Monthly Archives: October 2005

Just Don’t Tell My Mother (Episode 1-5)

This review is brought to you by Wish-Bone Salad Dressing.

It was time for a change on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Martha decided to mix up the teams, but it didn’t stop Jim from being obnoxious, or from losing.

The beginning of tonight’s episode took place moments after Dawn’s elimination. Martha called all of the candidates back to the conference room. Ryan and Jennifer were two members of Primarius who hadn’t yet acted as project manager, and Martha selected them to choose the new teams. Jennifer selected Howie, Carrie, Sarah, Bethenny, and Jim for the new Primarius. Ryan picked Dawna, Amanda, Leslie, David, and Marcela for the new Matchstick.

This week’s task was to design and sell salad dressing for Wish-Bone (the salad dressing company, not the dog on PBS). It was kind of a lame task and I didn’t buy Martha’s wistful childhood memories of salad. Kids don’t like salads. Come on.

Anyway, Marcela and Bethenny each created the dressing recipe for their team and everybody else sold the bottles. Jim added to his resume the ability to offend grocery shoppers, one of whom complained to the owner of the store where they were hocking their product. Something about Jim using the F-word. You know, silly stuff like that.

Primarius Redux didn’t make as much money as Matchstick II, and Jim and Jennifer ended up in the conference room. I give Martha credit for not making Jennifer bring a third team member into the room when those two were the only screw-ups. Martha agreed that Jim acted inappropriately, but because Jennifer couldn’t rein him in, she got the boot. A sensible decision, but I’ve been sick of Jim since the first episode and wanted him gone. Hopefully, he’ll be project manager next week and will take the fall when his team can’t function under him.

The show’s best moment came during a commercial break, when Wish-Bone aired a commercial starring Martha’s viceroys, Alexis and Charles. The two sat at a table eating salads and Alexis told Charles that she prefers Wish-Bone to Martha’s homemade salad dressing. Charles reassured her by dramatically pulling out a bottle of Wish-Bone dressing and saying, “Don’t worry. You’re not alone.” Nothing this TV season has made me laugh as hard as that commercial. You can view Alexis Stewart’s Secret Confession at http://www.wish-bone.com/, just like I’ll be doing for the rest of the night.

One Minute Means Everything (Episode 8-4)

A twenty minute mistake may have caused the Schroeder family to lose on their home turf on tonight’s Amazing Race: Family Edition. If only they’d listened to Stassi.

Like all 17-year-olds, Stassi Schroeder spent most of her time complaining that nobody would listen to her. Unfortunately, she was right to complain. Her dad, Mark, ignored her advice to ask for directions when they were lost and not to stop in the middle of a bike race to adjust the seat.

Mark’s biggest blunder was panicking and insisting that the family choose a later departure time rather than risk searching for an earlier one (Stassi’s suggestion). The Schroeder’s departed in the last group of teams, 20 minutes behind the second group. Had they left 20 minutes earlier, they might not have been hurt by sloppy navigation. But when Mark couldn’t find a park located 5 minutes from where he used to work, it was probably going to hurt anyway.

Everybody hates the Weavers, including me. It’s uncomfortable to watch a family who probably wasn’t that interesting or composed to begin with work through their grief. It would’ve been more pleasant to watch a solemn, respectful family use the race as a means of building new bonds to guide them to a brighter future. Instead we get a bunch of haggard, scantily clad ladies running around screaming. Oh, and Rolly, too.

The Bransens started this leg in first place and finished in first again, thanks to some information sharing with the Linz family. One of the indistinguishable Bransen girls shared a little more than was necessary with the Linzes, mooning them as they drove on the highway. I’m not sure what to make of a woman in her twenties who will moon someone while her dad is in the car.

Who’s Smilin’ Now (Episode 11-5)

Tonight’s episode of Survivor: Guatemala looked like Stephenie might be in for another week of losses. Nakum was demoralized after losing the previous Immunity Challenge, and this week’s reward was too cool for them to have a chance at winning it. The tribe who won the Reward Challenge would get a pitcher of margaritas, chips and dip, and a permanent swim cage for their camp. Complete with deck chairs and umbrella, the cage would provide them with a croc free area in which to swim. Something tells me that the ancient Maya had no such device.

The challenge consisted of a bunch of sequential tasks that didn’t really matter because Brandon won it for Yaxha on the first task. He easily beat Jamie, whose hairstyle indicated that he’d just woken up, in a rope cutting contest. Jamie wasn’t able to finish the first task before Yaxha had completed the whole challenge.

