consults her about it, because uncertainty and passiveness are such appealing traits. She insists she would never lie to him about her feelings for Brandon. She will, however, rub his nose in those feelings.
Eventually, Chris Harrison comes by to address the assembled. Each couple will now be able to go to a “much deeper level,” although this time, he doesn’t mean in the hot tub. They will perform a song together, to be judged by two industry pros and two former Bachelor contestants. The first pair knows the business, the second knows the bidness.
First, Jamie and Trevor will sing some song by a country duo. Jamie notes the new level of vulnerability that comes with singing with someone you feel romantic about. I experienced that when I performed with David Cassidy on I Woke Up in Love This Morning every Friday night at 8:30.
Meanwhile, Julia’s torment is real. Brandon or Sheridan, Sheridan or Brandon? She can’t decide whether it’s more important to support each other musically or in the sack. It’s an age-old dilemma, generally resolved by choosing the better-looking guy, then playing Sinatra while you jump his bones.
Bekah and Danny get the first date today. What? This format is so confusing. They go to a house with an array of clothes, shoes, and accessories. A stylist will guide them in creating their own look, the meat dress having already been taken. After they model their outfits, which are reminiscent of every other reality show performer’s, Danny joins Bekah in the hot tub. He tells her he’s warm for her form, but she is not so sure. This is all happening too fast, probably because the series is only six episodes long.
We next cut to Julia, or is it Savannah? They’re like two Barbies in a Dream House. Both women are tormented by whom to choose, which shouldn’t be an issue since it’s first-come, first-served. Will Julia agree to settle for Sheridan? Is Savannah confident that Brandon is into her? Or will both women be used as inflatable bop gloves for the writing room’s pleasure?
Sheridan is anxious that Julia cannot resolve her conflicted feelings. He clings to the belief that if they can just perform (a song) together, everything else will move forward smoothly. He’s got Julia confused with the savage breast that music hath charms to soothe.
Now Julia confronts Savannah about their intertwined situations. Savannah is annoyed. By now, she’s chosen Brandon, and it’s none of that walking peroxide job’s business. Julia accuses her of being disingenuous, which was on her Word of the Day calendar just yesterday. She then insists she has no feelings for Brandon. She might want to mention that to Sheridan while he’s tuning his guitar waiting on her.
For their date, Ryan and Natascha watch Chris Lane practice. He hands them their tickets to tonight’s concert, as if they couldn’t order them from SeatGeek themselves. Meanwhile, Rudi is getting anxious about performing with Matt—on stage, you filthy-minded superfan.
Ryan and Nat then appear with Chris Lane to sing. Nat admires him and his love Lauren, formerly Ofben. Their relationship also developed as a reality show coupling, a proven method for ensuring successful marriages.
Next day, Sheridan is still passively longing for Julia, like my dog gazing at a pizza crust on someone’s plate. Matt is set to sing with Rudi, who has doubts about herself. She thinks Matt’s handsome and talented, so she may be suffering from a cognitive issue. A contented Chris and Bri perform with ease, confident in both their love for each other and their arc for this season.
Jamie and Trevor are initially sure they will do well. Then Jamie starts pouting and whining at her stumbles, which rapidly identifies her as more high-maintenance than a Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. In the midst of practicing with Trevor, she starts making mistakes, and finally flees the room with a camera chasing her. I hope the show has liability insurance for all the people running on tile floors carrying heavy equipment.
Back to Sheridan, still musing on his chances with Julia right before they’re set to perform for the judges. Chris Harrison introduces the panel, which consists of Jo Jo and Jordan from the franchise, Jason Mraz, and Kesha, who has loose chains attached to her fingernails that must make washing her hands for 20 seconds quite a chore. These four will rate each performance, and ultimately decide who stays on for the next round. They’re not listening to their hearts as much as the producers.
First up are Rudi and Matt, singing something by Shawn Mendes. Rudi hopes they don’t forget the words, which would indeed be a journeyman’s error, although not as bad as neglecting to wear a tight outfit. They seem to connect as they sing and play, but nothing we haven’t witnessed before in a Lifetime movie. Mraz likes their singing, but is not sure they’re really a couple yet. It’s like going on a job interview, and the boss is concerned that you didn’t find the payroll manager attractive.
Next up are Bri and Chris. She’s a stage hog, which could bode poorly for them unless they want to do another remake of A Star is Born. Jo Jo and Jordan find them genuine, but Mraz thinks they might be more in love with the audience than each other. I wonder how many women he’s plowed through.
Bekah and Danny follow, sitting on two stools with him clutching her fingers like brass knuckles. With their giant white grins and copious mops of hair, they look like guest performers on a 60’s variety show. Jo Jo questions their feelings for each other, while Mraz agrees they’re still getting to know each other. Isn’t that true of everyone on this show? None of these couples even know if the other person has a pet or likes black licorice.
Brandon and Savannah are next. Julia is savagely certain they’re unhappy together and that it will show, like when Sonny and Cher were forced to sing I Got You, Babe on Letterman. Does that mean Chris Harrison is having an affair with his intern? Brandon is a close-singer, which in this era of masks makes me nervous. Jordan notes that Savannah pulls away from him toward the end, but it could just be black licorice breath. Neither Kesha nor Mraz sees a great romance forming, but can probably envision a one-night stand if they’re both drunk. Establishing herself as the season’s villain, Julia is pleased to presume the couple will be eliminated. So of course they won’t be.
Now it’s her and Sheridan’s turn. The performance is all about Julia, as is to be expected. She gets most of the solo parts, during which she monitors the judges’ reactions every third note. Sheridan believes everyone saw their connection, which is less girlfriend and boyfriend than queen and footman. Jo Jo feels Sheridan was enraptured by Julia, as does Kesha, who wears more bracelets than the Hindu goddess Shakti. Mraz loves them, too. They’re the singing version of Tristan and Isolde, if Tristan were a damn fool.
Next to perform are Natascha and Ryan. Mraz appears taken in at the first notes, although based on his expression, it might just be an itch he can’t address while on camera. While he’s at the keyboard, Ryan can’t fondle Nat to indicate passion, but then they both get to their feet, bat their eyes over the mics, and conclude the performance nose-to-nose, like Eskimos booked at Marie’s Crisis Cafe. Mraz is very, very impressed with Natascha. He’ll have a note sent to her dressing room, after which Ryan will “accidentally” injure a vocal cord.
Finally, it’s time for Trevor and the hair-trigger Jamie, who’s wearing the same dress I did to my first seventh-grade dance. Afterwards, she delivers a TED Talk about her emotional growth as a person, completing ignoring Trevor’s presence. When the judges praise their performance, she shrieks and collapses to the floor in joy. All she needs is a voice-over listing side effects, and it’s an ad for Effexor.
The Rose Ceremony is next. For the first time in the franchise’s history, the judges will decide who gets roses. The florist must be thrilled. The first couple to be so honored is Jamie and Trevor. Her bra straps are hanging out, not a look that stylist would recommend.
Next up are Natascha and Ryan. They offer each other roses; both accept. After them come Matt and Rudi, followed by Bri and Chris. Julia and Sheridan give each other roses after that. He hopes Brandon gets the next heave-ho, which would eliminate any further issues with Julia. That means he and Savannah will be staying.
Indeed. So long to Bekah and Danny. We hardly knew ye. They depart in separate limos since they’re supposed to feel bad for the other person as they drive off the set. I bet the producers wish gas were as cheap then as it is now.
Next week: Resentment, regret, and vibrato.