Episode 4 Recap: Don't Stop Believing
First - Phat32 wrote this recap, but had a computer issue, so LG posted it. Please email your 80s brat pack movie flashbacks or rotten banana peels to firstname.lastname@example.org. And now, on with the recap. . . .
When you're raised on a steady diet of '80s movies like I was, you become hostage to some strange ideas, like should the Soviets ever invade mainland America, they would start with a high school in the sticks. (No doubt this is because of the strategic importance of capturing American high schools.)
Perhaps the most ludicrous ideas sprang from movies like The Secret of My Success, ideas like with a little gumption, some smarts and a sense of business ethics, you, too, can be at the top of Corporate America.
Who cooked up this huge crockpot of fish stew? Frankly, it reeks. And a pox, too, on those of you who like to quote The Art of War when you discuss business wheeling-and-dealing.
Corporate America, simply put, is more Machiavellian than Sun-Tzu (Sun-Tzuian?)0. The vapid idiot with a steady stream of dirty jokes and the killer tee-times on the golf course will forever one-up the steady, hard-working joe (or jill) who sacrifices weekends and holidays to make sure reports (neglected by Vapid Idiot) are submitted on time.
That's fact. That's life in Corporate America. Get used to it.
And maybe that's why I enjoyed my first episode of My Big Fat Obonoxious Boss so much. First of all, it's a (very) thinly-veiled parody of one of my favorite reality programs, The Apprentice. Secondly, while "Mr. Todd" and the business environment are outrageous and demeaning, it's one, small step to the left of the "real world," where the things we're asked to do often are humiliating, our morals are sacrificed, our goals are ill-defined, and most importantly, our bosses are raving idiots.
Confession: I missed the first ten minutes of this episode. Karma--Fate's annoying younger sister--is a funny mistress. In my last recap, the finale for $25 Million Dollar Hoax, I covered an additional 10 minutes in a 70 minute program. It all evens out in the end, you see, since I have a 10-minute surplus for that episode that makes up for the 10-minute deficit in this one. Ah, karma.
I'm willing to bet I didn't miss much, though, since these programs usually require the first ten minutes to cover last week's episode and to go through the first round of commercials.
When I catch My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss (from here on, "MBFOB" to stave off my inevitable carpal tunnel) Mr. Todd is addressing Teams Concad and Femron. The first order of business is a reorganization of the teams...based on attractiveness.
Todd taps David to help him with the selection process, and David looks appreciatively at Damian and smirks at him. Damian uncomfortably shifts his gaze to the floor.
Todd and David move the players around but then shuffle and re-shuffle them again, like a deck of cards in a game of Texas Hold'em. They're not clear on who they're trying to pinpoint as attractive and who's supposed to be unattractive.
David laughs behind the scenes and reveals that the team assignments were pre-selected.
Team Concad: David, Damian, Tonia, Kerry and Robert
Team Femron: Michael, Doug, Annette and Whitney
When all is said and done, Whitney is appointed the new boss of Femron and David is the boss of Concad.
The Game's Afoot
After the team reorganizations, Todd introduces this week's challenge by imparting the following nugget of business wisdom:
Anyone can sell a quality product, but it takes a real salesman to sell a crap sandwich with a side of crap and crap for dessert.
(Hey, Fox, you can call it salesmanship or whatever you want. I call it lunch at Arby's, okay?)
According to Todd, venture capitalists constantly deal with such situations, and he points out Microsoft as an example.
The fact that this makes absolutely no sense does not seem to have caught any of the players' attention; at least, not to the point that anyone speaks up on camera.
The four bogus products are introduced:
-"O2": To be marketed as "clean air in a bottle." O2 is compared to bottled water.
-"Carb Zero": A spray that supposedly reduces carbs in food.
-"Renew": Reusable toilet paper. 'Nuff said.
-"Eco-Pons": Tampons made of "all-natural" ingredients including twigs, berries and leaves.
My strongest reaction is for the "Eco-Pons." I hope for the sake of hygiene and safety that Fox includes a warning to women not to actually use "Eco-Pons." If you don't think that people are stupid enough to use Eco-Pons, think again. If they're stupid enough to buy them, then they're probably stupid enough to try and use them.
