Unspeakable things happened on Celebrity Apprentice last night, and I’m not talking about Gary Busey’s sentences. I’m referring to a challenge about stupid commercials, Jose Canseco’s “risque humor,” (which must be Trump code for “homophobia”), and the firing of a first-rate buzzard. Tragedy all around. Plus, Busey told us his johnson is nicknamed “Big Wednesday,” and he meant it. Because this show? Is kind of hell, for sure. But a fresh hell! Let’s relive and re-love it.
The Challenge: Since last week when Trump fired Niki Taylor and presumably fed her to a timberwolf (Mark McGrath), the ladies’ team (A.S.A.P.) has faceplanted into depression. Two weeks in a row they’ve failed due to slipshod leadership. Star Jones is frustrated, Nene Leakes is irritated, Marlee Matlin is gesturing like an enraged Village Person, and LaToya Jackson is dressed like a bandleader in a murder mystery. Just a mural of hopelessness, this team. Meanwhile, members of the gents’ team (Backbone) aren’t much happier since they’re stuck with Jose Canseco, Gary Busey, and the ghost of Richard Hatch. I sympathize; Mark McGrath, John Rich, and Meat Loaf run that team on the strength of their wits, and people like Gary outlast better competitors (like Lisa Rinna) thanks to their efforts. Makes me want to sing a defiant medley of their hits “Fly,” “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy,” and “Bat Out of Hell” — except there is no more deplorable idea on Earth.
Donald Trump and his trumpkins Don Jr. and Ivanka gather the teams and unleash the next challenge with the help of execs from telecommunications company ACN. The prompt: Make a 30-second commercial highlighting ACN’s new “video phone.” There are three judging criteria: 1) Be creative! 2) Use thoughtful company-brand messaging and an “emotional” storyline, and 3) Pretend Skype doesn’t exist. The teams caucus and elect Nene Leakes and Lil Jones as project managers because those are the most hilarious options available.
Team A.S.A.P: Nene turns out to be a fine leader. She bosses around LaToya and Dionne Warwick with enough soundbites to clog an average Real Housewives season, and only Star and Marlee appreciate it. “You’re the only two I can trust,” Nene says to Star and Marlee. Star nods vacantly while Marlee concurs with a hand-jive. Though Nene delegates tasks well, it’s safe to say the team’s commerical is ridiculous: A young girl staying in Paris communicates with her parents on the video phone, and Dionne Warwick plays the woman she’s staying with. “Bonjour!” Dionne chirps into the video phone. Aaaand scene. Holler back, Clio committee!
LaToya approaches Nene early in the challenge and claims she just had Lasik surgery, so she can’t read any papers or minds today. Nene indulges LaToya’s fake excuse and allows her to keep track of the group’s timetable. That also requires reading, but LaToya is game for the task because she forgot what she just said. Fine. She’s also dressed in a mustard version of her sister Janet’s Zoot Suit from the “Alright” video, and it’s painful to remember talented Jacksons at this time. Don’t even bring up Rebbie right now.
Then, some unseen team member named Hope Dwoorstop gets Nene’s attention! “What!” says Nene. “You are a dwoorstop.” Ms. Leakes is rightfully pissed and orders her to prop open the dwoor. Hope obliges because there’s no such thing as a stubborn dwoorstop, but let’s pray the inanimate objects stay quiet for the rest of the season. We have enough surrealism here with LaToya’s melted timetables and Gary’s haunting glance; we don’t need to hear from any uppity woodblocks. Yes, that includes you, Don Trump Jr.
Team Backbone: The gents deal with the challenge in a more “transgressive” way. “I’ve got it!” clamors Lil Jon, shaking with glee. “A guy uses the video phone to tell his parents he’s engaged, and then… it’ll turn out he’s engaged to a guy!” I can’t express enough the joy, excitement, and gratitude with which his teammates respond. Mark McGrath clasps his hands over his lupine snout and mutters, “That’s so hilarious. That’s so hilarious.” Jose Canseco slaps the knees on his bootcut True Religions. Meat Loaf pumps a fist and laughs to heaven. Richard Hatch, who died in 2005, emits his first giggle of the new decade. The team agrees it’s funny, and in reality it’s so not. It’s the sort of homophobic nonsense that comes up in too many Super Bowl ads. Better yet, Richard (who was gay during his time on Earth) tells Canseco he should play the gay fiance. Ooh! Allow me to quote Jose’s reaction in full:
“Oh boy, my Twitter’s going to blow up,” he says. “My Facebook is going to be ridiculous. All my friends are going to make fun of me. And if my father sees this, he’s going to basically kill me.” Man, what could be more embarrassing than playing a gay character? Definitely not illegal steroid use, appearing on THE SURREAL LIFE, or a celebrity boxing match with Danny Bonaduce. That’s for sure, Jose Canseco.
Shooting the commercial is not a problem-free endeavor: Gary Busey plays the engaged gay man’s father, and he chooses to wear a bathrobe and no other clothes. Yes, this means when Gary plops down on the couch to use the video phone, his junk flounces around on-screen in a moment of blurred-out hysteria. God, God, God. Why us? Why did this vulgar moment happen to the meek readers of TVLine? We are a well-groomed and polite klatch, and we observe the rules of grammar. What did we do deserve this? Better yet, why did we have to endure Gary’s next revelation — that he and his wife call his penis “Big Wednesday”? I’ve thought about what that could mean for 45 seconds now! Ah! That filth would’ve hit the cutting room floor if classy Marla Maples were still in Trump’s life. I miss you, 1990s.
During the final video presentations at the fancy ACN conference, Lil Jon wins over the crowd by promising a video that will make the company “cool.” The room believes him because of dreadlocks. Nene and Star preside over the ladies’ presentation, and they promise that patented Team A.S.A.P. dullness. Less hooting from the crowd this time! Will their straightforward ad win over the dudes’ “risque” clip?
Boardroom: Trump arranges the contestants at the Tundra-Length Conference Table. After some expected repartee, he announces that Team Backbone’s ad is the winner by a 53-47 vote. “Gay panic is a crowd pleaser!” Trump snorts. (Not really.) Lil Jon’s charity wins a check for $20,000, and Trump is named an honorary East Side Boy. The women look deflated as ever, except in their Nerf-like cheekbones. Looking for someone to blame, Trump points at Dionne Warwick and asks Nene, “Didn’t Dionne leave early one night?” Nene gasps, “Yes!” while Star and Hope Dwoorstop approve using contemptuous woodblock glances. Before Dionne can coo a few bars of “Reach Out for Me,” Trump fires her. Noooo! Dionne was a snippy, snarly, and menacing contender. She could’ve cracked Star Jones’s skull using her melodic sense! On her way out, Dionne looks Nene in the eye and snaps, “You’re a coward.” Awww. I miss her already — especially since scrubs like Jose Canseco, Hope Dwhatnow, and Gary Busey live to torture the future.
What did you think of this week’s episode?? Did Dionne deserve the boot?Could you tolerate either of the commercials? And does anyone think we’re destined for a Lil Jon/Marlee Matlin finale? Leave your thoughts in the comments, follow me on Twitter at @Louisvirtel, and read me regularly at Movieline.com.