Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

Monthly Archive: January 2015

Tuesday

27

January 2015

0

COMMENTS

Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 5

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice

Trump has done something unusual for two weeks now. He’s used the phrase “a lot of money” to refer to the amount that the winning Project Manager gets for his or her charity. He’s never done this before, leading one to think he’s hiding the dollar amount because it’s less impressive than previous years. The fact that NBC has basically cut this season in half seems to back this notion. $20,000 is typically the standard amount for a non-fundraising task plus occasionally the sponsor throws in more money.

The problem is that if he’s hiding the money amount because it’s lower, then the $25,000 gift to Sig Hansen doesn’t make much sense, as it would be higher than the winning amount. I’ve seen reports that Brandi got $50,000, but have been unable to verify them. Trump withheld the money again with the task that he personally sponsored, making this all the more confusing.

Despite Trump’s insistence that a boat task would cater to Sig Hansen, I’d argue that his team was at a disadvantage from the start. This wasn’t a “boat task.” It was a “party task.” Team Infinity had a certain player that plenty of people want to party with.

Johnny Damon.

Who wouldn’t want to dance on a boat with a World Series champion New York Yankee (putting aside my Red Sox fan bias for a second)? Sig knows boats. He doesn’t know parties.

Geraldo supplied the line of the night with “screw the terrorists.” It’s hard to argue with that notion. But it was supposed to be a party and having a Fox News reporter deliver a “fair and balanced” tour isn’t exactly as fun as dancing with Johnny Damon. At the very least, they could’ve incorporated taking shots into the “screw terrorism” theme. Apparently having Hooters was enough.

So they lost even though the other team didn’t really have a theme. Which was still better than Mardi Gras. They didn’t need a theme. All they needed was music and Johnny Damon and for Kenya not to screw things up with that horrid song.

Sig loses. Sig goes home. Another downside of the compacted episodes is that we don’t really get to know everyone. Sig is usually the least interesting person in the room, unless Eric Trump is there. His team missed him. Geraldo gave him money. Despite his temper tantrum, he seems like a nice guy. Right from the start, he had about a 0% chance of winning. Fishermen don’t win Celebrity Apprentice.

The second task was just okay. I’m not a big fan of the Trump centric tasks, even though I would win them all if I were on the show. Winning them is easy. Suck up to Trump and make it classy. Kate Gosselin failed with the latter.

The class element might have been harder than you’d think. This task pitted the star of a TLC reality show about her excessively large family against the star of Sharknado. Yet Ian pulled it off. Again.

The Kenya/Vivica fight was a little much. Shopping takes awhile. This had always been the case. Kenya wasn’t Project Manager. Her not being at home base when she was on a team with only four people should not have been treated like a snub. But it was.

Kenya did establish herself as a dominant boardroom player, even though it was pretty clear that Kate was a goner. Trump hinted this in the last task when he singled Kate out in his firing of Sig. Kenya makes better television. She fought in the boardroom. Trump rewards people who make his show interesting.

Only three weeks left. Feels odd and a little sad. After waiting a year and half, we’ve been rewarded with condensed episodes so NBC can air boring knockoffs of other network’s hits. What a shame.

I’m going to stick with my final four predictions from last week. Kenya is emerging as an interesting player, but I don’t think she’s a legitimate contender. She’s too hated. Being called the next Omarosa is nice and all, but she was never a legitimate contender either.

The one question that’s surfaced since last night is, can Geraldo win it all after losing so many tasks? He’s three for nine overall. The answer to this is simple.

Yes.

Trace Adkins made it to the finals in season one with an 0-2 record as Project Manager. Winners Bret Michaels and Arsenio Hall had far less impressive track records in their respective seasons than he has. At 2-0, he can survive without even needing to tap into his boardroom abilities.

This was a big win for Ian. He’s 1-1, but his loss came with $300,000 raised for his charity. Brandi, Kenya, Johnny, and Leeza are all 1-0. Whoever wins next week will practically guarantee themselves a spot in the final four.

I feel comfortable calling Geraldo-Ian in the finals. There’s history between the two. Trump isn’t going to put Brandi, Kenya, or Johnny in the finals. They’re not strong enough. Vivica could make it with another win, but it seems unlikely she’ll get that chance. She also suffered her fair share of unfavorable boardrooms.

