4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)

Welcome back to a very special edition of The Bachelor. I know you’ve heard that before, but all kidding aside this season is incredibly special for those of us who have put our heart and soul into this franchise. This season officially marks our 10th year on TV. That is an amazing accomplishment in this day and age of network television. There are actually a few of us, including myself, that have been here since the beginning. To borrow a cheesy Bachelor phrase: it’s been an amazing journey. Whether you’ve been watching us since the beginning or just jumped on the bandwagon I want to say thank you! Please know that it’s never lost on any of us that work so hard on this franchise that the only reason we are around is because you have chosen to make us a part of your Monday night ritual. I’m incredibly excited this is our 10th year, because as you saw on Monday night, this season is more than worthy of not only holding up the Bachelor mantle, but also taking it to new heights.

We always start the new season with a look back at how we got here, but for some reason this time going back to Fiji and watching Ben’s proposal to Ashley was strange. I’m not sure if it’s that Ashley and JP seem so perfect together or that Ben has come so far since that day. Kudos to the producers for throwing in some great music this season. The addition of the David Gray tune off the top was solid. You’ll see more of that throughout the season.

I always struggle how to handle the first episode blog so I’ve decided to break it down into sections. I’m going to start with quick comments on arrival highlights and then move on to the party and looking forward. Sitting down and talking to Ben again was great. He arrived a little nervous and apprehensive. Ben is a smart guy who really has his stuff together and I enjoyed my talk with him. When Ben and I talk, you’re really getting his true thoughts and feelings and not just what he wants the public to see and hear. This open, candid demeanor will continue throughout the season and it only adds to the already fantastic show.

“Oh, Ben better eat some cow balls! I’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t.” Well, that moment from Amber T. certainly gets us right into the introduction to the ladies, so now let’s get to my favorite moments from the arrivals. Erika came with the line, “You’re guilty… of being sexy!” Although it was incredibly cheesy, Erika knew her audience: Ben enjoys cheesy, so it worked for her. There is always somebody that comes on this show who just can’t handle the experience and the atmosphere; Jenna is definitely that woman this season. You could tell from the start that she just wasn’t comfortable and wasn’t fitting in. Ben thought Emily the epidemiologist was cute, but what you couldn’t tell on TV was when she tried to spray the mouth spray, it actually went sideways and hit him in the face. Ben, being a good sport, played it off well and went with the bit. Just like the person that doesn’t fit in, there’s also always somebody that gets out of the limo, sees all the lights, and just draws a blank. Congrats, Dianna, you are this season’s “blank girl.” Anna took a huge risk and walked right by Ben not saying a word. I’m assuming Anna thought that was sexy and bold, but Ben didn’t appreciate it at all. Sheryl, the grandma arriving ahead of her granddaughter Brittney, was classic. I loved the move and so did Ben. Obviously it was something that we’ve never seen before.

As good as that was, Lindzi stole the show arriving by horse. It wasn’t just the fact that she rode in, but the way she rode up that did it. She strode up the driveway with so much style and grace Ben was instantly blown away. The only thing that wasn’t cool was the surprise the horse left for our crew on the driveway! If you’re wondering, Lindzi set all that up herself. She had a friend in the area and called in a favor to borrow her horse. Still gotta appreciate Courtney’s line though: “Screw you and the horse you rode in on.”

Let the party begin! Let’s talk about the rest of the highlights from night 1. It seems like I brought the first impression rose in quickly but the fact is the party went for several hours before I dropped the bomb. Whenever I bring in that first impression rose, the competition kicks up a notch. Emily killed it with the epidemiology rap — Kanye and Jay-Z, eat your hearts out. I really don’t know what to make of Monica and Blakeley’s relationship. You’ll have to be the judge and jury on that one. As for Monica and Jenna, Jenna just let Monica get the best of her. Monica saw that she could put the screws to her and she did every chance she could. Jenna was already out of her element and Monica smelled blood in the water and attacked. Jenna locked herself in the bathroom and was crying so much we weren’t sure she was even going to make it to the rose ceremony. We had to hold everything up and wait for her. Ben was somewhat aware of the drama and although he was unsure of Jenna, in the end he decided he would chalk up her emotion to first-night jitters and give her another chance. I would love to tell you this story has a happy ending and Jenna redeems herself with a strong showing next week but… that’s just not what happens. Wait until you see next week. As for the night 1 casualties, the one that future contestants should really take note of is Anna — she took the bold risk of the fly-by in the beginning, and Ben took it as a snub. She never stood a chance after that.

As you saw in the big piece at the end of the show, we are off and running this year like never before. The women never even move into the mansion this season. Next week we’re off to Sonoma, where Ben’s vineyard is, and then his hometown of San Francisco. It’s a wild ride, and once again I’m extremely grateful you’re on board. For ten years now I’ve been telling you “this is the final rose tonight.” I would hope by now that your math skills would be better, but I’m very happy they’re not! Let the journey begin… again! Happy New Year, and as you can find me on Twitter @chrisbharrison.

More Bachelor from EW:

Episode Recaps

4. Season 5 (Jesse Palmer)
The Bachelor

This romantic reality competition series follows a gaggle of women vying for the Bachelor’s heart — and a wedding proposal. Will you accept this rose?

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