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Herc Strongly Endorses MTV’s Slippery, Brutal, Bikini-Intensive CHALLENGE: BATTLE OF EXES!!

Published at: Jan. 25, 2012, 3:17 a.m. CST

MTV’s “The Challenge” is rivaled only by “Big Brother” as my favorite reality show. It’s essentially “Survivor” with younger, funnier contestants and more sex and alcohol. Forcing players to team up with their former showmance partners this season constitutes a certified basic cable masterstroke.

Notes on tonight’s excellent “Battle of the Exes” premiere:

* The teaser suggests the finalists will eventually be flown to a brutally cold destination, but things kick off in the sunny Dominican Republic.

* “My boyfriend is going to kill me,” announces one female contestant in the premiere’s teaser. Some contestants are much more keen to fornicate with their exes than others.

* Tyree looks like he pounded himself into peak condition while Vinny wanders around like a massive tub of goo.

* The lesbitatic Rachel and Aneesa make up the only same-gender team.

* Brawler C.T. and cancer survivor Diem apparently had not spoken or friended each other since the demise of their year-plus relationship. “I thought I was going to marry him,” Diem recalls. Even though she dumped him, she’s still furious about him putting the bone to another contestant during a subsequent Challenge.

* By contrast, “Real World: San Diego 2011” vets Nate and Priscilla were never really a couple at all, or even close friends. “Nate is here with me because we made out once for all of 10 seconds,” she posits.

* Fortysomething Mark Long, from 1995’s very first “Road Rules,” is back despite the long-ago announcement of his retirement. (He remains in far better condition than most of the younger contestants.)

* The season’s first competition calls on the execs to strip down to virtually nothing, then use their hands to scrape honey off each other.

* Gorgeous Heather Marter, who broke up with fellow “Real World: Las Vegas 2011” vet Dustin Zito subsequent to the reveal that he had a ton of gay sex on the Internet, got me a tad turgid during the honey competition.

* The competition is fraught with suspense, as contestants covered with slippery honey are obliged to navigate a long narrow beam situated stories above the Atlantic.

* The elimination competition, which looks like something filched from ABC’s “Wipeout” set, is less of a team competition. A girl is the first to fall.

10 p.m. Wednesday. MTV.

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