Leeza could be a sleeper candidate. She needs another win as PM to get there though. If she doesn’t step up, Trump won’t reward her.

Ian and Geraldo hate each other. That above all else is what matters. Unless one of the two screw up, this is the likeliest outcome.

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Thursday

22

January 2015

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Did Parenthood Make the Right Decision to Come Back for Season 6?

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

You may remember that Parenthood was the subject of my first pop culture article here on this website. I argued that the season five finale provided enough closure to avoid a sixth season entirely. Season five was a roller coaster of ups and downs, though mostly downs, with uneven storylines that seemed to lack direction. Given that this was once one of the best shows on network TV, I wanted to see it go out with a bang rather than a whimper.

NBC thought otherwise and renewed the show for a sixth season, cutting both the episode order and the actors’ salaries in the process. Now, it’s important to note that uneven episode counts have been with Parenthood since the beginning. No show in network television history has had a seasonal episode breakdown of 13, 22, 18, 15, 22, and 13, a feat more impressive when you consider that Parenthood didn’t air during Writer’s Strike.

Keeping this in mind, it makes some sense that Parenthood has struggled with inconsistent plotlines. It’s hard to get into a proper groove when your episode order is constantly switching (hiatuses also exacerbate this problem). Max certainly wouldn’t appreciate this.

To season six’s credit, it doesn’t really tarnish the show’s legacy at all. It also hasn’t been very good. Surprised? No.

The real problem was that the show wasn’t particularly committed to either wrapping everything up or making new storylines. We saw continuations with the Julia/Joel marital problems and Sarah/Hank will they won’t they. Neither one was particularly necessary.

Then there was the disaster of Chambers Academy, which could be seen from a mile away. Christina has slowly degenerated into the show’s worst character. She does nothing for full episodes at a time and then when she gets a storyline, it’s something way over the top which is never mentioned again once the next absurd thing comes into play.

Parenthood also decided that it might be a good idea to feature some of Hank’s extended family in what is being marketed as the show’s “farewell season.” This is obviously done because of budget cuts, but it also shows why coming back under these conditions was a terrible idea in the first place. Hank has been a godsend to the show since his introduction, but we didn’t need to see his ex-wife.

Other characters like Jasmine, have been reduced to mere cameos. The show also decided to rehash the “sell the Luncheonette” storyline for whatever reason. To save even more money, they might have just taken the old footage from season three and used it again. The real mistake with this plotline is that it kept Adam away from more interesting storylines.

Zeek’s health storyline is kind of unnecessary, but not too surprising. What else was he going to do? Camille fits under the Jasmine mold of “I’m here and that’s about it.” If Zeek dies, well then the show’s over anyway. Not much else to say.

In Parenthood’s prime, it was easily one of the best dramas on network TV, probably in all of TV. At its worst, it was frustrating. Seasons five and six have been pretty rough, which can lead one to rethink its overall legacy.

The truth is, network TV hasn’t had a ton of great dramas over the past few years, which means that Parenthood’s legacy won’t be terrible affected. It’s not better than Hannibal, The Good Wife, or Scandal, but it’s certainly better than much of it. Even at its worst.

Shows age. They usually get bad when they do. Parenthood did. But this was to be expected to a certain extent. With that in mind, season six doesn’t change much.

Was I wrong? Not really. The damage was just done already.

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Tuesday

20

January 2015

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 4

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice

It looks like two tasks an episode is going to be the standard for this season. For those of us who have waited over a year for Celebrity Apprentice to return, this is kind of a bummer. Not every episode is worthy of two hours and this has often been a problem.

Shawn Johnson’s immediate departure was a complete no brainer ten minutes into the episode. Not stepping up is more often than not a bigger death sentence than being project manager and losing. Jamie Anderson might not have gotten the can if she was a halfway competent boardroom player. Gary Busey survived many boardrooms and only about 80% of that can be credited to being good television.

Her excuse was stupid as well. Who among the contestants was “fit” for a Nordstrom’s task? Vivica A. Fox certainly wasn’t. Kenya looked comfortable as PM, but her qualifications are hardly better than an Olympic gymnast, putting aside the fact that Johnson’s career doesn’t require her to wear shoes. So Johnson’s termination is hardly a surprise to anyone.

