November 18, 2005

Donald's "Apprentice."

(Spoilers.) It was so obvious that Clay was going to go if his team lost that I kept saying, "Something better happen other than just Clay getting fired." I think Clay had just gotten worn down and had no reserve of patience for anyone anymore. At least Trump had the showmanship to make it seem as though Randal might get the ax for his blunder of putting the wrong the channel number on the poster for XM Satellite Radio, and -- let's face it -- for being too passive. I like the way, this season, Trump is a lot harder on contestants who try to win by being inoffensive. "What did you do on this task?" is a question that gets asked a lot.

For once they had a new kind of task, writing and recording a song, with the key being to make the song fit on a very particular channel on the elaborate XM dial: XM Café. Felisha heroically stopped her musicians when they got too jazzy and ordered them to fit the song exactly into the Café niche. None of this art and personal expression, guys. It's nice, but save it. You have to understand the task and do it. This reminds me of my attitude about law school exams: You must answer the question I've asked -- and show that you understand what the question is. Don't try to get credit by saying a lot of accurate and insightful but nonresponsive things. Don't answer the question you thought I could have asked or that you happen to know an answer to. That's like those musicians playing jazz for a Café recording.

The losing team made the mistake of not fitting the station's niche, which involves light rock and clearly articulated, heartfelt lyrics. There was something quite creepy about interviewing the artist -- Jide -- and deciding what his feelings were and then writing the lyrics for him. Clay was shot down for starting in on lyrics that Rebecca decided seemed too much like something a woman would sing. Was that too obviously an expression of her distaste for Clay's homosexuality? Rebecca substitutes lyrics about how Jide, who immigrated from Nigeria as a toddler, feels that he has betrayed his heritage. I cringed at the way they blithely imposed that self-criticism on him.

The early stage of the task was "American Idol" meets the "Apprentice," with sets of three contestants sitting at a table like the AI judges and hearing singers audition. Too bad there were no clips of them telling singers they were simply horrible. The team that lost actually picked the better singer. Chez Althouse, we laughed a lot at the singer who wasn't Jide when he sat down at the piano and started banging and howling. Did he think he was Elton John?

The other thing that made us laugh a lot was Miss Universe. They made a big show of introducing her -- Trump owns the "Miss Universe" contest -- and then they went on to this music task. "Apparently, Miss Universe has nothing to do with the task." "I guess they just couldn't think of a task to go with 'Miss Universe.'" So, she just stood there. The camera shows a close up of Rebecca, as if she's thinking, Yeah, okay, I get it. She's prettier than me. Screw you.


Pete said...

Once again, Ann, I thank you for the Apprentice-blogging. Sure beats fussing over the what words are appropriate for whichever body fluids.

No, I think Clay's hadn't run out. He's been self-centered all along, and it really came out the first time he was PM. He just managed to dodge the bullet last week by being on a winning team but otherwise, he was doomed to failure. And though his homosexuality isn't an issue - he can be quite disagreeable on his own, thank you very much - I do think the constant references about him being woman-like is a not so subtle hint at his orientation.

And I'm with you about the Miss Universe thing. Creepy, too,the way he uses her; it's not the first time Trump has trotted her out.

But, oh boy, two hours next week! Can't wait!

Ruth Anne Adams said...

I'm getting a little tired of the hour-long product placement [and what is Miss Universe, but a product in the Trump Organization?]. Couldn't the producers be a little more subtle with that? The team dynamics are much more interesting to me.

olivia1 said...

Truth is, I loved it when the camera really zeroed in on Clay's facial expressions...he'd try to to keep a bland expression during some of the criticism stage but his eyes would narrow and you could feel his seething contempt. And speaking of facial about the twitches that flitted across Randall's normally beautiful uncreased forehead when Rebecca dissed his competence and creativity a bit.Oh dear, I am revealing that I pay waaay too much attention to this show. Although, actually, I watch TV with my laptop propped on my knees, perusing blogs. I glance up frequently but I don't stare at the screen constantly.

Dave said...

Miss Universe is not prettier than Rebecca; Rebecca is a drop-dead hotty, and that Miss Universe beanpole, well, she just stood there like the drooling idiot she must be.

That said, what the hell was Rebecca's idea that "nigerian" influence is "sophisticated and intellectual" when it comes to pop music? Are we to conclude that only urbane sophisticates can appreciate Nigerian music?

If that is the case, then it would follow that no Nigerian can appreciate Nigerian music because Nigeria is as urbane and sophisticated as Miss Universe is pretty, which is to say, not at all.

nypundit said...

Dave I agree. Rebecca can be my apprentice any time. ;-)

SteveR said...

In previousw versions of the Apprentice, I've always found the ending episodes less enjoyable. Especially when they bring back the fired contestants to help. Clay was destined to be fired.

Felisha's mandate to the musicians elevates her status at the right time, just as Kendra stepped up late last season. Even though Trump doesn't want people laying low, there is a danger to peaking too early. I still think Rebecca is the favorite.

Barry "iPod" Johnson said...

I think calling Clay "woman-like" is just short hand for saying "he's like a whiny self-centered woman."

Clay's original lyrics for the song were really all about Clay.

PJ said...

I think we have not seen the end of Clay.

BJK said...

My biggest problem with this episode is that - even after hearing the two songs, and all the after-the-fact explanations of the format, I still don't have much of a sense as to what XM was looking for. We get more than enough time explaining the importance of Darth Vader in Ep. 3, but little more than the phrase 'alternative-pop-rock' to describe the format for XM Cafe?

When I actually listen to the radio, I tend to listen to stations alleging the 'alternative rock' format....I didn't think either song really hit the mark. What's more, my confusion really didn't make me want to find out what else plays on XM Cafe. Did anyone else think that the producers missed the mark as badly as the losing team?

Since other people have brought it up, what does it say about the Miss Universe pageant that I'd rather go out on a date with Rebecca or Felisha than I would with Trump's uber-female?

PatCA said...

I think it was the easiest task to judge. One team just didn't keep the goal in mind. Felicia did a good job keeping her team on focus.

And, yes, Ruth Anne, I'm getting tired of the product placement, too. I don't mind when it's used well, like this task, but all Miss U did was "stand there and look pretty." Oh, well, I don't watch it because it's Masterpiece Theater!

Another question: do you think training and thinking as a lawyer helps contestants or not? Seems to me so far it doesn't.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Patca: I think the lawyer "advantage" depends upon the person. Most of the candidates are rather young lawyers and they lack wisdom and people skills, but they have impressive educational credentials which seem to impress The Donald.

Could you imagine, for instance, Professor Althouse in the boardroom? She'd clean the floor with those wimps. But with her art background, she'd probably make a better Martha apprentice.

PatCA said...

That's right, Ruth Anne, they are all pretty young and untested. Yes, Ann could win hands down. I think the art background would help--creative thinking and advertising are a big part of the tasks.

Mike Barer said...

Trump showing off his buildings in New York City reminds me of how Paul Allen is doing the same thing in Seattle.