To pump up Nakum for the Immunity Challenge, Lydia did a dance called “the pancake,” too touching and graceful for me to describe with words. Meanwhile at Yaxha, the dastardly Brian was working on a way to turn team sentiment against Blake. Brian’s plan was simple: ask Blake a question and let Blake answer. Somehow, Blake’s stories about getting drunk failed to charm his fellow team members.

At the Immunity Challenge, team members worked together to catch balls flung by a catapult. Before the challenge, Jeff Probst asked Nakum why they looked so glum. Upon winning, Jamie taunted Yaxha by asking, “Who’s smiling now?” This offended the always calm and reserved Bobby Jon, who appears to get in a fight with Jamie on next week’s episode.

Brian’s plan to let Blake get himself voted off worked, much to Blake’s surprise. Viewers were then treated to the best Febreze “Survivor Family Moment” ever. Blake’s mother said that as soon as he got home she’d make him a pork sandwich. Thanks to his mom, Blake’s going to be called “Pork Sandwich” for the rest of his life. It seems like sweet justice for a guy who’d talk about his girlfriend’s breast size on national television. Or maybe that’s barbecued justice.

None of You Want Me to Lose My Patience (Episode 1-4)

Ryan summed up the entire season of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart when he said, “Don’t overestimate Matchstick.” They can’t succeed at anything, and previews for next week’s show indicate that Matchstick as we know it is finished.

This week’s task was renovating a room at the Westin Hotel in New York City. The room had to have a distinctive theme that would appeal to guests. Overall, it was a pretty cool assignment–kind of like Trading Spaces, but with a contractor and lots of money.

Primarius quickly decided on entertainment as their theme, installing a bar and entertainment center. They decorated the suite with vases filled with poker chips and candy, all very Martha-esque touches. Primarius secured their win by hiring an interior designer. Project leader Amanda knew that her team couldn’t afford to get bogged down in details, so she let the designer make many of the decisions. For this task, the big picture was what mattered.

Leslie volunteered to leave Primarius and lead Matchstick on the task, promptly trapping the team in a 6-hour brainstorming session. They decided on the generic theme F.L.O.W. (For Lesiure Or Work), which is kind of the design concept behind any hotel room, isn’t it?

Furniture shopping was completed in the 10 minutes before Crate & Barrel closed for the night, and the team had to paint the rooms themselves because the contractors left at midnight. To top it all off, the couches they ordered never arrived, so there was nowhere to sit. Leave it to the “creative” team to get stuck on the details, develop a boring room concept, and forget to allow time for furniture to be delivered.

Primarius wins consistently by being a team–probably the best team from any edition of The Apprentice. There are disagreements without cattiness. It’s very refreshing. Matchstick is a team of individuals more concerned with blaming someone than figuring out how to stop losing. Maybe that’s because they’re not smart enough to figure out how to win.

In the conference room, Charles said Martha is running out of time and patience for Matchstick. Martha replied in a stern tone, “None of you wants me to lose my patience,” the kind of threat you can imagine her making to Alexis as a child. Martha’s appealing because she is an idealized wife and mother figure who’s also a convicted criminal. She’s able to find humor in her humorous situation, which is a rare gift among celebrities. I’m sure Sean Penn didn’t find it nearly as funny as I did when his boat sprung a leak during that hurricane rescue mission he took with his personal photographer.

Next week, Matchstick and Primarius will be reshuffled to give the remaining ‘Sticks a chance. I understand why this needs to happen, but it is fun to watch one team totally dominate another, as on Survivor: Palau. There’s a good chance that Jim will irritate his new teammates, so he may be next to go. They might even consider it a gift to send Jim home to his wife and newborn baby. Not that a guy who leaves his pregnant wife for a chance at fleeting fame on a struggling reality show deserves many gifts.

Don’t Hug Him! He’s Full of Shrimp! (Episode 8-3)

Oh no! My worst fears realized. Another episode of The Amazing Race: Family Edition, and both the Weavers and Paolos avoided elimination again. The rest of my week is ruined just knowing that next Tuesday I’ll be subjected to more complaining from Marion Paolo and more selfish prayers from the Widow Weaver.

It’s easy to understand why the Paolo family is so unlikable. They haven’t stopped fighting since the race began, even when there’s no cause for conflict. When they eventually are eliminated, there will be some phony sentimentality as the boys admit they love their mom, and she’ll say how proud of them she is. But give the Paolos five minutes, and they’ll be bickering again.

The Weavers are unlikable for a variety of reasons. It’s uncomfortable to watch a woman who recently lost her husband pray for help with directions. I’d expect her, of all people, to realize that the Almighty’s time is probably better spent helping people who are poor or, um, grieving.

