Tuesday, April 11, 2006

THE APPRENTICE SERIES IS IN DEEP TROUBLE

Well, I have hung in with The Apprentice series this year but I gotta say, I have no clue why. The time slot is terrible and this year's series has been lifeless and listless. This is absolutely the worst season ever for this show. What a boring season!

Last night the show ran two back-to-back episodes. This was a last-minute decision as NBC had scheduled Conviction in the 10pm slot- but they changed their minds. Instead they moved the Conviction episode to tonight. I think maybe they think they can hook the Dick Wolf fans on this show by playing it on Tuesdays. But that show has been shuffled around so fast that it's a joke. What is up with NBC? They seem to be grasping at straws over there, looking for a hit. They have been banking on Howie Mandel and Deal or No Deal to bail them out every night. Next week they're going to bump The Apprentice from its 9PM time slot. They're going to hop on the cooking bandwagon with Celebrity Cooking Showdown right after Deal or No Deal. What's next, poker with the celebrities, too? Bet on NBC to do something like that! They're already putting on wrestling on Saturday nights, again!

Celebrity Cooking. Deal or No Deal. Vince McMahon. All in all, NBC looks more and more like a low-class, trailer-park network. It's sad. But then again, you take a look at what the other networks are offering these days and it's a similar story elsewhere. The FOX Network still has no excuse for its American Idol show being such a hit. Same with Dancing with the Stars over on ABC. It is definitely not as good as it was in the 1970s or 1980s. Network TV is a mess.

GOLD RUSH CORPORATION: GREATEST COLLECTION OF LOSERS EVER ASSEMBLED

Back to last night. I wrote that there was pure highway robbery on last night's show. Gold Rush designed a great play room for the Boys and Girls Club of America, loaded with drums and musical equipment and a bright setting, and you could tell the kids went ape for it. Really went ape for it. But the judges from Ace Hardware came up with some lame excuse that it wouldn't appeal to people who hated music, and Gold Rush lost again. After listening to the boardroom I could understand what happened: Gold Rush didn't bother to take time to listen to the Ace Hardware reps and what they wanted. It didn't matter what these boys and girls wanted! The kids didn't matter to these judges, which is why you see dropout rates at 30% in the United States and entire neighbourhoods going to heck, and kids turning to crime and drugs. No one caters to the kids and to what they really want.

Anyway, Lenny did a lousy job as leader, tanking in his meeting with the Ace Hardware people. He deserved to be fired, even though I liked the guy and thought he was a straight-shooter. Then under-the-radar Leslie set the price in the next episode, the team lost because the price was too high, and she was fired for that. She fought for her life against the unimpressive, do-nothing Lee in the boardroom but was canned anyway. That's four project managers in a row fired from Gold Rush, four of the most predictable firings ever, and all I will say now is that there's a reason NBC buried this series on Monday nights. They knew this season of boredom was coming. This is too freaking dull, Mr. Trump. What he really ought to have done was fire these reps who were judging the first tasks! They have no idea what kids like, in my view! And then maybe Gold Rush wouldn't have been decimated! (And come to think of it, what the heck did that task have to do with business, anyway?! More like how to design a day-care center!)

Anyway, these project managers are lambs to the slaughter, every week. The project managers are all making the same bonehead missteps in the boardroom that we have seen for five seasons, blaming the wrong people for their defeats, and are being fired for it.

To top it all off, Michael, who was a disasterous, indecisive leader over at Synergy, left his old team in disgrace to join the decimated Gold Rush team to maybe try and redeem himself. And you wonder why they lose?! All I will say is: there is a reason why this team is losing all the time. It's as if the man upstairs has it in for all of them. This team is DOOMED.

