What can you say about a grown woman who has a Thomas the Tank Engine pillow displayed proudly on her living room couch? Be kind; she happens to be your friendly guest recapper. And like a caveman, she’s bewildered by this world of aesthetics where arranging your shredded carrots on the plate counts for extra credit. She’s distracted by shiny objects, too. Oh look, it’s one of those foil balloons! *skips off merrily*
Six Little Perfectionists, Sitting In A Tree
The teams have been whittled down to four Beavers versus two Artisans, but no worries, folks: Joan Lunden is on hand to equalize with extreme prejudice. Telling Mitch that his individual project was the best of last week’s Beaver attempts, she rewards him a prize - a move over to the Artisans. Not since the defunct Wheel of Fortune shopping room has their been such an underwhelming reward for a TV contest. Mitch smiles, but you can catch a steely glint in his eyes. Never give up. Never surrender! they seem to say. Meanwhile, Dawn greets him by pinching the bridge of her nose as if she has suddenly come down with a headache. Kimberly tells us that she doesn’t trust Mitch, new teammate or not. On the Beaver side, Amy notes that it will be great to get out from under Mitch’s dominating presence.
The challenge is announced: the teams will be antiquing! They must purchase and refurbish a set number of items for resale; they will be judged on their eye for quality pieces, the value they add to the item, and their ability to create a “theme design environment” out of their assortment of refurbished junk. The teams will hold an estate sale to showcase their work in a tent that has been erected on the back lawn. Specifically, they must refurbish a minimum of four items: two pieces of furniture, one of which must be from the 19th century; a wooden item that must be decoupaged; and a fourth item of their choice. These four items must be registered with the seller so that it can be delivered safely to the workshop later in the day. Darlene looks impressed by the delivery service, but that seems like an odd detail to make a rule about, doesn’t it? Hmm.
The teams have a thousand bucks and thirty hours to complete their task; any leftover funds can be used to purchase additional items to decorate their “theme design environment” - an unwieldy phrase for “pull it together.” Looking around the room, each and every face looks confident. You can tell there are hours of antiquing under the belts of these style mavens, and each one thinks they have the edge. But not everyone will emerge from the competition alive. If the playing field is level, it’s time to pay strict attention to the rules to make sure...hey, where are they going? They were so eager to get started they just ran out of the room. I hope they heard my advice!
But wait, before the teams hit the shops, Mitch pulls the Beavers aside to confide a secret: even though he will smile and play along with Artisans, he will actually be planning their demise. He will not be losing his loyalty to his fellow Beavers; his goal will be to emerge on the other side minus the two remaining Artisan women. Heather looks pleased by his craftiness, but Darlene doesn’t say much. Later, Darlene speculates privately on someone who can easily act one way and all the while be thinking the opposite. It makes her wonder who that person really is. A used car salesman, Darlene? Or perhaps my boss - of anywhere I’ve ever worked?
Crafty vs. Artistic Shoppers
The teams head out in their rugged-looking [product placement]GMC Sports Utility Vehicles[/product placement] for the streets of...well, some little New England burgh. (Did I mention I haven’t really been following this show?) Mitch uses the car ride to assure Dawn and Kimberly that he’s there to play on their - whoops, his team. In the Beavermobile, the women are pumped for the task. Darlene thinks that it’s right up her alley, and Amy says that it’s a good challenge for all of them, not just Darlene. Will they be able to succeed without the heavy hand of Mitch holding them together? The Beaver women know this is their time to show they haven’t been just riding on the Mitch gravy train. (Eww, I don’t like the sound of that.)
The Beavers are the first to hit the
junk shopantique emporium. Not surprisingly, these are the kind of shops where you might find a diamond in the rough - if you put the emphasis on rough, and don’t expect more than a cubic zirconia underneath the grime. Darlene hits upon her first “find” - a vintage wool coat with a lambskin collar and quirky buttons. Heather and Amy are intrigued by a wooden toolbox - more of a tool caddie, really - and come up with the idea to cover it in pin-up photos from 1950's magazines for their decoupage entry. For their 19th-century piece, they find a pine dresser/vanity mirror combination that desperately needs some TLC. They are able to get the seller to knock $95 off the price through a combination of cutesy “please”s and unsolicited hugs. See, they didn’t need Mitch to talk for them. Go team Beaver!