Athletes are historically terrible at Celebrity Apprentice. Johnny Damon has a win, but it was against a fellow athlete (Anderson). Furthermore, they’re boring. Jose Canseco was the only one in the history of the show to display true flare, but he had to leave to be with his dying father. Lennox Lewis wasn’t exactly a dynamic player, but his partnership with Piers Morgan made for great TV. No one will miss Shawn. Flying under the radar doesn’t work. Unless you’re Sig Hansen.

Lorenzo Lamas’ firing was tragic because he’d actually blossomed into a decent player. He’s shown ample character for a complete has been and appears to be a good guy. I’m not sure I can completely blame him for the loss either.

This is a downside of not having one task per episode. Under the usual format, we get to see the teams meet with the executives. Which is usually boring, but it would have shown us how risqué the Chock Full of Nuts people wanted their viral videos to be. If I were Lorenzo, I wouldn’t have necessarily thought to do something as inappropriate as having two Real Housewives rolls around in bed together.

Which is why Lorenzo probably would have survived. He could’ve served Sig or Kate Gosselin up on a silver platter to Trump. Hansen appears to be a nice guy, but he’s boring and has a limited skill set. He also hasn’t been a project manager. It’s hard to believe Trump would have kept him over the Lamas, who by all indications did a decent job.

This wasn’t a particularly interesting episode, except for Kenya’s quip about Brandi’s marital embarrassments. A quip which will probably cost her in Trump’s eyes down the road. Both boardrooms were fairly obvious right from the get go.

So let’s turn our attention to this question. Who can beat Geraldo Rivera? The man displays a Piers Morgan like dominance over his teammates, but also an Aubrey O’Day desire to control the entire creative process. Being a journalist and not a member of the Pussycat Dolls should help him look more like the former to Trump.

My answer to this question in the beginning was simple. Geraldo’s biggest enemy was himself. Domineering contestants self-destruct. But now Geraldo is dug in. He’s 2-0 and is practically guaranteed to make the final four. Sig needs to be PM, probably next week, before Geraldo is even eligible to do it again. Even then, he can survive a loss if he doesn’t completely implode. I wouldn’t necessarily rule that out either.

Vivica is good. Kenya is good. Ian is good. Kate is probably better than anyone wants to admit, but the fact that no one seems to like her is a huge problem. Brandi will likely face off against Sig in the first task next week if the cards fall the way they’re supposed to.

If I had to make a final four prediction now, I’d say it’s going to be Geraldo, Ian, Vivica, and Leeza based on records and Trump’s nepotism. I wouldn’t necessarily say Leeza is all that deserving, but she’s got a win and Trump likes her more than most of the contenders. Kenya’s battles with Brandi are cute, but Trump isn’t going to reward that sort of behavior with a final four appearance. As we saw with Kevin Jonas, things can change, but I feel comfortable with this prediction.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge Joan Rivers’ final appearance on the show. I wrote a Celebrity Apprentice centered tribute to her shortly after her death that you might find interesting. Rivers saved what was a pretty weak season two cast and had continued to entertain in her appearances as a boardroom advisor. She’ll be missed mostly for her actual comedy work, but also for Celebrity Apprentice, at least in my mind.

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Tuesday

13

January 2015

0

COMMENTS

Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode 3

Written by , Posted in Celebrity Apprentice, Pop Culture

Before we tackle part one of this episode, which once again featured two tasks, I thought I would clarify that Trump was wrong in saying that allowing the Project Managers to keep their own money had “never been done before.” This was also done in the fifth task of season 3, which featured John Rich against Marlee Matlin, arguably the two most impressive fundraisers in the show’s history. More on that later.

I tweeted last night that Jamie Anderson might be the worst player in Celebrity Apprentice history and having slept on that, I still find that to be the case. Comic relief contestants like Gary Busey, Rod Blagojevich, and Dennis Rodman all drew the ire of their teams time and time again, but that was the singular least impressive Boardroom showing in Celeb Apprentice history, potentially of all time. You’d have to go back all the way to season one, where Omarosa knocked off a few of the women to find comparable instances.

