Antoine Burton and Kareem Dawson became friends, then roommates during the 2011-12 school year at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
But the highs and lows of dorm living must pale in comparison to their latest endeavour: competing as a team in a run-for-your-figurative-life reality show on The CW.
"Capture" debuted Tuesday as a summer series, and although the network takes careful pains to avoid any comparison to "The Hunger Games," it was difficult not to draw that image as 11 teams of two people broke from the starting gate and ran into the vast Hunting Grounds.
A 12th team -- a former homeless couple skilled in parkour and assigned purple as its signature color -- was designated as hunter. Dressed in gray vests, they stayed behind for a bit, then set off in pursuit. Armed with high-tech flashing discs called "talons," they were given four hours in the first day to run down another team and affix the device to one of the prey's back.
By chance, the first team they came across was the Green: Mr. Burton and Mr. Dawson.
"Oh, the first time we saw those gray hunters vests, it was scary," said Mr. Burton, a graduate of Ambridge High School now living in Aliquippa.
"So I'm thinking, 'Man, they're so nimble, fast, sneaky and they have endurance ... I thought 'stick to what you know,' which is being fast as all get-out."
Mr. Burton has been a track and field sprinter since childhood and played cornerback on the IUP football team.
Although they escaped, the Yellow team wasn't as fortunate. The Hunting Grounds are at 6,000 feet, with a lake and rocks and trees. The altitude got to one of the women, who began throwing up.
"This may be insensitive ..." began her partner, who then proceeded to ask her to vomit more quietly.
One of "Capture's" intriguing aspects is the use of GPS. All of the teams are being monitored, and if anyone stops in one place to rest for more than three minutes, his or her location is revealed on the other teams' devices for the duration of the hunt.
Team Yellow got into an argument, stood around for too long and were eventually caught. Although Purple caught another team the next day, a tribal council of sorts sent Yellow home.
Mr. Burton joked that his friend used to call him "the survival expert," and indeed, he has camping skills. But the conditions on "Capture" were tough. Each team could rest on a small metal frame and were given tarps in case of rain.
Of course, it began to hail on the first day, and the temperature dropped to 35 degrees.
"When you see the hail coming down and you think, 'How the heck am I going to get through this, and it's only Day 1.' But then you realize $250,000 is on the line. Forget about the weather conditions."
Contestants were given food rations according to body weight, which probably fueled more than one fight between teams.
"Any time you're out in the Hunting Grounds, any time you're out anywhere and you don't have enough food, you become a grouch by nature," said Mr. Burton, adding that he and Mr. Dawson nonetheless got along just fine.
The latter is from Philadelphia.
After watching Episode 1, he said, he was surprised by two things. First, "I noticed I had a Pittsburgh-ese accent! I'm sitting there [watching myself say,] 'Oh you know what, if we go dahn der, the trail's dahn der.' "
And, he adding laughing, "I saw myself in a different light, and I was impressed, though. I saw I actually had charming good looks."
'Face Off' opens with special
Syfy's excellent "Face Off," (Tuesdays) returns in all its gory glory Aug. 13, but first, fans can sample a two-hour special Tuesday, "The Vets Strike Back."
Season 5 of the special effects makeup reality competition features a twist this year. Eight newbies are joined by eight contestants from previous seasons. The "Vets" special will include interviews with the artists as well as highlights and lowlights from previous seasons.
Among the returning artists are Alana Rose Schiro and Eric Zapata, graduates of the Tom Savini Special Make-Up Effects school in Monessen.
Designer hangs on
On "Brother vs. Brother," (HGTV, Sundays), Team Drew took a hit with hideous color choices for a brick fireplace and learned why horizontal stripes are shunned when you're wallpapering a small area. Still, University of Pittsburgh grad Christy Biberich impressed with her project and was safe from elimination.
To the 'Pointe'
Tryouts for "Cinderella" are winding down, and the dancers at Ballet West are getting antsy. So it's time for another party on "Breaking Pointe" (The CW, Mondays).
This time it's a surprise birthday event at a nice cabin in the mountains. Salt Lake City looks lovely with the gently falling snow.
Pittsburgh native Allison DeBona, 29, revisits a bit of drama involving her career in dance. Back again with former longtime boyfriend Jonathan, she considers doing a "Turning Point" and leaving dance to join him in Detroit. Stay tuned.
"It's reality show clip time!"
E!'s "The Soup" will go live, twice, in celebration of its 500th episode. Host Joel McHale, who brought his snappy stand-up routine to Pittsburgh last winter, introduces the usual crazy mixture of reality show clips and even perhaps a segment of "Chicks, Man."
The shows air Aug. 21.
"The Soup" will air the live shows on each coast at 10 p.m. It also will stream the episodes at www.EOnline.com and TheSoupTV.com.
Maria Sciullo: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1478 or @MariaSciulloPG.