Outside, Darlene is intrigued by a bamboo chaise that has been left to molder in the rain. Sure, it’s only twenty bucks, but it’s sopping wet, muddy, and half-rotted. Amy thinks it’s a risky choice that will require a boatload of work, but Darlene is positive she can liven it up with a new cushion. Amy agrees reluctantly. In total, the Crafty Beavers spent a mere $402 in the antique store.
Now we watch as Team Artisan shops for their treasures. Right off the bat, Mitch is finding “perfect” pieces that “pop,” he tells us. In fact, he makes it sound like he’s finding everything they will work on ... and when we see the events unfold, that just might be true. For their 19th century item, the team finds a parlor chair in deplorable condition - springs dangling below the seat, cushion rotted - but with the carved wood intact. Mitch tells them he has a silk he brought from home that they could use to bring the chair back to life. Their other picks include a child’s rattan rocking chair, a small display cabinet with a glass door, a wrought-iron table base missing a glass top, and a small wooden end table. Mitch plans to decoupage some tissue butterflies on the cabinet. Kimberly wants to decoupage the end table, but they disagree on the design - Mitch wants the cover of a 40's-era magazine (at least, that’s what it looks like when I rewound the tape, we’re not told what exactly Mitch was fighting for), but Kimberly has found a framed drawing of flowers she likes better. Kimberly won’t budge. Mitch tells us privately that this is evidence of Kimberly’s sadly out-of-date taste. Personally, I liked the pretty flowers. Which only supports Mitch’s theory further, actually. All in all, the Artisans buy several pieces to round out their room, for a total of $235 dollars spent.
The disembodied voice of Joan Lunden tells us there was an element to the antiquing the Perfectionists weren’t aware of. The teams were asked to register their findings with the shop owners and wait patiently back at the estate for their safe delivery. Instead of being a transportation detail, the real motive was to hold the pieces long enough so that they can be appraised in secret. Oh, the sneakiness! Brian Corcoran and Ron Clarke from the prestigious appraisal firm C&C Auctions inspect all the pieces to see if the contestants chose pieces with potential, and to decide whether they overpaid for their selections, snicker.
The Crafty Beavers score points for their Victorian dresser and the wooden toolbox. The appraisers think they got a good price on the dresser (hug power!) and can see the decorator potential in the toolbox. They’re not as keen on the price paid for the vintage coat, saying $60 was “a bit steep.” They inspect the chaise closely, and admit it has seen better days, but like Darlene, they think it has potential to be nicely restored. It must be more sound than it looks, because frankly, it looks like a sodden mess.
Next, the Artisans’ choices are reviewed. The glass-enclosed bookcase is deemed interesting, but the appraisers find the $145 price tag overblown. Next, the ratty Victorian chair is inspected. Considering that it needs repair as well as refurbishing, and that these parlor chairs are very common, and in fact, are usually sold in pairs - the appraisers think they could have found one for half the price. Ouch, that stings. Especially considering they only paid $40. On a positive note, the appraisers approve of the 1930's-era child’s wicker rocker. They also like the wrought iron table base, saying that only a little paint and a glass top are needed to transform it into quite a nice piece.
Back on the estate, the teams begin to work on their pieces. As the Artisans begin a long night of cleaning, sanding and painting, we’re treated to a flashback of Dawn and Mitch’s last significant interaction - namely, when he pulled her aside in the last episode to persuade her (unsuccessfully) to vote out Kimberly. Dawn feels that despite Mitch’s “go team” speech in the car, his true opinion of her was revealed when he trashed Kimberly’s skills and pleaded with her to keep the best candidates for the finals. Dawn also knows that Mitch finds her interchangeable with Kimberly; hence, if he thinks Kimberly is useless he has no respect for Dawn’s abilities either.