Jamie made three horrendous mistakes. She admitted early on that she was bullied into the concept that she didn’t quite believe in. More importantly, she didn’t set anyone up to take the fall. This was problem one.

Problem two was that she was completely indecisive in the boardroom. Her team was chaotic in deciding who to set up for the fall. Kate, Brandi, and Kenya were all targets. Jamie could have made a case to plea for any of their firings and probably could have knocked off Kate or Brandi. Kenya would have been tough considering she’s the only competent player of these four.

Had Jamie picked a target, maybe she could have survived. She could have even defended bringing Kate and Kenya back as Kenya was responsible for the loss and Kate is disliked. But then she admitted she made a mistake. Then she tried to see if Trump would bring Brandi back. It was over for her before that, but this was just embarrassing. LaToya Jackson made a similar mistake during All-Stars in not bringing back Omarosa, but at least she put up a fight.

Jamie? No, there was no fight here. After years of this show, it’s clear that certain contestants come into the game knowing how it’s played. Jamie wasn’t one of them. She made nearly every basic mistake in the book and this was no surprise.

Let’s go back to the money predicament. Geraldo and Ian collectively raised close to $600,000, a figure that Trump later raised to that exact sum. Jon Rich and Marlee Matlin back in Celeb Apprentice 3 raised over $1,600,000. Big difference, right?

It can be easy to forget that the whole “winning team gets all the money” is highly problematic when you’re hitting your big donors up. Especially when you’re a D list celebrity like Ian Ziering, who probably doesn’t have many rich friends. His charity, The EB Medical Research Foundation, needs that money. The person who gave the $165,000 check probably had ties to that cause. It would have been pretty awkward had the money gone to Geraldo.

We saw this in Celeb Apprentice 5, where Patricia Velasquez lost her $126,962 to Paul Teutul Sr. In that season’s finale, she tried to explain to Trump that a school couldn’t be built because her donors spent their money only to see it go to a different charity. That was awkward for many reasons and the truth of the matter is, these are the rules.

But the way they framed the narrative with Ian’s emotional plea would’ve made it difficult to see his money go to Geraldo. While Trump (as usual) exaggerated the significance of his decision to allow them to keep their money, it was the right call. This show is mostly about entertainment, but it’s nice to see them act like human beings every once in awhile.

Fundraising tasks aren’t very interesting. It’s fun to watch the people who barely raise any money look awkward, unless it’s Ian trying to get Terrell Owens to do something. Despite making close to $70 million in the NFL not counting endorsements, Owens is broke. It’s no surprise he has no rich friends.

The show usually adds some sort of contest element to the task to get the participants to actually care about their product to raise some extra cash. That’s rarely a difference maker. Ironically, it would have been the case here. I’m not really sure if there was a single element to this task besides selling, which is unusual.

It’s rare that the two weakest players in the game get fired consecutively. Trump made the right calls. Athletes have rarely made for interesting contestants on this show. Damon is just as boring, though not entirely incompetent. He made for a decent PM, albeit one steamrolled by Geraldo.

If I had to pick the final four now, I’d go with Geraldo, Ian, Kenya, and Leeza, though I fully expect at least two of them to screw things up for themselves. Leeza is a dark horse, but one that Trump likes. Sig Hansen looks to have most of Paul Teutul’s negative traits in that he’s quiet and awkward, but also doesn’t have the large Rolodex. He could be a dark horse, Jesse James type sleeper candidate, but that’s also because there are far worse contestants still on the show.

Brandi’s meltdowns resemble NeNe Leakes’ too much for me to care. Leakes quit. I imagine Brandi might as well. This is a weird season without any overly dominant players aside from Geraldo, who’s too bold for his own good. But we get to see Joan Rivers next week! I miss her.

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Sunday

11

January 2015

7

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Pedophilia Accusations Undermine the Brilliant Performances in Sia’s “Elastic Heart”

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While music videos experienced a bit of a dry lull between their banishment from MTV and the rise of YouTube, the medium has shown it still has the capacity to be relevant in mainstream popular culture. Well-constructed videos frequently get millions of hits and can work wonders for the artists’ careers. In less than a year, Sia’s “Chandelier” music video has close to half a billion views. One might argue that this exposure is worth far more than MTV ever was, considering you can purchase the song with the click of a button while you’re watching the video.

