An establishing shot of the Los Angeles smogline cuts over to the Mondrian Hotel (8440 Sunset Blvd., but it doesn't matter, because you can't afford it anyway), where we find the twenty semi-finalists (er, sorry: "20 Semi-finalists") emerging from a large white van that might inspire film fans to ask if you're a size fourteen, but chances are, if you're stepping out of that van, you're totally not. Since this season had no cooperation from Mother Nature helping it to an auspicious start, it is pissing down rain in L.A., which is so weird, because if God didn't love models, why on earth would He have made them so dern purdy? So each of the girls steps out of the van, as a white-suited gentleman holds an umbrella over each of their heads. But, as is so typical of this country's approach to our fair blue-collar toilers, the gentlemen's face is blurred out, this episode clearly having been produced before Farnsworth Bentley, the Rosa Parks of personal valets, liberated the hearts and minds of all those who have guarded the rich or powerful or semi-final against the terrible condition of rain or not rain.
"I couldn't sleep last night," says Nicole, age twenty-two, from Murietta, California, a tall blonde with ringlet-y curls and a physique built for the pole. Christina, age eighteen, Little Falls, Minnesota, proclaims herself "just a small-town girl," and I mentally eliminate her right off the bat for her misguided wont to represent herself through the lyrical prowess of Steve Perry. No matter how long you end up staying, Christina, you always shoulda been gone. Knowin' how you made me feel. Well, you shoulda been gone. And so on.