Both women think he’s an asset to their team, but are keeping him at arm’s length. Not that he wants to be any closer than that in the first place.
The Artisans bought more pieces than they need, and once they realize the amount of work they are facing, they cut out the non-essentials, including the wrought iron table base. Notably missing from their discussions is any mention of a theme, although Mitch figures they could safely call their theme a “country estate sale on the East coast.” How thrilling. Anyone want to steal that for their prom?
On the Beaver side, the women know that they have to knock the challenge out of the ballpark in order to prove they are not dependent on Mitch for a win. Unlike the Artisans, they have given a lot of thought to their theme, and chose pieces, artwork and even planned their outfits around a “mid-century” look. At one point Darlene wants the group to wear poodle skirts, but thankfully they decide that would be taking the theme too far. Poodle skirts should be outlawed on anyone over the age of eleven.
On the subject of a grown woman enthusiastic about wearing a poodle skirt, Amy and Heather say they like Darlene’s enthusiasm and spirit. She might just be a tiny bit annoying, Heather admits, but she provides energy to the whole group.
As we watch the Artisans cleaning their pieces, we learn that Kimberly considers the black end table her project. Against Mitch’s wishes, she has chosen a floral design to decoupage on the top, and she wants to make it clear that she stood her ground against the überMitch. He is not ruling the roost, he doesn’t call the shots on Team Artisan. With a setup like that, what could possibly be rolling down the lane to knock her down like a helpless bowling pin? Meanwhile, we watch Kimberly labor over her floral artwork, painstakingly trimming all the white spaces between the leaves, no matter how minuscule. It takes her hours.
Mitch has begun the work of reupholstering the parlor chair, and we learn that the piece of silk he brought from home cost him $195 per yard. “That’s insane!” exclaims Kimberly, verbalizing my thoughts exactly. There’s no question that the silk improves the look of the chair, though. Mitch tells us scornfully that it would take a “normal” person half a day to re-work the chair; he only needs two or three hours. Call me crazy, but isn’t that just a couple of smoke breaks away from half a day? Truthfully, it would take me a long weekend to reupholster anything, but in my case, you have to factor in FoRT time.
Kimberly has finished her flowery decoupage, and we can see now that end table has a cute little shape - sort of a tin-can-bulging-with-botulism configuration. Why has the music turned ominous all of a sudden? It’s just a cute little end table...or will it spell Kimberly’s doom? *cue dramatic chord*
Mitch is doing the official decoupage piece for the Artisans, the enclosed cabinet. First, he adds interest in the form of pastel green and blue stripes; later he will add tissue paper butterflies for the element of decoupage. It’s not really my cup of tea; but then, I see color combinations like this all the time in the children’s furniture row at Target.
You might have noticed that Mitch’s name has come up a lot when describing Team Artisan’s projects. In the time he has completed both the reupholstered chair and the decoupaged bookcase, Kimberly has barely finished cutting out her flowers and is just starting to apply the finish. I haven’t seen Dawn in ages - did she head off to bed when I wasn’t looking? Mitch notes that “these girls” would be fired if they were working for him. Kimberly seems aware of Mitch’s feelings, saying that she doesn’t feel pressure to finish her project any faster. She doesn’t care if he feels she’s inferior to him. Her eye twitches spastically as she says it.
On the Beaver side, Darlene has found a white satin tablecloth that she will use to make a new lining for the wool coat. Heather carefully arranges cutouts from 1950's - excuse me, “mid-century” - magazines on the wooden toolbox; some pinup girls lounging in bikinis, some white bread housewives praising their dish soap. The result is eye-catching and adorable. Amy likes the idea of putting “nudie” girls on a toolbox. This could be the start of a new trend - cover your wooden surfaces with naked people!
Darlene begins work on the chaise lounge, coming up with a tropical-patterned cushion that will tie onto the wicker. The chair is filthy, and she spends a long time scrubbing it before it is even clean enough to paint. The result is a clean chair too wet to paint, so she is forced to put off painting until the following morning. There’s only about ten hours left before the judging; will there be enough time to paint? What if she paints in the morning and a judge gets paint marks on his clothes? Darlene knows the paint will blister if the chair isn’t dry when she paints it, so she decides to take her chances painting it in the morning.
