By sg-dub|Monday, November 7, 2005 | 11:10 pm | 30 Comments
I’ve now determined the reason that Apprentice: Martha Stewart is tanking is because they’ve marketed it all wrong. NBC trumped (ahem) up Martha’s social status and perfectionist ways; instead, they should have simply gone all FOX on the show and lured viewers in with promises of adults acting like complete and total jackasses. (Well, to be honest, since I have two dual input TiVos at the compound, I haven’t really seen a commercial in about 2 years, so maybe they are.)
But judging from the ratings, I doubt it. That’s not to say the show is all that good – in fact, it’s getting worse each week in many ways. But, I’d bet if they went with more of a “Man vs. Beast 2″ vibe and less of a self-important feel, the show would be doing better. (God, I still can’t believe that camel beat the dwarves in that running race!) And this week, the episode featured such indescribable buffoonery, I’m not even sure I can accurately explain it.Fortunately, TVgasm is so totally kickass we can just show you the clip, saving me the effort. But we’ll get to that nonsense later. First, we must deal with “Mark Burnett ominous foreshadowing moment # 1.” After Marcella triumphantly returned from the last conference room session by the skin of her cute little Chiclet teeth, Sarah and Carrie of Team Primarius were shown kissing each other’s asses. “You’re the best!” “No, YOU’RE the bestest.” “No, YOU’RE the bestest times a googol!” Carrie promised Sarah to back her up 100% in her role this week as Project Manager and the two of them predicted victory no matter the task. Thanks for telling us who would lose this week in the first 2 minutes, Burnett. Thanks a lot.
The next morning the phone rang and Leslie again won the coveted title of “Ace Phone Answerer” for the day. I swear these people actually race to (and care about) who gets to talk to LimeyJulia every task. It turns out that Martha AGAIN couldn’t join the teams to spell out the challenge as she was “riding in a car headed to a meeting.” It was with that hot new company called “Parole Board,” no doubt. You may have heard of them.
In lieu of Martha, the teams met with Peter Arnell and his creative team of DINK hipsters. They are advertising geniuses (or something) who would be judging the teams on their ability to create an inventive marketing campaign for a new product called Tide to Go. They would have a 24-foot flatbed “living billboard” with a stage to take to the streets of Manhattan, and would be given an art director and illustrator. The best campaign, which created the most positive buzz, would win.
Simple, right? Create a character, design a catchy look, act out a simple little skit that shows off the product, done. Wellllll, not on this show. The show that has brought us asymmetrical wedding cakes, empty “finished” hotel rooms, an evil retelling of Hansel and Gretel, and a salad dressing campaign based on its ability wash children’s hair. On THIS show, one team (Primarius) had major difficulties coming up with an idea.
Reminiscent of the W hotel challenge, they “brainstormed” for hours on end and came up with nothing. Hey Jimbo, aren’t you an “advertising exec”? Couldn’t you come up with something? Sarah threw out the idea of “Acrobats.” Bethenny dreamt up “Coffee to go.” More time passed. To Jim’s credit, he kept having to remind his fellow morons that the product was a stain removing stick from Tide and that perhaps acrobats passing out free coffee doesn’t exactly get that notion across. At this point, I enjoyed the background bassoon solo which, as we all know, is the universal soundtrack of “Stupid people with stupid ideas doing stupid things.” Hell, even the name “bassoon” sounds silly. A baboon on a bassoon at noon in a monsoon. Heh heh, that IS pretty funny. Well, except for the whole “monsoon” part.
Juxtaposing the idiocy of Primairheadius, Martha dropped some knowledge on us regarding her highly successful branding. “I am a well know brand. My name stands for quality.” She continued, “So much so that the Cartier of the cheap shit sector, Sears, recently bought Kmart, which sold my quality items. So, when fluffing my duvets, be sure to wear your Toughskins!” Meanwhile, Team Matchstick was also brainstorming with similar results. In an especially inspired moment of brilliance, Ryan blurted out, “We can build a big blouse with giant tits.” I didn’t get it either, but somehow he got away with saying that in front of his all-female team. That’s the first real-world business lesson we’ve gleaned from this show; you can get away with a higher degree of offensive idiocy when you are attractive. Yay Ryan!
After getting his odd breast fixation off his, ahem, chest, Ryan spouted something about creating a boxing ring in which a “Tide Guy” fights off and beats up “Stains.” His fellow Matchstickers were immediately taken with the idea, and immediately thought up the marketing hook; “Tide To Go Joe.” At that point, the only reality show character with less personality than Survivor’s Immunity Idol, Alexis Stewart, appeared and muttered, “I was going to come in and then said ‘noooooo.’” The woman speaks one line in two full shows and it is a nonsensical and sheepish non sequitur. Yay nepotism!
Over at the Primeariver camp, the gang was still fruitlessly brainstorming. The editors helpfully showed us a ticking clock in an effort to show us that time was a-wasting. (Gosh, if only I had that visual during the five days I sat on this recap, eh?) Jim the ad exec tried to keep his team on point, constantly reminding them that in order to promote the product, they would have to show the product. Such simple logical lessons were apparently difficult to convey to this crew. In desperation, Project Manager Sarah sent Howie and Bethenny out to a prop shop to “get ideas.” My word.
