September 21, 2005

"Can we just have the corporate people over here and the creative people over here?"

Says a contestant on "Apprentice: Martha Stewart." You're watching, of course, aren't you? The group has to divide itself into two teams, and they go with creative vs. corporate -- the artist-y folk (like the chef) and the entrepreneurial types. The creatives call themselves "Matchstick," and the corporates call themselves "Primarius." I think we can see who's ahead at this point.

Ooh, they are tasked with writing a children's book. [My son] Chris says he thinks the tasks on Martha's "Apprentice" will be better than on Donald Trump's "Apprentice." I say, "Yeah, they'll be more creative, with more interesting visuals. Less just trying to sell something and more about the actual aesthetics. Which will be more fun to watch." Chris: "Remember, you've always thought the best task on 'The Apprentice' was that art related one?" Yes, the one where they had to choose an artist and then put on a gallery show. That was the best episode, by far. There's a lot of potential for Martha's shows to be like that one.

The corporates seem pretty creative and they interact well. The creatives get frazzled. The creative doing the writing stresses that she needs quiet, and another member of the group mocks her for that. The corporates -- Primarius -- feel they are at a disadvantage, but that feeling seems to be working as an advantage. The creatives run into trouble about how "dark" the story is (but fairy tales are dark aren't they?).

Chris notes that the tasks on this show won't feel as much like infomercials as the things they've been doing on Trump's show, because the whole Martha Stewart empire is itself a big product for which the show really is kind of an informercial. "But it won't feel like an infomercial." Yes, Corporate America, lay those informercials on me so that I don't even notice. It's so much nicer that way.

The Matchstick project manager is a bizarre control freak: "I am actually the leader of this team." Oh, he is so going today. If his team loses. And they do.

Now, let's see how the boardroom is done on Martha's "Apprentice." We totally expect the project manager (Jeff) to go, and if that's just what happens, there's a problem with the show. Something surprising needs to happen in the boardroom. Maybe Jeff will play his cards well and make the writer woman look more to blame. There should be some good back and forth, the way there is on Trump's show.

The reward scene for the winning team is always the worst part of Trump's show. On Martha's show, a beautiful dinner is served, and it goes nicely with Martha's persona, making it a more integral part of the show.

In the boardroom, Martha questions the dark themes of the story. A great, tense, blaming debate goes on, as the writer (Dawn) and a jerky guy (Jim) get chosen by Jeff to face the final cut. Hey, have you noticed there are no black people on the show? No Asians, either I think.

After the break -- which had a promo for Trump's show, which starts tomorrow -- there's a good final judgment scene, with Martha saying, "So Jeffrey, you just don't fit in." Will she say that every week?

As he leaves, we see her writing him a sort of thank-you note. Like an etiquette thing.

In the promo for next week's show, the voiceover says "Who will be the next to get Martha's letter?" So I think maybe the letter will be emphasized more than her equivalent of Trump's "You're fired." How will that work? What will they do with it? I'm thinking they'll try to blend the polite surface with the brutality of getting fired, that combination of prettiness and ruthlessness that Martha represents.

Is Martha as good as Trump? She didn't create as much stress in the boardroom. Chris says Trump's show has been declining and people have gotten tired of his boardroom act. "Maybe her persona will be less tiring than his." Me: "But maybe not as exciting." Chris: "There are more subtle ways that it being her version of 'The Apprentice' makes it more exciting throughout the show."

Bottom line: Excellent first show. I'll keep watching.

36 comments:

ziemer said...

of course i'm watching.

martha rules.

ziemer said...

woohoo!

she kicked off jeffrey!

ziemer said...

i've never seen trump's show, but surely, it can't be as good as martha's, can it?

she's martha stewart. donald trump is nobody by comparison.

i love the show, but i've got every martha issue going back about ten years, so i guess i'm biased.

Ann Althouse said...

Ziemer: Watch Trump's show tomorrow and find out.

Paul said...

Nope, not watching.

vbspurs said...

"Apprentice: Martha Stewart." You're watching, of course, aren't you?

Can't say that I am, no.

I don't watch much network television (or television in general, other than the History Channel, sport channels, or channel surf A&E, Travel, NG, etc, and film channels, of course). It's because of priorities, and nothing else.

