Unan1mous: Episode 1
A sinister voiceover begins as the camera pans over a stereotypical scene straight out of some futuristic movie, where there is a lush and green scenery with a sinister bunker buried deep underground. Nine people that will be our Herd are being led along deliberately dim and dark passages, down narrow stairs, and to their new homes, says the sinister voiceover. Of course, all this could be just smoke and mirrors to hide the fact that the whole set-up is actually in a studio. I guess I will never know, heh. "What starts as a social experiment will spiral out of control!" says the voiceover, no doubt trying to make me think of the Stanford Prison Experiment when for all I know, the "social experiment" in question is a test to see the extent of how far gullible suckers like me will be duped into enjoying this show. Cue a montage of the Herd screaming and complaining about how they are unhappy and miserable about being trapped and all, just to give me the impression that sometime in the middle of the season the nefarious folks behind this show would start piping Toni Basil's greatest hits collection through the ventilation ducts just to torment the Herd into madness. Cool.
A quick introduction to the Herd follows. There's Adam ("poker player"), Vanessa ("soccer mom"), Jonathan ("ladies man"), Jameson ("office manager"), Jamie ("dancer"), Kelly ("minister"), Steve ("truck driver"), Tarah ("fashion designer"), and Richard ("42-year old temp"). I feel sorry for Richard. Is it really bad for a 42-year old to be a temp worker to the point that the show has to announce that his age as well as his job? No, don't answer that, people. One of them will win the prize money of $1,500,000. Of course, I'm not supposed to know that these people have only one chance to win $1,500,000 and that's by the end of this episode, but I'm getting ahead of myself.
As the Herd get down to their home for the rest of this season, the supposedly underground bunker, the words that flash across the screen catch my eye: "Executive producer JD Roth". JD Roth? That dweeby host of the old kiddie game show Fun House? Wait, he's still alive? I'm impressed that he gets to graduate from hosting kiddie shows with barely concealed disdain on his face to stamping his name on this show. Maybe this show is a culmination of his experiences trying to make a living in the suffocating chokehold of LA. Or maybe a family member or squeeze is involved in this show and he's given a job associated with the show because of that.
The Bunker looks cool, although I'm not sure how cool it will really look if the scene isn't bathed in deliberately dark ultraviolet and fluorescent blue lighting. There are a separate eating space and the Inner Circle where they will be doing their voting, for start. Everything looks credibly futuristic. I'm impressed. What is also apparent is the fact that the Bunker has no windows and there is no room for privacy - the walls of the general living area are made of see-through probably plastic material. I like this. The Bunker is created to maximise the claustrophobic feel of that place.
A sinister camera-device thingie on the ceiling turns to follow the Herd as they examine their new home. Jonathan asks casually whether anyone else feels "bugged out" or "weird" at that moment and some ladies giggle. Jonathan looks like the actor Jonathan Silverman and for a moment I wonder whether he's that Jonathan. But surely the show doesn't expect to get away with hiring Jonathan Silverman to play a contestant, right? Steve mutters that everything is too much. As the Herd try to get comfortable with their new home, a robotic female voice booms out, "Attention, participants! Please make your way across the bridge to the Inner Circle and take a seat!" There is some momentary confusion as to where exactly this bridge the Herd is supposed to go across is but they decide sensibly that the Inner Circle has to be the glowing, shiny round table dominating the general living space of the Bunker. Once the Herd have taken their seats, a monitor comes to life. Okay, someone goofed up here because the monitor looks like it's been framed by cheap-looking cardboard. Obviously not everything about the Bunker looks like it costs a zillion dollars to make. On the monitor is JD looking way too eeriely like Seth Green. Hi, JD!
JD tells them that they will be cut off from the outside world and the Herd will be in contact with each other for the duration of the, er, experiment. Here, Vanessa blows everybody a kiss. The Herd act shocked when JD announces that one of them can walk away at the end of the day with $1,500,000. Am I supposed to think that the Herd believe that they signed up for the next big Stanford Prison Experiment? Jameson gives this bizarre half-yawn half-moan sound while Kelly goes, "Thank you Lord! Hallelujah!" But Kelly tells the camera that she isn't excited in the least when she sees the jackpot because the Bible told her that money is the root of all evil. If Kelly is a real minister, she better hope that this show gets dismal ratings because her character isn't going to survive this season in one piece, judging from how she already acts like a complete liar three minutes into the show. Steve tells the camera that he immediately thinks of the wonderful things he can do for his family with that money. Adam goes "Shit!" aloud while to the camera he says that people would put a price tag on their mother for $1,500,000. I hope not. If I know my kids put a price tag of $1,500,000, I'd be very offended because I believe I am worth three times that amount, hmmph!
