1/29 Episode Recap "The Art of War"
Two minute warning...
What do I mean? Oh, just that the emergency weather report on my CBS affiliate ate up the first few minutes of showtime for this episode. A bad omen for the spanking new time slot? Bah, I laugh in the face of such notions! So, did I miss anything good?
It's Day 10 at the Perfection Palazzo and Mitch is all happiness and light because he's completely deluded into thinking he's the new Queen Bee at the hive now that Mychael's gone. He raves about his breakfast biscuits, which upon close-up look like scones that have fused together into one huge brown mass. Margo looks ready to beat him with a rolling pin.
After the morning repast, it's time to find out what challenge lies in store for our intrepid decorating divas this week. Joan enters the kitchen nook with some random blonde in tow. It's hard to notice many details when you're busy being appalled at something, namely Joan's silk shawl. It's a horrendous accessory, all electric blue, black, and spangled. Looks like Joan took some cues from the perfectionistas and got a little busy with her Bedazzler™ spangle gun. Remember those? Joan Lunden and I sure do!
The extra blonde happens to be Alease Fisher, a member of the Board of Directors for the Bruce Museum. She informs the group that their challenge will consist of being the entertainment at the museum's opening night gala. They must stick to a "living work of art" theme that's based on a tableau made up of at least three team members who basically get to mime it up while enclosed in a frame of some sort. Mimes...will this show ever shake that stigma? The success of the team's efforts rely heavily on costumes, one of which has to be an original creation. Also counting for or against the teams are the frame and both the conceptualization and realization of the living-and-breathing tableau. To play along with the Masquerade Ball theme of the affair, the personal project is to be a fanciful party mask. The two most unspectacular efforts will be rewarded with some snickering and one grand ousting. They've got a day and half and a budget of $1,500 at their disposal. Teams will take turns schlepping to the pool house or studio to work on their projects.
Happy Happy, Joy Joy!
Fabric Queen Darlene is happy as a clam after hearing the premise of the challenge, since she can sew like a dream. She would like a classic, universal scenario for their life-scape. Margo comes up with some paltry estrogen-driven womanly phases crud. Anyone want to venture a guess that Lifetime, Television for Women is a mainstay in her household? Dawn helpfully suggests class and beauty as a theme. Yes, it's obvious that this lady is used to dealing with school kids. Margo pitches idea #2: a haute fashion scenario with a bit of slap-dash comedic relief. Much eye-rolling and nail biting ensues, and that's only Denise's reaction. In a voice-over, Kimberley reassures the viewers that the plan is to thwart Margo at every turn. Hey, that makes her the new, improved Darlene! Honestly, ignoring Margo is not unjustified, because she does tend to think that she's the only creative person in the group.
At the Crafty Beaver den the overall sentiment is "Yes we can-can-can!" It's all about Moulin Rouge with this group. Amy thinks that this may be her moment to shine, but dragging the spotlight away from Mitch might be an uphill battle. He takes the French Whorehouse concept and tarts it up even more, much to Tim's chagrin. Seeing as Amy doesn't even know the proper term for a monocle, she's the last person who should be elected leader of the pack. She's almost as useless as Heather. Tim plans to get in touch with his inner drag queen for the tableau by dolling himself up as a half masculine, half feminine persona. And I swear in the middle of all this planning chatter I hear Amy suggesting that the other scenario participants stuff her pants with money. Huh? She just wants Tim to touch her in the no-no place. Not going to happen, Schoolmarm!
Back at the Babe Brigade the ideas keep flying. Granted, they are mostly bad ideas. Did I mention said ideas are from Dawn? Denise is terrified that it's going to come down to something that resembles some half-assed sorority skit for Pledge Week. Heather and Amy, the "leaders" of the CB clan for this week, head off to buy their supplies, leaving Mitch and Tim to start the heavy work on the frame. Tim automatically defers to Mitch. Twilight Zone moment of the week occurs early this episode, gentle readers. Tim goes off on some bizarre tangent, singing some "happy" ditty he probably learned in Kindergarten. Is it any wonder that Mitch holds him in such disrespect?
Darlene directs Kimberley to the fabric store to get the goods. She's in her milieu, all hyperactive googly-eyes and manic motion as she rattles off costume and decor necessities. Decaf, Darlene. Just a friendly hint from a concerned citizen who hopes she never runs into you. The Crafty girls methodically check off their shopping list and come in well under the budget. Darlene continues on her crazed planning on the drive back, with a hapless Kimberley as her captive audience. She tries to distract Darlene by bitching about Margo. The remaining Artisan gals have made good progress on the frame work. After Kimberley runs through the list of materials they have on hand she decides, and rightfully so, that the staples Margo used to hold the frame together look tacky and unstable. She promptly disassembles it hand uses screws instead. Margo's not happy, but Kimberley's beyond caring.