“I gotta give this place props,” guffawed Howie. Heh-heh, good one, but it’s not like he could come up with a viable idea there, could he? “Hey, look at these boxing gloves… How about creating a boxing ring in which a ‘Tide Guy’ fights off and beats up ‘Stains’?” Hmmm, yeah, how about that, Project Manager Sarah? Howie called her and proposed his synchronous brilliant idea. Sarah, being Carrie’s pathetic lapdog, asked her master who simply wrinkled her nose and said, “No.” Not that she had any other ideas, mind you, but that one simply didn’t appeal to her.
Meanwhile, Team Matchstickitinyourear had already designed and developed the orange Lycra bodysuit for Ryan to beat up stains in. He slipped it on and came alive as “Tide To Go Joe,” prancing and twirling about. “Wheeeeeeee! I’m freeeeeee!” Think Slim Goodbody without all the innards and stuff. And gayer.
The next morning, the Primareyeores still had no viable concept. So Sarah, taking control of her project, finally brought her troops together and declared, “Ok, our concept is ‘On the go.’ We’ll have jugglers ‘going’ and dancers and an overall ‘Action’ theme. ‘Come on in and see the To Go Stain Pen!” Needless to say everyone was rather underwhelmed – everyone other than Queen Carrie who just loooooved whatever Sarah came up with. Those two had their noses up each other’s butts to such a degree, they called to mind that MC Escher drawing with the lizards.
Alright, so here’s the deal. Ryan’s “Tide To Go Joe” boxing match idea went off pretty well. It was exciting, sold the product well, and was actually something I wouldn’t be surprised to see near Times Square. And then there was Primarius…
What can I say about their performance? I’ve been watching various reality TV shows since the dawn of the genre. My head is swimming with over-the-top embarrassing moments from the years; I’m racking my brain trying to come up with a comparative previous event. I can’t. Watching Jim and Bethenny act like monkeys while scaring New Yorkers was unparalleled as far as I’m concerned. Not only that, their oft repeated slogan, “It’s time for Tide to go” isn’t even a positive message. Cripes, the Naked Cowboy was laughing at them.
I can’t really do the whole scene any justice by writing about it… So here, enjoy:
Click on Bethenny to watch the video
Needless to say, Matchstick won. But I’ll give that Peter Arnell guy some credit – he was actually rather Trumpish in his dismissal of the annoying mess you just watched above: “I was totally underwhelmed. That was the most pathetic display I’ve ever seen. It was actually damaging to the product and was a complete waste of my time.” Nice.
So far, the rewards on Martha’s show have been shitty to say the least. If they were “rewards” at all, they almost always have involved some sort of work. This week, however, the winners would enjoy breakfast with Martha at her Bedford estate! Um… yay? Well, apparently I’m the weird one for being unexcited about that prize. Dawna effused, “I’m overwhelmed!” Now, if Martha was splayed out nude on the table with breakfast items artfully placed on her naughty bits, then I’d be overwhelmed. (A la Adrienne Curry in Surreal Life 4, of course.) As it was, the team simply ate a fancy breakfast in Martha’s garden. It was, however, not without its strange moments.
At one point, towards the end, Martha asked Marcella for a piece of her sugarbun. I immediately began singing Sheena Easton’s “Come inside my sugar walls,” and thought about “not getting none if you ain’t got buns, hun,” but alas, Martha’s request was not so exciting. The billionairess, with a full staff and full pantry, actually asked little Marcella for a bite of her table scraps. Marcella reflected later, “It was UN-believable. I needed to pinch myself.” Oh, senorita, something tells me if Martha wants a piece of your sugarbun, she’ll give you all the pinching you need.
Can you smell what the Howie is cookin?
As Primaryshortbus entered the conference room, it was fairly evident that Sarah was on the hotseat. After all, she was ultimately responsible for the whole mess. And to be fair, as much as I can’t stand Jim, he did try his simian heart out and did try to steer the team correctly early on in the task. In fact, the whole concept was SO bad, it woke Alexis from her coma long enough to utter one sentence! “There was no concept.” Bravo, Alexis, bravo… Now back to sleep with you.
Charles actually ran the proceedings, it seemed, as Martha was too stunned to speak much. When she did, it was stilted and strange. Regarding the final product, Martha said, “You made something really, really, really, really unbeautiful.” Geeze, give the woman an extra sugarbun and she begins talking like Jim. Jim’s constant use of “like” every time he came to a pause, a comma, an ellipse, a hyphen, or a period is getting to be that I sometimes think I’m watching Laguna Beach rather than The Apprentice.
In the end, Martha rightfully called the whole team back in to the conference room but sent Jim and Howie up to the loft almost immediately. Carrie was derided for essentially doing nothing each week, other than “keeping the books.” This was chided by Charles and Martha, because all that meant was writing about six numbers on some notebook paper with a few minus signs. Sarah, clearly grasping at straws, tried to blame Howie (of all people) for the team’s collapse which brought on Bethenny’s considerable ire. She called Sarah a liar but really, there was no need for such theatrics. In fact, Martha had already decided it was time for Sarah to go home.
But wait… Not just Sarah, but Carrie as well! The double firing was absolutely justified, as Carrie was complicit in every one of Sarah’s incompetent moves. The two dotards left the show, hand in hand, as Martha wrote them each a patronizing letter – playing up that they are both “attractive” and because of that, they “will be successful.”
See, and you thought I was lying back when I said that was the lesson to take away from the show.