(New and improved with a cool photo)
Okay, I love this show. As a Kings fan, I used to loathe Shaquille O’Neal. Thought he was a fat, lazy, uninteligent oaf. I hated everything about the Lakers (still do). Anyway, Shaq goes and does something like this show…and TOTALLY redeems himself! I can’t get enough. Although, it probably helps that he’s no longer a Laker.
This week started out with James telling us that he misses pizza the most, calling it “flamingly delicious”. James seems like a pretty normal kid, but that’s a phrase straight out of WeHo. He also tells us that school food tastes just like fast food. Oh yeah, the burp count for that 45 second interview was only two.
It’s clear that this episode is going to be centered around school lunches. Shaq is watching footage of the cafeteria at the school. There are “Mexican pizzas”, french fries, fried chicken strips, cupcakes, etc. As one boy enjoys his meal Shaq exclaims, “Big boy is killin’ that cornbread!” We also learn that rewards like cheeseburgers are given for academic performance. The Big Personal Trainer and Chef Tyler Florence visit the school cafeteria to see just exactly what they are up against. After some searching, they find the “salads” which are basically three pieces of iceberg lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a couple shavings of carrot in a condiment cup. I think I’ve seen more salad on top of a Big Mac. Now we’ve got the Challenge kids exercising their civic right to pass around a petition demanding healthier lunches.
After commercial we come back to see the workout room where the kids are underachieving again, namely James who is doing his signature move of standing on the edge of the treadmill with one foot and sliding the other foot along the treadmill belt like he’s riding a super slow skateboard. Way to feel the burn James. Mr. T, the trainer, says the kids lack of effort is giving him ulcers and tells Shaq he needs a little break. Shaq tells him to have more fun with the kids. T makes a face like more fun will literally kill him in his cross-trainers. Just when I was hoping that they’d hire Chuck Norris to lead the kids in a lesson on how to perform the perfect roundhouse kick, Shaq shows up to play dodgeball. He proclaims to the camera, “I never lose in dodgeball.” He’s right, he destroys the kiddies who, coincidentally, look like they have never thrown a ball before. Walter finds his weakness, “My butt is a dodgeball magnet!”
Getting back to the school lunch problems, we learn that Chris the Cuban was eating good meals at home, but his father figured out that his son was not losing weight because of the heart attack platter he ate for lunch every day. Once Chris started bringing his lunch with him to school, it was game-on with the weight loss. However, Walter says, “Actually, I love school lunches. They’re delicious.”
Now we’ve got Chef Tyler doing some time with the lunch ladies to see what goes on behind the scenes of a cafeteria that serves 1300 lunches every day. That doesn’t even include the breakfasts they make too. The head lunch lady tells us that she feels the lunches are “nutritious as far as fast food goes.” Isn’t that kind of like saying, “Mike Tyson is pretty normal, as far as crazy people go”? Chef brings Shaq and the kids to his test kitchen to try out some recipes he has planned for the school lunches. The meal devolves into a burping contest. I think we all agree here that Shaq won, hands down.
Chef shows up to the cafeteria kitchen at 6am ready to make turkey wraps served sushi style. Irene, the lunch lady, with eyes full of skepticism says, “I ain’t never had sushi before.” By the way, let me tell you a little bit about Irene. She’s probably in her 50’s. She sounds like she’s been smoking two packs a day since she was eight years old. She doesn’t like Chef Tyler and it’s painfully obvious when she tells him not to get in her way. So really, she’s just a beam of sunshine in the kitchen. She also complains that the turkey wraps are not going to work because there’s not enough labor or time. The best part of the whole sequence goes to the editors who made it appear as though it took Chef three minutes to make each wrap. In the middle of it all Irene drops everything and says it’s time for her
smoke lunch break. As Chef and the lunch ladies scramble to get lunch out on time, the lines start to back up. Some students end up being 25 minutes late for class because the lunch line was so long. There were lots of turkey wraps in the trash. Not good times. Afterward, Chef instigates a kitchen-wide group hug and tells the camera that it was an “unorganized step in the right direction.” I think he’s finally realizing how tough it is to make fresh, healthy meals for 1300 students in 6 hours. I tell ya, Lunch ladies are battle tested veterans.