“Chandelier” was an accomplishment more for its risk than anything else. The video cast then eleven year old Maddie Ziegler, known for the Lifetime series Dance Moms, a reality show known more for its argumentative spinster star than the actual dancing. For close to four minutes, Ziegler carries the video with a mesmerizing performance through a decrepit building in a nude leotard, a performance that has won numerous awards.

For Sia’s follow up video, it made perfect sense to bring Ziegler back into the fold. The young performer has demonstrated artistic maturity well beyond her years. It would have been a mistake to cast her alone once again. Ziegler needed a partner to differentiate the video from “Chandelier.” Enter Shia LaBeouf.

The video for “Elastic Heart” is much more minimalistic than “Chandelier” and features Ziegler and LaBeouf cage fighting for close to five minutes. Ziegler once again dons the nude leotard, which looks a bit dirtier than before, while LaBeouf wears nude briefs that are effective in their goal to make the Even Stevens, a show that ended its run before Ziegler’s first birthday, star appear naked. The video has drawn criticisms for its romantic elements between the 28-year-old movie star and the 12-year-old reality television star. A certain word has been thrown out there especially.

Pedophilia.

The outcry has been enough for Sia to respond publicly, via Twitter . Both the outrage and the public apology have the same unfortunate result. It undermines the brilliant performances given from two unlikely sources.

sia_elastic_heart

LaBeouf’s struggles have been well documented. From plagiarism to arrests to paper bags, LaBeouf is clearly a troubled man. But unlike other child stars like Lindsay Lohan and Amanda Bynes, he hasn’t let that affect his work. As shown in the recent film Fury, LaBeouf still lands top roles alongside other A List actors. Why? Because despite how bizarre he’s become, the man is still immensely talented.

Both performers deserve ample amounts of praise for their work in “Elastic Heart.” Ziegler once again shines, shedding the trashy cable reality show image to outshine a man who’s shared the screen with the likes of Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas, Cate Blanchett, and Optimus Prime. LaBeouf manages to hold his own against the far superior dancer while delivering the emotional intensity that channels his own personal demons. To denounce this as pedophilia is insulting to both of these performers, whose combined efforts could very well make this the most relevant music video of all of 2015 despite its release in the first week of the new year.

Part of this falls on Sia, who should never have apologized. There’s nothing explicitly sexual about the video. Yes, it’s weird that LaBeouf is more than double the age of the girl who’s jumping on his back while he’s wearing a dirty speedo. But art is often weird and the natural inclination to apologize for that which draws discomfort should be repressed. We shouldn’t undermine the work of one girl primed for stardom and a man who wants to show the world he still has something to offer. Perhaps Sia should’ve listened to her own lyrics and let her thick skin deflect the unfair criticisms levied against this work of brilliance.

Success stories like Maddie Ziegler are rare. Reality TV stars typically don’t amount to much. But this is a girl whose talent transcends her age and we should applaud that rather than express concern that she’s making hissing noises at Shia LeBeouf. Anyone who wants to find genuine cause for concern for Maddie’s wellbeing should watch Dance Moms, where she experiences far more dangerous situations each episode.

Ziegler and LaBeouf should be applauded for showing the world why music videos are still worth watching. No one should apologize for the fact that two performers delivered a work of art that defied their ages and backgrounds. The only real concern is that this might be the apex of their careers. Sia should appreciate that instead of catering to the PC police.

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Saturday

10

January 2015

2

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Analyzing the Impact of Matthew’s Death on Downton Abbey

Written by , Posted in Blog, Downton Abbey, Pop Culture

 Note, while I dislike spoiler notes immensely, as Downton Abbey is currently airing in America, I thought it was polite to note that this article contains minor spoilers through season five as it’s completed its run in England already.

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since the abrupt car accident took Matthew Crawley away from Downton Abbey at the tail end of the season three Christmas Special. Perhaps it feels longer because of the drop in quality since the heir to Downton left the show. The excellent season five Christmas special shows that DA does have some life left, making now an appropriate time to take a look at how Matthew’s death changed the show.

