A Dose of Reality: Celebrity Paranormal Project - Season Finale
by Caroline Roberts
Published: December 17, 2006
It would be hard for VH1 to top itself after Debra Wilson's titanic meltdown last week. The only person who could top Wilson would be the man, the myth - Gary Busey himself. Apparently he wasn't available to return for the season finale, so VH1 looked inside itself and found an adequate replacement - Danny Bonaduce.
Once VH1 determined that the ex-child star, sometime radio dee-jay, and professional bad boy was a good fit, the rest of the cast instantly came to light. Imagine the conversation in which a VH1 programmer says, "Bring Gretchen on! They can fight, too, and we can air the show the same day as the Breaking Bonaduce season finale!"
A helpful production assistant comes in with the coffee and responds, "But living with Danny is already scary enough. How is a ghost going to top the nightmare that is Danny Bonaduce?"
The producer asks, "Are you sure Busey isn't available? What does that guy do all day?"
Then the ambitious production assistant has a stroke of genius. "I don't know what Busey does all day, but the perfect companions for Danny and Gretchen are right under our noses!"
"Who? New York?"
"No, sir. Tiffany would eat Danny for lunch and the ghosts for dinner. That might be a liability for the company. I'm talking about Chris and Adrianne! He's a buff ex-child star! He and Danny will be busy trying to outmacho each other. And Adrianne might take off her clothes. With a few good scares, this is ratings gold, I tell you!"
So the producers called up Chris and Adrianne, and the Bonaduce-Brady Summit was scheduled at the Walls Maximum Security Prison (a name for an abandoned prison in Nashville according to Adrianne's blog).
Nevermind that VH1's already been at the Walls, for they have a new spooky story for the week. This week's haunting involves the prisoners who died behind the prison walls and whose souls supposedly have not passed on. The Walls saw deaths by execution, by stabbing, by falling, and by "hot boxing" (no, it doesn't involve marijuana) in which the prisoners were locked into a concrete box. Apparently someone didn't read the amendment about "cruel and unusual punishment." With that, here's how our intrepid couples handled the spirit world:
Danny Bonaduce: Upon arrival, Danny immediately hogs the camera. When Gretchen and Adrianne hug and air-kiss in that casual acquaintance sort of way, Danny shouts for joy: "You guys aren't even in jail yet, and you're dyking out!" Boy, either he really isn't getting any, or he has an active imagination. But it looks like Gretchen's withholding again, because he's hoping to turn to Adrianne for comfort: "I plan to convince Adrianne that the only way to appease the spirits is to have sex with me." Well, who can blame him for dreaming? She's already had sex with Christopher Knight!
It gets worse. When Adrianne takes her first trip into the prison, she says she smells "burning wood." Danny says it's the figurative "burning wood" of the prisoners who have never seen anything as cute as Adrianne before. Of course, since Danny's got sex on his mind, Danny and Gretchen must investigate the "hot box" for their first assignment. (Insert dirty-minded pun here.) Seriously - this must be the closest thing to sex those two have had in years! Oddly enough, Danny doesn't make any jokes about "hot box," perhaps because he's the one who must be inside it, and he doesn't like it one bit. When a PA thumps on the side of the hot box, Danny loses it and proceeds to kick at the door until Gretchen returns to unlock it.
Danny's dream finally comes true when he goes with Adrianne on a mission to Death Row, but it isn't as much fun as he thought it would be because she starts crying and hyperventilating. Danny watches over her as she tries not to flip out while locked in a Death Row cell. But Danny is so impressed by Adrianne's histrionics that he assumes something "carbon-based" is hanging out with them. (Could it be an intrepid VH1 production assistant?) In the end, the wild and wacky Danny is a bit of a letdown. While investigating the Heart of the Haunting, Danny steps up and offers to replace Adrianne as conduit because this is going to give him a prime opportunity to act all freaky. But he doesn't flip out! He seems like a regular guy. This isn't the Danny we know and love! Busey-o-Meter: 3. Yes, you got that right. Only 3.
Gretchen Bonaduce: Unlike Adrianne, who has no qualms about telling her husband to shut up when he gets annoying, Gretchen aids and abets. It would be great if she used the fear engendered by Celebrity Paranormal Project as an excuse to lash out at Danny big-time. But Gretchen just does her usual Valley Girl thing. She's like an ex-Baywatch babe who never made it on Baywatch. At least in her bio they mention that she sings for the Muddflaps!
