I’m not gonna lie to you, kids. I’m not happy with the final challenge for this season of The Apprentice. Back in the days of yore, the feisty contestants had to manage an Event. These Events have included concerts, sports events, charity functions, and other such Big Deals. There were always so many balls up in the air, and so much at stake. They had to please not only The Donald, but also the event coordinators, the sponsors, the talent, the entertainment, and the charity representatives. There were so many opportunities for failure, and failure always abounded. So imagine my disappointment this year when it was revealed that the final challenge is to film a stupid little commercial for an air freshener. Are you kidding me with this shit?
The candidates return to the mansion with all sorts of relieved sighs and congratulations to each other. Stefani notes that they’re all Arrow, which, if you had told me a few weeks ago that the final four would be comprised of all Arrow team members, I would have spit in your face and stolen your wallet. James screams some more in his interview about how meaningful this whole thing is. So along with Frank and Nicole, the final four contains the triple threat of horrendously annoying voices. Fantastic.
“It’s okay, guys! Our dinosaur egg fossil is still here!”
Nicole oddly tells Stefani how surprised she was that she did so well (thanks, NICOLE) and Stefani starts to blab on about how the most important thing is to impress Trump, when who should walk in but the man himself and his doughy spawn. He rounds up his minions and tells them that he’s very happy with the four of them. I laugh out loud at this, and I suspect Trump later chuckled about it to himself as well. He informs them that they’re going to be attending a cocktail party at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel with the five previous apprenti! NICE! Ooh, the thoughts of seeing Kelly in all his bland glory sends shivers down my spine. And I certainly hope Randall will bringing one of his famed megaphones.
“I HATE WHAT YOU’VE DONE WITH THE PLACE.”
The overly excited candidates arrive at the hotel. Meanwhile, inside, Kelly is bragging to Randall about how his record of wins was 12-3. I really hope to see some sort of fistfight erupt out of this, but sadly they keep their composure. The kids arrive and gush over the mighty Apprenti. But…where’s my precious Rancic? Apparently Bill was called away on business, and couldn’t attend the party. He’s probably picking up the Donald’s dry cleaning or something. The rest of them look pretty much the same. Kendra looks smashing, and I still want to slap Sean across the face.
Get off my television.
The minions ask for advice, and the Apprenti spout all manner of clichÃ©s, such as “now or never”, “pedal to the metal”, “get your second wind”, and “stay true to yourself and put your best foot forward!’”. Eh, I guess they weren’t hired for their originality. The whole thing is somehow quite boring, and they all toast and it’s over before we know it. Oh come on! Where’s the dish? The competitive, snide comments? The drinks thrown in each other’s faces? Tana popping up out of a garbage can wielding a Bedazzler and hooting like Arsenio? I feel cheated, Mark Burnett. I’d like to slap you across the face as well.
Kelly is apparently in charge of giving them their next challenge. Oh, this should be exciting. At least Sean would have utilized some outrageous hand gestures or facial expressions or possibly finger puppets. Kelly robotically tells them that this is their final challenge, that they will be doing it in teams, and that they need to decide who they want to bring back to help them in the next thirty seconds. Panicked looks everywhere, including probably Sean. The candidates scuttle off to opposite corners to strategize, WITHOUT the aid of Precious Memories photo albums! What the HELL is going on here?!
They return to the Apprenti, who are trying their damnedest to get hammered, to reveal the names of the Chosen. Frank and Nicole yell for Tim, while James and Stefani shout out Aaron. Oh great, the Chin Donut is back. Then Fricole scream for Surya, and Jamfani demand Angela. They both do this in a way that would suggest that they believed they got the better deal, but seriously? Surya? You guys totally hated him. And Angela was never even on your team. Guess those little screwdrivers they were drinking were more potent than I thought.
Maybe there’s a reason Kelly never shows his personality.
Andie wakes everyone up with her perky crack-of-dawn call. James answers the phone half naked, and I’m just worried we’re about to become witness to a Fountain O’Something Else. But we are spared. Andie chirps that the teams are to meet The Donald at Universal Studios. Hmm, that doesn’t sound like a charity event location to me.
The Scorned Candidates From Weeks Past arrive at the house, to much hugging and yelling. Always with the yelling. Nicole and Tim share a happy reunion. I barf. Nicole drones on and on about him for at least a solid minute in her interview. I barf some more. I suspect Tim might be barfing a little himself as well.
Frank and Surya share a Truly Awkward Moment out by the side of the pool. Frank mumbles an apologetic explanation for why he chose him to be on the team, while Surya sort of nods and glares at him. He says in an interview that it’s really awkward, since Frank is mostly responsible for getting him fired, but he’s willing to put all that aside to do a good job. Right. Good luck, kids.
“Wait until my dry erase markers hear about this…”
The candidates show up at an old timey western town set. Bwa? There is a man in a bathtub, scratching his head with a gun. A The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly score knockoff plays in the background whilst the candidates approach this crazy scene. Trump’s going to have to go a long way to get back to commercial real estate on this one. A rather anachronistic limo pulls up and The Donald gets out and approaches them.
