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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: Saturdays at 8:00pm ET on CBS

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"Lots of Perfection" - February 26

Day 20 at The Estate: Immediately after last episode’s Rock Garden ceremony.
Mitch and Dawn, the new “Odd Couple”, discuss being in the Final Five in the kitchen, apparently over coffee and cookies. In the background, someone is staring at them through the kitchen window: it looks like Kimberly [ironic foreshadowing?], but is probably a member of the filming crew. Heather enters and appears as if she is listening to Dawn…Wait!…Oh no!…She’s wearing an Aunt Jemima kerchief again! Ack!

Day 21:
Joan Lunden once again meets the teams to introduce the next task. She is wearing an abominable lime-green parka-style vest over a black turtleneck – a true fashion disaster. For the next challenge, the producers have located a huge vacant lot and each team has to landscape half of it into a community park. Joan continues to explain that giving this vacant lot a second chance is a “really big job. You’re gonna need some help, so here are some people that I think you know, who are also looking for a second chance.” [OK everybody: Look surprised!] All of the previously booted contestants file back in and line-up along the banister with a “Pick Me” look on their faces. The teams get to alternately pick ex-contestants to temporarily return to their team. Team Artisan gets to choose first, because they are down to two active members, versus three for the Crafty Beavers.

The Picks
Artisan: Tim [who appears not to have shaved or showered since he left the game]. Mitch explains to the camera that they chose Tim for his carpentry skills and to have another guy on the team. Tim beams at Mitch and gives him a sly wink; Mitch rubs Tim’s stubbly chin. [Get a room, guys.]

Then the Beavers debate whom to choose next. Heather wants Tom, but Darlene still hates his guts. Flashback to Darlene telling Tom off, and Tom flamboyantly belittling her rage. However, Heather and Amy prevail in getting a man back on their team for the grunt-work. Darlene and Tom give each other a shy hug, while holding imaginary daggers in their hands. Beavers: Tom

Artisan picks Kimberly. Mitch explains that this choice was all Dawn’s, just to make her happy, because the remaining choices didn’t matter to him.

Beavers: Denise
Artisan: Michelle
Beavers: Mychael [who starts making fashion poses to show off her exposed midriff – WTF?]
Artisan: Margo [She claps and smiles as if she wasn’t the last one picked]

Joan fills them in on the necessary details. The projects must contain a meditation area and a fitness spot. The individual projects are for everyone to make their own topiary. The teams have 24 hours to complete their projects [Hey producers! That’s not enough time], and each team can shop online at Sears with a budget of $5000. And the “Falcon Twist”: If any of the returning contestant’s topiary is chosen as the best among the winning team, they get to return to the game. [Cut to an amazingly over-the-top patented Darlene reaction shot]

Cut to the Crafty Beavers huddled over a VAIO laptop, choosing among Sears Craftsman products for their task. [Can you say “product placement”? I knew you could]
Darlene: We need to get a post-hole digger.
Amy: I LOVE post-hole diggers.

Meanwhile, back with the Beavers –
Michelle: I think we each need a chainsaw.
Dawn: I say we get the cream of the crop; the Craftsman; you can’t go wrong. [Good work, my little corporate shill]

The teams load ‘em up and move ‘em out. We next see the vacant lot, which has been divided into equal work areas and staging areas, separated by dark curtains so the teams can’t see each other’s work. Each team gets a bulldozer, the tools they ordered from Sears, and equal amounts of sod, lumber, and assorted vegetation and landscaping material (like crushed rock).

Dawn tells the camera that she and her husband do lots of landscaping, so she thinks this task is “second nature to me.” Amy then tells the camera that she thinks she can beat all of the Artisans and that she is “the complete package.” However, the Artisans seem to work out a plan better than the Beavers.

Team Artisan starts working on their water feature – a pond. They have decided to use plastic sheeting for retaining the water, since they don’t have time for concrete. The Beavers agree that they need to build something upwards, and Tom thinks they might be able to use the sod vertically [Huh?] rather than just horizontally. [I don’t think Tom is fully comprehending what sod actually is.] Heather adds that the sod doesn’t have to last, because this task is all about image. Dawn explains to their bulldozer driver that she wants the pond dug from 18 inches to two feet deep within two hours, and he looks at her like she’s crazy. Tim appears to be back in his element using the power tools to cut lumber. Meanwhile, the Beavers are still talking, talking, talking, instead of moving, digging, and building. Amy becomes the de facto Beaver leader, but she doesn’t really want the responsibility. [Donald Trump: Amy, you’re fired!]

