Monday, October 7, 2013

BMN Superfan - episode 1, season 2

BMN Superfan is back!  It "premiered" on Sunday night with a new cast of 14 contestants:

  • Casey Atwood, 33, Nashville, TN - Elementary school teacher, former NASCAR driver
  • Bobbington Brandt, 48, Tulare, CA - Police officer, former college football player
  • Adam Brister, 29, Canton, GA - Retail store manager, hunter, musician
  • Pam Driscoll, 38, Concord, NC - Charity director
  • Deb Holmes, 52, Chesapeake, VA - Medical dispatcher
  • Brooke Liptrap, 32, Baltimore - Stay-at-home mom
  • Meredith MacBills, 28, Corvallis, OR - Teacher/folk singer
  • Tim Miller, 39, Delaware, OH - Insurance broker/hobby farmer
  • Alecia A. Moore, 24, New York City - Sportscaster
  • Doug Scherer, 47, Bloomington, IN - Post-graduate college student
  • Wayne Vandenlangenberg, 37, Green Bay, WI - Former contestant on The Biggest Loser
  • Kimberly "ButtaFly" Wimberly, 26, Atlanta - "Vocalese" (spoken word poetry) artist
  • Bellamy Wood, 19, West Plains, MO - College student, former Miss Teen Missouri USA
  • Jason Youngblood, 30, New Bern, NC - U.S. Marine veteran (corporal), recipient of the Bronze Star

Shandi Finnessey returns as host, welcomes all the contestants and reminds them of the prizes - $50,000 cash and $50,000 in charitable contributions, as with last season.  However, part of the grand prize is different:  The winner won't spend a week on the Barefoot farm - "I can't believe I'm not going to the farm.  After all, isn't that what I came for?" responds Deb - but will instead will go to Camp Paradise, the house owned by four Barefoot brothers who are distantly related to members of "the 13" and featured on the new BMN series, What the Buck, starring Hambone.  The package includes four days of outdoor activities and survivalist training, and a post-visit performance from Hambone and the brothers, who have formed a rock band.  "I spent a lot of time at hunting lodges, so I definitively want this prize.  I want to go!" exclaims Adam.

The first challenge is a scavenger hunt at Five Counties Stadium in Zebulon, NC, home of the minor-league baseball team the Carolina Mudcats.  There, producers have hidden 14 envelopes throughout the stadium.  Some are underneath the stands, some in a party suite beyond the left-field fence, and one is even in the home team clubhouse.  Once all 14 contestants have found the envelopes, they open them to uncover paper placards with colored dots.  Half of them have red dots, and the other half have blue dots.  The colors determine the teams for the next challenge:
Red dots = Casey, Bobbington, Deb, Brooke, Alecia, Wayne, ButtaFly
Blue dots = Adam, Pam, Meredith, Tim, Doug, Bellamy, Jason

Next, elimination is on the line, as the new teams are asked to create a new mascot for the farm.  (Finnessey explains that mascots are traditionally used as tangible representations for various companies and concepts, and also appeal to children and their families.)  Team members are given specific assignments.  Three members from each team are concept and design, two others market the creation at the ballpark during a Mudcats home game, and two others report back on the game-day experience to the judges.

The red-dot team settles on the bear and name him Blackie, as it's supposed to be an Appalachian black bear.  Alecia explains why: "It can be cute and cuddly, or aggressive and strong, depending on the situation.  It's one of the most recognizable wild animals in the Western world.  Finally, the first syllable rhymes with Barefoot!"

The blue-dot team picks an owl, which they name Barney.  Adam explains: "The owl is the traditional guardian of the farm, especially at night when the people sleep.  Barn owls also have vision better than that of humans, which represents the farsighted ambitions and focus of the Barefoot Family Farm."

Alecia and Casey are chosen to represent the red team's idea at the Mudcats' game, while Doug and Meredith do the same for the blue team.  Each team sets up a booth to explain their concepts and try to gain support from the fans.  Whoever gets the most votes wins the challenge, and everyone on that team is safe for the week.  From the losers, someone goes home.

Postgame, the presentation begins with the judging panel: Brandon McLamb, Brian Warner (director of Gone Barefoot), and guest judge, Erin Perry, who is the director of stadium operations for the Mudcats.   Doing the presentations are Deb and ButtaFly for the red-dot team and Pam and Bellamy of the blue-dot team.  After Deb introduces, ButtaFly raps about the bear creation and what happened at the game.  Brandon calls the presentation "incredible and innovative" and says she can sell anything.  As for the design, Erin thinks that some of the features can be modified to make it more realistic, to which the other judges quickly agree.  Pam and Bellamy tell a "children's story" about the owl and reveal a comic book tied in to the mascot.  Brandon doesn't like this presentation as much, but says that pairing Barney with a possible comic book is a good idea for getting the children hooked on it.

But what of the ballpark vote that would decide the challenge?  Shandi reveals that, with 56 percent of the vote, Blackie has won.

Now comes time for the first elimination.  Both the promotion and presentation teams were equally blamed for the loss by the judges - the promoters for not making more of a design the judges thought was better, and the presentation team for a weak backstory and overdependence on the comic book.  Therefore, all four of them were sent to the bottom.  While some teammates wanted Pam sent home as the biggest threat in the game going forward, Doug's bland delivery was such that Brandon successfully lobbied the other judges to send him home.  "Oh, well, I've lost early and often, just like my Cubs," he sighs.

(As for the Mudcats home game, it was a 6-3 loss to the Winston-Salem Dash in the Carolina League.)

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