Downton Abbey, being an ensemble drama, means that it’s hard to argue that Matthew’s death changed the storylines for every single character on the show, even though he was a main character. Matthew didn’t frequently interact with everybody on the show, making it hard to really say that his death impacted everyone equally. You could argue that he might have played a part in Mrs. Patmore’s dead nephew storyline, but you wouldn’t really say that his death altered her arc in any substantial way.

I’ve organized the impact of Matthews’s death on the cast by five tiers. I’m going to exclude Lord Gillingham, Charles Blake, and the rest of Mary’s suitors who were introduced post season three as it’s unlikely they would have been even introduced had Matthew stayed on the show.

Tier 1 (Major): Mary, Molesley

Tier 2 (Secondary): Lord Grantham, Isobel Crawley

Tier 3 (Unknown): Lady Rose, Tom Branson, John Bates, Anna Bates

Tier 4: Everyone else.

Tier 1 is fairly straightforward. Mary’s entire storyline was completely altered because of her husband’s death. No Matthew means no suitors. It’s possible that either Lord Gillingham or Charles Blake could have been introduced in a similar fashion to Simon Bricker, but most of her storylines would be in conjunction with Matthew’s. Maybe she would be a better mother.

Molesley is the other one whose entire storyline was impacted by Matthew’s absence. Matthew’s death caused Molesley’s complete fall from grace, going from valet to second footman. This might have been for the best from a screen time perspective, but he was already comic relief. He might have been in a better positon to court Miss Baxter, but Fellowes has always found ways to screw Molesley. Matthew’s death took much of his dignity, but perhaps it made him more endearing to the audience.

Tier 2 might be a point of debate for some, especially considering that Isobel is Matthew’s mother. But his move to Downton set up Isobel’s relationship with Violet quite nicely and I think that would have happened regardless of whether or not Matthew died. Obviously there were grief moments that wouldn’t have happened, but I don’t think her storyline took the drastic turn that Mary and Molesley experienced.

Lord Grantham fits largely under the same category. Aside from the will stuff, Robert’s storylines would have happened anyway. Matthew would have been involved with the business matters, but you can mostly swap Mary out with him to see what would have happened there. I don’t think Matthew’s death necessarily precluded him from any particular storyline.

We can split up the Tier 3 Unknowns into two categories. Lady Rose and Tom likely experienced slightly larger roles due to Matthew’s death. But I don’t think it’s fair to say that Matthew’s presence would lead to any major changes for either one. Rose could have still come to Downton to represent the younger side of the aristocracy. There was the role of Sybil to be replaced as well, though she was hardly a major character in season three.

Tom is a bit trickier. There’s no denying that he filled some of Matthew’s role, both in Lord Grantham’s eyes and the viewer’s. But would Matthew’s presence prevent his relationship with Miss Bunting or interfere with his desire to move to America? I don’t think so. Matthew meant a great deal to Tom, but his path wasn’t blocked by having a friend and similar (relative) outsider.

As for the Mr. and Mrs. Bates, they seem like an interesting choice to put in the mix considering neither shared much screen time with Matthew. But Matthew’s death lead to Lord Gillingham, which led to Mr. Greene and Anna’s subsequent rape. If Greene hadn’t done it, there’s certainly the possibility that someone else could have. But Matthew’s presence and the need to give him something to do might have cancelled that one out entirely. We don’t know. Hence the unknown.

Which is sort of the same for the rest of the cast. You could say that Matthew might have developed a rapport with Carson, but that’s pure speculation that isn’t really rooted in anything. He could have gotten caught up in a Barrow plot or maybe not.

One element worth speculating on is whether or not Alfred, Ivy, and Jimmy would have left if Matthew hadn’t died. While Matthew didn’t really have anything to do with those three, he was at the forefront of Downton’s “youth movement” in season three, as he and Tom worked with Lord Grantham to modernize things from a business perspective. Entering season six, that youth moment is largely gone, though there’s a new footman in Andy who could bring down the servant’s average age by quite a bit.

One could point to Matthew’s death as indirectly causing Alfred’s departure as Molesley took his place as footman. I wouldn’t say that necessarily needed to be the case and the subsequent departures of Ivy and Jimmy suggest that if that hadn’t have happened, something else might have. Unless you want to make the argument that Matthew’s death elevated the importance of Molesley as a character, rendering some of the servants redundant since there’s only so much screen time to go around.

