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Episode 2: Welcome to Bizarro World

Wherein agents ignore their phones, fail to close, and get stalked by seagulls.


Something is going on here. Something big, and the shocking revolt against phone slavery is just the beginning. Episode 2 of Million Dollar Listing has the agents working for free, desperately trying to rid themselves of multimillion-dollar deals, and being stalked by seagulls. And once again, there is a notable shortage of closings—so much so that it’s almost time to start worrying. Especially if you’re like me, and you have a bet with the warden about how much property the boys will move this season (I feel two more months of kitchen duty coming on).

Okay, so the agent who doesn’t pick up the phone is Josh Altman—the Fourth Season’s new addition, and Chad’s successor. Josh A.’s hair may not occupy as much space, but he’s got a big presence of his own—he wears nothing but suits, has roped his best friend into being his personal assistant, and carries a Donald Trump doll around in his Escalade pickup.

(See photos from this week's episode.)

He’s also something of a radical, at least as far as super-agents go. Right after he allows himself to miss a call, his mother convinces him to take on a listing for no commission. Thank God he does, because the owner of the property is Ruth, a nonagenarian who is almost certainly the single best client in the history of the show. She’s endlessly sweet, instantly agrees with Josh’s asking price, and then takes the reasonable first offer without a fuss. She also has a crazy pink dragon rug. Josh handles everything sweetly, too, and while the first episode suggested he had some villainous undertones, I’m not convinced yet. He does make a serious mistake by leaving bestfriendpersonalassistant Mikey alone at the broker’s open: That’s the kind of thing you do and suddenly all of Los Angeles has burned down. But somehow, it works out this time.

Meanwhile, the pressure of trying to sell Monet’s overpriced orange Civic Center is getting to Josh Flagg. When he’s giving a private tour to a rich fiancée and she notices some “Versace” plates, he immediately corrects her: “Nope, Fauxsace.” Man, why not just carry around a big hammer and whenever someone compliments something, say, “Oh, you like this? Well how do you like it now (SMASH)?”  

(Revisit this week's properties and rate them all.)

But Josh knows he’s not going to get the price Monet is asking.  And Monet refuses to reduce it, so Josh is lashing out a little bit. Is Monet acting foolishly? I think he is. But cut him a little slack: He’s now 171 years old, if I’m not mistaken and he’s made some wonderful contributions to painting.  But maybe Josh F. doesn’t like impressionism.  Eventually, his co-listing agent Todd finds someone foolish enough to buy the Universal Studios Theme Park-style monstrosity. The deal is for two million less than the asking price, but it allows Monet to stay on as a co-owner of the property, so he can still make money from a sale in the future. This is the kind of atypical deal Josh Flagg usually shines in, but in the “Bloodbath of Rodeo Drive,” Monet nixes it, and it seems that Josh and Todd are going to walk away.

And Madison? Well, it’s hard out there for a Madi-pimp. As always, he’s stuck with the scariest client: This time, it’s Ismir, a businessman/Bond villain who like all good Bond villains has a habit of trying to destroy our hero at all times. Ismir also has an odd conception of markets: When he sees a car he likes at the bachelor pad he’s touring, the only way he can imagine getting it is having it written into the deal for the house.  Man, Madison had better remember to write food into the deal—if he doesn’t, Ismir might starve.  

Madison would be less stressed if he had something to take his mind off his insane clients. Basically, if he doesn’t hook up with somebody soon, I’m worried he’ll do something rash. It’s clearly on his mind, because he’s suddenly speaking almost exclusively in innuendo. He even enlists the help of a local hippie-lady to come by his totally empty house and dangle a prism around while two evil seagulls peck on his windows. Apparently, this is going to help him find someone to love. Whatever works, right?

So, there you have it. As I said, these first two episodes have not been closing heavy, by any means. I think they’ll get a better handle on the market soon (if anyone can do it, these guys can). But if they can’t, here’s a proposal: fly to Boston, bring back Ruth, and team her up with Josh’s grandmother. I have a feeling they’ll know just what to do to whip these youngins into shape. Joshes, Madison... you’ve been warned.  

Oh, and I also have to hand out this episode’s Nasty Crack Den Award. As you may recall, “nasty crack den” is a term Madison and Josh Flagg coined last season to describe a particularly dire listing, and it is my duty to see that it is never forgotten. This episode’s Nasty Crack Den Award goes to the Houdini mansion where Madison meets Ismir. Yeah, yeah, yeah, really obvious, right?  Pick the wacky house that has a coffin-pool. But here’s the thing: as I was watching I suddenly realized that multiple things in the house were from that inflight catalog Skymall. Somebody, some living, thinking being, bought something from Skymall.  

Please pray for the human race. 

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