JD explains to the Herd the tricky way of earning this money: the remaining eight Herd members must vote for you to get that money and the vote must be unanimous. Isn't this interesting? The way I see it, you can drive everyone else insane to the point that they give you the money just to get away from you or you can play lowkey and wait as the others hate each other so much that they give you the money just to spite these other people. Maybe there are other strategic methods that I can't think of right off the bat. Hopefully I'll get to see what these strategies are as the season unfolds. "How hard can that be?" JD says with a smirk after he has told the Herd how they have to convince eight other Herd members to give them $1,500,000. The Herd are understandably not as amused. Hilarious Richard tells the camera that he has no job and no money but he has a ten-year old car that is in dire need of repairs. "Who's the most deserving? Who's the most needy? Hello, right here!" he says to the camera, gesturing at his self. JD tells the Herd that if they want to leave, they can do so now and only now. Of course, no one wants to leave. JD then announces that after this, the Herd collectively lose half the prize money if one of them quits the game. He then tells the Herd to go away and do their own thing. He tells the Herd to be very careful about keeping secrets and letting the other Herd members know what they only want the other people to know. Jonathan agrees, saying that it's like "meeting a girl and feeding her a bunch of BS to bring her home". He then sniggers as if he's said something particularly witty. If he keeps this up, the only date he'll get after this show is Kelly.
Jameson says that the prize money is enough to get people to "lie, backstab, and do whatever it takes". "I know it is for me!" he says, outing himself as someone who has tried too many times in vain to get on Survivor. Adam says that he's playing the game "every step of the way" because his "entire life" is a game. Just in case anyone forgets that he's a "professional poker player", of course. And don't ask me if "poker player" here is an euphemism for "hustler". "But I play to win," says Adam, although he certainly can't be doing that right since he's on this show looking like a has-been gay adult film actor who needs money fast now that the movie offers and escort gigs have dried up.
Vanessa and Jameson exclaim that the Bunker is hot. It looks like the show has to cut down expenses by skipping the air-conditioning, heh. Kelly wonders aloud that they don't know what time it is and whether it's night or day outside. Vanessa says that the Herd are all "lab rats". No, lab rats serve a useful purpose, dear. The Herd? Their only purpose is to entertain. They wish they are lab rats but in truth, they are circus freakshow attractions. Kelly seems to treat her confessional sessions like her personal TV evangelist shows and she really bugs me with her condescending shouting as she wonders how anyone can vote for another person to get so much money. "We could be sitting here for years!" she shouts to the camera. Lady, please dial down the volume! I'm not writing a check for any phony two-bit evangelist, okay? Jamie announces to the others that she had a panic attack prior to coming on to this show so she doesn't know if the timing of this show is right or not. But she stayed when she had the chance to leave, didn't she? I guess at the end of the day the lure of the money is too strong to resist. I don't blame her. As Jameson assures Jamie that they are all in the same situation and therefore they will all be buddies and what not, he tells the camera that his incentive to get Jamie to stay is of course to prevent the prize money from being slashed into half. I'm loving this show already. This is more ruthless and evil than any episode of Survivor and I get delicious chills just imagining the things these people will soon do to each other.
Jonathan assures Jamie that everything is okay and then asks everyone to announce whether they are single. I guess I know now where Jonathan's priorities lie. Vanessa asks everyone to introduce themselves to each other. She tells the camera that she sees the other Herd members starting to "diffuse" apart and being a mom, it's in her nature to take charge and herd the kids together. Or something. She adds that it's part of her strategy to meet and know the others in order to "size everybody up". Jonathan predictably announces that he's "very" single. Kelly reveals that she lives in Los Angeles, where she no doubt spends her time taking money from her parishioners to save them from being corrupted by money. She explains that she runs an e-commerce business telling people how to make money and she is also a minister. Obviously there is no conflict between "money is the root of all evil" and "you need more money" in Kelly's demented brain. She announces that "BIBLE" stands for "Basic Instructions Before Leaving the Earth", again a stunningly original quote from her. Kelly is like some dusted-up conwoman who quotes things she's heard from other genuine ministers to fleece people. Tarah tells the camera that Kelly is crazy and will be hard to handle.
Jameson tells the camera that he's gay and therefore he's "a little bit" nervous when Kelly starts talking about the gospel. This doesn't stop him from engaging Kelly in a tedious navel-gazing argument about "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!" (an original quote by Kelly). The argument is stupid because he's just egging for a fight, she's too hypocritical and show-boatingly judgmental and pious to be anything but a flaming liar, and they are both too stupid to realize that the argument has no purpose other than to expose each other's stupidity for all to see. Kelly tells the camera that if God wants her to win, there's nothing stopping her from winning. Okay, time out. This woman has to be an actress. There's nobody this crazy as to embody every ridiculous stereotype of the insane fundamental zealot, right?