We’re about to see our first reward motivation here on the Big Challenge. Shaq tells the kids that once they’ve each lost 20 pounds they will get to go to a Heat game and watch the game from a luxury box. James has been slacking during workouts lately and is constantly dogged by Mr. T. All this negative attention has been making James threaten to quit the program. T assigns Kevin to try to help motivate James because Kevin was a slacker at the beginning of the show (gained three pounds and told the other kids he’d actually lost nine) but in his own words he has “come back with a vengeance.” At the weigh in here are the breakdowns:
- Walter lost 20 pounds
- Ariel lost 27 pounds
- Kit lost 22 pounds
- Kevin lost 20 pounds
- Chris lost 20 pounds
- James lost 15 pounds
When the other kids find out that James is still too fat to go to the Heat game they are livid. Walter goes on this huge tirade with flailing arms and stomping feet in the hallway, but only at the end of the rant do we realize that he’s alone in the hallway and isn’t actually talking to anyone. Ariel actually has a some balls and confronts James threatening him not to mess this up for everyone. Kit, who inexplicably has some sort of artwork (maybe a cross or a…crow?) painted under her left eye, asks for James to promise everyone he will lose the weight. Shaq sends a petite little nutritionist to James house to make sure that he is indeed eating the right foods at home. She tells him he should be eating lots of broccoli, carrots, and green beans. The looks of horror on his face lead me to believe that, perhaps, he has not been following his prescribed diet.
In an effort to give the kids a change of pace with their workouts, Shaq draws some inspiration from Rocky. Today the kids will try to catch live, clucking chickens for their workout. Walter’s running in circles and Chris is yelling, “C’mere chick!” The chicken chase degenerates into a free-for-all wrestling match. Shaq starts passing out some wedgies just for good measure. During the wrestling matches, Shaq takes some time to set James straight. It’s one of those tough-love sort of encounters, but after James ensures the Big Fella that he’ll stick with the program and keep working at the weight loss Shaq says, “I love you.”…(I’m shrugging my shoulders right now.) Later, T decides that maybe wrestling would be a workout James can get more excited for. They wrestle around for a while and James talks about doing a “spinebuster” on T and kicking him in his “small groin”. I guess James is still harboring some pent up anger towards his Big Challenge arch-nemesis. The best part of the wrestling match didn’t have anything to do with James or T though. It was Walter playing Dance Dance Revolution in the background. I nearly hyperventilated laughing when the camera caught that gem.
When it comes time for James’ new weigh-in, the kids wait in the hall while T and Shaq weigh James. Then Shaq brings the kids back into the gym and tells them that James didn’t lose the five pounds, but actually gained five more pounds. Everyone looks like they are about to riot when Shaq tells them he was just kidding, James lost the five pounds. Shaq and Mr. T celebrate by dancing like 40 year old white men.
The kids rode to the game in a Hummer limo. As they all wear Shaq jerseys, the Diet Coke flows like wine. Another belching contest ensued. The kids entered the American Airlines Arena by red carpet, got their pictures taken with Shaq and Dwyane Wade, sat in a luxury box during the game, and met the Heat cheer squad at halftime. From my personal experience at an LA Kings game, luxury boxes are awesome. Provocative reporting, I know. I guess the name “luxury” kind of gives it away.
Next week, we learn that the school board is nixing the 20 minute morning workout program, that lots of broccoli is getting thrown in the garbage, and Kit is still morbidly obese. Before they sign off for the week, Walter treats us to some native African dancing he learned in his PE class. I can only describe it as…invisible hula-hooping?
The Infamous Walter