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Trial Before Pilot

Less than 30 seconds into very nearly the last instalment of Not Necessarily the Next Food Network Star, which I’d left droning on in the background whilst I recorded the Discovery Channel’s attempt at their own The Blair Witch Project in the form a little pseudo-documentary called Mermaids: The Body Found, the opening teaser managed to give up – with almost unabashed shamelessness – that Justin, Martie, Michele, and Yvan would have pilots made and the other Sith Apprentices would get the axe.

This fortuitous and abrupt reveal saved me suffering through the next 59 minutes in breathless anticipation and freed me to leave the room at random intervals to sift hard blobs of cat urine out of the litter pan and to water the garden.

I thought it interesting, however, just how convenient it was that each Sith Mentor had two Apprentices (from their original groups of five each) who’d survived to face off in the final cut. Funny that. You’d almost think it was planned. Also seen in this joyously brief yet revelatory pre-opening teaser, Sith Master Alton Brown explained to the six remaining Sith Apprentices that ‘The Network’ were only willing to front the necessary funds so that just three of them would be able to create a pilot and that, by a shrewd sleight of arithmetical hand, the other three would, in fact, not.

And then this statement was immediately invalidated by the shots of Justin, Martie, Yvan, and Michele enduring the agony of watching themselves on video.

Because the vital information regarding the exact number of pilots was presumably to be used as a bit of masterful manipulation to entice viewers to stay tuned and hang on every last critical second of programming, at about the 2-minute mark in the episode proper – just after Sith Master Alton explained to the gathered Sith Apprentices that they would each have to shoot a 30-second ‘promo’ (or ‘promotional video’) for their theoretical show – it was re-enforced that ‘The Network’ were only willing to front the necessary funds so that just three of them would be able to create a pilot and that, by a shrewd sleight of arithmetical hand, the other three would, in fact, not. Clearly the desire was for the audience to have forgotten that only one and a half minutes before we had seen that Justin, Martie, Yvan, and Michele would be making pilots and thus negating the ‘Only Three’ mandate.

Dark Lord Flay informed them that their promotional videos would be ‘screened’ (industry-speak for ‘watched’) not only by ‘The Network’ but also by what he lifelessly described as ‘a very special panel of Food Network All-Stars.’ These ‘All-Stars’ were Anne Burrell, Robert Irvine (who’d apparently borrowed an ugly Western shirt off  Guy Fieri), and Aarón Sanchez. Also included for reasons which presently elude me were Sunny Anderson, Winner of Series Five of The Next Food Network Star Before It Became an Odious Turd, Melissa d’Arabian, and Jeff Mauro, The Sandwich Thing.

Some other things happened for a while and then, about 27 minutes later, the taller half of ‘The Network,’ Susie Fogelson, was, thankfully, seen standing at the ready to explain to the Sith Apprentices that only three of them would go on to make a pilot since it had only been 25 minutes since someone had taken an opportunity to explain that to them in case they’d forgotten amidst the rush of doing other things.

And then, in a shocking and unexpected twist, Ippy and Nikki were told their services were no longer required, leaving Michele and Yvan to make their full-scale, almost two and a half minute long pilots. And, after an advertising break to help create what I would imagine was supposed to have been almost unbearable tension before learning whether Justin or Martie would be the third choice, it was revealed that Justin and Martie would be the third and fourth Sith Apprentices to make official pilots just as we had been shown in the first 30 seconds of the teaser which negated the ‘Only Three’ mandate.

Sith Master Alton cried.

I cried as well. I’d yawned so hard I actually got a bastard of a cramp in that muscle right under my chin. What’s that? The mylohyoid? The digastric? Motherfucker hurt like you would not believe…

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