After they're introduced to these products they'll be forced to sell and told that they'll do the selling at a flea market the next day, the two teams retire to their penthouse to discuss their strategies and ready themselves.
The two teams mingle around the boxes of product and examine them more closely.
"Trying to sell reusable toilet paper is ridiculous," one player moans while Whitney looks at Carb Zero and chirps, "If it actually works, I want to buy it!" (I find myself actually glad she's not talking about Eco-Pons.)
I'm momentarily stunned. That's the average consumer for you. Selling products like these to unsuspecting shoppers is one thing, but the MBFOB players know that these products aren't worth the packaging they come in.
Todd is right, I suppose: a capable salesperson could sell crap to nearly anyone (even himself or herself).
It's Market Day
Concad and Femron set up shop at the flea market and all reservation seems to disappear as they hawk their wares.
Concad realize the folly of selling "all-natural tampons" and decide to put a more positive spin on Eco-Pons...by introducing them as sexual enhancement for women.
"Even if she doesn't menstruate anymore, it would increase her libido!" they boast. I'm sure there are English sentences that are more absurd, but right now, none comes to mind.
When appealing to the general horniness of the average consumer fails, however, the viewer receives a most interesting history lesson.
"That's what they used in the ancient times," Tonia suggests. (Please try and keep in mind that these are the people who believe that Mr. Todd owns Excalibur.)
Other selling points: "They work wonders" and "They make great gifts."
Ain't that the truth? I don't know about you, but frankly, I'm hoping for a box of Eco-Pons under my Christmas tree...especially if they do increase female libido. (But if I can't get J. to drink a rum and coke with me, I don't think I can get her to use Eco-Pons.)
The crowd at Wolff's Flea Market have no time for Eco-Pons and O2.
The teams grow desperate and resort to a time-tested sales gimmick: "Sex sells." Whitney sheds some clothes and begins introducing herself as "Heather Simpson," Jessica Simpson's sister. Whether the patrons of Wolff's actually believe Whitney's spiel or whether they simply want to get a closer look at her is not altogether clear. Nevertheless, this outrageous lie seems to work, as shoppers begin flocking to Whitney (and her team's booth). Some even come seeking autographs from "Jessica Simpson's sister."
Whitney's sales spiel includes the laughable--and possibly illegal--"You buy it from me, I'll be your girlfriend."
Concad and Femron have a two-hour time limit on each item, and they come down the final stretch with the reusable toilet paper. Concad resorts to the clever tactic of marketing it as anything other than toilet paper--they're reusable "eyeglass wipes," for example.
Whitney sheds more clothing.
"Whitney took off her shirt so that the patrons would get a full view of her great, big...tattoos," Mr. Todd's "assistant," Jamie, remarked.
"Pimpin' ain't easy...but we made it look easy," Doug quipped.
And frankly, I wish that all hip-hop slogans came with inherent caveats, such as: "Don't hate the player, hate the game...unless the game is Parchisi because everyone loves Parchisi."
Or, "I've spent my whole life trying to make a dollar out of fifty cents...except when I get a Susan B. Anthony from the Post Office, which is actually a dollar but looks more like a quarter."
As the teams grow increasingly desperate to make their sales, they stop ruling out any and all tactics. Begging is suggested.
Then Damian experiences a "toilet paper rally" and manages to unload a few bundles of the stuff for $6 a roll.
Whitney, down to a bra at this point, comes up with a cheerleading sing-song for Carb Zero: "Carb, carb, Carb Zero--come on!"
Against all odds, Whitney's team pushes for one final, huge sale on Carb Zero, asking another vendor at the flea market to buy a few units of the stuff.
Much to everyone's surprise, he takes all 18 when Whitney tells him how many units they have left.
And the Winners Are...
Mr. Todd assembles both teams and along with David and Jamie, have the sales totals for both teams.
He looks over at Whitney and quips, "I'm finding it a little difficult to concentrate at the moment."
Femron is rewarded with a dinner at a top Chicago restaurant and a fireworks show, and Mr. Todd announces that Concad will be punished with dinner in an abandoned aqueduct. Not only does Concad have to suffer this indignity, but they're asked to create a new "elimination phrase" for Mr. Todd to use on the players...and a hand gesture to go with it.
