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12 Martha Stewart wannabes from the corners of the country try to outstyle each other. The prize - a contract from CBS, guaranteed television appearances and the chance at stardom.

Recaps by Julie Suchard, GSNN


Joan Lunden
Creator: Larry Bleidner, Eric Schotz, Bill Paolantonio, Irene Zutell
EP: Marc Summers
Packager: CBS Productions
Airs: Thursdays at 8:00pm ET on CBS

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Episode 1 - Perfectly Planned Apples

Twelve of the most "wickedly creative, wickedly talented, wickedly perfect" people are heading to New England. The winner will become "America's Next Stylemaker." The prize is a Book Deal with Atria Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, six Guaranteed Appearances on The Early Show, opportunity to star in their own National Television Show courtesy of King World Productions, producers of Dr. Phil and Oprah. Contestants will be tested as teams and as individuals. Judging by David Evangelista, Candice Bushnell, and Chef Bobby Flay. Each week, the weakest players will be put up for elimination and voted off by their teammates, until only the most Wickedly Perfect Person remains.

Let's meet the players. They have been 'randomly' divided up into teams. Each person has been given a designated specialty by the show, which in some cases seems to have little to do with their real occupations.

Team One - 'Crafty Beavers' [the teams named themselves; this is the better name...for the better team]

Denise 'Event Planning' - She is a mother of two from Manhattan Beach, California. She is presently a homemaker, but was formerly an advertising copywriter. She looks like Joan Lunden, if Joan Lunden had had a really bad facelift. She is 'ready for something new and exciting.'

Mitch 'Floral Design ' - Mitch is a Product Designer from Chicago, Illinois and says that his talent is 'God-given.' Mitch is has closely cropped dark hair and a ready smile.

Heather 'Fashion Design' - Heather is from Los Angeles, California and is a business owner. She says that most people love her, but some don't because she is too successful at whatever she decides to do. It pisses people off. Then the perky redhead giggles.

Tim 'Finish Carpentry' - Tim is a carpenter from Punta Gorda, Florida. He says that he likes competition. He looks like Tony, Jess' gay friend, from the movie 'Bend It Like Beckham.'

Mychael 'Gourmet Cuisine' - Mychael is an Asian-American caterer from San Francisco, California. She loves competing and considers herself to be very practical.

Amy 'Fine Art' - Amy is a children's art teacher, from New York, New York. She says that people will connect with her because she 'wears pink and smiles a lot.' Amy looks Jennifer C. from 'The Apprentice.'

Team Two- 'Team Artisan'

Margo 'Interior Design' - Margo is an African-American single mother of three from Oceanside California. She is a purchasing supervisor. She can't wait for the challenge of something new.

Tom 'Conceptual Design' - Tom is a small business owner from Leland, Michigan and father of two. He wants to push buttons on stereotypes and demonstrate that domestic supremacy isn't limited to one specific type of person. Also, he may be a flaming homosexual.

Kimberly 'Custom Woodworking' - Kimberly is a homemaker form Atlanta Georgia, will go down 'bleeding' to win this the contest. She is blond with big blue eyes and looks totally out of her league.

Michelle 'Gourmet Cakes' - Michelle, a professional baker and pastry chef, lives in Dana Point, California. She says that a lot is at stake, and calls herself a 'nice person.' Michelle is very pretty with blond hair and blue eyes.

Dawn 'Party Planning' - Dawn is a first grade teacher from Magnolia, Texas. She says that her friends call her a 'domestic superstar.' Dawn is a petite brunette with a noticeable Southern accent.

Darlene 'Ornate Sewing' - Darlene is a Home Shopping Network Product Demonstrator, from Newport Richey, Florida. She wants to help women learn to sew, do crafts and entertaining. She is a very plastic looking redhead who has probably had the same hairstyle since the 1960s.

Joan, no doubt wondering what happened to her career, explains how the competition works. Each week the competition has both a team and an individual component. If a team wins the competition, then the members are all safe. The three judges will pick out two weakest individual projects by members of the losing team. Those two less-than-perfect players will be put up for elimination. Their fate will be decided by their teammates at the Wickedly Perfect version of a rose ceremony / tribal council.

The contestants sit down at two tables in an apple orchard, thinking they are going to be fed lunch; however, the competition starts immediately. In part one of the competition, each team has thirty minutes to pick as many apples as possible and place them in large crates.

After teams gather apples, they return to their new digs, dubbed 'The Estate' by the show. The ten-acre Connecticut estate has a nineteenth century carriage house that has been converted into a design center, as well as a 20,000 square foot house. Contestants will have to share rooms and each team will have its own wing of the house.