I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
There's about a day left by evening time at the manse and the Artisans hammer away at the frame, which in Kimberley's expert hands turns out perfectly. She gets permission from the rest of the group to go work on her mask. This leaves Darlene to supervise the stitching up of peasant blouses.
The Crafty Beavers are already working on their masks, with lots of teamwork involved. After the initial construction of the individual projects are set, it's back to the frame for them. It seems to be taking on a definite 3-D feel. Considering all the work they still have left, sleep is not an option. Mitch is obsessed with his mask and ignores the group project, which doesn't go unnoticed by Heather. What he's created is grotesque. It feeds into my spider phobia because it looks like a big fuzzy black tarantula. Kiss of the spiderwoman, indeed. He places it on a wig stand and then takes it over to where the Artisans are camped out, for no apparent reason but to showboat. But why bother when you have such an ugly project? The Fabric Queens feign admiration and even pretend to be scared of it. Mitch's mask proceeds to climb up into a doorway corner and spin a web that spells out "Some Idiot". Charlotte, is that you?
While Kimberley is asleep, Margo makes off with the frame and works on it. She props it on a shrub when done. At daybreak, Kimberley discovers what Margo has been up to and a showdown at the Not-OK Corral ensues. Kimberley pointedly tells Margo that she plans on claiming all credit for the frame and them runs off with it. Poor frame, there's a custody battle for it. Speaking of, the CB's panorama is coming along very well. They've got a colorful mural background that depicts an audience in formal wear. Amy now gets some cold feet jitters about her leadership abilities and asks Mitch for advice on everything. Way to stroke his ego.
Darlene laments while working on her mask about having to rush about finishing up before they run out of time. Margo shuns the colored feathers that everyone else seems to be using on their masks in favor of something a bit more abstract. Mitch still seems inordinately proud of his tarantula mask. Amy's effort looks like a sloppily frosted pink birthday cake. Did Semi-Homemade "lifestylist" Sandra Lee from The Food Network create that thing? Amy calls it "scary and silly". Truer words have never been spoken. After a quick upper body workout, Tim gets her to paint a tuxedo onto his torso as Heather does his face up. He looks rather fabulous.
None of the Artisan women are ready to go and there's less than an hour left before showtime. Sloppy hairstyles and rushed makeup jobs are the result. Darlene seems to be the only member who has some time to doll herself up, going for the "Oktoberfest Beer Wench from Hell" look.
Bobby, Where For Art Thou?
The black tie even is underway, with Candace and David circulating among high society, Greenwich style. Except I spy a garishly red head of hair. Dammit! Doesn't anyone bother to screen the hired help these days? This is what happens when Martha Stewart gets taken out of Connecticut. Mayhem! Oh wait, it's just special guest judge Patricia Field, best known for the crimes upon fashion perpetrated on Sex and the City. I miss Bobby Flay. Now, there's a sentence I thought I'd never utter. Candace's floor-length cotton candy frock is bad enough, and Patricia's cups have runneth over her neckline, forcing me to use my peripheral vision whenever she's on the screen. And then there's Joan. I was hoping she'd be the saving grace at this soiree, but no, she heaps further embarrassment on the entire Wickedly Perfect crew by dressing up in some black fur-lined outfit that glitters. Back away from the Bedazzler™Joanie.
Miss Lunden inadvertently kicks off the evening's entertainment with her outfit, but now it's time for the life-scapes. She introduces Team Artisan and the curtains are drawn for their version of "Women through the Ages". It's basically a whimsical parlour scene, with much tea sipping and card playing. Kudos to Darlene for helping to create not one but all three original outfits.
It's a "Pop Art Cabaret" for the Crafty Beavers. I was more impressed with this tableau because they made sure that there was lots of flash and trash, right down to the exaggerated stage makeup and a 3-D frame. It helped that only one member of this panorama moved at any given time, letting the art patrons focus on one person so that they didn't miss a detail or be overwhelmed by too much motion.
David kicks off the Q and A session by wanting to know who styled the Cabaret scene for the Beavers. Amy explains that everyone had some input and that the main inspiration was Toulouse Lautrec. Again with the Moulin Rouge obsession! Patricia, colorful soul that she is, asks about the palette design. Can I just say what a pretty girl Tim makes? Life's so unfair sometimes.