Team Artisan attacks their side with a roto-tiller and shovels. Kimberly goes after the lumber with a sabre-saw and a vengeance, apparently trying to make up for her previous three weeks’ of laziness. Even Mitch is impressed at her energy level. Tim then demonstrates his lack of understanding of several foreign terms when he says, “We’re building a pergola. And it’s kinda like a feng shui, like, Japanese overpass kind of thing.” But it looks OK, and Mitch declares it “gorgeous”.

The Beavers are depicted as less energetic, but at least doing something other than talking. Darlene tells the camera that she is building a picnic table. She’s never done it before, and the other team members aren’t too confident in her ability to do so either. But Darlene explains that, “Power tools are a lot like a sewing machine, only bigger. And the wood is kinda like fabric, so I think I can do it.” Heather tries to direct the bulldozer driver in moving dirt, rocks, and sand. Darlene interrupts to ask what’s going on, because she thinks Heather is just making too much work to do. Heather glares at her, as she walks back to work on the picnic table. The table actually comes out looking very good. Tom says, “Boy, if I had a dollar for every time my opinion of Darlene changed, I might be considered a Lotto winner in some states.” Heather still isn’t ‘connecting’ with the bulldozer driver, and they seem to just be making a big mess.

Tim constructs a children’s mini-playground, and uses concrete to hold it in place. Dawn cements rocks around the edge of the pond. Mitch then explains how each contestant gets a single boxwood hedge plant to make into a topiary sculpture. Mitch wasn’t paying close attention, and cut the tip of his thumb off with the hedge clippers. We see a close-up, and there is a small amount of flesh missing from the left thumb right up next to the fingernail. It’s not life-threatening, but Mitch says “I can’t work with this though.” He goes to a nearby Emergency Department. The doctor doesn’t seem too impressed, and says, “That might survive [apparently meaning the rest of this show’s scheduled run]”. In the meantime, Dawn takes charge and divvies up the workload among the remaining members.

Denise and Heather are working on the exercise area, and are constructing a “Rock Wall” out of lumber. They seem impressed at how sturdy their construction is, although the cameraman points out a part of the equipment that looks doomed to structural failure. Darlene, ever helpful, comes over to complain to Amy that the Rock Wall will look, “cheesy, and kind of like, willy-nilly helter-skelter”. The team discusses the merits of the Rock Wall, and everyone but Darlene seems to like it.

Mitch returns to Team Artisan, explaining that they super-glued the thumb-tip back on. He immediately goes back to trimming his bush.

Darlene and Heather face off again on the Beaver side. It’s 5:00 am, and maybe that explains why Heather’s ideas for tree placement are making no sense. Heather decrees that there will be no more changes to the plan, and Darlene secretly calls her attitude immature.

Day 22 dawns with Tom and Heather flailing in trying to erect their pagoda. But rather than leave well-enough alone, Darlene needs to continue her criticism. Tom then starts to demolish the pagoda ruins, saying “Heather had a very specific vision, and I’m afraid she misjudged in her planning the structural things that are necessary to make sure that a pagoda doesn’t fall down and become a “No”-goda.” Denise added, “Heather never said ‘Gosh guys. I screwed up.’ She never took responsibility.” Darlene also quipped, “One of the Crafty Beavers is writing paychecks her talent can’t cash.”

With 4 hours left, Tim finishes a wooden bridge over a reflecting pool. Tom tries to figure out what to do about their required meditation area, since the pagoda idea didn’t work out. Darlene can’t stand any of the other sleep-deprived ideas tossed about, and unilaterally decides to build a lattice-work structure. She picks Amy to help her, as the least likely team-member to piss her off. Tom tells the camera that he is constantly impressed with Darlene’s ability to step up to any challenge. Within 30 minutes, they have their meditation area construction completed. Darlene tops it off by looking skyward and saying, “Thank you Lord that we have at least some place to meditate.” Heather scowls again.

Now for the individual projects:
Kimberly makes a Derby Hat with a bow around it, since it is physically impossible for her to make any project that doesn’t include ribbon. Tim made a rose…or at least he calls it a rose. Michelle makes a martini glass, complete with green olives on a toothpick – “It’s a top-a-tini”. Margo is making a teddy bear. Dawn makes a “three dimensional diamond, can you believe it?” Amy makes a shoe. Denise makes a butterfly. Heather makes a sphere – very simple. Darlene makes a butterfly. Tom makes “Vegas Baby,” a topiary six-sided die complete with pips and spray glitter. Mychael makes a heart.
[The problem with almost all of these projects is that you wouldn’t know what they are supposed to be, unless you were told in advance.]

