The TV Gods are smiling upon us, because the intro clips get shorter as the days grow longer. On with the show, as they say in the biz. It's Day 7 at the Creation Castle and the overworked editing crew decides to cheat a little by throwing in some stock footage culled from Mutual of Omaha's "Wild Kingdom" of bunny rabbits, butterflies, blue jays and a lioness out on the hunt. Why, you ask? To set the tone for all the campiness that will ensue. The first chuckle comes early, courtesy of Dawn. In a voice over she reminds everyone that her strengths lie in her organizational skills and perfectionist tendencies. This is from a woman who has an unnatural bent for silk daisies. By God, if she covers the forest in fake flowers, Mother Nature won't be a happy camper.
The Softer Side Of Sears
Joan Lunden, a study in drab (brown), greets the collective busy bees with the news that they'll be roughing it on an overnight camping excursion. Everyone is happy at this revelation. Once amid the great outdoors the teams have to turn their rustic environs into a ritzier setting, as well as whip up some chow. Everything must be tasty and classy. Not a problem for this seasoned bunch.
The solo project for the week is to be inspired by what's surrounding them at the campsite, but has to include a Texaco travel map. Whatever, Joan. The two least cohesive concepts will help to cull one sheep from the flock. Baa! In order to git 'er done, it's off to Sears with a $5,000 bank roll and a sojourn to the grocery store to stock up on edibles costing no more than $500. Lumber and lights are to be furnished at the camp clearing, giving the teams a clear idea of what needs to be purchased. We hope.
Since the Fabric Queens have been whittled down a bit, the powers that be have decided to relocate a beaver, and it's lucky Denise that gets traded to the other team. She seems on the verge of hysteria, especially when Darlene reaches over to pat her arm. I'd be creeped out too. Mitch tries not to gloat too much.
The CB crew hardly notice her absence and promptly map out their plan of attack. Tim steps up and splits the team up into smaller groups for the Sears raid. He'll join Mychael and Amy in collecting hardware while Mitch and Heather need to find some decor. Tim's all gung-ho for a Moroccan atmosphere, but Amy's thinking along the lines of chili with blue cheese. Is she insane? I bet she adds beans to her pot of chili too. Heathen. Mychael thankfully starts to talk over Amy, recommending more cookout friendly fare such as sirloin tri-tip and cornish game hens with grilled vegetables. Atta girl! Amy looks crushed, but no one cares.
There's potty talk going on at Chez Artisan. So make sure the kids don't read this part of the recap, parents. Actually, it's Darlene who's talking crap. No big wow there, you say. She's wanting to dig out a latrine and set an actual factual Sears toilet atop as a glorified Johnny-on-the-Spot. I have one thing to say, Darlene: Give a hoot, don't pollute! Denise plans for down home comfort to be the underlying theme, but Margo isn't giving up her self-appointed head honcho position that easily. She's sketched out a schematic for sleeping bag set-ups that will all have seperate concepts. Kimberley wants nice cots, and they're off. Brainstorming is not this team's strong suit. Denise pushes a chicken, broccoli and rice menu. Hey, why not just let Boston Market cater this affair? Fear of Iron Chef Flay hampers their food creativity and they ultimately decide to keep the menu mundane.
Both teams hit the local Emporium Galorium at 9a.m. The CB'ers quickly and methodically work their way down the shopping list and come out with $33 to spare. The Artisans are a bit more haphazard, leading me to believe that Margo's not all that great at being a leader. They are doubling up on products, adding items without consulting one another, and buying flannel. Darlene's just got to be a bitch off-camera, because no one likes her at all. Margo ignores her at the cash register, where the total leave them with a scant $4 in change.
Time to infiltrate the neighborhood Winn-Dixie. The CB team fills up on gourmet goodies as well as more basic items, not forgetting the flowers. In go artichokes and a hot dog bun or two. The Artisans, on the other hand, let Margo belly up to the meat counter, where she selects deli potato salad and ground meat. Kimberley has to forget about game hens in lieu of sirloin on a bun.
