Thursday, September 22

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart's new shows are generating a lot of buzz. Unfortunately for her, that buzz is not translating into ratings. The premiere of her version of The Apprentice ran a distant second, with only half the number of viewers, to a recap episode of Lost. And even worse, it scored lower ratings than the quickly-cancelled Hawaii that aired in the same time slot last fall.

The Martha edition of The Apprentice has been slightly tweaked to fit her personality more than Donald's, but I'd argue, not changed enough. Sure, you don't want to changed a tried-and-true formula, but they could have made more substantive changes than boardroom becoming conference room and "You're fired," morphing into "You just don't fit in." Entertainment Weekly's review contained a nugget about the choice of the two team names by the contestants, with the self-appointed creatives group choosing "Matchstick" and the corporate team inventing "Primarius."
Even though their name indicates the whole team is likely to go up in flames, it's a better choice than the rival team's Primarius. Did you see Martha's look of pure revulsion when they announced that one? I mean, you think Primarius is going to impress a woman who names her paint colors things like Dried Fava, Picket Fence, and Broom Handle? Know your market, people!

The best change to the series is that in place of Trump's awful post-firing voiceovers, Stewart writes the losing contestant a letter, which is designed to be read as a voiceover. And although the NY Times argues that Martha's farewell letter is a "scented pink slip" showing her softer side, I'd point out that the New Martha, who is supposed to be folksy and funny, didn't know what tater tots were when David Spade mentioned them on her daily show last week.

But that's okay, because it is often her haughty, out-of-touch demeanor that intrigues me the most. Again, the NYT:

What makes her television shows hypnotic, however, is the occasional glimpse of the old Martha peeping through the insouciance - intense and instructional, even about the history of rap. "I learned that 'Rappers Delight' by Sugar Hill Gang was the first rap single in 1979," she explained before introducing Diddy. "Rap was a word that originally meant talking to a girl, derived from conversation."

Martha's comeback has been highly anticipated, but judging by the initial reactions from the viewing public, this edition of The Apprentice may soon be dispatched to be burned off on CNBC.