Which isn’t an unfair point. Matthew’s death took much of the “let’s bring Downton into the modern times” away and instead created a sort of holding pattern that did the show no favors in its lackluster forth season. It’s fair to suggest that the show would have been more business related if for any other reason than it would’ve needed something to take the place of all the grieving over Matthew’s death.

Matthew’s death may not have created much of a visible “void” considering Downton’s large cast, but it had a tremendous impact. Shows like DA tend not to get better with age, but much of the complaints over the past two years fall on Mary’s storylines and the stunting of the plot that was forced by his death. That was avoidable, but it still happened because Dan Stevens wanted off the show before Fellowes could figure out how to adjust properly.

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Tuesday

6

January 2015

0

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode Two

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about the boardroom from fourteen seasons of Apprentice, it’s that Trump hates when people don’t play by his rules. His tendency to alter the game at his whim blurs this quite a bit (like when he decided to fire two people when Adam Carolla refused to throw Michael Andredi under the bus), but he’s never missed an opportunity to punish someone who prevented his boardroom from turning into all out warfare. Even though I christened Kevin Jonas as the frontrunner last recap, simple mistakes prove how little that means in the grand scheme of things.

The boardroom was almost reminiscent of Celebrity Apprentice 1 episode three where Gene Simmons was fired essentially for trying to oust Omarosa when Trump basically told him that Nely Galan would be a good choice to bring back into the boardroom. It’s clear that Trump would have preferred to fire Lorenzo Lamas over Kevin, Geraldo Rivera, or Ian Ziering, but Jonas took that away from him. As such, he must be punished.

The concept of bringing someone like Ian Ziering back to “advocate” for you has been tried before. It’s never worked. Trump hates it. For good reason. You’re supposed to bring someone back who deserves to be fired. Bringing someone back who doesn’t deserved to be fired bothers Trump. Not good.

Jonas was also naïve to think that he could knock out Geraldo the week after a big win with basically no plan in place to unify his team against the man. Trump loves Fox News and doesn’t love Lorenzo Lamas. Kevin should have known this.

The tasks themselves weren’t very interesting. I think both tasks this episode were a bit of a toss up. Aside from Gilbert’s horrendously inappropriate joke, both teams were fairly on par, both hovering on the plane of mediocrity without being standout performers.

Which is sort of shame for the second task, since a board room centered around menstruation would have been more interesting than watching Gilbert Gottfried fall on his crude sword. Whether or not that’s more inappropriate that ousting the moon cycle of one of your own teammates remains to be seen.

Watching Vivica A. Fox tell Donald Trump that Olympic Gold Medalist Shawn Johnson was lazy because she was on her period is why this show is still worth watching in its seventh incarnation. Johnson was right to call her out afterwards. A potential fight between the two is the only reason why putting two tasks in the same episode looked to be a mistake. I might have rigged that one in favor of the men just to watch Fox defend the crudeness of her revelations.

Despite the Geraldo/Kevin antics coupled with Johnson’s moon blood, I don’t actually think this episode was negatively impacted by the decision to squeeze two tasks into one episode. The hour-long boardrooms work when there’s material to carry them. Neither boardroom in this episode looked like it would benefit from being twice its own length.

Kevin’s early exit throws a wrench in determining who the real contenders are. It’s obvious at this point that it’s Geraldo’s to lose. That’s a far cry from saying he actually will though.

We’ve seen uber-alpha contestants before like Piers Morgan, Omarosa Manigault-Stalworth, Annie Duke, Jon Rich, Star Jones, and Aubrey O’Day. What separates Morgan and Rich, who won, from the women who lost was that they had friends on the show. Morgan had Lennox Lewis and Carol Alt while Jon Rich had Lil Jon and Meatloaf. Geraldo has some people on his team who don’t appear to hate him, mainly Terrell Owens and Johnny Damon, but having two enemies this early on is going to be a problem.

Despite two victories, the women still didn’t look terribly dominant. Given the lack of talent on the men’s team, this isn’t a huge problem but Gosselin and Fox were both unimpressive project managers who probably would have both been fired if they’d lost. Brandi Glanville and Leeza Gibbons showed some flare as contenders, but it remains to be seen if they have what it takes to really separate themselves from the pack. I’d give Gibbons more of the benefit of the doubt that Glanville given her extensive Hollywood background.