A preview of next week’s Live Finale studio audience
For a moment I pray to the reality TV gods harder than I’ve ever prayed that The Donald will hand each of them a pistol and tell them to go at it, and the sole survivor will be his new Apprentice. Honestly, I think that would be the only way to save this sinking ship of a show. You know how The Donald keeps deluding himself into thinking he still has the number one show on TV? Well, my theory is that Trump has mistaken his television set for his mirror. That way, every time he looks at it, he sees himself, and comes to the conclusion that “HEY, THERE I AM AGAIN! I’M NUMBER ONE!”
Alas, no weaponry is dispensed. Trump tells the teams that they are to make a mini-movie – a sixty second spot for the air freshener Renuzit. So by mini-movie you actually mean commercial. Got it. I guess, for some reason, event coordinators and charity spokespeople have come to their senses and no longer want to depend on incompetent reality television stars to produce their events anymore. Go fig. He introduces the Bland Execs, one of whom has some unfortunate glasses. Trump goes on to say that the commercials will premiere in front of a live audience at an AMC THEATER!!! and afterwards he, his spawn, and the Bland Execs will pick their favorite. The teams will have access to all of the movie-making “toys” they might need. Whatever. An old-timey shootout would be better. With town drunks. And funny hats.
What’s going on here? They look like those novelty glasses that already have eyes painted on.
James and Stefani’s team show up at a soundstage, and Stefani goes on to complain that it was so big and vast that there were endless possibilities, which actually complicated the situation. Yeah, I hate options. I’d rather shoot my commercial out of a rusty shed, with a used battery and a dead scorpion as my main characters. Both teams then meet with the Bland Execs. Nicole comes out of this meeting screaming at the camera in her interview that the core demographic is MOMS WITH KIDS! Alright already! Why are you yelling?!
Someone help Stefani! She’s being devoured by a snake!
Nicole and her crack squad (Tim) come up with the idea of a working mom whose son ends up in the hospital, where she freshens up his room with some Renuzit. Frank and Surya understandably look concerned about this. Ya know, because it’s a terrible idea. Nicole and Tim are talking about how it’s going to be cute and funny, but Frank points out that hospitals generally aren’t funny places. Unless Patch Adams will be making a cameo.
Stefani and James, meanwhile, have dreamed up some sort of courtroom drama. Is anyone else starting to think that these teams should have just stuck around that studio lot and filmed the cowboy taking a bath? Would have been worlds more interesting. Stefani and Angela work on hiring actors and picking out props while James and Aaron work on the directing end. The plot involves something about a smelly husband who is being charged with stinking up the house. Wow. Watch out, David E. Kelley.
Meanwhile, things are humming over with James and Nicole. They’re shooting the commercial, which involves a boy who has hurt his ankle and the mother who comes to freshen up his room. Hey, that sure is funny! Because hospitals aren’t exactly known for their dirtiness and odors, but rather their sterility and cleanliness, Frank threw in a bum to stink the place up. Wow. The confusion here is reaching Lost proportions. Watch out, J.J. Abrams!
The Bland Execs pop in to see how they’re doing, and Nicole blatantly rushes to stick the product in the shot. It’s weird and out of the blue and totally obvious. But they fall for it anyway, whispering to each other that she just got major brownie points. She then shouts to everyone about how important that shot is. She THEN scuttles over to the Execs and shakes their hands, screaming, “Thanks for coming by! If you don’t mind, I’m going to supervise the rest of the shoot from inside your ass!”
Doughy Don Jr. arrives at the courtroom set, where a snippy lawyer is interviewing an odor nerd named Dr. Snook. How witty. James is having a full-scale Perfectionist Attack, as he keeps reshooting the same scene, nay, the same LINE, over and over and over. That line is spoken by the shrill lawyer woman and goes a little something like this: “IN-TER-EST-ING!” Which is notably ironic because this whole thing is anything but. Stefani is fretting because with James’ temporary insanity, they’re not going to be able to get all of the shots they need by 10:00, which is when they lose the crew. After roughly 1,386 takes, she’s able to cut him off, and they move on to another scene, which he also repeatedly shoots.
“I’m a doctor!”
Over at the editing studio (which has such a cute sign, I can’t get over it), Frank and Nicole start squabbling about the editing process while Surya and Tim sit around with their thumbs up their asses. So pretty much just a normal day at Arrow Corp. Meanwhile, the other team is realizing that they’re short on footage because of James’ nincompoopery.
It’s time for the premiere! Stefani addresses a large crowd of fat, popcorn-chomping moviegoers and introduces their commercial. And it’s pretty terrible. Mrs. Smith accuses Mr. Smith of stinking up the house on poker night. Shrill Attorney yells at Dr. Snook, who confirms that he did an odor analysis, and while he didn’t find any traces of “tobacco smoke, dirty socks, and pet odor” (pet odor, a staple of every poker game), he did find Renuzit.
You call THIS a thorough odor analysis?! I declare shenanigans!