But I have to say that it has struck me that you watch a lot of television for an academic, Ann.

This in Europe is unusual, but I note that in the US, it's much more common.

I personally find this important, since in other countries, this distance is an implied denigration of television proper, and the kind of people who like television, by inference.

What's wrong with watching TV, I always thought.

Yet another example of academic elitism vis-a-vis popular culture.

Cheers,
Victoria

Ann Althouse said...

Victoria: Do I watch a lot of TV? I was just going to do a post today that there isn't a single TV show that I currently follow. "The Comeback" and "Six Feet Under" ended and I stopped watching "The Daily Show." So I had no shows at all! I am looking forward to the return of "Curb Your Enthusiasm." But generally I do prefer TV to movies these days -- mostly HBO, though.

tiggeril said...

I enjoyed the show. I'm a fan of Trump's as well (sort of). I think it'll be interesting to contrast Martha's no-nonsense approach with Trump's, well, bombastic buffoonery.

tiggeril said...

Er... a fan of Trump's Apprentice, that is. I can't stand the man himself.

ziemer said...

can't watch trump's show. play softball on thursday nights.

so, i'll just have to live in ignorance as to which is really better.

but that's ok. it's martha stewart.

barry goldwater would have to still be alive and have his own tv show for me to think anything could be better.

John said...

I loved Martha's proper-but-distancing closing to the letter, "Cordially." I'm hoping that Jeffrey sells it on ebay.

tiggeril said...

Oh, and there is an Asian person: Jennifer. Marcela and Leslie are both Hispanic.

lindsey said...

"I think it'll be interesting to contrast Martha's no-nonsense approach with Trump's, well, bombastic buffoonery."

Does "you just don't fit in" really seem no-nonsense? There's something so passive-aggressive about it. Almost like being back in middle school and tormented by some clique: "You just don't fit in, Allison." Trump may be a buffoon but at least he's direct.

lindsey said...

Also, why are the entrepreneurial types called "corporate" people? In order to be an entrepreneur, I would think you have to be pretty damn creative. I don't know many people who think Steve Jobs and Bill Gates aren't creative.

Simon said...

As a general rule, the only way you'll get me to watch "reality television" is if you strap me into one of those contraptions used on Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. Not only are they insipid and painfully dull, but they seem to have a tendency to get ever worse. Just when you think they've reached the bottom of the barrel, they have a show where people in evident mental distress are grossly exploited into painful elective surgery (for your viewing entertainment), given the opportunity to select which of nine potential candidates is their biological father (for your viewing entertainment), given the chance to fight one another for a college scholarship (for your viewing entertainment). Each season brings forth ever more grotesquerie. Sooner or later, someone is going to die on live television. I used to say that the trend will get progressively worse until someone dies on live television; I now say, that won't be enough to stop it. At this rate, we are maybe ten seasons, tops, from The Running Man.

"Tonight on American Messiah, it's the grand finale you've all been waiting for - you, the voting public, get to decide which man goes free and which man is nailed to a pair of two-by-fours - will you select fresh-faced multiple murderer Barrabas, or lamb of God Jesus of Nazareth?"

ziemer said...

lindsey,

don't forget that the distinction was made by the self-annointed "creative people."

who turned out to be not as creative as the corporate people.

sort of like the self-annointed intelligentsia who aren't very bright.

and i like "you don't fit in."

or at least, i think it fit with the first show. i doubt jeffrey could work with any group of people and not be an ass.

tiggeril said...

Does "you just don't fit in" really seem no-nonsense? There's something so passive-aggressive about it. Almost like being back in middle school and tormented by some clique: "You just don't fit in, Allison." Trump may be a buffoon but at least he's direct.

Yeah, I hate that line, but I'm willing to blame Burnett for it. I'm talking more about the general approach to the show. With Trump, it's more about "ME ME ME ME! Look at me and all my shiny gold things! Look at my shiny wife!" You don't get a sense of how the Trump organization is run at all. I think with Martha's version, we'll get to see more business.

Scipio said...

Prof. Althouse-

Let me recommend House, M.D.

vbspurs said...

Victoria: Do I watch a lot of TV?