In her first trip ghost-hunting, Gretchen isn't scared of the hot box, but why should she be? She's had to deal with Danny. In a fascinating statement, Gretchen says, "I always feel safe with Danny." What? This is coming from the same woman who kicked Danny out of the house. But on the inside, Gretchen is probably jumping for joy at the prospect of torturing Danny a little bit. Part of the Hot Box Assignment requires Gretchen to lock Danny inside to see what life as a prisoner was like. The rest of the show, she just makes for a decent Base Commander and lets everyone else make fools of themselves. Busey-o-Meter: 1
Adrianne Curry: Remember that handcuff handbag Adrianne toted around all the time last season? Well, she's ditched it, but she's upholding the jailbait theme with - wait for it - a handcuff necklace. Klassy. Plus, even though she grew up in the prison complex known as Joliet, Illinois, she seems to have no concept of what jail is. As she walks into the compound, she points to an open-air holding pen and asks, "Is that, like, solitary confinement, or did they have chickens in there?"
In the first mission, Chris and Adrianne go hunting for George Gratzer, who met his death by falling from a catwalk. Adrianne goes up to the level from where Gratzer fell while Chris stays on the first level. Danny asks Adrianne to throw a dummy already hanging out in a prison cell over the edge of the catwalk. The sight of a dummy going over the railing is, as expected, underwhelming, but Adrianne plays it up in her own special way, telling everyone that her experience with the paranormal was so terrifying it "sucked balls."
Adrianne tries her best to work herself up into a Debra Wilson-esque state before she goes with Danny to Death Row, but she's no Debra Wilson. She starts crying at the sound of a few thumps. Danny locks her into a Death Row cell where she must write on the walls of the cell. She starts slumping and whimpering as she tries to write the number "7" on the wall. Danny gets her out of there before she can enjoy the full-on Debra Wilson Experience, which is probably being used as an acting-class exercise even as you read this piece.
When Adrianne, Chris, and Danny return to Death Row to re-enact an execution, Adrianne is cast as the executioner and Chris as the inmate. She reads Chris' sentence, and she proves that she's definitely more of a model than an actress. She gives the flattest line reading in the world. You'd think she'd throw a little more juice into it, no pun intended. Imagine what Debra Wilson would have done if she had the chance to read a death sentence. It would be bloody Shakespeare compared to what came out of Adrianne's mouth.
Adrianne gets all melodramatic when the rest of the gang determines that she will be the conduit for ghosts during the final expedition. They set up the table and the scroll and start talking to the ghosts. Instead of saying "Enter me now," Adrianne says, "You are not allowed to enter me, but you may hang out with us." Yeah, as if the ghosts of prison inmates are going to sit down for a beer and a smoke. Danny steps in, but nothing happens, and it looks like the final investigation will be a dud. Then a heroic PA makes absolutely sure that Adrianne Curry flips out by slamming the door shut and spooking everyone.
Back at Base Camp, Adrianne announces that she's going to puke, and it won't be pretty. Leave it to her to chronicle her emotions in terms of gastrointestinal distress. Chris shouts, with his mouth full of pizza, "He did enter you! In your stomach!" Those two cannot let a moment pass without gas. Sigh. Busey-o-Meter: 4
Christopher Knight: Chris is aiming for a more distinguished salt-and-pepper look, probably to assert that he may be a celebreality addict, but at least he's more mature than Danny Bonaduce. Given that Danny is already joking about having sex with Chris' young wife, it makes me wonder who would win in a fight between those two. I think that Danny could take Chris, but Chris has some pretty serious muscles, so the brawl might go on for a while.
In their first mission together, Adrianne is convinced that she's seen a ghost, and Chris dismisses it: "Adrianne is very impressionable." Then he says, "She's very tapped in to emotional schemes." Emotional schemes? Hoo-boy. That guy can turn anything into couples therapy. He and Adrianne start bickering at each other over who is Base Commander since Adrianne guards that post zealously. Then, when Danny and Gretchen return from the hot box, Adrianne says, "Any sort of confinement is my worst nightmare." Chris wears a look on his face that screams, "Well, you were the one who wanted to get married so much!"
In another twisted metaphor for their marriage, Adrianne and Chris re-enact an execution with Adrianne as executioner and Chris as victim. He's a cool customer when he sits in that chair, which would be scary whether you believe in ghosts or not, but he clearly doesn't like the idea of Adrianne throwing the switch on him. At the end of the show, Chris tells the producers - and probably Adrianne - what they want to hear, that he's taken "baby steps" toward believing in the paranormal. But he must not be all that impressed, as he downs that slice of pizza immediately after their expedition. Busey-o-Meter: 1
So, after a full season, it's clear - there is only one person in the world who can out-Busey Gary Busey - and that's former MadTV star Debra Wilson. Danny Bonaduce, I thought you could take it, but you clearly can't hold a candle.