Day Of The Triffids
Cue up the country piano piece because the teams are ready to go rustic. Not too rustic, mind you, since they pull up in nice GMC trucks. Both teams scope out the locale for their set-up work areas. The general consensus among the Beavers is to prevent Mychael from cooking circles around the rest of them. Tarps are laid out, tents erected.
Seeing as the Artisans are sans men, they have to chuck their pride and read instruction manuals. They actually handle the hardware and machinery at least as well as Tim the Tool Guy from the next camp over as they build the gaudiest Porta-Potty ever. It's complete with a furry seat and velvet-lined walls. Let's just say that David Evangelista and Liberace would be pleased.
The Beavers fight the natural instinct to dam up the creek and instead concentrate on a setting up a wooden buffet that will display their dishes. Mitch makes a big deal out of shutting Tim out of the project. Tim decides to team up with Heather and construct a cedar disco platform. After a baptism of wood shavings the two sit down and watch the others work into the night. Much snarking ensues.
The next scene profoundly disturbs me. It features Darlene, of course. She's enthusiastically defacing the flora around her by digging up ferns and stuff to serve as decor. Nothing like a few dying plants to set the scene of a camp party. Environmental trashing complete, everyone beds down for the night.
Have Glue Gun, Will Travel...
...reads the card of a Queen. Day 9 can only mean personal project time. Remember when I mentioned that brainstorms aren't the usual forecast for the Artisans? Yep, they are stuck for original ideas. Miss Margo comes up with a travel diary of sorts. Dawn has created a souvenir and memento box for a traveler, and Darlene goes all avant-garde with a woven twig basket for "weaving thoughts into your spirit" as you travel. Notice a theme?
The CB clan are a bit more inspired. Mychael sews together a camouflage bag that holds a survival kit. Heather covers a cheap photo album with twigs and leaves while Amy dreams up an acorn-encrusted handbag. It's pretty cute. Tim gets practical by building a deck that overlooks the gurgling creek.
They Call Me Tater Salad
As it gets down to the wire, the final touches are being taken care of by everyone. Things get swept clean, painted, or moved. The CB'ers concentrate on adding layers of fabric and grilling up food. Mychael actually tries to give up some cooking responsibilities, which are rebuffed. So much for taking away her apron. Mitch probably just needs something to bitch about. The Artisan ladies have a fire in a barrel going that a hobo would envy. They make up matching fur-lined flannel shirts to use as a team uniform and whip up some lamb's wool throws for the judges. I bet Candace will just wear hers everywhere. Margo boils stuff to gussy up the potato salad, while Denise's contribution to decor is to throw leaves up willy-nilly onto the tent canopy. They resort to grilling the turkey burgers over the hobo fire. The patties look like the homeburgers we'd all like to forget Mom used to make. Are they serving them up on Wonder Bread?
Rock The Casbah
As they await the critical trio of judges, the CB posse place out the Persian rugs and overload the dinner table in decor, while the Artisans rake leaves and make sure the outhouse has some reading material. The judges head on over to the Beaver site first, making sure they don't step in any deer dooky. They are served champagne in tin cups as Mitch channels an Olive Garden waiter and recites the daily specials. Candace asks what the theme might be and is told it's a little bit country, a whole lot Moroccan. David asks if Tim built the Beaver riverdance stage, giving the others opportunity to deride his contributions. And really, he didn't build all that much. He just sat that project out. Hey Tim...I have an empty lap you can use next time, Hon. The bed tent is a mess, looking as if a bear had rummaged through everything. Amy is the only person who bothered to make her bed. Bobby seems annoyed that Mychael's the one that cooked the gourmet grub. They are pleased with the variety even if it's a bit upscale for the environment. Bobby proceeds to make note of each member's strengths and talents, except he's utterly stumped with Amy. He comes up with nothing. Aww, remember...she likes pink and has a lovely smile! She's not flashing the pearly whites at that moment though. Mr. Flay finishes up by commenting that they all need to show expertise in more diverse fields and not stay in their comfort zones.