A supposition on my part, I know, based, however, on your frequent comments on your blog. Ditto for movies.

In contrast, Glenn posts mostly about his reading habits.

At Oxford, NONE of the professors had a television set in their quarters. On the off-chance they wanted to watch something, they went to the SCR (Senior Common Room) and watched there.

Television, for these ossified academics, was something for rubes, the uncurious, or worse.

I cannot tell you how deplorable I find this attitude.

I was just going to do a post today that there isn't a single TV show that I currently follow.

A good idea, actually.

"But generally I do prefer TV to movies these days -- mostly HBO, though

Question, then:

Are you watching the HBO series everyone is talking about this summer, Rome?

I have taken a peak at it, liked it, since it's just up my alley(history).

But if I miss the pilot, or first episode, sometimes I don't want to continue watching -- so I haven't been watching Rome consistently.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Er... a fan of Trump's Apprentice, that is. I can't stand the man himself.

Trump was on Bill O'Reilly tonight, making a fool of himself again...and Bill was letting him slide, even pitching the premiere of season 4 of Apprentice! Good grief.

(Why? I suppose because Trump was busting the chops of the Saudis, again)

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

"Tonight on American Messiah, it's the grand finale you've all been waiting for - you, the voting public, get to decide which man goes free and which man is nailed to a pair of two-by-fours - will you select fresh-faced multiple murderer Barrabas, or lamb of God Jesus of Nazareth?"

*lolol*

This reminds me of when there was talk of electric chair executions maybe being shown on PPV.

I wonder where the proceeds would've gone to: the victim's family?

Sheesh. Just take out Faces of Death I.

Cheers,
Victoria

tiggeril said...

I'm still amazed at how Trump's managed to market himself as a business genius. He's been flailing around for thirty years and somehow managed to make people forget in just one.

He's a dolt in many respects, but he's good at self-promotion. Then again, all that entails is constantly throwing yourself in the public eye.

tiggeril said...

As a general rule, the only way you'll get me to watch "reality television" is if you strap me into one of those contraptions used on Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. Not only are they insipid and painfully dull, but they seem to have a tendency to get ever worse. Just when you think they've reached the bottom of the barrel, they have a show where people in evident mental distress are grossly exploited into painful elective surgery (for your viewing entertainment), given the opportunity to select which of nine potential candidates is their biological father (for your viewing entertainment), given the chance to fight one another for a college scholarship (for your viewing entertainment).

I can see where you're coming from, but remember that reality tv isn't new anymore. People know that the contracts are grossly unfair, and in many cases they are literally signing their lives away.

However, that hasn't stopped them from applying to these shows in droves. Not just on big-budget network shows, but for smaller shows on cable as well. No one's forcing them into exploitative situations, and I don't think it's the producers' or the networks' responsibility to protect them from themselves.

Scripted television (for those of us with basic cable) is worn out. The same characters (dopey males, shrewish women, precocious smartass kids), the same situations (calibrated for either maximum zaniness or sniffly drama), and the same moralizing (drugs and Republicans are bad, mmmkay?).

People long for noteriety, and were doing so long before reality tv existed. Is it healthy, probably not. I don't like shows such as the extreme makeover shows, or the excreble Married By America, and therefore I don't watch them. I don't look down upon those who do. I don't look at the famewhores on reality shows and pity them for chasing fame and licking it all over like a puppy. I find the compunction to pursue celebrity a fascinating one, and I enjoy seeing it exposed.

chronicler said...

Oh Ann, please blog the shoe every week! I have a class on Wednesdays and can't watch. I've been a fan of abridgement forever! Good synopsis, and I can pretend I saw it.

The line "you just don't fit in" had to come from her stint in Camp Cupcake. She obviously had plenty of time to dream that one up. It did sound a bit petty to me, kind of like middle school antics. Interestingly enough Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and others didn't fit in too well either.

Simon said...

Scripted television (for those of us with basic cable) is worn out.

I maintain that there is enough really good, high-quality television to fill maybe ten channels for very nearly six days a week. If I were supreme dictator of television, I would simply say "fine, sundays are a day off broadcasting. Spend the day with your family, do whatever you like, you just can't watch TV."