The next day, Joan lets the teams know that they each gathered over 3,000 apples. Each team will have just twenty-four hours to use all of the apples they picked in an innovative apple display incorporating both edible and decorative elements. While the team competition is going on, each person also has to make an individual apple project that best showcases his or her skill. Each team gets a budget of $1,500, which has to be used for both the team and individual projects. Joan tells that group that any team not using all of their apples (even the wormy, mushy ones) will be penalized by the judges.

Over at Beaver Lodge, eager beaver Mitch starts designing an elaborate cabinet covered with apples. Tim immediately starts bitching that nobody wants somebody around who is going to run the whole show. Tim says that it makes everyone look bad, because it looks as though they don't know what they are doing. (Tim sounds pretty defensive while he is complaining.)

Mychael takes control of the Beaver kitchen, planning potato apple pancake hors d'oeuvres, apples sausage with chicken, and roasted pork tenderloin with apple and cornbread stuffing. By the way, hers is the only cuisine you would probably ever pay real money to eat. I allege that the 'randomly' selected teams were stacked in favor of the beaver team.

At Artisan headquarters, Tom starts planning an apple armoire. Dawn said that Tom has stepped up as a leader for our team. 'He has a way of bringing us together and has us focusing on one task.' Tom talks about building a trellis as an entryway to the armoire and then the 'fabric queens' can go crazy with fabric.

(Discussion overheard while watching with my children, Daughter One, aged 11, and Daughter Two, aged 8:
Daughter Two: I think that Tom is gay.
Daughter One: He's not gay, because he is married and has two kids.)

Darlene says that Tom has a strong personality. Darlene suggests that the group make a Waldorf Salad. Because, obviously, if the world gives you apples, you must make an apple salad. Tom trashes the idea as being too common and tells her he wants something more sophisticated.

Dawn and Kimberly leave to go buy supplies at 1:00 p.m.

Meanwhile at Beaver Lodge, the menfolk are playing with their wood. Tim claims to be a finish carpenter, but doesn't understand Mitch's ideas, so Mitch mocks him. 'If he is a finish carpenter, I am the Pope.' (Maybe he is a Finnish carpenter?) The scene is edited to emphasize Tim appearing quite hopeless.

At Team Artisan, Darlene realizes that if your team sucks, as hers does, that your individual product is very important. She decides to start making Apple Compost, er, Compote as the group is working on the group project.

Tom: 'What the hell? What is she doing? The focus on Darlene's project seemed to supercede collective efforts for the team.'
Darlene: 'Team stuff comes first.' [while she is working on her own project]
Tom: [snidely, for the camera] 'Or not.'

Darlene carries her compote to her room.

Tom: There's no 'I' in team, but there is a compote and apple butter going upstairs right now.

(The discussion between my children continues:
Daughter One: Maybe he is gay, because in some states two men can marry each other.
Daughter Two: But if he is married to a man, how could he have two kids? You need an egg and a sperm, and two men don't have any eggs. How is it possible?
Daughter One: Maybe he adopted children. He seems really gay.
Daughter Two: Yeah, he seems really gay.)

Team Artisan members Kimberly and Dawn are shopping. They look at a large fresh flower display and can't decide what flowers go with apples. They decide to use fake flowers instead. The camera lingers lovingly on the fresh flowers as Kimberly and Dawn leave for another store (Wal-Mart, perhaps?) Portents of things to come: did they choose wisely? Cue dramatic music, suggesting that they did not.

It's 4:00 p.m. and Tom can't make his soup because the girls are still not back. He wonders what is taking them so long? Michelle makes cider to get rid of apples.

At 5:30 p.m. Dawn and Kimberly finally come back. They have been stuck in traffic.

Back at Beaver lodge, the men have constructed a table. Every inch of the table is covered with halved apples jammed onto screws sticking out of the wood. It's quite beautiful, although I would imagine that it would really smell in a week or so.

Back at the train wreck known as Team Artisan, Tom comes up with a 'Post-Modern take on the Apple Tree' and the team debates the merits of Apple Topiary.

At Beaver Lodge: Mychael starts cooking the roasted pork tenderloin. She rubs Dijon mustard on the outside of the tenderloin with her bare hands before carries it to the stove to sear. Amy helpfully asks her if she wants a utensil to carry the meat. Amy appears squeamish that anyone would handle food with their bare hands. Amy and Heather watch as Mychael cooks...and boy, can she cook.

