Martha Stewart goes unmentioned in this “Survivor” placeholder — a contest to anoint a new doyen of design, complete with national TV exposure (if you can call it that) on CBS’ “The Early Show.” Not surprisingly, the premiere contains catfighting, strategizing and tears, as well as a lovely spread concocted out of apples. Add the ingredients and you have a lighter-than-air souffle that should skew heavily toward women, without producing a winner likely to fill Stewart’s pricey shoes once she removes that unflattering orange jumpsuit.
Host Joan Lunden sets a near record for conspicuously after-the-fact voiceover narration, but she’s the right woman for this undemanding job, introducing the nine women and three men vying for the crown — a group at face value better suited to convicting Scott Peterson than establishing the nation’s fashion template.
Several “reality” contestants have found regular work on TV, but inasmuch as that’s the big prize here, it’s surprising the contenders prove so short on media polish, and the babe quotient (let’s face it, that never hurts in a visual medium) is so muted.
Of course, that does lend a bit more reality to the proceedings, which feature an interesting professional mix of schoolteachers, carpenters, chefs and even a cable-TV host, whose theoretical advantage is mitigated by the nature of the competition.
As audition shows go, this one is more logical than most. Stewart, after all, was essentially a made-for-TV creation, so why not use the tube to scout for her successor — certainly a more obvious fit than previous searches for stand-up comics or stuntpeople. In any event, thank goodness those pesky agents and execs are no longer needed to make such decisions.
In a novel twist for elimination games, the rules also make a modicum of sense, as semi-celeb judges (chef Bobby Flay, author Candace Bushnell and stylist David Evangelista, all absolutely fabulous) select candidates whose dismissal is then voted on by their peers.
For the most part, the premiere doesn’t yield many fireworks. In fact, I only snapped to attention when one “team” chose to name itself the “Crafty Beavers,” for a fleeting moment prompting me to double-check that this wasn’t going to air on CBS’ corporate sibling Showtime.
Still, the show’s not a bad way to kill time until “Survivor” returns, at least for those who have an abiding interest in delightful floral arrangements. For everyone else, I suspect, the experience will be something not quite wicked and somewhat less than perfect.