But that, of course, is less a pipe dream than it is pie in the sky.

tiggeril said...

But... who are you to tell me what's high-quality and what isn't? Who are you to tell me when I should and shouldn't watch TV vs. "going outside?"

There's nothing wrong with not liking a particular genre of anything, but the fact that you don't like that particular genre doesn't mean the rest of us are ignorant schlubs with no concept of quality.

JSU said...

The "creatives" seem to see the show as an opportunity to let their inner "corporate" out. But that's not their natural mode, and/or they have a wierdly distorted view of it, because their version of "corporate" is a bad parody of the real thing. Hilarity ensues.

Expect more power-drunk jargon-throwing and politicking among the Matchstickers. Should be amusing, though Martha herself is excruciating to watch. Shouldn't she be coming clean instead of trying to pull off an unbelievable whitewash?

lindsey said...

"But... who are you to tell me what's high-quality and what isn't? "

He didn't tell you what's high quality. He only said that it exists. Besides he's entitled just as much as you are to state what he thinks is high quality and what isn't. I think why reality tv is so looked down on is because it's essentially a game show where instead of spinning a wheel for money, people humiliate themselves. It's not exactly human nature at its most attractive.

ziemer said...

jsu,

martha has nothing for which she needs to come clean.

she has committed no crime; no one considers her prosecution anything but a witch hunt.

PatCA said...

I actually think Martha is an improvement over the Donald. Must be the perky 'tude. And, being a creative, I do enjoy lifestyle businesses over business businesses.

However, the best season opener last night was Lost!

LizrdGizrd said...

she has committed no crime; no one considers her prosecution anything but a witch hunt

I would consider insider trading a crime. I do however believe that her punishment was extreme compared to the punishments of other similar criminals.

On another note, I find there is only 1 reality TV show I enjoy watching; Extreme Makover Home Edition. The thing that sets this show apart from all the others is that the people don't choose themselves, they generally are in a tough situation, and they are usually worthy of recieving the great gifts that the show bestows on them. The entire show is about helping folks who need and deserve help.

JodyTresidder said...

Loved, loved, loved it for all the usual dreadful, prurient, shallow, self-serving, don't really watch much TV reasons (while drumming fingers for the final Sopranos).
Did anyone else notice the exquisite over-acting when a team member slapped her palms to her cheeks and fake-mouthed a silent "Oh!My!God" - when it was announced the candidates had to - gasp - divide into TWO GROUPS OF EIGHT. I just love it when these spontaneous camera reaction shots are cringingly inappropriate.
Trump, of course, positioned himself as cuddlier than his sidekicks, thus playing against one stereotype of his image. Martha seems to be going for steelier-than-thou - which doesn't seem that fresh.

Abraham said...

I would consider insider trading a crime.

AFIAK, she was not charged with insider trading because there was insufficient evidence.

ziemer said...

at most they proved that she knew waksal was trading.

for her to trade on that information and have it be insider trading, they would have had to have proved she knew why they were trading.

vbspurs said...

Shouldn't she be coming clean instead of trying to pull off an unbelievable whitewash?

Come on, JSU. ;)

It's not like she's Mike Tyson in a reality show.

Although like Fox's Celebrity Boxing, that might just be a show I would watch.

Car wrecks, etc.

Cheers,
Victoria

Finn Kristiansen said...

I thought it was interesting that they found the Matchstick's fairy tale too inappropriate and dark, and that parents would be appalled. How does that explain Hairy Potter and the darkness there? Or the darkness of most fairy tales in their pre-Disney original forms?

In my home we had two fairy tale books (not counting C.S.Lewis' Narnia writings): one full of Hans Christian Anderson tales, and one filled with stories compiled by the Grimm brothers. We loved the Grimm's tales much better.

I thought the "team lead" (or project manager or whatever) deserved to be fired more for not listening to his team than for the content of the book.

I also liked the ending on Trump's show, where the hispanic woman sits in the boardroom and tells Trump (repeatedly) that "I can't work with women", apparently oblivious to the fact that a current portion of her time will be spent trying to work with and lead an all female team. Or did she think those were sea monkies she was spending the whole day at the gym with? Pullease!

Stupid. Stupit. Stooopid.