This season's stars are so ridiculous that you can get hooked on watching them, says Dalton Ross
Temptation Island
Credit: Temptation Island 2: Fox

Meet the new dysfunctional couples

As scary as it sounds, there actually were some folks who watched ”Temptation Island” last season and said to their loved ones, ”Hey, honey, would you mind if we went on television and destroyed our relationship in front of a national audience?” We were privileged enough to meet these fine people on the tube for the first time this week as ”Temptation Island 2” kicked off with a double shot of episodes on Wednesday and Thursday nights.

Since the first episode was all about introductions, let’s recall our first impressions of the couples. There’s Catherine and Edmundo, whose main interaction so far begged the question, why trudge through high-brow programming like ”The West Wing” when you can sit back and watch a seemingly dysfunctional couple argue about whether or not his arm should be around her? See, that’s entertainment!

Of course, these two are the gold standard next to some of the others. Take John and Shannon, for instance. Obviously, they’re in it for the long haul. On second thought… according to John, the only haul that Shannon wants is of the financial variety. He worries early on that she’ll leave him on the island for some rich bozo: ”I’m not gonna say that she’s a gold digger whatsoever, but you know, she would love not to work.” For the record, Shannon does nothing to disprove his assertion, claiming that ”money makes the world go ’round,” while professing that John’s job as bartender ”is fine, for now.” Very supportive, these two.

Tony and Genevieve are another doozy. ”Marriage is an institution,” claims Genevieve at one point, ”and I don’t think I’m ready to be institutionalized” (although maybe she should be because she signed up for this show, but that’s another story). Meanwhile, Tommy and Nikkole’s main drama seems to center on the fact that he won’t marry her. And apparently, the fallback plan to marriage is a trip to ”Temptation Island.” Makes sense, right?

After the couples settle in at their tropical surroundings, host Mark L. Walberg suddenly excuses himself for a minute. When he returns, we are treated to perhaps the most incredible moment in reality TV history as an army of strangers cloaked in neon blue robes emerges from the darkness. This flamboyant meets fraternity element comes off as some sort of Michael Flatley hazing ceremony. But wait, it gets better. On cue from Walberg (”It all begins now!”), the strangers drop their robes and reveal themselves to be… scantily clad hussies and hunks! In other words, the ”tempters.”

The next day, the couples reconvene to formally meet the singles. Among them is Brian, who claims to wear a size 14 shoe and comments that the ladies should ”do the math.” Then there’s Caneel, who — apparently thinking she’s on ”TRL” instead of ”TI2” — says that she likes snowboarding and can ”party like a rock star!” Perhaps not coincidentally, Brian and Caneel are the first two individuals voted off Temptation Island. The first episode ends with the pairs finally being separated for good and each blocking an all-too-tempting single from dating their partner. Finally, we’re ready to roll.

As Thursday night’s episode begins, the couples are paired up with singles for their first dates. Immediately, we sense trouble as money grubbing Shannon is set up with a law student named Kaine. (Ka-ching!) We are then treated to a montage of all the outings. Everybody seems to be having a swell time, except Genevieve who says her date Kevin is too tame. Kevin, for his part, seems genuinely scared by the woman. We also see John, who was blocked from going on a date; he’s sleeping in his cabin while single ladies right outside dis him in front of cameras. Yet another great moment in reality TV history.

Of course, watching the dates is fun, but watching the couples watch the dates is even more so. First, the ladies attend their creepy ”bonfire,” and all decide to watch video clips of their men in action. Catherine watches hers and cries after learning about an alleged kiss that may have taken place. The cameras then cut to a shot of host Walberg grimacing, or maybe he’s just trying hard not to laugh. Either way, it’s pretty damn hilarious. Then it’s the fellas’ turn. In another priceless moment, Tommy starts randomly convulsing after watching girlfriend Nikkole smooching on her date. This is the type of thing you rewind and watch back in slo-motion repeatedly until your VCR breaks. It’s just that good. Unfortunately, the episode ends here, and I — and perhaps only I — am left to count down the hours until Fox can pull out yet another quality hour of mind-numbing insanity. (Not counting ”Ally McBeal,” of course.)

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