CBS is looking for the next at-home style guru, and what better way to find that person than to bring twelve of the best “perfectionists” to Connecticut to compete against each other? Let’s face it; they’re looking for Martha Stewart, but a younger version without a criminal record.
Our host is Joan Lunden, and she explains that twelve of the most “wickedly creative, wickedly talented, and wickedly perfect” people are coming to Connecticut to become America’s next great style-maker. They are competing for a grand prize that includes a book deal, six scheduled appearances on The Early Show, and a possible television showof their very own.
Judging our Martha-wannabes are style guru David Evangelista (who has always given me the creeps), author and “Sex and the City” creator Candace Bushnell, and grill-master restaurateur Bobby Flay. Now I enjoy Bobby Flay, but wouldn’t Emeril have been more entertaining? Can’t you just see it: “This blackened catfish has no flavour! Bam! You’ve just been kicked out (a notch)!” Okay, maybe not.
The perfectionists arrive at the mansion where they will be living and competing, and we get a chance to meet each one. Margo is a purchasing supervisor who wants to do something fantastic. Heather, a business owner, says that most people love her and those who don’t are jealous because everything she does, she does well. Ah yes, the conceited contestant that every show needs.
Dawn is a first-grade teacher whose friends refer to her as a ‘domestic superstar’. Darlene is a product demonstrator for the Home Shopping Network, and she wants to break out of her ‘box’ to show women that they can entertain and host parties. You mean I don’t have to rely on my husband to do that? Get out – next thing you’re going to tell me is that I can do my own laundry and choose my own paint colours.
Denise, a homemaker, is looking for a change. I hear ya, sister. Amy owns an art studio and thinks that people will feel comfortable with her because she ‘wears pink and smiles a lot’. Yes, these are things that a style-guru should do, for sure. I’ve often thought that Martha Stewart would be so much more appealing if she wore pink more frequently.
Tom is an event planner who wants to reverse the stereotypes. Apparently Tom hasn’t heard of the Fab Five, watched the Food Network, or seen any of TLC’s programming. Tim is a carpenter who loves his work but is more excited about the competition side of the show. He says that wondering if someone is doing things faster and better is what keeps him motivated. Mychael is an award-winning chef and professional caterer.
Mitch is a product designer who says that he can do everything from laying a foundation for a house to hanging the draperies. Kimberly is a homemaker who takes great pride in keeping her house beautiful. Michelle is a pastry chef who says that her reputation as a baker is on the line.
As the contestants arrive, they are seated at two different tables. As it turns out, each table consists of a team. Team One is made up of Tim, Heather, Mychael, Mitch, Amy, and Denise. Team Two consists of Kimberly, Michelle, Tom, Dawn, Margo, and Darlene. Joan explains that each week there will be team challenges. Within those challenges, each person will also complete an individual project. The judges will decide which team wins each challenge, and then, from the losing team, will choose the two weakest individual projects. Whoever created those two projects will be on the chopping block, and the rest of the team will vote on whom to eliminate. Yeah, it was confusing to me too at first.
What better time to start off their first challenge then … right now! The first part of this challenge is apple picking. Each team has thirty minutes to collect as many apples as they can. Tablecloths are flying as the teams head out to gather apples. Mychael tells her teammates that she can cook with any kind of apple, while voice-over Joan explains that the teams will have to use every single apple they pick to complete their challenge. Darlene frantically shakes a tree to get the apples to drop to the ground.
After thirty minutes, each team has a rather impressive load of apples. Joan invites them into the mansion to see where they will be living and working. They have an old carriage house that has been converted into a ‘state-of-the-art’ workshop, where they will find everything they will need to create their projects. The house itself is luxuriously furnished, and Margo enters exclaiming “Mommy’s home!” Joan adds one more tidbit of information – everyone will share a bedroom with one other person.
The next morning both teams meet up with Joan in the kitchen. She tells us that the teams have named themselves – Team One has become The Crafty Beavers (beavers? Are they Canadian?), and Team Two is now Team Artisan (at least the beavers were original). Each team has ended up with over 3,000 apples, and now they face the daunting task of using each and every one of them for their project.
The task is to create a display of edible and non-edible stuff using their apples. They have 24 hours to complete their displays, and they must also each come up with an individual project to showcase their own unique abilities. Each team gets a budget of $1500, to cover both the team and the individual projects.