Dawn knows that the personal project will be even more important this week, since the women will be vulnerable if Mitch outshines them. But they have to lose the challenge first, right? Let’s face it: Kimberly and Dawn are worried. This week, they have been allowed a little more freedom in their personal projects, we learn. The only instruction is to make an item from scratch that best showcases their personal talents. String bikinis don’t count.
Dawn has come up with the idea for a stationery set. Kimberly (looking as bleary as if she’d spent the night at a rave) tells us she is making a brown silk pillow (egads on the choice of color) with three different colored silk poppies on the front. Yes, we’ve seen Kimberly’s penchant for homemade ribbon flowers - just the week before, in fact. When it was selected as the worst project of the group. But hey, these ones are salmon-colored, not black and white! Plus, I think this is as good as it gets for Kimberly.
Kimberly is worried the judges will think she bought the appliques instead of knowing they were sewn by her desperate hands. Get used to hearing that; she says it about thirty gol-durned times. Believe me, it’s just as annoying the fifteenth time she says it as it is the first. Mitch tells us privately that he thinks she’s ridiculous for re-creating the same “ribbon roses” that lost in the last challenge.
Mitch is constructing a waist-high plant stand. He gives his interviews to the camera, all the while working at light speed - hammering the sides, applying what looks like burlap to the bottom. Rather than all the strategic talk, it would be nice to hear what he’s doing, but we can only look and wonder as he prattles on about the women wanting to vote him out and his determination to survive.
Darlene’s individual project is a “jewelry roll-up”, which is basically a cloth with pockets for jewelry. It seems to give her great joy. Heather is certain that her project is going to rock, baby. Make that rock the baby, because she’s making a diorama of a baby’s nursery. She cuts the shapes out of balsa wood and paints them in precious pastels. We slide further into juvenilia with Heather’s project, bracelets made out of buttons and fishing twine. Yes, it’s as stupid as it sounds.
The teams assemble their displays in the tented area. Mitch takes the opportunity to take credit for having “steam rollered” through the project, while aiming a few pointed jabs at “those girls” who couldn’t possibly handle the stress of their own television show. Darlene puts her final coat of orange spray paint on the lounge, plops a cushion down, and rushes off to get dressed. Mitch tells the girls that since it will take longer for them to get dressed, they can leave. “Dress nice,” he advises. After the baseball cap fiasco, he’s wise to leave nothing to chance.
Heather applies about three pounds of black eyeliner, Darlene arranges her hair Donna Reed-style, and Amy stuffs her bra. It’s all for the sake of emphasizing their mid-century theme. How will team Artisan dress for their non-theme of “East coast estate sale”? The team wears suits. Natch.
But what’s this? Joan Lunden tells us that “minutes before the judging”, it’s discovered that there has been a violation of the rules. Team Artisan registered a wrought iron table base with the antique shop, but entered a wooden end table instead. Off with their heads! The three Artisans admit that they were in total confusion, and sheepishly return the wooden table to the workshop. It’s a killer blow; Kimberly is crushed that the project she spent hours on is summarily dismissed due to a technicality. The Artisans add the table base to their display exactly as they bought - rusted, peeling, and without a top of any kind. Mitch tells the women not to say a word about it, but to let him handle it. He has a plan. What I want to know is why they put the end table back, if they were allowed to fill out their tent with extra pieces?
The Judges’ Visit
The judgin’ crew arrives, judgmental little pencils poised at the ready. Davey, Candy and Bobby are ready to dive in, and they’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’, Daddy-O.
First to be inspected is the Crafty Beavers’ homage to mid-century taste. The judges are provided with photos of the items before refurbishment. David Evangelista takes a liking to the bamboo chaise lounge, and sits down to try it out. Will he stand up with a print of orange rattan on his ass? No, Darlene’s last-minute spray job has had time to dry, and her homemade cushion has transformed the chair from dumpster-ready to surprisingly comfortable.