The female announcer comes on again, saying that it's time for the Herd to sleep. Ooh, they really are going to treat the Herd like prisoners! I hope I get to see the guys taking a communal shower soon where Jonathan will drop the soap. As Tarah get ready to sleep in a really narrow bedroom for one that has mirrors all over the place to make it very hard to sleep in, she says that the last time she slept in a bunk was when she was ten. Obviously she's not comfortable sleeping in that bedroom. Or rather, "bed space" since it's really narrow. Kelly again grabs a confessional, saying that she can't breathe and it is hot in her "terrible" room. She ends up sleeping on a couch. Steve tells the camera that the Herd has no access to clocks as well as the outside world. Jamie thinks that she's in "living hell" and she's "very scared". I'm sure if they lock Kelly up in some storage room for the rest of the season, things will be less scary and hellish. Just try that, Herd people!
The next morning sees the Herd at a table complaining that they don't even have fresh air from a window. How sad, really. Jonathan tells the camera that he had a good night sleep. Or good day sleep, he thinks, since he has no idea what time it was when he went to bed. But he admits that it feels a little creepy sometimes knowing that he can't leave the Bunker. Jonathan then lies that he feels nauseous after taking some medication and when asked, says that he has testicular cancer, thus prompting sympathetic ooh's and aah's from the others. Jonathan must really want the money bad to kill his chance at showing the ladies here his ding dong for the rest of the competition. Jonathan talks about how expensive his medical treatments and medicines are and how hard his father has to work to help him pay for them, thus prompting Kelly to tell the camera that she'll vote for Jonathan because he needs the money the most at this point. Jonathan brags about how smart he is to lie in order to win the game.
Kelly tells Jonathan to just pray to God and "be done with it", causing Jameson to confront her later that day to accuse her of being "dangerous". Please, if anyone is stupid enough to believe Kelly, they deserve whatever they get. Kelly is not "dangerous", she's like a walking Darwinian activist setting natural selection in motion and luring dimwits like Jameson that bite her line to their demise. Kelly tells Jameson that she's being in honest in telling him that he will burn in hell like the Bible said and Jameson says that she'll burn right beside him. Kelly is a nutjob, so I don't know what that makes Jameson for fighting with an obvious nutjob. It's not like he's prodding her for his own amusement just to see how she behave. Jameson vows that he will "never, never, never ever" vote for her to get the money and she says that she doesn't want him to because she apparently doesn't need the money. Please, bitch. Jameson tells the camera that his strategy now is to get Kelly to leave because she clearly won't vote for him and therefore he'll settle for trying to win $750,000. Yeah, that's a good one. Maybe it will be better if he, you know, bite his tongue and do not needlessly antagonize people one day into the competition.
Steve announces to the others that some people here "need" the money. To the camera, he says that he doesn't want the money for "selfish purposes" - he wants to take care of his "children's future" and "grandchildren's future". With only $1,500,000? Steve, you need to at least hit a motherload of oil in the backyard of your house in order to do that! Steve tries to calm Kelly and Jameson down by saying that those two have "fundamental differences in religion and social behavior" but Kelly shouts him down, saying that homosexuality is an aberration. Whether that may or may not be true, that doesn't give Kelly the right to tell homosexuals that they are going to burn in hell. I tell you, I will never understand how some religious zealots get so up in arms over what two people do in their bedrooms when there are wars and hunger and all kinds of other more urgent problems in this world that need their supposedly unselfish and charitable attention. Don't like the way the world is run? Go volunteer to help the sick in some wartorn country. Go help run a shelter for hungry orphans in a third-world country. I don't see how telling gay people that they will burn in hell will spread the word of the Good Lord. Anyway, Kelly leaves the group in a huff to the visible relief of the other Herd members.
And now the female announcer calls the Herd to make their way to the Inner Circle. Jonathan groans and tells the camera that it's ridiculous to make a decision on who to vote for in such a short time. He correctly says that hey, he may like some people more than others, but that's not the same as wanting to give them $1,500,000! Adam tells the camera that he is excited because this is the first table he's been at where the stakes are as high as $1,500,000. JD comes on the monitor and explains that each Herd member will collect a dark sphere from the head of the table that has his or her name on it. They will open the sphere and find that they can rotate a dial to bring up the name of the person they want to vote for. Their own names are of course not in their spheres. JD says that there is an uninamous vote today, everyone can go home at the end of the day. He is clearly too optimistic about human greed. The Herd members vote accordingly and toss their spheres into a funnel before each of them. The spheres will roll down and head straight before... JD! Cool, this is like a sick version of a Bingo game. I like!