On Team Artisan, Tom emerges as the leader. He takes control of the task as Darlene becomes more and more displeased. Each suggestion Darlene makes is dismissed by Tom. Granted, she did suggest doing something with dried apples, and considering the time limit, the idea just couldn’t fly. Kimberly and Dawn head off to get groceries and supplies. At the market, they decide to buy silk flowers rather than fresh. Duh – even I know to always, always, always use fresh flowers, and I’ve still got chunky wallpaper border in my dining room. Tsk tsk.
The Crafty Beavers are working up a storm with Mitch heading up the design team and Mychael taking over the kitchen. Mitch isn’t happy with Tim’s woodworking skills, claiming “If he’s a finish carpenter, then I’m the Pope.”
Darlene takes some time out from the team project to work on her individual project. She makes some kind of apple compote and apple butter, which she takes up to her room for some reason. Tom isn’t happy with this at all. Darlene says that Tom is a strong man who isn’t comfortable with the women standing up to him or challenging him. I say that Darlene is a few apples short of a bushel.
Dawn and Kimberly get caught in traffic and end up taking over four hours to complete the shopping. Again Tom is disgruntled, saying that the two of them have set the team back several hours. He’s working on some kind of soup for his individual project. Apple soup. Okay.
Tim and Mitch work on a table or something that they’re covering in apple halves. Mychael is preparing a pork loin roast filled with apple-cornbread stuffing, and she seems happy with the way the food is turning out. So happy, in fact, that she goes upstairs to catch a few hours of sleep, much to the dismay of the rest of The Crafty Beavers, who are working through the night. Mychael adds salt to the wound by posting a note on her door asking her team to wake her at 6am.
With two hours to go, Darlene is building a shadow-box tabletop filled with apples. As Kimberly comments privately that Darlene doesn’t fit in with their group, the two women finish up the table. Even though she spent most of the time complaining that the apples being placed “randomly” would be weird, Darlene is thrilled with the results. Too thrilled, really. Doesn’t take much to get Darlene all a-titter apparently.
Denise creates a dipped apple on a stick for her individual project, and includes it as part of an invitation. Heather’s project is an apple-peel lamp that looks a little scary. I’m thinking that she’d better have dipped those peels in lemon juice or else the undersides will turn all brown and nasty before the judges see it. Moving on. Kimberly made an apple sour-cream pie the night before, and is now anxious that it won’t be good enough to keep her safe if her team loses the challenge.
Tom has created an apple-squash-tarragon bisque for his project, and Darlene decides to taste-test it. Apparently it doesn’t meet Darlene’s standards, because the icky face she makes is priceless.
With half an hour to go before judgement time, both teams scramble to get things done and clean up. Mitch puts the finishing touches on Team Artisan’s table, and bristles when Denise tries to help him. Their setup is very traditional, and someone comments that it keeps with the Connecticut surroundings. The Crafty Beavers have a large, eclectic, and very appley display.
The judges arrive and Joan introduces them to the perfectionists. They go to the Crafty Beavers’ table first, and ooh and ahh over the display. The food tasting goes well too, as Bobby Flay comments that the seasonings are just perfect. Mychael says that she created the food, which doesn’t sit well with the rest of her team (even though it’s the truth). Candace and David are both impressed with The Crafty Beavers’ work as well.
Over at Team Artisan’s display, things don’t go over so well. Their table setting lacks imagination and creativity, and they’re called to task for using fake flowers. Bobby asks if there were no fresh flowers at the market and Kimberly mutters something in the form of an explanation. Bobby says that they should have just picked some flowers from the side of the road. See? Even Bobby Flay knows this!
David asks Darlene if any of her ideas were rejected, and Darlene can’t even contain herself. One has to wonder if David was fed that question, or if he saw some of the prep footage before judging. Anyway, Darlene almost squeals that all of her ideas were tossed out the window, including chocolate apples and several others she mentions by name. The rest of the team isn’t thrilled that Darlene is airing their problems already. but she is giddy and oblivious.
The judges huddle together and compare notes, although this must just be for show because it’s obvious to anyone watching that The Crafty Beavers have won by a landslide. The announcement is made and the Beavers celebrate.