Then there’s a montage of Mr. Smith spraying everything in the damn house, including a soccer ball. Yeah, I hate when my poker games turn into soccer, too. In the end, the jury finds him not guilty. “But is he?” the tagline asks. I don’t care. It didn’t even include IN-TER-ES-TING, so I completely lost interest. The audience applauds, and the Bland Execs look mildly amused.
The other team is up next, and Frank introduces their commercial by reading notes off of his hand. Oh, Franky. What would Vinny down at the Olive Garden say about that?
“And standing directly to my right is…hang on…Nicole!”
Theirs is pretty terrible, too. A woman at work has a big presentation coming up, but oh no! Her jacket smells like smoke! She happily whips out a bottle of Renuzit and sprays her cancer-ridden troubles away. Afterwards, she and her friend return to the office, laughing, probably about how hilarious their presentation on flesh-eating bacteria was. She picks up the phone and it’s her son’s…friend? Neighbor? Gentleman secret lover? She runs over to the hospital and makes the kid feel right at home by putting up pictures and giving him his guitar. This begs the question of how many weeks, or even months, the kid is actually going to be there for a sprained ankle, but whatever.
“The other patients will LOVE me for this!”
The kid is still complaining (teenagers!) that it doesn’t feel like home, and gestures over to the “bum” in the bed next to him. I don’t know, to me it just looks like an unshaven dude. They should have thrown in one of those hobo satchels on a stick just to make it clear. Mom sprays that homeless stench out of the air, and the totally disillusioned teenager snaps, “Wow. The odor is eliminated.” GNARLY! The Bland Execs laugh and the audience is delighted. I am not.
The candidates all reconvene back at the mansion and describe their respective commercials to each other. Each team thinks the other’s is lame. No surprises here. Except for the fact that I realize that James totally resembles Kermit the Frog in that one Sesame Street sketch where Grover examines his fake teeth.
Eat crunchy foods, like carrotsh!
Afterwards, back at the mansion, Trump quizzes the Bland Execs on how the teams did. I really miss the days of the hard-hitting interviews. No one could cause a poor, helpless candidate to sweat like a screaming CEO of a car company demanding a description of one’s leadership skills. Ah, good times. Their general opinion is that James was running the show, while Stefani was able to reign him in as needed and she was able to take care of a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. On the other team, Frank was clearly in charge, and Nicole was pretty much just watching, though she did help out in some areas. The Donald really seems to like Frank. Hmm. Could we have an upset on our hands here? IN-TER-ES-TING!
This week’s installment of “Andie Through The Decades” features some sort of luminous, future outfit. Oh, that Andie, with her flying cars and such!
“Shiny things are fun.”
They sit down in the boardroom and The Donald summarizes the task, ending with “and then display it in front of an audience of live…moviegoers.” For a second there I thought he might say “live humans”, but then again there isn’t any room for error in this, THE NUMBER ONE SHOW ON TELEVISION. He asks the teams how it went, and of course they all talk about how wonderful they are. Surya mentions that Frank should work for NASA. So good call on that Surya firing, Donald.
Trump asks Angela who she liked better, since she had never worked with James or Stefani before. She says that all she had known about them before this was what she could get through the hedge. And of course Trump throws in something about the wonderful hedge, made more famous by TIM AND NICOLE. Yeah, good thing Trump fired that bastard Tim, who was always bringing up his stupid relationship out of nowhere. That really steams The Donald’s clams.
“LOVE LIFTS US UP WHERE WE BELONG.”
Trump thanks the already-fired failures and asks them to leave. Good riddance to bad rubbish, I say. Chin Donut, never darken my television doorway again. The Donald tells the remaining candidates that they’ve done an excellent job (debatable), they’ve endured the “soggy disgusting tents with wet horrible grounds”, and they should be proud of themselves. He then tells them to back to the mansion, pack up their stuff, and go home. Because he’ll be meeting them next week, live, “in front of millions and millions of people” (debatable). They leave, amidst a chorus of thank yous and hugs. As the door closes, echoes of Frank yelling “What a feeling!” echo through the boardroom.
The episode ends rather oddly as the foursome pack up their belongings. The highlight is Frank telling Stefani that she has a lot of stuff. “I do, Frank. I have a lot of clothes,” she snarks back. The end!
So, yeah. Worst last challenge ever. I seriously miss the chaotic giant events. Remember when Kwame lost Jessica Simpson? Those were the days. Anyway, I have a strong feeling Trump is going to hire two people this time around, probably as a backlash to last year’s Randall/Rebecca/”It’s Apprentice, not Apprenti” fiasco. It’s probably going to be James and Stefani, even though their commercial wasn’t all that IN-TER-ES-TING. Either that or it’s going to be an upset and he’s going to hire Frank. I always hated that damn foghorn but I must admit, he has actually started to impress me these past few weeks. He knows how to argue, and that could seriously help him in the boardroom next week.
Jordan has recapping duty next week, so this is my last one for the season (or, the way the ratings winds are blowing, for this whole series). Thanks for reading! The smartness is in the science!