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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
Judges: Candace Bushnell, David Evangelista, Bobby Flay
Creator: Larry Bleidner, Eric Schotz, Bill Paolantonio, Irene Zutell
EP: Eric Schotz, Bill Paolantonio,
Packager: LMNO Productions
Airs: Thursdays at 8:00pm ET on CBS

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Perfection in the Woods…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 disbelief.

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 sack". No?…wait…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 spiritual journeys.

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 win.

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 their warmth.

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." [Ironic foreshadowing?]

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 Bobby's collar.

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…you 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 already!]
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.

The verdict:
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 the future.

Heather says that the team consists of many strong leaders and she has played a consistent role on the team.

The Vote:
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.

Next week:
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.

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