It’s also uncomfortable to watch the three Weaver women running in such skimpy outfits. Rebecca and Rachel would be sent home from school for wearing shorts that short. It’s probably a not a good idea to wear such revealing clothes unless you’re built like a swimsuit model. That goes for everybody, not just the ample Weaver girls.

I’d go easier on them if they’d just stop shrieking whenever something happened to them–good, bad, or otherwise. The late night singing on the bus didn’t help my opinion of them either, and I can’t imagine how torturous just being within earshot of them for more than a few seconds would be. Rachel and Rebecca are acting the way most of us cynical folks over twenty think teens act: obnoxiously and without regard for others.

I’m assuming that the Widow Weaver’s tolerance, and even encouragement, of this behavior is some pathetic defense mechanism. She’s afraid of being seen as a bad mom, so she’s defending her daughters rather than correcting them.

Rolly gets a pass in all this because he’s a teen boy who’s acting quietly withdrawn, the way we like teen boys to act. We got our first glimpse of the real Hunter Schroeder tonight, too. Hunter progressed from silent bitterness to mumbled contempt for his stepmother, Char. I always knew he had it in him. Until either Hunter or Rolly screams, “I hate you!” at his maternal figure, I won’t consider this season a complete success.

Get Outta My Jungle (Episode 11-4)

With crocodiles swimming in the water and temperatures hovering around, Guatemala must be the crappiest place to play Survivor. You’re hot and being bitten by mosquitoes the size of cats, but you can’t get in the water to cool off because some big croc’s waiting to eat you. Heck, even the minnows have started to snack on Jamie.

Then Jeff Probst, that angel of mercy, shows up. He asks you to pick who on your tribe most needs a meal; Jamie and Danni are each given a green apple. Jeff asks who needs a shower, and Bobby Jon and Gary get to wash up. Jeff asks which man and woman from each tribe most deserve a picnic. Gary, Amy, Judd, and Margaret all get to eat lunch on top of a pyramid.

But as soon as they’re gone, WHAM! Jeff mixes up the tribes. Gary and Amy return to Yaxha to find new teammates Blake, Bobby Jon, Brandon, and Danni sitting around the fire with old teammate, Brian. And Judd and Margaret come home to Brooke, Cindy, Stephenie, Rafe, Lydia, and Jamie.

Stephenie again gets stuck on the weaker tribe. Instead of teaming up with buff Blake, she gets bashful Brooke. Instead of brawny Brandon, she gets mousy Margaret. There may well be some kind of Survivor curse attached to Stephenie. By the end of this season, she may wrest the title of “Best Player Never to Win” away from Rob Cesternino (Survivor: Amazon).

Luckily for her, Stephenie stays to fight another day after convincing Judd to turn against his former Nakum tribemates. Brooke is voted off, but earlier discussions between Judd, Jamie, and Steph indicate that the former Nakumies may not be picked off one-by-one. Lydia has been the weakest link in the challenges for some time, and booting her may mean the difference between winning and losing. After all, nobody wins Survivor because they’re the most helpful around camp.

Fake It ‘Til You Get Caught (Episode 1-3)

Looks like team Matchstick’s wedding cake business went up in flames! Oh, if only that were the literal truth. This team of perpetual underachievers headed back to the conference room tonight on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.

Martha provided the teams with another realistic and achievable task: bake and sell a wedding cake. What Martha does so well is connect with her audience, a value she endorsed in the first episode. Writing a children’s book and opening a flower shop or bakery are probably pretty common dreams for a lot of women, and they’re not unattainable goals either. Martha Stewart became a household name by promising women that they could have beautiful, organized homes — and still have plenty of free time to pursue their passions.

Applying Martha’s vision to her Apprentice makes it much more relatable than the Donald Trump version. Trump seems keen to torture his contestants, fulfilling some twisted version of an “I worked my way up from nothing” success story. In his version, you have to pull Pedicabs around Manhattan and teach old people to play Xbox. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would aspire to do either of those things for the sheer joy of it, let alone for the slim chance of becoming Trump’s next marketing tool.

Martha also applied some common sense to the conference room proceedings. When project manager David selected Marcela (the cake baker) and Dawn (the team scapegoat) to join him in the conference room, Martha brought the rest of the team back from the loft. The object of the task was, ultimately, to sell wedding cakes. The blame for failing to do that fell on the salespeople: Shawn, Jim and the jowly Bethenny.

Shawn not only failed to sell a cake, she also failed to keep her mouth shut, earning her a cordial good-bye from Martha. Did Bradford’s boasting in the second season of The Apprentice teach you nothing, Shawn? You never say you’ll take the fall if your team loses. It doesn’t matter how confident you are. It doesn’t even matter if it’s your fault. When your team loses, it’s always someone else’s fault.