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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
Host: Joan Lunden
Judges: Candace Bushnell, David Evangelista, Bobby Flay
Creator: Larry Bleidner, Eric Schotz, Bill Paolantonio,
EP: Eric Schotz, Bill Paolantonio,
Packager: LMNO Productions
Airs: Thursdays at 8:00pm ET on CBS
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Perfection in the
a High-End Camping Experience - January 20
Dawn forgot to take her lithium and goes on an
obsessive-compulsive organizational rampage in the
kitchen. She tells the camera that she is a
perfectionist and often gets too carried away. Dawn
demonstrates this perfectionism by hand-writing, then
double-mounting labels to organize the kitchen cabinets.
[I personally scoff at this: my kitchen is organized by
using stenciled computer printed labels,
but I digress.]
She even labels the microwave, while Tim looks on in
Joan asks the teams if they are ready for their next
challenge. She tells the teams that they will be going
camping. [Oh goody!] The teams squeal in feigned
delight. Teams will be asked to create a "high-end"
environment in the great outdoors. [Talk about your
oxymorons.] They will be judged on their aesthetics and
functionality of design, as well as the taste and
presentation of the food. Individual projects are
supposed to be made from found materials, and each
contestant must use a folding map of the United States
in their design.
"Teams have a lot to do," says Joan, "So we are going to
send you to a place that has everything." [The Library
of Congress? Chuck E. Cheese?] (C-Note: eBay?!) "You are
off to Sears, where you will have one hour to shop and
$5,000 to spend." The teams also have $500 to spend on
groceries, and lumber and electricity will be provided
to each team. Teams have been evened up, and the
Sacrificial Beaver "randomly" chosen to go to Team
Artisan is Denise. Denise pretends to be happy about the
switch, but has a constipated look on her face after she
hears the news.
Darlene says that with Denise on the team, they can "hit
it out of the park." Mitch starts a snarkfest and
explains why he thinks that Denise will not do well with
the new team.
The Crafty Beavers plan strategy. They agree to divide
up in Sears and split the list up. Amy says that she
wants Chili with Blue Cheese [which sounds as appetizing
as a Meatball and Jell-O casserole]. Mychael suggests
grilled vegetables, steaks and fish. Mitch turns his
snarkfest at Mychael, thinking that she won't be able to
cook well in the great outdoors. Mychael suggests a wild
rice while Mitch poses effeminately with his hands
covering his mouth.
Over at Team Artisan, Darlene suggests getting a pole
hole digger to make a latrine. She wants to build a
toilet in the woods. ["If you build it
they will come."
Or poop, whichever happens first.] Denise tries to guide
the team by suggesting that the team come up with an
overall theme. Kimberly thinks that sleeping on a cot is
"posh" [I guess anything is a step-up from a double-wide
trailer] and suggests that the team buy cots. Margo says
that the team can't get focused. Kimberly suggests
chicken, but Dawn vetoes the idea since the team keeps
screwing up the food. Dawn suggests ribs, but Kimberly
reminds them about her Apple Pie incident; "If you are
going to do something traditional, you better hit it out
of the park."
Team Beaver goes to Sears. They seem highly organized,
finishing in 48 minutes and $33 under budget. Margo
takes charge at Team Artisan and all hell breaks loose.
Her efforts to pick things out are unnecessarily
duplicated, and the team goes off in many directions.
Margo tries to keep the team on task, but they don't
listen to her. Denise says that she can see Margo
blowing up at the team. With ten minutes left, Kimberly
and Dawn find matching flannel shirts for the team.
Denise describes her personal project - "Crap in a
she is describing how the latrine is
going to work. Darlene asks Margo a stupid question
about bedding. Margo barely restrains herself from
snapping Darlene's head off. They finish with 30 seconds
left and are $4.00 under budget.
The Crafty Beavers go to the grocery store. Mitch
reminds Mychael to get buns as the Beavers have a
love-fest about their shopping skills.
Cue the ominous music as Team Artisan goes to the
butcher's counter. Margo deviates from the planned menus
and settles for ground sirloin instead of sirloin
steaks. Darlene isn't happy. Kimberly registers her
protest as well, but puts her faith in Margo's
abilities. Margo says, "It looks like I am in charge.
You know why? Because I can make a decision." Kimberly
points out that she wanted to do Cornish hens with Bing
cherry glaze and wild rice. Then she kisses a raw hen.
Amy says that the team is a "well-turned" engine.
Mychael sets up the kitchen. Amy suggests not reading
the directions when she sets up the tent. Tim, who may
or may not be able to read, helps with set-up of the
tent by looking at the picture on the box.
At Team Artisan, Margo demonstrates the fact that she
was not a math major, stating that if everything were an
individual challenge she would give it "150%." Then she
goes on to say "but that's not what the game is about."
The team puts their efforts into making a bathroom.
Darlene says that women don't like to camp because there
is no bathroom. The finished "bathroom" is a 3-foot wide
by 4-foot long stall similar to a slightly oversized
telephone booth, hung with crimson and green drapes.