Team Artisan starts using tools, and appears to barely avoid grievous bodily harm. Darlene, the sewing maven, works at her sewing machine and is shown screaming inexplicably. Did her machine talk back to her or something? The audience will never know. Michelle strings apples, while Tom, Margo, Kimberly and Dawn build stuff. Margo is shown complaining about how far behind the team is due to the fact that Kimberly and Dawn were both gone for so long.

The group's 'Post-Modern take on the Apple Tree' will no longer work for the group because the apples are falling apart when they tried to nail them to the canvas. [Did I tell you yet that this team sucks? The other team figured out that you put the nails or screws in the frame first, and then impale the apples on them.] Dawn talks about what she wants to do for the display. She has gorgeous cream-colored fake hydrangeas...'I know they are not real.' She offers up French toile for the napkins. Michelle looks on in horror as Dawn describes the white-trash mess.

At Team Beaver, Mychael finishes cooking and decides to sleep for five hours.

Back at Artisan, Darlene decides to make 'Tuxedo Apples'

Tom: Are you trying to punish us or what?

(Daughter Two: I think that Tom is gay.
Daughter One: I think so too.)

Beaver: Working on table

Artisan: Michelle: I know how you want to get things 'perfect' (Michelle uses air quotes while saying this), but at this point things should just get done.

Mychael sleeps. The Beavers, minus Mychael work on their table. At 6:00 a.m. Mychael wakes up. Heather bitches about Mychael sleeping for five hours.

At Artisan, Darlene makes a shadowbox table. The table consists of apple halves placed in a random pattern on a bed of raffia. The apples are boxed in glass and set into a table. It actually looks pretty nice. Darlene gets giddy about the results of the project and squeals. Kimberly says that Darlene ' not like the rest of us.'

Beaver Denise talks about working on her individual project. She realizes that if the team effort sucks, the individual projects will be very important.

Denise makes elaborate dipped apples and invitations, her 'great-great-grandmother's recipe', as her individual project. [I'd like to know where the hell her great-great-grandmother got white chocolate.] Heather works on an apple peel lamp, a bizarre lamp with apple peels hanging as fringe from the base and top of the lampshade.

Artisan Margo works on an apple tablescape, using the fake flowers. Dawn creates an apple candelabra.

Tom works on Butternut Squash Apple Soup while preparing the group's food offering for the team project. Darlene grimaces when she tastes Tom's soup. Kimberly, the woodworker, makes a pitiful sour cream apple pie, with some overly brown edges. Kimberly realizes that her project sucks and she starts to cry. She says, ' I realize that I am not entitled to any second chances, more than anyone else here.' She sobs some more and continues, 'I'm just really tired.'

Beaver Mitch and Denise snipe at each other about leaf placement on a tree.

It's time for judging. The first judge is David Evangelista, a five-time Emmy nominated hairstylist. The stylist, who cannot even do his own hair because he is completely bald and overcompensates by overly darkening his eyebrows, is looking for somebody hungry with a great vision. Next up as a judge, Candace Bushnell, author of 'Sex in the City.' The producers have picked her to judge based on her good taste, yet she shows up in a plaid micromini skirt, fishnet stockings, knee-high stiletto boots, a leopard print top and a gray faux-fur pimp coat. She says that the winner should be able to be a brand. Chef/Restaurateur Bobby Flay is introduced. Bobby says he is looking for somebody who is genuine and authoritative.

Joan tells the judges to judge based on quality of elements, ingenuity and sense of style.

The judges flock to the Crafty Beaver's display. The judges rave constantly about the food and keep asking who made each dish. Heather looks downcast as Mychael takes credit for the dishes that she made. Tim also gets upset that Mychael takes credit for the work that she did.

The judges go over to Team Artisan's display. Bushnell, in an amazing ironic twist, while wearing a leopard-print shirt and faux fur pimp coat, points out the fake flowers and trashes them. She asks why there were no real flowers and Kimberly talks about shopping disasters. David asks Darlene if she had suggested anything that wasn't accepted. [I suspect this question was given to him by the show's producers.] Darlene, in her best Minnie Mouse voice giggles, 'Oh, lots! ' David tries to get her to be more specific, but she is so excited that she is barely coherent. Michelle thinks that Darlene shouldn't have trashed the team.

David says the Artisans' display looks like it was put together with spit and glue. Candace mocks the leopard print placemats that, ironically, almost exactly match her shirt. It's no contest: the Crafty Beavers win.