Can there be an episode that doesn't have a Twilight Zone moment? Last week it was a mime and this time it's stomp-dancing beavers in fuzzy, flappy toboggan caps. All that was missing was the inbred dueling banjo kid from Deliverance.
Boxcar Willie Gets E-Coli
Camp Rustic Elegance is ready to host the judges. They've managed to pull everything together nicely as Denise runs down the party procedure. they hand out flannel shirts and booze in sippy cups. Everyone tours the premises, plugging Sears as they show off their dining tent. Denise has created a twig chandelier, which I swear had those stick figures from The Blair Witch Project. Really. Conveniently, David has to use the powder room. Darlene stands about a foot away from the outhouse and reminds him to light a match. Margo takes credit for the cuisine, which includes burnt up weinies. I'm sure Bobby made some during his Grilling and Chilling days. The judges don't really cotton to the taste of ashes in the morning. Regardless, Margo dishes everything up on some Chinette plates and almost gives David a case of food poisoning with a rare turkey burger. In order to make amends, the judges are gifted with monogrammed throws and then gather around the campfire to listen to the team chant a Marine-style inspirational.
Keep It Simple, Stupid
We've reached a critical stage in the show. Yes, it's time for the judges to earn their camera time. As everyone files into the den, Joan sets up the scene and goes over the rules. She asks Candace for her impression. She loves the color palette that the CB team used, but preferred the sleeping arrangements over at Camp Artisan. David admires the low key ambiance that the Fabric Queens generated and was impressed with the Beaver's table setting artistry. Bobby way complimentary of the food at the Beaver's site, and tactfully ignored the food flubs at Camp Rustic Elegance, choosing to praise their efforts at creating a comfortable setting.
And now for the bad news. David didn't miss the Beaver's use of duct tape on their tents. Candace wonders why no one straightened up the sleeping quarters. Bobby says that deep frying seafood might work if the fish in question is something like catfish, not a delicate species like trout. It also helps if you serve it piping hot. As for the Artisans, Candace wants to know why Margo served turkey tartare burgers. Bobby questions the whole meal plan. The guilty party is Margo. Kimberley gets her revenge by telling the judges that her game hen idea was rejected as too complicated, leading Bobby to give Mychael plenty of opportunity to preen as she describes their cornish hen entree. Whoops! Bobby chastises them for ruining hamburgers, a camp chow classic.
The teams are dismissed while the judges debate their decisions. There's talk of the food being better at one camp and the atmosphere preferable at the other. Will the edibility of the dinner be of greater import than the decor? As the teams return, it's revealed that Team Artisan knocked this challenge out of the ballpark. Mychael looks shocked. A Beaver is going to be kicked out of the den. The two suckiest projects are Mychael's survival kit (too many purchased items) and Heather's kindling photo album (cheap and a fire hazard to boot). Heather is confident that she can survive a mano a mano bout with Mychael as long as it doesn't involve food.
Bloodshed At Sleepaway Camp
At the rock garden, the Crafty Beavers are treated to a welcome from a leopardskin clad Joan. I just now noticed the judges there as well. Why are they present? They aren't deciding anything at this point. Mychael's final thought mentions her kitchen expertise while Heather pleads for the team to keep her around because of her strong leadership abilities. *snicker* With almost no time to ruminate on these comments, the vote commences. All three members cite strategic reasons for voting Chef Mychael out of the pup-tent. She looks dismayed and ready to faint but manages to find her way out unassisted. I detected a glimmer of tears in Mitch's eyes. Remembering Heather's leaden brownie cheesecake fiasco from last week, I'm thinking that this team is officially up $#!& creek without a paddle. You read it here first!
I want to hear about all those perverted camp stories from your youth at firstname.lastname@example.org