Their finishing touch is a green toilet toupee on the
lid. The seat itself has a fuzzy covering; obviously
they are not expecting men, who would pee all over it
It's midnight at Beaver Lodge. Mitch wants to make a
table and says that he didn't want Tim to make it
because it takes Tim too long. Tim talks about how
flimsy Mitch's display table looks. Tim and Heather make
a dance floor so that they can do a jig for the judges.
[A cheap imitation of 'Riverdance', I like to call 'Puddleprance'.]
Heather says that it's difficult to work with Mitch
because he only sees the big picture and he wants the
big picture to only be his own picture. Mitch tells Tim
and Amy that "completion is better than perfection."
It's 1:00 a.m. at Team Artisan and Kimberly is blowing
air mattresses. Darlene is spending her time moving
ferns from their natural locations in the woods to a
more contrived look in the camp. Darlene says that she
is trying for "curb appeal". [NEWS FLASH: There are no
curbs in the woods!]
The next day, the Beavers start working on individual
projects. Mychael creates a safety kit, while Heather
makes a twig covered photo album and journal. Amy makes
an acorn purse. Tim builds a deck overlooking a stream.
[Which I assume will be torn down after they leave,
making this project merely a silly gesture.] At team
Artisan, Margo makes a travel diary. Dawn makes a memory
box for travel souvenirs. Darlene weaves a hideously
ugly basket and tries to rationalize it by talking about
The Crafty Beavers finish preparations at their camp.
Mitch wants to start on his deep-fried fish, saying,
"I'd rather be ready and soggy, than not be ready."
Mychael says that a lot of people want to be part of the
menu and cooking, but at the end, they rely on her to
get the food prepared. Mychael asks the team if they
want to help cook the vegetables and nobody wants to.
Tim says that Mychael is phenomenal in the kitchen.
Later, Mitch makes tartar sauce for his fish and seems
inordinately proud of his culinary skills [despite not
having any roadkill possum to prepare].
At Artisan, Darlene talks about all of the work she did
landscaping the camp while Kimberly tries to bribe the
judges by sewing their initials on shearling throws.
Dawn puts the finishing touches on the matching flannel
"camp shirts" while Denise throws leafy twigs on the
tent roof. [Because nothing says "High-End Camping" like
twigs on the roof.] Margo is in charge of the food. She
makes a "killer" potato salad, then has trouble lighting
up the grill. The team named their grill the "Diva
Grill"; perhaps if they had called it something like
"Easy Grill" it might have been more cooperative. Her
troubles compel her to get weepy about being a single
mother of three children and how she really needs to
It's time for the Judges. The Crafty Beavers have
created a Moroccan-inspired campsite while Team Artisan
has created "Camp Rustic Elegance". Both teams will be
judged on the aesthetics and functionality of their
design as well the overall taste and presentation of
their food. Hosting capabilities will also be judged.
The judges will spend one hour at each campsite.
At Camp Beaver, the judges are offered champagne in
metal cups. Mitch explains the menu: chili dogs, deep
friend rainbow trout with tartar sauce, Cornish hens on
the half, wild rice and mixed grilled vegetables. Mitch
shows the judges the checkerboard red and green dance
floor and explains that the group will be doing "Beaver
River Dance" for the judges. The judges are impressed
with the homemade benches and dance-floor. The judges go
to the sleeping quarters, where they are grossed out by
the fact that there was pile of laundry and only one bed
were made. [Welcome to the real world, judges.] David
tries to find if there was a design scheme for the beds
and Heather says that she picked out the bags based on
Amy talks about how great it was that Mychael took
control of the kitchen. The judges are really impressed
by Mychael's cooking. Bobby wants to know more about
Mychael's wild rice with raisins and pine nuts. David
says that they are camping "fashionista style". [WTF!]
Bobby says that he is getting an impression of everyone.
[Obviously, he didn't get to see the opening credits for
the show that define the contestants.] He says that Tim
is a carpenter, Mychael is a chef [Amazing insight
there, Mr. Flay!], Heather does fabrics, and Mitch does
everything - a 'big picture' person. Bobby says that Amy
has yet to define herself. Candace tries to get her to
define her style. Amy says that her style is all about
"having fun." Bobby Flay says that the person he is
looking for to win this contest will be able to delve
into more than one thing. Mychael is noticeably sad when
this pronouncement is made, while Mitch has a smug look
on his face.
Later while wearing fuzzy hunter caps, the Crafty
Beavers "entertain" the judges by doing their lame
version of Riverdance while the judges politely smile.
Heather says that her group totally has this one "in the
bag. I'd be totally shocked if the other team won."
