The Contender – Recap – Episode 5

The Contender is fastly fading to be blandest reality show EVER. After a shocking suicidal episode fails to resuscitate a heartbeat, is there any hope for Burnett’s boxing dud?

The recap for episode five:

Sergio’s wife is excited that he has won the victory over Najai and goes on about how much better than the other competitors he is. Sergio, the humble guy that he is, wants his lady to shut her trap as to not put the other boxers off. Don’t worry Sergio, the rest of the boxers were concentrating on eating, and multi-tasking is not their strongest point.

Resistance builds strength, as in life, a weekly pearl of wisdom from the perennial idiot, Stallone.

Manfredo is apparently not physically there, as his second shot seems to leave him humbled and timid. With an early show focus like this, Manfredo just might be fighting again at the end of tonight’s episode.

In the gym, all gather around for some free time. The boys of the west will go out in suits (AKA pimping uniforms), and according to Jesse, even cheesburgers would be good in suits. They end up heading to an old desolate building in LA, and bump into boxing legend, light heavyweight champion of the world, Antonio, the only guy to KO Roy Jones.

Meanwhile the East sulk in their fatigues and tank tops.

The pimping West gather around the table for a mad game of poker, complete with Cuban cigars and wearing sunglasses indoors.

The usual fluff compliments ensue as the boys metaphorically suck Antonio’s cock, until he annouces that he has two tickets for Hawaii to give away.

The challenge this week is an ‘urban’ obstacle course loaded with product-placement corn. They must make their way through a Toyoto traffic jam, jump some hurdles, grab tires littered through the streets, push a garbage dumpster along the way and make a ladder up to the top of a transport truck. First team to the top wins.

The idiot-East team has to fall back to recover the locks, dangling from the rear-view mirrors of the cheesy ‘traffic jam’. Naturally the West coast takes the lead and makes their ladder first, winning the power to choose. This challenge is one of the Contender’s worst, slow and poorly edited, with only a weak commentary informing us who is in the lead at any given point.

The west again owns the East. Miguel chooses Peter Manfredo, claiming it’s a ballsy move, when, he obviously just wants to take advantage of the psychologically beaten pussywillow.

Family scenes are as boring as ever, with the usual melodramatics trying to ham up the dialogue even more. Peter’s wife is concerned, afraid for her hubby after he was dealt his first loss after 21 wins. It bothers her that she can’t do anything to raise his spirits, that that’s his job. But the cute daughter says “he’s not done yet,” which cartalyzes a family burst of giggles and a disapproving audience groan.

Late night at the ring, Miguel walks around as this week’s shadowboxing loser who apparently didn’t have a family worth bringing. But it’s gonna be a great night for him.

One hour before the fight, Manfredo lets us know that if the greatest champions (Tyson, etc.) can be beaten and come back, so can he. Another teammate muses he’ll be especially fierce in this comeback.

Dad shows up to give Miguel support and asks about the competition. The truth comes out: “oh, not that much. He’s already lost once.” If I’ve learned anything about the cocky assholes on this show, it’s they don’t last long because The Contender is about family values and honor over guts and strategy.

Montage time goes lethargically from family to family, with rousing support, boxing practice and comp-gossip (take him to school!), plus a prime serving of pre-boxing Sugar Ray poetics. We get glimpses of the not-so-packed (but cleverly edited to appear otherwise) boxing ring.

The announcer psyches up the crowd as Manfredo tells us he will make the best of his second chance in life. James Caan smiles and shakes an encouraging fist at him. Looks like there is a tear in the corner of his eye.

Miguel enters next, sure that he is the better fighter and will certainly win this week. Chuck Norris watches intensely and Miguel tells his son to be smart.

Round One: Miguel dominates, as Manfredo appears to be slow with the punches. Toward the second half Manfredo is much better and lands some swift uppercuts, as a wave of “Peter” erupts in the crowd.

Round two, Manfredo lands the first three fierce blows, but takes some shocking hits that have Stallone out of his chair. No cheering this time from the wife. Peter is told to take a deep breath.

Round three, Miguel lands a flurry of blows all over Manfredo’s weakening body as the ringside fans tell him to finish him off and knock him out. There is NOTHING from the Peter ringside, except Peter’s wife turning the kid’s head away from the parental destruction.

Peter’s wife tell him to think as much as he can and to keep the punches coming. But are his spirits completely gone?

In round 4, Miguel tries to hold Peter back but the prettier of the two finds some weak spots in Miguel’s kidney area and lays some nice whallops. But it is closer here in this round than in the ones Manfredo was dominated. Stallone again is up and cheering … alleigance obvious?

Fifth and final round:

A lot of cringes are witnessed as Peter turns the tides and dominates in this round, and drives home a majority of the slow-motion punches. Afterwards he stands up triumphant.

Peter has come back from his humiliating defeat. He’s very proud to bring one home for the east. and his fierce combat even awards him with a hug from James Caan.

Miguel is told he fought like a tiger, and as Stallone pinches his fingers together, he says it was literally “that close”. Tears of pain, and tears of sorrow accompany Miguel’s depression, crying into his towel. His friends blame the loss on the cheering of the crowd. Miguel’s not ashamed that he lost, nor is he ashamed that he is crying. He’s ashamed that his father still has to work tomorrow, that his mom has to take the metro and that his sister has to take the bus. He hasn’t changed his sorry lot in life. I was almost expecting a suicide. Anywho, the loser wishes Peter the best.

The end.

The Contender is wearing its formula thin. The stupid quips from Stallone are few and far between, preventing the episode from reaching the so-bad-it’s-good appeal that the first few outings had. The challenge this time is duller than Sugar Ray and the trainer isn’t even goofy enough? And still whatever happened to the female manager?

Teams should be awarded with dinners with Chuck Norris and James Caan, as that would at least be more interesting than washed up boxers. What NBC and Mark Burnett must realize is that TV audiences and especially REALITY TV audiences DO NOT CARE about boxing and families. We like carnage, sex, betrayals and cleavage, NONE of which the Contender can bring to the ring. They should move the Contender to Thursday night so Survivor can finally KNOCK IT OUT!

Rating: D

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