Reality Bites: Average Joe: Adam Returns - Episode 1
by Rachel Jaffe
Published: March 16, 2004
Desert landscape. A scrubby airport hangar. A lonesome tumblewood whirls by the camera.
And then, a tall man walks into the frame.
Adam, of course, is Adam Mesh, the last Average Joe standing on the first season of Average Joe, and the runner-up (well, okay, loser) when it came to Melana's heart.
In a surprisingly cinematic opening, Adam pushed open the big doors, entered the infamous airplane hangar from the final selection ceremony -- now devoid of the red carpet or glitz -- and reflected on the past events. In flashbacks, we saw again Melana telling Adam that they'd developed a friendship which turned into a romance, but "tonight, that romance has to end." In interview, Adam reflected that he hadn't even heard her correctly at first -- he'd been so sure that he was the one that she was picking, he hadn't at first understood she was saying good-bye.
"The hardest part of that night was when [selected Hunk] Jason walked off the plane and kind of said, 'We'll come visit you.' And all of a sudden it was like they were the 'we' and I was the 'I'." Adam lamented. It didn't help to think of them out on an extravagant island having their vacation together.
Cut to scenes of Jason and Melana frolicking in the sun together. In interview (presumably done at the time of the vacation), Melana said, "I just think giving Adam a chance, the way I feel about Jason, would be leading Adam on. I never want to kiss anyone else but Jason."
Ouch! She may not have wanted Adam to keep kissing her, but lots of people did. At the finale show, Adam was watching the show with 500 of his closest friends ... all of whom were shocked that Melana picked Jason.
And it wasn't just them. Adam received tons of calls from women interested in dating him, people on the street told him that Melana made the wrong decision, and he went on the tv show circuit doing interviews.
So ... he signed on for another round of Average Joe (Adam's a big Rocky fan, so boxing metaphors come easy). Yes, there were dangers of doing the show again, because his emotions would be involved. But that also was what he wanted. "I want to feel like I did on the first show, when I was with Melana, where I felt a lot." (Cue flashback to Adam's infamous speech about how Melana made him feel like being with a first girlfriend, when everything is new and fresh and you're laughing all the time.)
Despite his doubts about dating a bunch of women at one time, Adam was ready to give it a shot. So he strode out of the hangar, and into his own series: Average Joe: Adam Returns.
Looking For Candidates
Adam was promised the assistance of top relationship experts to screen the field of candidates for him. The first one was ... Dennis Luciani, an Average Joe eliminated in the second episode! Okay, I'm not sure how a 35-year-old virgin counts as a relationship expert, but he was the lovable and quietly courageous dork from Average Joe, so it's a treat to see him whirling his hula hoop down the street. Dennis's task was to look at videotapes from women who wanted to meet Adam. Dennis pledged to find the woman who'd be the perfect fit for Adam personality-wise -- "somebody that's going to be able to care, somebody who's going to have a great personality, somebody who's going to make him laugh." (Dennis awarded points to the woman who said in her video that she'd checked out fire exits, just in case -- a humorous allusion to Melana's final date with Adam when he accidentally set a present for her on fire.)
But Adam was promised more than one expert. The next expert was ... Tareq, an Average Joe eliminated in the third episode! Oh, I love old home week! Tareq was always one of the most quotable Joes, with his odd formal manner and wry humor, and he didn't disappoint here. His first comment was, "I'm a man of science, and I believe that love is tainted by humans." Tareq's role was to use online matching service eHarmony (the most blatant bit of product placement I've seen since Tina hankered for some Do-ree-tos on Survivor: Outback) to scientifically choose the most compatible woman for Adam. Tareq exhorted the troops at eHarmony: "Ladies and gents, we need to do this quickly. As we speak, Adam is on his way to Palm Springs to meet the women of his dreams. We're going to find him the right matches. ... Do they like golf? Do they like broccoli? Anything and everything!" (Ah, yes, the infamous broccoli allusion from the very first episode ever. I'm tellin' ya, people -- miss a season, miss a lot!)
Enough experts? Dennis is taking care of the emotional, and Tareq the mental, but what about the physical? Time for more Joes -- Joe, Jay and Craig, all of whom were eliminated in the second episode. They were back on the bus ... headed to Las Vegas to find some "hot" girls. The main ringleader was Joe, whom I'd tagged as buffoon first time around. I gotta say, take him out of that tight suit and put him in some casual clothes, maybe keep some of the booze away from him, and the guy actually does seem like someone you could party with. For the first time, I can understand how he'd been cast. Craig, on the other hand, still seemed way more reticent than a guy whose profile boasted that he parties like a rock star, and Jay's quirky humor was frankly overshadowed.
In Vegas, the guys held open casting calls at the Luxor. Jay confessed to Joe that he felt bad telling a woman that she wasn't pretty enough for the show, after the way that the Joes had felt about being cut. Joe's response? "Yeah, well, life sucks." Their selection process was superficial, but amusing in a bad-boy way. I don't think any of the three increased their marriage potential with the viewing public, but they sure seemed to be having a good time!