Now it’s time to judge the individual projects. The person with the best project on the winning team is Denise, with her Candied Apple and Invitation. Candace says that it’s perfect for a Fall party. Denise wins … wait for it … a truck. Yup, she made a candy apple and stamped some cardboard and walks away with a truck. Nice return on her investment there! Denise is thrilled, and says that the vehicle is perfect for her family.
The judges now have to pick the two weakest individual projects from Team Artisan, setting their creators up for elimination. Candace likes Kimberly’s pie, but the guys aren’t too excited about it. Tom leans over and whispers to Kimberly that they liked her pie. Tom’s soup receives negative reviews, with all three judges agreeing that it’s lacking in seasoning and presentation. Kimberly and Tom are chosen as the weakest crafters, with Bobby saying “if you’re going to make an apple pie, you have to knock it out of the ball park”. Indeed.
Tom and Kimberly are now up for elimination, and the rest of Team Artisan will vote later that evening on who to send home. Joan sends them inside for a few hours to think about their decisions.
Once inside, Tom immediately calls Darlene out. He says that he wants to hold a team meeting or something, and he doesn’t care if she joins them or not. Okee dokee. Darlene isn’t going to sit and take this – she fires back that she is “so over (his) self-appointed dictatorship, and it’s going to end right now”. Something about Darlene rubs me the wrong way, but Tom isn’t scoring any audience-appreciation points here either.
The team goes upstairs, and Tom announces that he wants to quit to save Kimberly. What he really means though is that the going is getting tough, and he doesn’t want to risk being voted out. He’d rather quit and look like a hero I guess. Obviously he hasn’t watched Survivor, and has no idea what a bad rap quitters get.
Kimberly cries and says that Tom deserves a second chance just as much as she does. This girl is clearly too emotional to become the next Martha Stewart.
After a little conference with Mitch, Tom changes his mind about quitting. Mitch gives him heck for not controlling the women on his team (um, excuse me?), and asks him if he thinks Kimberly can win. Tom says no, and Mitch says that he’ll be voting to keep the best people around, not the weakest. Hang on here, isn’t Mitch on the other team? So why should Tom care how he would vote?
It’s elimination time, and Team Artisan gather on the lawn with the judges and Joan. Joan says that if there is a tie vote, the judges will break the tie. She then gives Kimberly and Tom a chance to plead their case.
Kimberly says that she’s become close to everyone already and will not be angry if they decide to eliminate her. She asks them to vote with their hearts. Tom dives into a lengthy explanation as to why they should keep him around. He claims that the other team likes him (and this is a good reason to keep him, why?), and that if they vote him out they’ll be losing the only male member of the team (again, this is a good reason why?). He adds that Dawn and Kimberly have the same taste and design sense, so eliminating him would be eliminating a different sense of aesthetics. He goes on and on for what seems like half of the episode.
It’s finally voting time, and Margo, Dawn, Darlene, and Michelle are each holding gold signs with their vote written on them. They reveal their votes, one at a time, right in front of Tom and Kimberly. It’s unanimous – Tom’s going home. Joan tells Tom he has to leave immediately. Bye bye Tom.
Joan warns the remaining team members that the competition is going to get tougher and more intense each week, and that they need to get their heads together and focus. As they return to the house, we hear Margo say that Tom’s fatal mistake was offering to quit and then changing his mind. Even if I was leaning towards voting for Kimberly, Tom’s final speech would have been enough for me to change my vote.
In his final words, Tom says something about how he shot himself in the foot by taking over the leadership role and not putting enough time into his individual project, but the team has shot themselves in the head by eliminating him. And here I thought Heather was the conceited one in the bunch.
Next week will bring us dinner parties thrown for the judges. Someone will almost ruin their main course, and one of the teams will be short on hors d’oeuvres. Mitch and Denise will argue and Denise calls Mitch a pansy. Now this I gotta see!
This show is a lot of fun, and the perfectionists all bring something different to the table both in their areas of expertise and in their personalities. For tips and instructions on how to create the individual projects yourself, check out the official website at http://www.cbs.com/primetime/wickedly_perfect/index.shtml. See you next week!
We’re looking for writers! If you want to volunteer your time to recap one of the new shows, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.