What a contrast between Team Femron's dinner and Team Concad's dinner!
Femron are dressed in their best and served the type of food that comes in small portions on square white plates. Because, baby, nothing--and I mean nothing--says class like non-circular dinnerware. (Unless you've got statues of rams. See: $25 Million Dollar Hoax Recap 1.)
While Femron enjoys the fireworks show, Michael points out that Annette and Whitney will pass team leadership back and forth among them. Whitney and Annette's comments make it obvious this is likely the scenario.
Meanwhile, Concad are eating wet, baloney sandwiches in hard hats. What they're complaining about as "punishment" I simply call "my daily lunch at the cement plant."
And the Losers Are...
In the conference room, Mr. Todd asks Concad to give their impressions on their loss.
David rambles on about how everyone on the team played their best but his team lost because of a lucky sale on Femron's part. (He is, of course, talking about their last-minute sale of 18 units of Carb Zero.)
Tonia emphasizes that the other team had attractive women and laments that the "gender card" has been played.
Mr. Todd points out that he has his own feelings on this issue, while he's sure that Jamie has her thoughts and David has her thoughts. David responds "his thoughts." Mr. Todd nods but looks away, as if he hasn't heard David.
Mr. Todd explodes: "I don't give a rat's ass! Whatever it takes to close the deal, do it! If Mother Nature gave you breasts instead of brains, use them!"
If I were in Team Concad, I would point out that it doesn't appear that Mother Nature had anything to do with Whitney's breasts, but they wisely choose to stay silent and take Todd's rebuke.
After he delivers his pearls of corporate wisdom, Todd asks the team members what they've managed to come up with in their assignment to find a new catchphrase and hand gesture.
David: (Swipes his thumb across his throat) "You're gone!"
Kerry: "Ding-dong! The door's for you."
Damian: "Listen, it's not me, it's you."
Todd, Jamie and David show some confusion as to what the hand gesture is that accompanies Damian's contribution. They discuss it and agree it's the "clap-clap" hand gesture.
Tonia: "You're dismissed" (with "bang-bang" gun action).
Robert: "Hit the streets, kid" (and points to the door).
Mr. Todd appears satisfied, if not impressed, with these ideas and asks David to choose two team members to put up for dismissal.
David hems and haws and Todd snaps, "Cut to the quick!"
David finally selects Tonia and Kerry.
He's asked if there was a strategy to keep the men united, and of course, David denies there was.
"Welcome to Corporate America, ladies," Jamie quips. "Don't hit your head on the glass ceiling on the way out."
That would be a neat trick, wouldn't it, Jamie? After all, we're talking about a ceiling. The only way they could hit their heads on a ceiling "on their way out" is if they were ejected from their chairs. (But don't think that can't happen. You just don't know what it's like until you work for one of the Big Six accounting firms.)
Mr. Todd spins his chair so that his back is turned to Tonia and Kerry.
"Who cares?" he sighs.
Kerry rises to the challenge and treats the question as if it weren't a hypothetical.
"I care!" she boldly ventures. "I'm here for you!"
"So what?" Mr. Todd replies.
"I believe in business," Tonia adds. "'So what?' doesn't put food on the table."
Kerry shakes herself off like a punch-drunk boxer and wades back in the ring. She opens her mouth, but Mr. Todd shushes her, making it obvious the time for discussion has passed.
The two women are excused into reception.
Todd confers with the Mystery Boss and returns to the conference area.
"You're not going to give me a hint?" David asks.
"Want one?" Todd smiles.
"No," David decides.
Todd invites the women back in and tells them that he's got good news, and he's got bad news. The good news is that he's chosen one of their catchphrases. The bad news is that he's going to use it.
Todd offers his final observation on the situation: "In another life, we could be friends. In this life, I'm a billionaire. My friends are presidents, dignitaries and kings.
"Nothing personal. Tonia, you're dismissed."
Mr. Todd turns to Kerry.
"Congratulations," he tells her, "you're the new team boss." She squeals her joy.
Tonia offers her last thoughts: "What I learned is that I'm not interested in business."
Next week: It's the competition you've been waiting for: paintball with Mr. Todd