So with Dennis, Tareq, and the Three Stooges at work, which approach is best? For Adam, it didn't seem to matter. He reflected that it's all a matter of destiny -- it was destiny that brought him to the house in the first place, it was destiny that he not be picked by Melana, and now it's destiny that he's back. So however she's selected, the right woman is also a matter of destiny.
Looking For Love
Okay, the other Average Joes have finished their job. Now it's time for Adam to get to work, as he meets the women.
The door to the first bus opened, and out stepped ... Dennis. You know, everyone feels better when they see Dennis, and that includes Adam. "Seeing Dennis again and knowing that he was involved in finding girls for me made me feel really good," Adam said in voiceover. Dennis explained about having screened the women for Adam, and then entered the house.
And then, the parade of women started. The women are, for the most part, attractive in a "out at the bar with the girls" sort of a way. There are some exceptions on either side of that level, such as Anna, a blonde bombshell in a dress that droops down to her navel with only a thin band keeping the fabric from flying off her breasts, or Jen Lifshitz, with a larger-than-average nose and constantly raised upper lip. However, there aren't the extremes of size, shape, etc., that we've seen with the Joes. Just about all the women, of course, are thrilled to meet Adam -- after all, these are women who auditioned not just to be on a dating show, but to date Adam.
As the second bus opened, the first lady off was definitely on the lower end of the attractiveness scale ... hey, wait a minute! That's no lady, that's erstwhile Hunk Jason! Holy cow, the bland pretty boy got dressed up in drag! Adam, however, recognized him immediately. I howled. Hysterically. Never would have thought he had it in him, and I've never liked him better.
Jason's "mission" was to do reconnaissance, by infiltrating the group of women on the bus and getting the lay of the land. He reported to Adam that the girls all seemed to be genuinely excited about meeting Adam. As he entered the house, Jason said in voiceover, "This is about the dumbest thing I've ever done, but I was willing to do it for Adam, because I felt bad about how the first show ended." (Not too flattering to Melana, but, whatever. I'm just glad he did it.)
After Jason, of course, there were more women -- real women. And then there was a third bus, with Tareq being the first off this time. He told Adam that he'd found two people on eHarmony that were perfect matches. Adam wondered if that was possible, and Tareq replied confidently, "If it isn't, I'll eat my hat." Adam tried a lame allusion to asking them if they liked broccoli, proving once again that no one can pull off a Tareq line like Tareq.
Once all 20 women arrived, it was time for the cocktail party. Adam did his best to meet everyone, although of course he didn't have a lot of time with any one woman. He worried about making a good impression -- even though these women came there to meet him, he still felt pressure to live up to this image that they had of him -- and he worried about whether he'd get enough information from them. Because, by the end of the night, he needed to cut four women from the field.
Looking For The Door
Eliminations were difficult for Adam when he was a Joe, and he wasn't really crazy about them when he was on the other side of the process, but still, eliminations had to be done.
The first woman eliminated was Elizabeth Wood, an attorney-entrepreneur. She suspected it might be because she's such a strong, competent woman. Me, I think it's because of her age. The NBC web site lists her as 31 years old; on-screen, she was identified as 35; she could easily pass for 40. And there are a lot of dewy girls in their early 20s in this group.
Next to go was Sara Stone, who seemed comfortable leaving. She pretty much said that they'd had no chemistry.
The third one to leave was Rebecca Butler, one of the two "perfect matches" from Tareq. She expressed some disappointment that he hadn't give her more of a chance, because of the "match" aspect. To me, she'd never seemed comfortable with him, and she certainly wasn't as excited to meet him as many of the other women who were there solely because of the show. Maybe that's why she got the boot, or maybe it was because she was one of the larger women on the show. And, at 28, she was another of the older ones in the group.
The last one eliminated was Jennifer Bolkin, a bubbly, chubby 28-year-old who was Adam's biggest fan. Having already been sure that Adam would pick her and she'd move to New York to be with him, Jennifer was the most disappointed of the four leaving tonight. She wondered if maybe she came on too strong. Could be, or could be that ... well, after all, Adam was the one enchanted with Melana's "great ass" on a rock-climbing date.
(I'd been hoping that the eliminated women would get escorted out by Dennis and Tareq (dates for everyone! that's my motto!), but alas, that was not to be.)
So, now Adam's down to 16 women, and there are only three episodes left in this limited series. And there's another bus (you couldn't forget the Three Stooges, could you?) on its way! Hang on, because it sounds like we're in for a fast and bumpy ride this time!
Average Joe: Adam Returns is on Mondays at 10:00 p.m. Eastern time, on NBC. The premiere will be rebroadcast on Saturday, March 20, at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
On the Internet: NBC.com's Official Site | SirLinksaLot.net