Jameson says that he's voting for Steve because he's sure that not everybody will be voting for Steve. That makes sense. He doesn't want Steve to get the money, so he's tossing a vote in Steve's way because he knows that Steve will not get an unanimous vote. Richard says that sure, Jonathan needs a new pair of testicles but he's not going to vote for that man, heh. Instead, he will try to "subvert" the unanimous vote.
JD reads the votes: Steve, Steve, Steve. Steve's face looks hopeful while Jameson looks alarmed. "Oh, what did I do!" Jameson wonders aloud to the camera, adding that perhaps everyone else mistakenly assumed that no one else will vote for Steve and therefore everyone voted for Steve as a result. That will be hilarious but alas, the scenario is not to be. The fourth vote is for Vanessa. Of course, this could be Steve's vote so JD will continue to check the remaining votes. Steve's smile becomes forced because he obviously didn't vote for Vanessa. The next vote goes to Jamie. Well, the show will move on to at least another episode then! JD reveals the remaining votes: Jonathan, Tarah, Tarah, and Janie. Richard says to the camera that the vote went the way he expected it to be, apparently because the "hotter" ladies get two votes apiece while Vanessa, being older and married, gets none. He makes it sound like they are in a wet T-shirt contest instead of a competition to win half a million dollars. No wonder he's a temp worker at 42. After his fortieth birthday, the burger joint must be too embarrassed to keep hiring him as their walking hotdog mascot and fired him accordingly.
JD now drops the bombshell. There will be dire consequences for failing to reach an unanimous vote, JD threatens, prompting Jonathan to go aloud, "Uh-oh!" Kelly wonders to the camera what situation could be worse than the one she's in. Er, being in the same room as her with no duct tape within reach to silence her? Just a thought, really.
And now, an intermission moment sponsored by Burger King, where some of the Herd members reveal what they will do with the money. Jamie says that she'll be a king. Richard will split the money evenly with the others so that they will all go home. He then gives this blank look to the camera as if he expects people to clap at his "wit". Adam announces that he won't screw anyone for the money because he's happy with his life and the money will only be icing on the cake. Hey, wasn't he the one saying earlier that he wanted to play the game and sell his own mother for the money? These people change their minds quite often, it seems. I fear that there will never be any unanimous decisions from them.
Back to the Bunker, JD announces that now the Herd members will decide who will not get the money. Jameson announces, "Ooh, I like the idea, Kelly." Okay, he doesn't actually say Kelly but he may as well have. Up from the table comes a dossier containing a bunch of envelopes. Jamie doesn't feel good about this. Indeed, JD reveals that inside the dossiers are Big Secrets of each Herd member that the Herd member will not want to reveal to the world. Although why they then tell the show their Big Secrets, I have no idea. Anyway, the group will randomly select three envelopes and determine which three Big Secret is the worst. They as a group won't know whose Big Secrets they are reading, of course. The person whose Big Secret is deemed the worst will be deemed uneligible to win the money. Adam and Kelly pick three envelopes at random. Jamie tells the camera that this twist makes her stomach turn while Jonathan says that he's worried about his Big Secret being read out.
Jonathan reads aloud the first Big Secret. Someone in the Bunker filed for bankruptcy even though this person has a combined income of $100,000. Guess whose Big Secret is this. It's Kelly's. Yup, the minister is an all-out conwoman and scum, surprise. Kelly reads out the next Big Secret. Someone in the Bunker has been arrested for possessing live ammunition. That will be Tarah. Adam reads aloud that someone in the Bunker has spent time in a mental ward. Funny music comes on because like it or not, this Big Secret is the one that worries everybody in the Bunker the most. And that person who has spent time in a mental ward, by the way, is Richard. Okay, I'm expecting Kelly to be that mental ward patient but Richard... um, can I say I'm not so surprised and still be considered a decent human being? Tarah says to the camera that she will probably keep quiet and hope that no one will suspect her of being the person arrested for carrying live ammunition. But of course, she has to open her big mouth and insist that carrying live ammunition isn't as bad as being crazy or a lying cheating scumbag, just as Kelly is insisting that a madman is more creepy to live with than Kelly or Miss Live Ammo while Richard is saying that we shouldn't judge the crazy guy because no one knows how long he stayed in that ward and besides IT IS AN ILLNESS LIKE A COLD. These people are some of the most hilarious freaks ever assembled on a campy TV show, I tell you. I love it! I love how cruel this show is to expose the Herd members' most crippling secrets to the others.
But nothing is as twisted as the next bombshell JD drops: the person voted ineligible to win the money will still be staying in the Bunker. And voting. And, no doubt, bent on making the others' lives pure hell because they have nothing to lose anymore. Oh. My. God.
As the Herd members argue and talk about who to vote, the credits come up. I'll have to wait until the next episode to see what will happen next. I can't wait, I'm hooked - bring the next episode on now, baby!
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