Last week, while checking my Tivo Wishlist, I was kinda thrilled to learn that NBC was gonna air a special two-hour “Star Wars” edition of “Deal or No Deal” this past Monday night. And though I never watch “Deal”, I gotta admit I’m a sucker for their “very special episodes” and have Tivo-ed the show on exactly two other occasions…
Once, to see Celine Dion “sing” her encouragement to a fan via satellite — which was positively surreal — and again a couple weeks back when Bushie appeared (also via satellite) to cheer on a soldier.
But since I love me some “Star Wars”, the minute I learned they were doing a “Wars” themed-episode, I was there. And then, my interest level grew impossibly higher when I learned that one of the contestants (who were both huge “Star Wars” fans) was a very good friend of mine, fellow-Burbankite, Elyse. Whoa!
Like myself, Elyse is a huge pop culture geek who I worked with back in my proofreader days. And though we don’t get the chance to do an in-depth breakdown of the previous night’s “American Idol” performances as often as we used to at work, we still manage to keep in touch. So when I saw Elyse quoting Yoda on a promo for the upcoming “Deal” episode, I called her immediately to confirm that it was really her…and lo and behold, it was. Awesome! One more reason to watch the show!
And man alive, what a show it was! Totally unaware of the “Star Wars” element of the episode, Elyse was joined onstage by fellow-contestant/”Star Wars” fan, Brad. Almost immediately, host Howie Mandel revealed the secret “Star Wars” element of the show and the two were so excited, they were practically in tears. Actually, I think Elyse was literally in tears, but that may have come later…
Anyway, Elyse was up first. So, while Brad hit the sequester room, Elyse (not to mention Christine and myself) just about passed out as dozens of stormtroopers with numbered cases marched down the “Deal” stairs to the strains of John Williams’ “Imperial March”. Let me just say, Elyse was not the only one with goosebumps at that point…it was kind of awesome.
And then, it was revealed that the “Deal” banker — who is usually this shadowy figure in a control booth above the main stage — was going to be replaced tonight by an even darker figure. You guessed it, Darth Vader, or, as they called him later on in the show, “Darth Banker”, was gonna be doing the “Deal-ing” tonight.
At this point, I think Elyse was kind of overwhelmed and started tearing up big time. When Howie asked why, she told him the saddest-ass story you ever heard. Apparently, “Star Wars” was the first movie she saw when she and her family came to America from war-ravaged Vietnam. And though she couldn’t even speak or understand English at the time, Elyse was tremendously moved by the story and said the movie gave her hope and allowed her to “dream bigger”.
Wow…seriously, not a dry eye in the audience, or our house. Even creepy Howie seemed moved. And then, the emotional surprises continued when it was revealed later in the show that Elyse’s cheering section (made up of her husband, Paul and two friends) was going to be joined by the original trilogy’s Princess Leia Organa herself, Carrie Fisher!
Breaking down, Elyse and Carrie hugged it out and Ms. Fisher discussed flying in special for the taping from Berkley when she heard Elyse’s poignant backstory. That’s right, Elyse got Carrie Fisher to fly in special to support her Jedi ass! Amazing! Sadly however, even the presence of Anakin Skywalker’s progeny couldn’t help Elyse, and after some truly memorable gameplay, she ended up leaving the stage with only $13,000.
Next up was Brad. As I said before, he too was a huge “Star Wars” fan, but since his goal in winning was to bull dooze his house down to build a new one — and not to return to her homeland to help struggling family members still in Vietnam, as Elyse vowed to do — watching Brad play wasn’t nearly as dramatic. And even the presence of Chewbacca, R2-D2, and the “Deal” girls decked out in revealing “slave Leia” costumes from “Return of the Jedi” couldn’t help the last hour of the show from seriously dragging.
I mean, the show was fun, but it did not need to be two hours long. Anyway, since it was a winner take all episode, and Brad ended up with the highest amount of money at the end of the game, the greedy, bull-dooze-happy fanboy triumphed over the Vietnamese refuge with the heart of gold. Sorry, Elyse…
But even if she didn’t win the big payout at the end of the day, mi amiga Elyse, and her hilarious game play –not to mention her emotional backstory — still made for some pretty damn fine television. So, while the Sith Lord won the contest, Princess Elyse totally won the war. Rock on, Elyse!
And even though it wasn’t working so well for you on Monday night, remember, the Force will be with you…always…