Time for the judging:
Team Artisan’s lot contains a pergola with an outdoor fireplace ordered from Sears. There are two handcrafted tables and a child’s play area, a dog-run, and a lined pond with an arched bridge. The Crafty Beavers made a lattice pagoda with reflecting pool, a hand-made picnic table for eight, a fitness corner with child’s climbing wall, and a flagstone-lined fire-pit.

At the Beaver lot, David is unimpressed with the sod-laying. Candace assumed the picnic table was purchased, and was astounded to learn that Darlene made it. While Darlene is being praised, Heather glowers some more. David goes to try the rock climbing wall [No, David! You might die]. A piece falls off, and Denise looks on in horror; but at least it didn’t collapse. The judges also liked the lattice meditation area, and were again impressed to find that Darlene made that as well. When Candace asked Heather what she did for this area, she responded by saying, “What didn’t I do?” [Oh, get real!] Heather described her great idea for a pagoda, but blamed its failure on warped wood, as Mychael rolled her eyes at this obvious lie.

At Team Artisan, Mitch actually held his tongue and let someone else talk. Denise described how they kept the kids’ play area next to the picnic area. David eagerly stomps on the bridge to test its structural integrity. It is made clear that Tim and Kimberly did most of the wooden constructions projects.

Back at The Estate:
David asks Heather who was in charge of laying the sod. Heather stupidly said that she took charge of that, which is unfortunate because David thought it looked incomplete. Bobby thought the fitness equipment was not very sturdy, and was not acceptable for a family community park. Candace really liked the overall look of Artisan’s lot. David thought the outdoor fireplace needed a log in it, while Michelle tried to dodge this issue by saying users would bring their own wood.

The judges really don’t deliberate much, because they all think that Team Artisan should win. Next we find out which topiary the judges liked best out of Tim, Margo, Michelle, or Kimberly. According to the subtitles, they next allegedly show Michelle’s martini glass, but due to poor editing show Mitch’s unidentifiable creation. The judges were at least able to tell that Kimberly’s derby hat was supposed to be a hat, because she labeled it as such. They didn’t like Tim’s rose, but thought Dawn’s diamond was great. Candace liked Michelle’s topatini, but no one could identify Margo’s teddy bear. The judges ultimately picked Kimberly’s derby hat as not only the best on her team, but the best in the whole competition. So Kimberly is back in the game. Mitch, who was sitting next to her on the couch as she giggled and bounced, says, “There is more talent in the piece of thumb that I cut off today than she has in her entire body.”

Mychael, Denise, and Tom will be leaving, but still get to hang around and determine which Crafty Beaver goes home tonight. Now the judges will pick which two topiaries from Darlene, Amy, and Heather they think were the worst. Bobby mistakes Amy’s shoe for the Disney character Pluto. Darlene’s mushroom reminds David of a mohawk hairstyle. Heather’s sphere is deemed the simplest idea. The judges were most impressed with the sphere, protecting Heather from being booted tonight [as she most obviously deserved for her failures in the team challenge].

Darlene cries to the camera while she explains why she won’t be talking with her teammates before the Rock Garden ceremony. She thinks [with good reason] that her actions should speak loudly enough for her case. The voting team members congregate in the kitchen to deliberate. Tom points out that neither Amy nor Darlene have been up for eviction yet. Heather and Denise say that they would watch a TV show with Amy, but probably not one with Darlene. Mychael points out that Darlene’s skills, even with projects she has no experience with, is the key. Ultimately, Denise and Tom are both torn in their decisions.

At the Rock Garden, Joan is wearing a coat that looks like it is made from the fur and pelt of a black standard poodle. Darlene cries again as she expresses her privilege in working with all these talented people. Amy wants the panel to consider her passion and desire for creativity [because, God knows, there isn’t much actual results to go on].

Heather feels she works better with Amy, and votes to boot Darlene. Mychael is looking at dedication, speed, skill, talent, and creativity, and votes to boot Amy. Denise voted by whom she aspires to emulate, and votes to send Darlene home [cue surprised Darlene reaction shot]. Tom says that his decision was incredibly difficult, but thinks that the person he is sending home will have her own show and maybe even her own network one day – he votes to boot Darlene [but at least she saw that one coming].

Joan says, “Next week this game will change dramatically.” [I predict a tribal merge]

On the walk-of-shame, Darlene says, “This hurts deep. I wonder what would have happened if I wasn’t on that team. I honestly felt that I was the most well-rounded, camera-ready, turnkey host for the prize of this show. [I agree with you Darlene] And it breaks my heart that I didn’t play the political games and stand up for myself more and snatch that prize.”

Here's a link to Darlene’s topiary advice, if you dare...

Next Week:
Joan says, “You will no longer be playing as teams.” [Told ya so!]; they go to New York City for a screen test.

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