It's a short distance to the Artisan's womanly tableau. Candace wants them to pin down an era that inspired them, which turns out to be the middle to late 1800's. When a judge asks Margo and Denise what they did to contribute to the project, Margo wastes no breath in taking major credit for the frame, backdrop, and setting. So Kimberley, who's got the last word now? Off go the judges to get soused on free champagne.
Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Girlbots
Forget mints or a fine Cuban cigar, nothing ends dinner as well as bitter in-fighting. As Darlene, Dawn, and Denise sit by meekly, all hell breaks loose between Kimberley and Margo. Kimberley accuses her adversary of taking credit for most of the frame construction while Margo refutes that notion. She even throws in a timely mask metaphor. What a gal! She sticks with the masquerade theme even while embroiled in an argument.
Nitpickers, Pick Me A Nit
Into the parlor we go, because it's time for some nonconstructive criticism. Might I start off by noting that Joan's stylist probably hates her? She's in brown lace. She makes Heather and her skullcap look positively chic. She introduces David and the comments start flying. Addressing the Artisans, he praises the overall concept but complains about the shoddy hair and subdued makeup. It's a valid complaint. For a larger than life scenario such as a life-scape you need overdone makeup that makes your facial features pop out and project all the way to the back row of the crowd. Darlene offers up some ham-handed excuse but the fact remains that they failed to evoke glamour. Candace wants to know what inspired their tableau's theme, and Dawn rambles on nonsensically about visions in her head. Not good. Another member saves the day by stating it was a ladies parlour theme. (Peripheral vision mode activated) Patricia is pleased to hear that except for one accessory all the clothes were custom-made by the ladies.
Focus then shifts to the CB couch. David commends them on the vivacity of their presentation. Candace compares them unfavorably to the Artisans, who told a story. She thought their repetitive movements got stale really fast. Patricia queries as to who painted the background and criticizes the frame because it didn't mesh with the brightness of the rest of the scenario.
In private deliberations, the CB bunch is praised for their three-dimensional creativity, while the Artisans fared better with their inclusive frame. It's a battle between glitz and inspiration. Who will emerge victorious?
Both teams return for the decision, with the Artisans looking a bit somber while the Craftys are more relaxed and even cocky. Amy comments in a private moment that she sees this show as the creative folk versus the hausfraus. Will this come back to bite her narrow ass? We don't have to wait long to find out.
The judges believe that the Artisans pulled this one off by holding the audience's attention and are safe from the elimination round for the week. It's down to the masks now. Patricia can't make heads or tails of Mitch's spider-hat-mask and calls it fugly. Heather smirks but it's premature because her creation is deemed bad. So is Tim's mask.
As the Artisan ladies relax, Mitch goes on and on about Patricia's unflattering comments about his artistic oeuvre. He gets petty and even snarks about her KoolAid colored mop of hair. I did as well, but I'm not juvenile like Mitch. Really!
The Long Kiss Goodnight
And the hits just keep on coming. Joan takes her inspiration from the star-studded night sky and dons a black catsuit riddled with sparklies. I hope her Bedazzler™ jams up for good. Women of a certain vintage should not wear skintight bodysuits. She does allow Mitch to have his say, solely for the purpose of some drama, because frankly, this episode's been a bore. Mitch wants to know why Patricia ravaged his mask and she tells him that he's not talented enough to carry off an extravagant idea.
Tim and Heather finally pry the attention back to their final thoughts. Tim offers to help out more if he's kept around, while Heather tells the duo that she likes how well she fits in with the group dynamic. The decision doesn't take long, what with only two team members voting this time. Mitch wants Tim gone, as does Amy. Wow. Talk about suspense. Except not. Looks like Tim was a threat to Mitch's construction skills and there was no way Amy was going to vote Heather out, seeing as they are the Gruesome Twosome.
Tim kisses Heather farewell and hugs the other two. No drama from him, just a quiet, classy exit. Tim, if you ever need to have your tuxedo dry cleaned, I'm your girl!
Got info on how I can successfully stalk Tim the Tool Guy? Send maps and schematics to firstname.lastname@example.org
David Evangelista went haywire over the hair and makeup the ladies wore in their shadowbox when he was submitting his opinions...but failed to notice that Kim was wearing a WRIST watch, something ladies of that era never wore. They kept a pocket watch in their reticule (a small Victorian-era purse), along with other necessities. That watch kept me distracted far more than their hair :ohno --they also should have had hats or haircovers if you must be historically correct.
Even though I live in a Victorian town on the Puget Sound of WA, and we have an annual Victorian Festival to commemorate--my eye was immediately drawn instead to the Crafty Beavers' colorful and very artistic montage. It had more polish and it kept me interested. I couldn't help thinking that the Artisan entry was almost high-schoolish. I think the judges missed the mark this time... :mmm