At Camp Rustic Elegance, the women greet the judges
wearing their matching plaid shirts. Kimberly points out
the fact that they are wearing matching shirts, perhaps
because she thinks that the judges are as stupid as she
is and wouldn't realize it. Kimberly then offers the
judges champagne. The judges are then given their own
matching plaid flannel shirts. David puts his on and
asks if he is "styling OK" while Candace puts on her own
fur trimmed flannel shirt. The girls then help Bobby put
his shirt on, while David almost possessively tweaks
Artisan takes the judges on a tour. Kimberly says that
Sears had a fantastic array of linens to choose from, so
they got every color under the sun. David asks about the
air mattresses, and Candace wants to know if they came
with a frame. Next they go to the dining room. Darlene
says that Denise made the chandelier. David says "Oh
cool" with a pained look on his face. A few seconds
later he says that he has to "go to the bathroom so bad,
I swear." Darlene shows David to the fancy toilet and
tells him that he has all of the privacy he needs, while
of course she stands outside to listen, though she says,
"Don't worry I won't listen." Darlene stands around for
a bit, sniffs, then asks, "Is the candle lit in there."
David replies, "It smells great." [He obviously is one
of those types who think their own shit doesn't stink.]
Bobby, taking an abnormal interest in David's bowel
movements, comes over and tells him to hurry. Despite
the fact that there is no method to wash one's hands
after using the bathroom, Darlene takes David by the
hand and they walk over to consume food together. [Mmmm
can really taste the feces.]
The judges start eating and dissing. David complains
that the turkey burgers are not fully cooked. [This is
really becoming a recurrent problem. Geez! Cook the meat
David: "Look, look, is this done?"
Candace (while stuffing her mouth with a turkey burger):
"I don't know. I don't eat turkey burgers."
Kimberly, taking on Darlene's usual role of Benedict
Arnold, says, "We had grander plans." Margo explains
that they initially wanted to do Cornish game hens, but
they opted to simplify because they didn't know how the
food would turn out in the woods. Kimberly goes on to
say, "I'm not one to smear something in someone's face,
but I wonder how things would have turned out if we had
gone with my idea." Kimberly hands out the bribes, er,
throws to the judges. Next the girls wow the judges with
their entertainment, a good old fashion sing-a-long.
The Artisan Song
Who are, who are, who are we?
We are ca-amp CRE [Not only does this line have too few
syllables, it is unnecessarily repetitive.]
Port-A-Potty - Are you nuts?
Cause we won't touch them with our butts
All last night we built this throne
It's even nice enough for Joan.
Back at the estate:
Joan says it's time to face the judges. Joan says that
Candace is on the NY social circuit and knows "high
end". What is her impression? She says that both camps
were amazing. She loved the colors at Camp Beaver and
stiltingly said that Team Artisan's bedroom was exactly
what a high-end bedroom should be. David says that he
loves the simplicity of Team Artisan and says that
Crafty Beavers had amazing table arrangements. Bobby
liked the large array of food. Bobby liked the crispness
of Beaver lodge. David trashes the Beavers for leaving
up a piece of electrical tape. Candace trashes them for
not making their beds. She says that the judges wouldn't
want to sleep at Camp Beaver. Next Bobby complains about
deep fried trout and how soggy it was.
Candace wants to know what happened with Margo's food at
Team Artisan. Margo says that she made what she felt
comfortable making. Bobby brings out his trite truism:
"If you are going to make a classic dish, you will not
get any points for originality. You have to knock it out
of the box." [Maybe he is mixing metaphors: 'knocking it
out of the park' + 'thinking outside the box'. The world
will never know.]
The judges deliberate. Bobby says that he would rather
eat Beaver and sleep with Team Artisan. [Somehow, I
doubt David would like to eat beaver.] Candace says that
she loved the Crafty Beavers, and Bobby agrees that they
upped the ante. Candace complains again about the food
at Team Artisan's camp. David says that the bathroom
knocked his socks off [and blew a hole in his boxers?],
but he said that Team Artisan's camp was way too fussy.
David says that Team Artisan is tying their shoelaces
tighter. [Is this some backhanded compliment, saying
that they are approaching a semblance of competence?]
Darlene dramatically puts her hand to her heart and
screams with glee as he announces that Team Artisan won
the competition. Joan tells the team that they are safe
from elimination this week.
The judges look at the individual projects of the Crafty
Beavers and decide that they dislike Mychael's Survival
kit and Heather's Photo Album.
At the Rock Garden, Mychael says that the team has done
well together. She feels that they have all contributed
to the team: she has contributed with her skill in the
kitchen and, um, whatever it is you guys do. She hopes
that they will have the opportunity to work together in
Heather says that the team consists of many strong
leaders and she has played a consistent role on the
Tim: The person he chose is not for malice but for
strategy, and votes for Mychael.
Amy: She wants a team player who will listen to what she
has to say and votes for Mychael.
Mitch: Smirks and says the he is voting strategically
and is voting for Mychael.
Mychael says that she is a little bit surprised but
realized that she threatened them.
Teams must create a live painting. Amy steps out of
Mitch's shadow. Tempers flare between Margo and
Kimberly. And a lesson in humility comes from Patricia
Field [Who the hell is she? Oh yeah, she is the former
stylist for the show "Sex and the City". If she is so
good as a stylist, how can she justify the
Bozo-the-Clown red hair?]
Here is a recipe for Mychael's Wild Rice Pilaf that
wowed the judges, but didn't save her from elimination.