August 08, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

MTV’s previous ”Making the Band” enticed us with a pregnancy shocker, a heated rap-off, and a contestant named Pocahontas. Not to be outdone, its superb sophomore season (airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m.) follows the exploits of the previous finalists as P. Diddy preps the group to cut a hip-hop album. Here are a few highlights.

Best Homage to ”The Karate Kid”’s Mr. Miyagi Diddy forces the kids to wash cars all day (without food), teaching them how to keep it real.

Biggest Hair Don’t Babs freaks out on Ness after he makes her miss a hair-weave appointment.

Flimsiest Military Fantasy Badass Sgt. Diddy lines up the troops, inspects them, then orders them to drop…pounds and pimples.

Most Valuable Playa The delightfully civilized Farnsworth Bentley, Diddy’s ex-butler, represents in argyle and pink while trying to quell group strife. Can a former manservant teach self-esteem? We secretly hope not.

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