The judges seem interested in the Victorian dresser, but they show real enthusiasm for the toolbox sporting period magazine cutouts. David wants to know if Heather picked out the coat, with her penchant for fashion; he seems surprised to learn that it was Darlene’s baby. Candace tries it on, and Bobby Flay emotes over the buttons. The three women in general seem relaxed and confident in their work. Heather explains privately that it’s a relief to be able to speak for herself for a change *coughMitchcough*.
Over at Team Artisan, the judges are immediately drawn to Mitch’s refurbished 19th century chair. Why not just call it like it is? He refinished it, put his own expensive silk on it, so why are the other Artisans surprised when he interrupts Kimberly to answer the judges’ questions about it? Next is the decoupaged bookcase, another Mitch item. Dawn and Kimberly stand silently in the background, looking just a mite peeved. The judges like the children’s rocker, a Kimberly piece; once again, Mitch is the one who explains it to the judges.
But Mitch truly shows his salesmanship when the judges land upon the wrought iron table base, looking like a rusting hulk that’s been shoved off to one side of the display. He tells the judges they picked it for it’s perceived value; it only cost thirty dollars, and they think it would resell as-is for considerably more, considering its fabulous workmanship. He thinks that the patina on the iron is wonderful by itself, and would hate to see it sandblasted and painted. The judges aren’t buying that, are they? Hold the phone, they are nodding their heads in agreement! Knowing the backstory, it’s pretty amazing that he had the chutzpah to explain away the unfinished item this way, but I have to admit, he’s very convincing. Candace adds that it seems like the piece you love and treasure even though it’s rusting away as it holds plants in your patio. Bobby Flay looks a little skeptical, especially when it’s pointed out that they didn’t even make it usable by putting a top on it. Is that so much to ask?
CC’d on the Side
The contestants think they are filing in for the usual discussion and reading of the verdict, but this time they learn they are victims of a Wickedly Perfect twist: their pieces were secretly judged by professional appraisers. They all look inordinately pleased at the news. They can’t all be equally confident, can they?
The men from C&C Auctions critique the Beavers first: they liked their choice of 19th century furniture, saying they painted it nice, but lost some of the original detail in the painting. They loved the toolbox, calling it a fun piece. They also have praise for the coat, saying they doubled the value there, but the item that was the best turnaround was the chaise lounge. Here’s the price comparison:
Victorian Dresser - paid $290, appraised at $350
Decoupage Toolbox - paid $32, appraised at $60
1930's Wool Coat - paid $60, appraised at $120
Bamboo Chaise Lounge - paid $20, appraised at $275
From $402 spent in the antique shop, the appraised value has risen to $805, a 200% increase.
Team Artisan scores points for showing great taste in the items they chose. The appraiser loves the children’s wicker rocker’s new seat and cushion. He terms the Victorian chair suitable for any home, and calls the cabinet’s refurbishment “wonderful.” But, he adds, they paid too much for the cabinet in the first place. As for the iron table base, he agrees that it’s a great piece, but since they “did nothing to it” (are you listening judges?), it has not gained any value. Their numbers break down as follows:
Victorian Chair - paid $40, appraised at $95
Child’s Wicker Rocker - paid $30, appraised at $50
Enclosed Cabinet - paid $145, appraised at $195
Iron Table - paid $30, appraised at $30
From $235 spent in the antique shop, the appraised value has risen to $370, a 150% increase.
Joan Lunden reminds the judges that the appraisals should only be taken as one facet of the project; the teams’ creativity and vision should be taken into account as well. And so begins ...
Candace praises the Crafty Beavers for dressing in conjunction with their theme, saying they made it fun to shop in their booth. Enough fluff, how about a hard question? David wants to know why they painted the dresser one flat color instead of distressing for a more interesting look. Heather answers that they took off three layers of paint and were concerned they would be taking off the original layer if they proceeded any further. So they slapped on a coat of cream in response? My guess is the less than 24-hour turnaround time was a factor.