The judges look at the individual Beaver projects. They rave over the dipped apples/invitations by Denise. Amy's project, apple slices into a clear glass vase is met with fewer raves. Mychael's Apple Pork Loin is enjoyed by the judges, while carpenter Tim's Apple Chocolate 'Special' (so-named because he can't cook to save his life) is trashed for its presentation. [I guess it wasn't very special after all.] Heather's apple peel lamp, with rotting apple peels hanging from the top and bottom, is met with derision ('What the hell is going on there?'), while Mitch's apple centerpiece arrangement is barely talked about. In the end, the judges love Denise's project. No one had yet mentioned that the best individual project received an award. The contestants (and audience) are surprised when Denise wins the GMC Sierra Pickup truck that Joan and the judges drove up in. (Ewww! - used car.)

Over at Team Artisan, the judges look at Michelle's Pecan Apple Cake, Darlene's Apple Compote, Margo's Tablescape, and Dawn's Apple Candelabra. The judges talk about the odd flavor of Kimberly's pie. Bobby says that if you do something as mundane as apple pie, it should be spectacular and Kimberly's is not. They mock the flavor of Tom's Butternut Squash Apple Soup, which he served right out of the messy cooking pot.

(Daughter One: Maybe he isn't gay. A gay man would know that you needed to serve the soup in a serving container, regular men serve it out of the pot.)

There is no surprise, the judges pick Kimberly's Apple Pie and Tom's Soup as the worst individual projects. Teammates will vote on the person leaving later that night.

Tom wants a meeting with Michelle and Margo. He initially tried to pretend Darlene isn't there, but then says she can come if she wants. Darlene takes offense at his attitude and wants to know the problem. Tom says that before they left for judging he said that she would sell them out in 'twenty seconds' and she did.

Darlene 'I'm over your self-appointed dictatorship. It's going to stop now.'
Tom: 'Great, OK, - that's going to be fabulous' (said in a very flamboyant manner)

Tom, Michelle and Margo leave Darlene downstairs. Tom says that Darlene sold out the whole team, in a badly acted, theatrical way. Tom asks rhetorically, 'If I quit, would that guarantee that you would stay?' He decides to sacrifice himself so that Kimberly can stay.

Tom and Mitch are talking. Mitch says, 'Tom, we are not trying out for a junior high school cheerleading team. This is serious. You and I both know that a box of fake hydrangeas will not get you anywhere.' Mitch wants the weakest to leave. Kimberly starts to cry about Tom's generous gift. Michelle and Margo talk. Margo would be saddest to see Tom go, but Kimberly didn't come through for the team.

Then Tom recants his sacrifice.

Outside on the grounds on The Estate, Joan says that it's judgment time. Each person casts a vote for the person who doesn't deserve to be there. If there is a tie, the judges will break it.

Each person is allowed some last words.

Kimberly last words are, 'It's been a difficult day. Vote with your heart.'

Tom says, ' I told you all that I intended beat you. You now have an opportunity to eliminate that threat. [Smart thing to say.] I will tell you why you should keep me. You know my work ethic. You will be without a strong 'male' member and you all need a strong member; I know that sounds sexist. The competitive team [meaning the Beavers, since even Tom knows his team sucks] likes me; we have gotten favors because of that. You know my aesthetics and my sensibilities and, now that you know the judges, you know they are exactly the same [Judge David rolls his eyes]. Dawn and Kimberly have the same aesthetic; you will have the same if you keep Kimberly.' About the tragic soup, he remarks that he knew he should not have put it together the way that he did, but he was working on team pork loin. He knew the soup was bad, and he can critique his own work. Thanks.

Darlene shakes her head in disbelief.

(Daughter Two: Tom, gay.
Daughter One: Yep, Tom is gay.)

Time for the votes:

Dawn: This person has little patience, she holds up her vote for Tom.
Michelle: This person is unpredictable, she holds up her vote for Tom.
Margo: I am voting with my heart, she holds up her vote for Tom
Darlene: (whose vote doesn't matter at this point) This person caused division and was disrespectful, she votes for Tom.

Joan recommends the others get their rest, as the competition will get more intense.

Margo: You don't give a 'gift' and snatch it away. He shouldn't have done that to Kimberly. A deal is a deal.

Scenes from next week:
Dueling dinner parties, one with four synchronized swimmers in the pool.
Bobby to Darlene: 'You are out of hors d'oeuvres?'
Mitch: 'Stop pointing scissors in my face.'
Darlene to Mitch: 'Don't be such a pansy.'

Final thoughts from Tom:
He says that the other players were not very strategic. 'I probably shot myself in the foot, but they probably shot themselves in the head.' [No ego problems here.]

Here is a link to Tom's funny Butter(not) Soup Recipe at the CBS Wickedly Perfect Site:

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