This team is also turning against the Donald in the boardroom. I think what you're seeing here is that the players on Gold Rush are a cursed, yet very proud group of troopers who are finally getting fed up with the boardroom humiliations from the Donald on this show. They are sick of taking the blame all the time and getting fingers pointed at them for losses that are really beyond their control. They're all in the Trump doghouse and they know it, and you can tell they are ticked off about the way things are going for them generally. Consequently, they have closed ranks. They just won't trash one another. It's Gold Rush versus the Donald in the boardroom every week, and that is leading to project managers taking the fall all the time. Both Tarek and Charmaine have been repeatedly trashed by the Donald for various indiscretions, and their project managers have taken the fall for sparing these workhorses from the axe. Tarek, a Mensa member, is getting beaten up and ridiculed in the boardroom by the Donald every week. Last week Tarek finally stood up for himself and said the reason why he's made the mistakes he's made is because he's stepped up to the plate and worked hard, so he always winds up in the line of fire when things go wrong. You know, he's got a point. Working hard is no asset on the Trump show.

Noticed that in recent weeks Tarek's been doing his best to lie low. And he's still around. He may be a klutz but Tarek is clearly no dummy.

Because Gold Rush team members are standing up to the usual beratings in the boardroom, and because the losing project managers are refusing to cowtow to the Donald's desire to humiliate good, honest, hard-working people on national television, we have seen some absolutely lifeless firing sessions this season.

Last week was a perfect example. Bryce refused to serve up Tarek and Charmaine because he knew how hard they worked on the task. He was justifiably proud of his team's effort and his own leadership on a task creating an ad jingle. He refused to play the blame game that the Donald and the rest of the board wanted to play, served up two guys who he felt hadn't pulled their weight, was fired for it, and everyone knew he would be fired for it. I suspect his teammates feel the same way Bryce did, that certain people aren't pulling their weight and are getting off scott-free. They are sick and tired of working so hard and not getting rewarded for it, and getting trashed and insulted in the boardroom every week by these uptights.

All in all this season has been the worst ever, even worse than Season 3. At least Season 3 had some memorable train wrecks (ie. both teams blowing the same task), and a few interesting contestants, one of whom quit the show. But this year's show has been a BORE. The tasks have been chimp marketing tasks, and these teams are falling victim to the whims of idiot judges and other fools. They used to be evaluated based on the bottom line, these teams. Now it's all about who's better at kissing people's bottoms. It's too bad.

I feel bad for everyone on Gold Rush. The problem is not that they are a total train wreck of a team. They have actually had some good ideas and have taken some creative risks. The problem simply is that in the Donald's environment this strategy has not worked, they have crashed and burned. I may like this Gold Rush team and the people on it, but they are all doomed. As for the rest, I sure can't say that I'm interested in any of them. Or for that matter, this show. All of my favorites have been fired, the Donald is being too predictable, and the boardrooms and these chimp tasks have been pretty lame to say the least.

JAWS THE SHARK MAKES AN APPEARANCE

Watching this show reminds me of tuning in to the Dallas show of the early 90s, or the last seasons of The Practice or Ally McBeal, or the post-Ted McGinley Happy Days. You don't know why, you can't exactly pinpoint when, but you know that ol' Jaws has eaten the cast. Maybe it was the season-2 train wreck finale. Or the season 4 train wreck finale. Or the entire third season train wreck. Personally I think the show jumped the shark after the season 2 finale, jumped back in season 4, then went off the rails again with the season 4 finale.

The move to Mondays has finished this show off. I think NBC is about to move this show out of 9PM for the rest of the season, just to get it out from under 24 and Two and a Half Men. I think they're going to have to put it at 10PM from now on, because The Apprentice is getting killed. I'll be interested in seeing the ratings for last night's double-header. I'll bet they are garbage, again.

I also think the fact that NBC ran this show back-to-back was a really bad sign. I think they're looking to burn off episodes as quickly as possible to make room for new pilots that could be the next American Idol, that's what I see happening.

This show is in TROUBLE. All I'll say is, in the language of Lenny: Dos Vedania.

(Hope I spelled it right. My Russian skills are terrible.)

UPDATE: Ratings are in. Fourth place at 9PM, and dead last at 10PM among the three networks still running shows at that hour. Numbers are the worst all year for this show. The Apprentice is in trouble, folks.

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