Candace says that they didn’t seem knowledgeable about their pieces, and wants to know if maybe this challenge didn’t play to their strengths? Amy disagrees, saying that she owned an antique store for a few years and that they all felt passionate about their choices. Bobby Flay adds that he liked the individual pieces, and that he’s “just turned on by that era.” Thank the gods of reality TV that the girls decided not to wear the poodle skirts or Mr. Flay might have had an embarassing moment.
David found the craftsmanship put in by the Artisans to be first-rate. Candace felt they really showed great taste in the pieces they chose, saying their items are what people want to buy, hands down. Bobby Flay praises the team, saying they made good refurbishing decisions; for example, the wicker rocker that retained its rustic, worn-in look but gained some snappy new cushions.
But the Artisans fall apart when Kimberly is asked directly to explain their theme. With a lot of verbiage, Kimberly explains it thus: no theme, just pretty stuff. Ah heck, Kimberly, why not just call it “Theme Grab Bag”? Candace brings up the iron table base again, saying she loves the choice not to refinish it but why didn’t they just pop a piece of glass on top? Mitch replies smoothly that people love to buy a piece that they can easily work on themselves, so they felt it had more value without the top. Kimberly and Dawn are studying their shoes as he offers his explanation.
The contestants file out, leaving the judges to argue like schoolchildren. Bobby Flay is convinced of one thing only from the Q&A: Mitch is a consummate talker. Candace doesn’t like the characterization, saying that Mitch is the only one who knows what he’s talking about. David was floored by Kim’s ramblings about their non-theme, and thinks they shouldn’t forget that creating a theme was a major requirement of the challenge. Candace still swears by the Artisans, saying prissily that the experts said they had good taste and she would always err on the side of taste. Oh, the confusion!
It’s Boot Time
We know that Bobby Flay has voted for the Beavers, and we know that Candace favors the Artisans. Mr. Flay, wearing a red and pink polka dot tie I might add, tells us that taste is subjective, so he went with who would make the best sale. Candace disagrees, saying that taste matters more than the financial breakdown; furthermore, only Mitch impressed her with his knowledge and confidence. The suspense is agonizing; what will David do? And why does the soundtrack sound like a cat on the low end of a piano?
David tells the group that he chose the team that made the best theme design environment - that’s right, those Crafty Beavers have won! Boy, I feel silly using their full team name. Especially when they have been whittled down to all women.
We’re reminded that the individual projects will decide their fate - will they be slumped on a stump or stand rigid in the frigid ... cold, that is? The projects are reviewed, and guess which two are facing the wrath of Mitch? Oops, I gave it away. But we knew it from the instant Kimberly whined about her special silk poppies that they would be her hubris.
Mitch confesses privately that when Dawn and Kimberly’s projects were revealed to be the worst of the three, he couldn’t even look over at his former Beavers, fearing an evil smirk would appear on his face. No problem; Heather was there to smirk and wink for him. Darlene, however, looks crushed at the news. Kimberly and Dawn look resigned, and return to their bedroom to pack.
At the rock garden, the usual rituals are trotted out. Kimberly’s appeal to Mitch is a defensive bluster of her “skillset” (do people really speak like this?), and Dawn’s is an unabashed suckup to Mitch’s performance on their task. Mitch tells the women that he thinks it’s time to raise the bar on the competition; therefore - and here Mitch smiles, barely containing his glee - he has picked Kimberly.
As Dawn and Mitch make their way back across the lawn, Kimberly reflects on her experience. Sadly, she doesn’t think her friend Dawn stands a chance, and not surprisingly, she wishes she were still in the game.
The competition must get intense, since Mitch is seen fleeing in an ambulance. In a “wicked” twist (yuk yuk; good one, Joan), the eliminated contestants are brought back to torture the finalists. Darlene has harsh words about a fellow Beaver. You will be treated to the writing of a competent recapper, the ever-lovely and adorable Shazzer. Skip the show, but stay for the recap!
I’m out antiquing at the Salvation Army right now, but you can drop me a line here: email@example.com.