If Geraldo is taken out, we’re likely looking at a repeat of season five, where Arsenio Hall and Clay Aiken flew under the radar to the finals. The vast majority of the contestants are neither standouts nor clear stinkers. Kevin’s firing should serve as a wake up call to Geraldo that simple mistakes can lead to one’s termination, but when the major force of opposition is from two primetime soap opera stars, I find it hard to believe he’ll actually care.

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Celebrity Apprentice Recap: Episode One

Written by , Posted in Blog, Celebrity Apprentice

It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since Celebrity Apprentice All-Star. Which means it’s been three years since we were introduced to an entirely new cast of D list “celebrities” to participate in Donald Trump’s faux reality competition. With stars like Kevin Jonas, Gilbert Gottfried, Shawn Johnson, and Terrell Owens on board, this season looks to be a strong one for the venerable rigged contest.

First episodes are always more about the contestants than the task itself, which makes fundraising challenges the perfect type to start with. It’s important to note that at no point was pie making a central focus of the task. The money is the only thing that matters.

Over the years, we’ve seen Trump and the show itself try to circumvent the fact that the battle of the rolodex doesn’t exactly make for suspenseful television. The past two seasons have featured project managers Paul Teutul Sr. and Trace Adkins bring in such large donations that they barely cared about the task itself at all.

This is where naivety can really come to bite you in the ass. It was pretty clear about thirty-five minutes into the two hour show that not only would the women lose, but that Keisha Knight Pulliam would be the one to go. What was unusual was how blatant Piers Morgan was in essentially telling her that social media didn’t matter at all. Not very Celebrity Apprentice-like to be upfront about it being all about the big money.

Starting off with a money challenge also shows the audience who the real players are right off the bat. It’s an unwritten rule that the PM has to pull most of the weight in a money challenge since his/her team is the only beneficiary of the money that people are presumably saving for themselves. Lorenzo Lamas isn’t going to hit his mother up for two hundred dollars if it’s going to Geraldo Rivera. Surviving a task like this is all about bringing in enough to not draw attention without wasting any of your own high rollers.

The task was pretty straight forward. No one expected Pulliam to beat Rivera. The boardroom was a little more interesting than expected. The Rivera/Jonas dynamic is one to watch out for, especially when Rivera is no longer PM next week. But there was a ton of potential for a Pulliam battle with Kate Gosselin, who had the weirdest boardroom rants since Lou Ferrigno and his 110%.

Raising chump change on a money task when you’re the project manager gets you fired plain and simple. But Gosselin could have been taken down by a savvy player like Omarosa. Problem was that Pulliam was boring. Gosselin had a chance to sink her own ship, but she’s entertaining and that’s what matters. There’s a reason why the show keeps people like Gary Busey, Dennis Rodman, and Rod Blagojevich around as long as humanly possible. They make for good TV.

It’s hard to see who the real frontrunners will be moving forward. Rivera’s attitude doesn’t seem like it will help him in the long haul. He looks destined for more of a Gene Simmons type tenure. Jonas is the most complete package of any of the contestants. He’s outspoken and has a lot of money. Johnny Damon could be a darkhorse, but the men don’t appear to have a ton of juggernauts on their team. It remains to be seen whether Sig Hansen will resemble Paul Teutul or Jesse James in terms of usefulness.

The women’s team is complicated. With two Real Housewives, two Olympic Gold Medalists, and two has-been TV personalities weighing down the team with contestants who have neither star power nor rich backers, Team Infinity doesn’t look very strong.

I don’t think the money will flow quite like it has without a deep roster of money laden celebrities. But the personalities are certainly there. Gottfried delivered right off the bat, looking like savvier Adam Carolla. Snowboarder Jamie Anderson showed charisma and personality. Even Gosselin was surprisingly likable until she started rambling in the boardroom. It should be a very exciting year for The Celebrity Apprentice.

Recaps will continue every Monday throughout the season. The best way to insure you never miss a post is to subscribe to ianthomasmalone.com or to like my Facebook page. Thanks for reading!

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